Friday, January 29, 2010

Bigio L'Oster

Buffet-style appetizers
January 21st, Thursday. It's foggy and cold in the Bergamo area.
By car we drive along the main road of Seriana valley, and at Albino we start the ascent up the mountain. The feeling is that we took the wrong way. Also the GPS system looks like lost - could it ever be possible that in the wild valley full of vicious beasts there is a Jazz cafe? Look! There's a restaurant! Can it be this one? Uhm... on the sign the name is different. Wait, i'll go inside to ask.
The restaurant is empty. A man with buck teeth and a black cape stands behind the bar, revealing a scary smile that tells me we took the wrong way: Bigio's pub is 25 kilometers from here. He stares at me with a mean look and a drop of fresh blood falls from his mouth.
I shake myself and understand that my imagination is playing a bad joke. The guy, actually a cordial man with very normal front teeth and a jolly face, smiles to me and tells me he was joking about the 25 kilometers. He shows me the curve nearby, not more than 100 meters ahead. "There. Bigio L'Oster is right behind that bend". In fact hidden behind it there is a huge parking lot

Stockfish on polenta with tomato sauce
full of cars (i suppose that during the day it fills up for the visitors of Altino Sanctuary). Nearby a building that looks like a dismal factory, but inside it appears more welcoming.
A little "kitsch" with a lot of stuff all over the place. Old agricultural tools hung on the roof and walls, last century radio sets, statues caved in wood. Even brass musical instruments smashed and hung like laundry drying under the sun.
When we enter it's about 8pm, the pub is already quite full. We ask the waiters for our reserved table, then we seat ourselves and soon after go back to the counter to get our buffet-style appetizer, all of which are very good local products.
According to the schedule the show would have been on just after the appetizer, and the dinner at the end. Mmmh.. unusual!
Instead, as it was more logical, after the appetizer they brought a plate of casoncelli (local stuffed pasta), followed by gnocchi, and after that stockfish on polenta with tomato sauce. As a dessert there was apple pie, then afterwards coffee and a digestive. Water, red and white wine from Valle del Fico were available on the tables. Everything was good and genuine, and almost everything was "zero-kilometers".

The really exceptional thing was the show after the dinner. Bobby Watson and

Bobby Watson and the JW Orchestra
the JW Orchestra played an unpublished jazz repertory through african atmospheres for which the leader Marco Gotti is fascinated (the title of the show was "Africa Jazz Traveling"). The formation of the band is also extraordinary. Above the alto sax of Bobby Watson, guest star, another thirteen brasses (two alto, two tenor and one baritone saxes, four trumpets, three trombones and one bass trumpet). A wonderful rythmical section (contrabbass and drums) completes the set, along with a piano that combined all the sounds. The show was more than one hour, and at the end we went away after the first encore, already late in the night, considering it was weekday. Unforgettable experience.

The environment of Bigio L'Oster is very informal, where one ends up chatting with the other guests seated nearby in the long communal tables.
I was already expecting to enlarge the list of tax evaders here on this side, but instead i was pleasantly surprised when they gave me the fiscal receipt without even asking. Good of you, Bigio!
The price was 35 euros each. Inexpensive, considering both the dinner and the show.

Maddie and Mr. Bentley, although offended for not being allowed to come along, had been enough cooperative, succeeding in not destroying the house.

Bigio L'Oster
Via Santuario di Altino
Albino (BG)


Rowena... said...

Great fun! Maybe next time we'll have seats that are closer to the stage....ehhhh...but then that means we'll be farther away from the antipasti buffet table!

Fern Driscoll said...

Sounds like a gorgeous evening and all the food looks and sounds yummy (except, perhaps the stockfish... why is it so popular in Italy?). What amazing music!

dario said...

Uhm... I don't know why is it so popular in Italy. I am not a fan of stockfish either, but i can ensure that that plate was good.

Okay, food was good but not so much exceptional. It wouldn't worth the 35 euros each only for the food. The really wonderful thing was the show.