Wednesday, November 22, 2006

School House Rock

Just a quick post from this side of the ocean! While Antonello and I are back in the United States getting ready for tomorrow's big Thanksgiving day (and baby Miriam's baptism!), Corrie is enjoying a big day of her own: the first day of school--Italian school, no less. Armed with first-day jitters, Corrie is surely knocking the class out with her extensive knowledge of Italian (who else there can speak Maceratese, for goodness sake?) as I write this. So back-to-school congratulations are in order for our Parma adventurer--Corrie, make sure to take a hunk of cheese out of a building as you go home for dinner today: you've earned it! J'imo' a mangna'!

So good luck with classes, and have a great start to your new school year! We miss you!


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Love and Food

One more post between then and now...I'm almost caught up!

11 November 2006
"I've never had a trip where I wanted to remember every single meal," Bowden said as we drove to Milano and took notes over the last 10 days of pasta, cheese, meat, desserts, and wine. What a high compliment, I thought. The memory of his first trip to Italia would be full of tastes, smells, and views from across a table.

One Italian food fan wrote, "A meal that does not cause an outpouring of memories is not a memorable meal." As Bowden and I sit down to many more meals of ribollita, tagliatelle al ragu, gnocchi di castagne, cingiale, panna cotta, and all bottles that make the meal complete, I'm sure we'll remember the homey bustle of Mario's in Firenze, the montepulciano we drank in Montepulciano, and the superb dessert wine in Cremona, which made up for a kitchen that closes abnormally early. We'll recall trying to tear into the delicious, whole scampi (or was it a garnish?) while eating near the sea. How could we forget the soft jazz and relaxed (maybe too relaxed?) meal at the trattoria we stumbled upon in Milano, thanks to a local stranger who warned us about the chance we might be taking if we'd eat at the place we'd set out to find. We'll never serve panna cotta without thinking about the three topping options available everywhere in Italia: cioccolato, caramela, frutti di bosco.

As terrific as the food and the art and the history were, one memory of Bowden's trip will always be my favorite. With all of Firenze twinkling beneath us, he asked me to marry him and I said yes. I think it's a spectacular sign for our future that after exchanging rings, we went out for gelato. Here's our promise for a lifetime of memorable meals together. Ti amo, Amore Mio!


The contorno (or side dish) Bowden and I enjoyed at that stumbled-upon trattoria in Milano was deliciously simple, made to show off a perfect pairing of ripe produce. Enjoy this salad when the veg and fruit are prime.

Insalata di Finocchio ed Arancia
Very thinly slice a sweet, young fennel bulb. (You might try slicing the fennel with a mandolin to get fine, feathery slices.) Arrange the cut fennel on a platter. Peal a juicy orange and remove all the pith possible. Slice or pare the orange and lay the pieces over the fennel. Buon appetito!