Last weekend we were at Lake Bolsena, an under two hours drive from us. We were there with friends: and others who vacation at the lake regularly; sailing, canoeing, swimming.
Fish is my favorite food and it's a pleasure to occasionally indulge in lake fish. The best that Lake Bolsena has to offer is coregone, or European whitefish. It has a delicate flavor and lends itself perfectly to pasta or risotto sauces, and is great grilled, steamed or fried.
Coregone is abundant in Lake Bolsena and falls loosely into the pesce povera group of fish: not a prized fish, yet rich in flavor and nutritional value.
Bolsena is a large lake: 114 Km² with a 43 Km perimeter and a maximum depth of 151 meters, making it an optimal breeding ground for Coregone. Bolsena is also the largest volcanic lake in Europe.
Coregone can reach a maximum length of 50 centimeters and a weight of 4 kilos, though generally they're smaller than that. Coregone are originally from Switzerland and were then introduced into Lake Como. From Lake Como they were introduced into Lake Bolsena in 1897 and since then have thrived. They are the most popularly fished species within the lake, but what is fished each year only accounts for 50% of its annual production, making it an optimal choice for your menu.
Each year local restaurants compete for the best lake fish recipe of the year. This year it was won by the Riva Verde del Bolsena restaurant for their Tagliolini con Sugo di Coregone in Biano (Tagliolini with Coregone Sauce), and I can see why they won. The pasta is homemade and the sauce is prepared with an abundance of Coregone, delicately cooked in extra virgin olive oil and herbs, with a bare hint of fresh tomatoes. A glass of ice cold local Est, Est Est white wine and you could call it a meal. We didn't: I couldn't resist the grilled Coregone and my husband enjoyed a frittura of mixed lake fish.
Note: this is a lake front, no frills kind of a place. Stop in for a bite to eat in your bathing suit after a swim or, like us, dressed for a dining experience. We've already made plans to head back to the lake to see our friends again; rest assured, we will also be back for round two of some Coregone!