Barely smoked, so tender it almost literally melts in your mouth, this filet of lake trout served with slivers of radish, red caviar and baby broad beans at the lakefront restaurant at the Bella Riva Hotel on Lake Garda.
The following night, a clutch of giant prawns, grilled and serve with a salsa of yellow tomatoes and onion. So simple. So good.
In the years since I stopped traveling regularly to Milan, I had forgotten how different is the food of Northern Italy compared to the South (where we have recently been spending more time).
Pasta, yes, and risotto, and a similar tradition for rich but plain cakes (still often nut based). The same focus on simplicity and attention to detail. But all subtly different. Northern.
In a small, charming hill side restaurant in Gardone Riviera, Trattoria di Angeli, where the owner was the plump, white-hair-pulled-back-into-a-bun Italian nona of your dreams, we ate a creamy farmer's cheese baked in half a sweet onion resting on a toasted brioche, with a poached egg on top (light too poor to photograph). Rustic, robust, and unlike anything I have ever seen before.
In complete contrast, Esplanade in Desengano del Garda, served a sophisticated tasting platter of fish - moving from scallops in black squid ink through prawns wrapped in crisp fine noodles to baby oysters in parsley sauce. An adventure in every bite.
Back at Hotel Bella Riva, a first course of chopped red betts in sour cream - again, so simple, so good.
And everywhere, the calm beauty of Lake Garda