What to do when you want to cook a fish dish? Everyone knows that much of the success depends on the product and its freshness so where do we start?
If you really want to prepare the best dish Spaghetti with Squid, the right place for you to find the perfect squid is at the port of Anzio, at the time of arrival of fishing boats from the sea.
The history of Anzio, founded by the Volsci, then ennobled by the Romans, is lost in the times. Here emperors Caligula and Nero were born, and Nero chose it as a summer residence and it was already famous for its port that connected the entire Mediterranean. The remains of Nero’s villa are still visible and impress with their extension: they are located near the ruins of a theatre.
More recently Anzio ended up in all the history books because here the Allied landing took place during the Second World War.
Today it has an important seafaring livelihood and its catch is an excellent feature of the Lazio coast. The first processing companies were born here and their quality has reached the level to be defined as an Italian centre of excellence.
But back to the port, which is located right in the centre of the town, with the fish market. On the tables I chose the freshly caught squid. Less noble than other squids because they are slightly leathery: but what a taste!
The recipe is very simple: I put the squid in a pan with very few things: garlic and oil. But the good oil, what I’m going to get from those who can do it. For this recipe I chose an oil made with Itrana olives (or Gaeta from the name of the port from where the loads of olives were shipped). The oil is made from olives harvested from the tree at the beginning of vernalization (when the olive is changing colour) and cold worked at the mill.
The squid cook in a few minutes, and I let them blend with Cacchione, an ancient wine like the city of Anzio and grown right on this stretch of the Lazio coast.
The spaghetti are drained when ‘al dente’ and complete the dish by being boiled quickly. Serve immediately on the table and taste the dish with the same wine in the glass.
Today many wineries have re-evaluated this Cacchione grape and I have chosen a company from the nearby Nettuno, Bacco, the only one that grows this grape ‘piede franco’. This means that the plant has not been grafted and that the roots and trunk are of the same type. It seems like a nuance but for those who love wine like me it is an important detail.
At this point everything is ready for presentation at the table. I chose to enrich the visual experience by giving a ‘colour note’ with a basil leaf. It is just a garnish but fresh basil is one of the symbols of summer.