7.24.2010

Mangia!!



Or, how many times can ya' eat Caprese ?




When the days is a hotter than a pyre? plenty! Despite multiple occasions of eye ecstasy, heat governed many of my gustatory selections. I lived on caprese and cantaloupe gelato.



The great pleasure of Italian food in Italy is its presentation. At home, what does we git? Nuthin much more'n billboards with photos of food.





In Italy they doan assault yore raw hunger, rather, they know to seduce yore eye an' palate together, an intimate collaboration that delivers more'n a sensation of fullness. The shop windows and restaurant displays are meant to entice ya' to experience the particular qualities of the offerings: a perfectly composed plate of mozzarella pillows cuddled against a sublime fig and eggplant caponata. (yes, I sighed contentedly at the first bite. WHAT genius endeavored to blend eggplant and figs? )



I'se charmed by the homey feel to the food emporiums--looky at this simple bowl of fresh pesto--doan it look like Mama Mia jes' made it? I wanted to drink it.


Reckon they must have 'em, but I never saw anything remotely akin to Costco. Ever'thang looked --I dunno--personal-- the antithesis of mass market. ( I suppose iffin' I wuz to investigate I'd find the hard edge of Italian food distribution, but I really does appreciate that they hide it from us.)


Eventually even the heat could not hold back the cravin' fer a creamy, comfortin' risotto --this one is artichoke risotto that was generous enough fer two folks to share--so we did.


An' once in awhile whar' we found "air conditioned" restaurants (as opposed to "conditioned air"--a fan in the corner) we could git cool enough to enjoy the iconic Italian fare.


Of all the the delightful dishes, I reckon the best surprise wuz this tortellini wif' a savory carrot puree. I made the happy mistake of deliberatin' too long over a menu an' the waiter said, "Doana you-a worry laydee, I'ma gonna bring-a you-a da most deelisious a-dish-a we make-a."



One afternoon, after swelterin' through the Colosseum in the mornin', we retreated to the shady courtyard of our hotel where tables were set fer lunch. Even a the standard hamburger wuz elevated to epicurean heights fer one of us:


but the gossamer salmon on crusty ciabata mitigated the heat better fer Aunty.


especially when followed by orange cantaloupe sorbet in a lacy cookie cup.



The cooler enticements almost always won the day, an' the nights. This selection of bruschetta under an umbrella in a Florentine garden restaurant finished out a delightful day.






In Assisi I demolished the loveliest plate of prosciutto of the trip--late, the sun had retreated to gather strength fer the next day, we wandered from place to place reading posted menus, but nuthin' seemed compellin'. Soft music spilled down a hidden flight of steps above a piazza. At the top of the stone stairs we found a smilin' diminutive man who invited us into his family's restaurant. I'm really glad we accepted.


We strolled up an' down the narrow lanes lookin' in windows at all the yummies-- a pleasing end to a pleasing day.










A favorite mid day treat fer Aunty is a wee hit of chocolate--an' nuthin' was better'n a few slices of candied orange rind dipped in bittersweet.


After days of restaurants , one day we jes' popped into an a world of wonder--a "deli" of sorts whar' we tasted and tested enough delectables to equal a light repast, though we took slices of meats an' cheeses, a kiwi, a peach an' a few bon bons back to the hotel an had dinner in bed.



I'se sorry to admit to the many fine forays into Italian cuisine that I failed to snap pics of fer all y'all--the plates of linguine wif' pesto, mounds of grilled artichokes and melanzane (eggplant) veal in a heavenly, light, truffle perfumed sauce...but most of all the smoky, roasted baby lamb we lingered over our last night on return to Rome before departing fer home--


We sat under art embellished umbrellas over tables strewn here and there over a hidden piazza a block from the French Embassy--next to us an Australian family with three teens recounted their tour of the Adriatic coast by sailboat. Their enthusiasm for Croatia sparked new wanderlust in my heart!


15 comments:

Aunty Belle said...

ain't ever been to Croatia, but now...I'se hopin' to go sooner not later.

Pam said...

I'm with you on Croatia, I would love to go. Have internet friends from a photo site over on that side of the sea and am very taken with their photos of the area. Meanwhile, the food, the food, the food!!!! DIVINE! Why is that the proscuito is wonderful there but here it is strange? Those orange dipped in chocolate? Every meal, every table, every bakery window is a photo opportunity and soulful pleasure.

Big Shamu said...

Son of a Biscuit Eater, WHY did I look at all that food late at night. Cantaloupe Gelato? I'm not sure I'm able to share risotto with anyone.
Thank you so much Aunty for sharing.

Aunty Belle said...

PamOKC,

A blogger travel group sounds great to me! I aim to git to the back side of Europe some day--only been to Czech Republic, never to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria.

Shamy,

I couldn't decide if the cantaloupe sorbet or the gelato were the bestest (yes, I ate gelato EVERY day) but whichever-- cantaloupe gelato was more memorable--the cantaloupyness of it was so intense. mebbe their melons is better'n ours?

Check out this gorgeous food blog--where she recently posted a lobster risotto-- have not tried but will soon:

http://lindaraxa.blogspot.com/2010/06/gelato-di-melonecanteloupe-gelato.html

chickory said...

what a beautiful enjoyable post! delicious looking every one of them. that carrot puree thing looked great and the pistachio cannalonis looked promising. you are SO right about how they treat food. its not about giant helpings but a reasonable amount of food arranged in an artfully pleasing way - your senses filled so that you dont just eat to eat. no wonder our nation is so fat - we dont live right. we really dont.

loved this - makes up for looking at all those swollen red feet

chickory said...

i'll go to croatia with yall

LaDivaCucina said...

Oh, my Lord! What are ya doin' to me on Sunday morning, Aunty? FIG AND EGGPLANT caponata? MUST MAKE.

Artichoke risotto? Great meatless Monday idea!

Looks like you've been having a wonderful time, at least from a culinary point of view!

My MIL is Croatian Italian from a resort town near the border called Opatija. WE want to have a family reunion there.

Thanks for the great photos and post, makes me want to jump on a plane!

moi said...

Oh, man, Aunty, what a post! I'm in a food haze! This remark of yours:

Reckon they must have 'em, but I never saw anything remotely akin to Costco. Ever'thang looked --I dunno--personal-- the antithesis of mass market. ( I suppose iffin' I wuz to investigate I'd find the hard edge of Italian food distribution, but I really does appreciate that they hide it from us.)

Is food for major thought . . . :o)

During each of my handful of trips to Europe, I came back 10 pounds heavier because eating there is not only so delightful, there is something so much more convivial and familial about it than eating here. I miss that.

I'm with La Diva. Eggplant and figs? That must be investigated. And, if Chickory's willing to risk respiratory life and limb to get on a plane to Croatia? So am I. Blog summit!

Anonymous said...
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fishy said...

So is the Croatia summit before or after Turkey? I am saving all silver change already.

Everything looked wonderful. I was noticing the portions looked rational. One of the things I found interesting when eating across the big Pond was the portions were smaller but the satisfaction, on every level, was greater.

I think you did eat at the personal rather than the mass level. Ie My family's restaurant, our best offering, and that hamburger? where is mine? Sigh. I 'm overdue for an adventure.

intuitive eggplant said...

Goodness, gracious, Aunty! Some fine vittles here! Hmmm, let's see, I've got some eggplant and some dried figs - you reckon I could turn those into a caponata?

Thanks so much for sharing!

Floridacracker said...

Wow! Some of that sounds really tasty!

No fried chicken?

Oh well, when in Rome ...

Buzz Kill said...

Leave the gun, take the cannoli.

That is a massive pile of cannoli. And I've never seen chocolate covered orange rind. Some really excellent looking food.

foam said...

ga! .... lordy ... i'm drooling on my laptop here.
it's almost supper time and now i'm even more starved after seeing this.

Caroline said...

Just got similar post on eatables from daughter and son-in-law who were in Normandy...green with envy on both parties.
Ain't nothing like that to be found in the entire state of South Dakota nohow!