Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Somewhere in Umbria . . .

that is my secret haunt there is an old farm house where you can stay. It is nestled in the hills in the center of Italy's cuore verde, and is un piccolo pezzo di Paradiso.

The heart of this place is a stable that has been converted into a large dining room, complete with heavy wood beams and an enormous stone fireplace, one where H.E. has spent many an hour on cold spring evenings imbibing on the farm's wine and watching the sun sink over the green valley below while growing intoxicated on il profumo della cucina. More inches have been put on H.E.'s waist in this single spot, than perhaps any other. Why, you might ask?

Let us journey through the three spheres that encompass human existence to explore why: No, not Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, rather antipasto, primo, and secondo (only the very very blessed ever make it to dolce).

Of the four nights recently spent there, the following menus were "on the table":

Day 1:

Antipasto: a huge plate of local olives, zucchini fritatta, local sausages, ricotta with sunflower honey, sweet and sour vegetables, cheese bread, and fresh raw marinated artichokes.

Primo: orchetti (made without egg) in turnip greens with broccoli rabe and pecorino cheese.

Secondo: huge pork chops and asparagus sauteed with oil, lemon and salt.

Dolce: a gelato shape with cream and clementines.

Day 2:

Antipasto: leek fritatta, homemade pecorino cheese, farm cured meats, deepfried timball of zucchini with eggplant, and brussel sprouts sauteed in oil, garlic and bacon.

Primo: straccetelli in tomato sauce with freshly chopped carrots, celery and bacon, and fresh peppers sliced and roasted with onions.

Secondo: chopped chicken with vinegar, wine and sage and rosemary; chicory with bacon.

Dolce: pears stewed in white wine with a heavy chocolate sauce topped with chopped nuts and cream on the side.

Day 3:

Antipasto: a repeat of the ricotta with honey, blood sausage, fennel roasted with butter and parmeasan, lemon olives, swiss chard with eggs and cheese, and more cheese bread.

Primo: homemade pasta in oil and truffles.

Secondo: veal rolls stuffed with fritatta and sausages stewed in a sauce with carrots and celery, and mashed potatoes.

Dolce: apple fritters stuffed with apples and soaked in grappa.

Day 4:

Antipasto: veggies (cauliflower, carrots, green beans, peppers, onions) "agridolce", fried artichoke hearts, duck/goose pate with anchovies and lemon on toasts, crostini of mozarella and sausages, fritatta of tomatoes, onions and bacon, slices of peconrino from Norcia.

Primo: gnocchi in tomato sauce with pecorino.

Secondo: shoulder pork roasted with fennel accompanied by fresh cabbage cooked with hot pepper.

Dolce: chocolate cake made of almonds, bread crumbs, and orange liquor.

You will note an absence of adjectives here - that is because some things transcend words, even for a philologist. In short, the most spiritual experience to be had in Italy is not in Assissi, not even in the Vatican, but in an Umbrian kitchen.

Eat - and transcend . . .


PS: H.E. = homo edax, sed etiam "Happy Eating" - COINCIDENCE?!?!?!?!


Blogger Sorex said...

Augh! That'll teach me to check your blog when I'm breaking from studying. Now I'm drooling and hungry, and I JUST ATE!

I want to go to Italy!

8:10 PM  

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