Italy Day 7: Words cannot describe the way I feel…

…about La Dama Bianca in Duino near Trieste.

Scallops on the shell were divine. Note how they chef left the scallop’s tasty “foot” attached.

On Monday, April 7, Céline (vox aka Verena Wiesendanger), Bonnie (vox, violin aka Emily Welsch), and Jean-Luc (vox, bass aka Dan Crane) arrived at the Venice airport and we headed north to Duino, a little lost-in-time village just south of Trieste along the Adriatic coast. We had a reservation for dinner and an over-night stay at what is simply one of the most delightful hotel/restaurants I have ever had the pleasure to experience.

La Dama Bianca (The White Lady) is a family-owned seafood restaurant with just five single rooms on the second floor: the father does the fishing, the mother does the cooking, and the son serves as sommelier (and his list is a wonderful romp through Carso, Collio, and Colli Orientali).

Lost in time: the Dama Bianca has remained seemingly unchanged since the 1960s, as has the village of Duino. The rooms, each with a sea-view terrace, were spartan but immaculately clean and after six days of traveling and wine fairs, the gentle rhythm of the tide against the breakwater lulled me to sleep like a baby.

One of the chef’s signatures was the combination of two types of seafood in every dish, like these sautéed shrimp served with baby sea scallops.

When I told Dario that we wanted to drink a Vodopivec Vitovska with our our main course — scorfano (scorpion fish) in cartoccio (en papillote or in parchment paper) — he produced no less than four vintages. On his recommendation, we drank the 2003, which was beautiful, oxidized, with fruit notes as golden as the color of the wine (below).

2003 Vodopivec Vitovska.

It was dusk when we arrived at the small breakwater and harbor. A gentleman was fishing and enjoying the “golden hour.”

An auto-timer of Jean-Luc, Bonnie, Céline, and me (Calvino di Maggio, detto Cal d’Hommage).

Albergo Dama Bianca
Frazione Duino, 61/C
34011 Duino Aurisina (TS)
040 208137

Stay tuned for Slovenia Day 1!

7 Responses to Italy Day 7: Words cannot describe the way I feel…

  1. Simona says:

    I am keeping this for future reference: thanks! Do you know what inspired the name?

  2. Thor says:

    We had lunch here in November, and drank Zidarich Vitovska. A similarly wonderful experience, though the view across the Adriatic was more Bermuda Triangle than splendid that day. Great photos, as usual.

  3. pvaldesolo says:

    I am currently sitting on a bottle of 2003 Vodopivec Vitofska, this made me even more excited to drink it! Duino is a beautiful town. So beautiful that I am getting married at the Castello di Duino this summer. I will definitely be swinging by La Dama Bianca to get away from the craziness. If you are still near the border of Italy and Slovenia do yourself a HUGE favor and go to Pikol – an amazing restaurant in Rozna Dolina near Nova Gorica. Last summer my fiancee and I were travelling in the same area and we had read the following about Pikol by Keith Bellows at National Geographic Travel:

    “But that was not my most memorable night in Slovenia. No, that would be the evening we spent at Pikol, which Rok assured me was one of the country’s finest restaurants. Over wave upon wave of exquisitely prepared dishes, Rok and I talked. During our trip, our conversations had gone from surface chatter to itineraries to world politics. But on this evening, things became deeply personal. Our nationalities didn’t matter. Our themes were universal. The relationship of host and visitor slipped away. I recalled my first encounter with Rok, this ebullient man who simply wanted to share his country with me. I didn’t know him then, but I think I know him now. Travel engenders intimacy. In five short, spontaneous days I had discovered more than a country. I had made a new friend.”

    We decided to stop in for a quick lunch. We ended up staying for 6 hours, ordering dish after dish and drinking glass after glass. It is that good. Enjoy, if you can make it.
    http://www.dobre-gostilne.si/en/restavracija-pikol/

    -piercarlo valdesolo
    http://bellylove.wordpress.com/

  4. Do Bianchi says:

    Thanks for all the comments. Duino and La Dama are truly magical places. Simona, I don’t know the origin of the name but I’ll find out.

  5. Ah…memories. Those scallops were off the hook. Literally. Like, JUST off the hook. Or wait, they probably don’t use hooks for scallops, do they. Those scallops were out of the net, yo.

    Can’t wait to read the rest of the trip bloggage. Can we go back soon Dr. Parzen, per favore??!!

  6. Pierpaolo Penco says:

    Dear Jeremy,

    I am glad you spend a nice evening in Duino… the village where I live.

    The name “Dama bianca” came from a legend, inspired by a white rock that, seen from the sea, it seems a female figure wrapped in a long veil. The legend tells of the evil owner of the old castle of Duino (today only ruins) during the Middle Ages, who threw his wife from a precipice and God, moved to mercy by the shouts of the “pure” lady, transformed her into stone before touching the water.

    Feel free to contact me if you come to Duino once again.

    Pierpaolo

  7. [...] My post the other day on La Dama Bianca in Duino (Italy Day 7) generated a tide of comments, including a number of messages from fellow fans/lovers of the the restaurant/hotel: it’s one of those truly magical places and once you’ve been, you count the days until you can return (Céline Dijon liked it so much that we decided to stop there for lunch on our way back from Slovenia). [...]

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