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!