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Trip Report Porchetto arrosto, a Sardinian red ... just an ordinary Friday lunch

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There's nothing "ordinary" about Pilu, always interesting fare on this Sardinian treasure's menu. But a pod of humpbacks playing directly in front, breaching, rolling, diving .... that's definitely one for the "Specials" board!

Pilu is housed in a beautiful old weatherboard, perched above Freshwater (Harbord) Beach, on Sydney's northern beaches. It's one of my favourite haunts and today's excuse to see what Giovani & his crew were cooking was catch-up with an old client.

You know, one of those relationships where you've done business together so long, the business chat is 5 minutes sandwiched between the much more important stuff of old friends - renovations, races, kids, holidays & what films are you seeing (Sydney Film Festival).

We started with a shared Fritto Misto and Lara's recommendation of a 2008 Contini Tonache Cannonau was breathing out nicely.

The wine list at Pilu is prodigious, interesting and has a good range of Australian as well as the Italian, and particularly Sardinian & Sicilian wines that you'd expect with Giovanni Pilu's heritage.

A good sommelier can add so much to the perfect alchemy of food & wine, and Lara Caraturo is one of the best. (Not just IMHO either, she won the Judy Hirst award as Sommelier of the Australian Wine List of the Year, 2011

I like to skim the list but usually use Lara's expertise - just tell her what we're having and always enjoy her choice, been introduced to some great wines. Not in the stratospheric price tiers, either.

The pink bellinis were going down at the table of women across from us and we said ,"The girls are off & running" when a couple of them jumped up, started squealing & pointing out to sea. And then we saw them too - one, then another ... wow, look at that!

Giants of the sea leaping, twirling - launching themselves out of the waves ... not more than 50m off the sand, and right in front of us. How do they DO that? How is it possible for such a huge body to be propelled totally out of the water? Oh, that's goosebump stuff! To see these magnificent humpbacks playing & frolicking like pups- you can't buy that!

It's a wonder the building didn't tilt on its piers as everyone crowded around the front windows, strangers making room for the back-of-room people, pulling waiters & waitresses in so they could share the moment. Eventually, the whales moved on and we drifted back to our tables in a happy babble of smiles & high spirits the best champagne couldn't produce.

We'd ordered one of the signature dishes, Porchetto arrosto (roast suckling pig), delicious chunks of aromatic pork & crunchy crackling taking us back to the market in Greve in Chianti, where thick slices leak juices through the tough Tuscan bread before dripping through our fingers. "Remember the villa I told you about .. and you went to the wrong one?" "Yes, but it was 10 minutes out of Poggibonsi on a gravel road .....and I thought you said ...."

It was one of those lunches. We've travelled to a lot of the same places, although not at the same time.

Green beans, roast potatoes in their skins and a bowl of refreshing carrot, celeriac & fennel straws were a good accompaniment to the pork - of which we finished the last skerrick, having declared "we'll never eat all that", when it arrived.

"Dolci?" Not this time - due macchiati and we were tutto completo.

With our $45 Entertainment Book discount, the bill was $197, our lunch a delight - and the whales .... priceless!

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