Sunday, October 16, 2011

Eating Italian - Thanksgiving is for Wimps

[Kyle]We did one thing today: eat lunch (well that took up 90% of our time). Pasquale, Enzo, Maryanne and I joined up with a group of five other friends and family and the nine of us drove up into the mountains in two cars. The other seven went to mass at Getsemani while Maryanne and I walked the beautiful grounds and talked at length about what lay ahead for us.

The Sanctuary and Church in the beautiful mountain setting at Gethsemini

Once that was done, we drove further up into the mountains to a restaurant known for its flavorful mushrooms near the village of Trentinara. It started out the usual way. Pasquale went into the kitchen and told the chef what we wanted. No menu necessary. While we waited for the first course, he roasted chestnuts that we had collected on the grounds on the way in. He did it on their open fire in the middle of the restaurant. He really did.

Kyle cleans the plate of delicious food, and the next course arrives

The first course arrived: two huge platters of polenta, one with a mushroom sauce, one with tomato sauce and sausage. Whew! We were full. Then we were told that was just the starter! Next came the second course: Tagliatelle in mushroom sauce. Really full. Wait! Next was ravioli. Oof! Next Pork cutlets and sausage. Very full, I’ll just have a little taste to be polite. How about a plate of roasted vegetables? Fried potatoes? Steak? Au gratin? Oh, please make it stop! All of this was accompanied by lots of red wine. Oh, and bread. Lots of bread.

Food, more food, and more food!

My own mother working day and night for the week before Thanksgiving has not been able to stuff me so full. What a meal! Nine courses. I’m gonna die! We all sat there stuffed and groaning, fighting off huge food comas. I don’t know how all of the Italians could handle the jiggling of all of their gestures.

Then we heard mention of dessert. Nooo! How? Nooo!

I secretly was hoping for some French looking thing: delectable, but the size of a sugar cube with a sprig of mint sticking out of it. No such luck. They were huge. Maryanne got an enormous puff pastry with chantilly cream and cherries. I got a slightly smaller chocolate volcano with hazelnut ice cream. We each ate half and swapped. In spite of us each being near bursting, they were both still delicious. Then came the coffee. Oh, thank god the coffees here are tiny.

A few of the men then went for grappa. I begged off because 1: I was way to full, and 2: Grappa still tastes to me like it’s been siphoned out of someone’s tank. I even prefer Norwegian aquavit to grappa.

When the bill came around, having already been told it was quite an up-scale restaurant, we all spent time wincing at its impending arrival. It didn’t turn out to be too bad: €260 for a week’s food and wine for nine people. It actually added up to slightly more, but we got a discount because they brought us too much food (what we ordered!). I love that. I’m trying that the next time I’m in New Jersey. “Hey! How do you expect me to eat all of this? You’d better knock some off-a that tab!”

Gathering Chestnuts

After our all-day meal, we collected more chestnuts for later (although who knows when we’ll ever be hungry again), and then were driven into the village to see the view of the surrounding mountains overlooking the gulf of Salerno. We have been taken care of so well since we wrecked in this part of Italy. It’s hard not to think that we would have missed all of this had we only stayed for a day and moved on. I wouldn’t wish what happened happened, but it’s seems we got the best possible outcome thanks to the warmth of the Italian people and especially our friends Enzo and Pasquale.

More beautiful scenery and friends


Chris said...

Glad you are being surrounded by wonderful friends, great food and a beautiful country. I can't imagine how it felt leaving Footprint behind, it seems so unreal that you won't be sailing off on her to your next destination. But it sounds like you are already well on your way to figuring out what is next, and I know you will make it happen! Would love to see you guys if you are in the area.


kate said...

what an absolutely glorious day! spent in beautiful surroundings, with kind and thoughtful (and new!) friends, and plate after plate of mouth-watering courses. i almost felt sated reading about it! (i'll never complain about being full at thanksgiving again.) we have just finished our ice cream here with kyle & it was pretty good... but it was no puff pastry with chantilly cream and cherries. ohhhhh :) it is so good to see him and hear additional details of your time in agropoli - but we are missing you & wishing you were here, too. hope to visit with you both in another month or so after you get settled in the u.s. xoxo

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