So we left off with Friday night... I went to Daniela's house for dinner. They were having rabbit and I was having everything but...
Friday night after work Daniela and I went for our first spritz alone together since...shoot, since I first arrived. It was nice to have some alone time, some girl time, and just time to catch up. Work is always so crazy, well for her anyway, that we never have time to just talk other than the 5 minutes it takes her to take me home at night. After spritz we were headed to her house for dinner. When we walked in the front door to Daniela's house the first thing I noticed was the heat, ahhhh, it was SO cold that night and SO nice and wood-stove cozy warm in her house. The second thing I noticed was her grandma standing over the stove in the cover stirring a biiig skillet of polenta with a looooooong wooden spoon. The table was set with bread and silverware and glasses. Dani went right to work helping get the food together on the table. I watched as her nonna (grandma) dumped the skillet of polenta goo onto a big round board taht looked like a large cheese platter. And that's all she did to finish the polenta. I asked her if there was something else she did, and she said "no...mangi cosí." (you eat it like this.) Huh. So I was a bit skeptical that it would set up in time for dinner, but when it came time to eat this yummy round mass of masterpiece it was warm and steamy and never mushy or grainy. With dinner we also had squash from their garden that had only been boiled but was so amazingly smooth and delicious that it could've been served as a dessert. We had mushrooms that Dani had found herself that were in that same delicious "just slimy enough" state that I've found in many kitchens in Italia. We had red and yellow peppers from their garden that had been cooked with tomatoes from their garden (seeing a pattern here?) and also had some pepperonicini...and it was spicy. Spicy to make your nose run when you eat it spicy. I loved it! Apparently Nonna loves spicy food just as much as I do.
All of this (plus the stewed rabbit and some various cheeses) was shared with a bottle of Valpolicella Ripasso 2007 from the Veneto. A ripasso is a particular style of wine making that allows the wine to set on the left-over skins and seeds of another kind of wine, Recioto. Basically this deepens the flavors and allows for a stronger fermentation of the Valpolicella wine. Now, I'd love to say I knew that all on my own, but I didn't. I googled it. :) So now I understand why when I wrote about this wine that I wrote, "It was rich, dark, heave bodied, dark berry flavors that lingered...mmmmm." Very full, just dry enough or rather well-balanced with the sweeter berry flavors. Probably due to that extra fermentation period on the Recioto skins (Recioto is a dessert wine and very sweet indeed). Huh, who knew this might all make sense someday?? Dessert was store bought but was delish non-the-less (and being a baker, I'm not one to admit that store bought desserts can be good, but this was GOOD). It was a layered dessert in a pie shape that was kept in the freezer. On the top was sprinkled these sweet rice puff thingys that I LOVE, but have no idea what they are. The top layer was a light cream then a layer of seimfreddo (think icecream that has been in teh freezer too long ((without that nasty freezer taste)) and gained the ice crystals and now it's just creamy enough to get a fork through it), and the bottom is best decribed as thing layer of a crip cookie in toffe flavor all piled together to make a whole layer but still very light. Nothing about this dessert was dense and it wasn't overly sweet, just a hint of vanilla and cream and that buttery toffee taste. After dessert of course was coffee...
The entire dinner the family set around the table talking about life and watching glimpses of the TV that set in the corner of the room, just loud enough to make everyone talk at a slightly elevelated level, which added to the warm feeling of the tiny room that was completely overtaken by the large table surrounded by the not perfect, but loving family (píu(plus)one foreginer). All the while the still warm stove in the corner opposite the TV added color to our already red cheeks. This is real Italia.
And just to show a small shawdow of the Italian hospitaity, especially when it comes to food or wine... Before we began dinner I was asked if I would like for them to cook me some eggs since I wouldn't be eating any rabbit. No, no, I said there's plenty here for me to eat, there's no need to make the eggs. So then Dani and her Nonna tried to convince me I needed to eat the eggs because they were from their chickens and I HAD to try THEIR eggs. No, no, grazie, there's more than enough here for me to eat. So THEN I caught Dani trying to make the eggs while I wasn't watching, Dani! I don't need eggs, I promise, there is more than enough here that I can eat (because the only thing I did not partake in was the rabbit and maaaaan was I stuffed afterwards!) So finally Dani accepted defeat...on account of the eggs. During dinner I saw that there was some sort of cheese wrapped in butcher's paper on the table. By this point I was full but wanted to see if it was a type of cheese I hadn't tried yet. So I unwrapped it to take a look and I had tried it before and decided that I wouldn't partake again and wrapped it back up...Dani and EVERYONE at the table took this to mean I wanted a different kind of cheese. I tried to convince her that I was only curious but her, nor her dad, nor her grandparents, nor her brother took no for an answer. I was then brought four different kinds of cheese. One of which I finally tried because it was new (something along the lines of a swiss). This is how most Italians are, loving. They want to make you feel welcome. I love this!
Saturday was spent mostly at home. Dani couldn't leave her house because they closed her road to completely re-gravel. I spent my morning and afternoon preparing my room for departure. Just cleaning things up and putting everything in place. This was when I decided I had need of sending a parcel home full of my summer clothes...Mom and Dad, keep an eye out for a Fattori wine box. :) Saturday night we went to a Trattoria in Montecchio. I'm not sure of the name, but it was amazing. We started outside with a spritz, which is where the pictures of Dani and the staute were taken. The first picture was pure accident, the statue started to fall and Dani went to catch it right as I snapped the picture, and the second is the result of 5 minutes worth of laughing at the first picture. Then we went inside and sat down at teh table. We were served there Primi, all family style: 1. Mushroom Risotto, creamy delicious, warm, and the first risotto I have had in Italy, I was not disappointed.
2. Fettuccine with mushroom, again with that perfect consistancy of not really slimy but not really a sauce either 3. Gnocchi with a tomatoe sauce. I had high expectations for gnocchi, I'd heard so much about it. But my first bite was waaaay too creamy and hot and it got stuck to the top of my mouth like peanut butter and I didn't have a drink because Augusto had just dropped a Gnocchi into my white table wine. I wasn't too impressed, sorry gnocchi lovers of the world. The Secondi for the evening of course included a plate of grilled and roasted meats, some white, a few red, and I saw sausage rounds as well. There was also grilled polenta that had the prefect grill marks and just crusty enough on the outside and hot and creamy/gritty (but the good kind of gritty) on the inside. There were mooooore mushrooms, delicious mushrooms, spinach that had been sauteed in garlic, mashed potatoe pure...all of course followed by coffee.
As for this week at work...I haven't been "working" much. All the orders that are going out are small and take only 20 minutes to prepare. The grapes have officially stopped coming in and now all the equiptment for de-stemming and pressing the grapes is being sanitized and powerwashed. The bottleing system has been here since last week but this time they came armed with a crew, so I can't help there either. All the better for me. I feel like my life this week has been all about getting my travel plans in order.. by this ticket from here, wait to buy this one there, ship this home, pack this in your bag, leave this with your friends, who has a car I can drive to get ziplock baggies, who can take me to the train station at 6:00am...I wonder often if this is how a travel agent feels. Maybe I should really try to lock into that line of work, I seem to be doing okay at it for myself anyway. I hate this time in the planning stage though. Stuff hasn't gotten on the way but it's just around the corner, down to the last minute and still need to do a list of things before I go. Makes the nerves go crazy. However, the list is getting shorter and I'm going to try to start to pack tonight...try...because tomorrow I send the parcel to my parents and whatever isn't in that parcel HAS to go in the bag eventually. Wish me luck! I'll try to write one last post before I head out on Friday. Other than that it might be until the 26th before I have internet access again. Stay posted though, and keep an eye out for new photo albums because now is the time to start snapping photos like crazy.