January 27, 2010

one of the things I learned in Italy

Last summer for 2 weeks Chris & I ate our way through Rome, Sorrento and Venice.  It was amazing.  I even had pizza I would say is better than Pepe's and I don't say ANYTHING is better than Pepe's (You'll hear about that some other time).  One of the best meals I've ever had was at Don Alfonso in Sorrento.  It could have just been the food, the atmosphere or that we just got engaged or a little of all of it.  Don Alfonso is one of the few (4 or 5) restaurants in all of Italy that have Michelin stars (it flops between 2 & 3).
We were out for a drive down the Amalfi coast and happened to pass by and recognized the name.  It's hidden and VERY unassuming.  It was an awkward time in the afternoon maybe 3 or 4pm in between their lunch and dinner service.  We walked through a courtyard into a garden where there were tables  next to a pool that looked like a pond with flowers and tall grass around the edges.  There was no one eating but definitely staff bustling, making bread, clipping flowers etc.  It's really how it was!

Then, a middle-aged woman comes over to us in a thick accent asks us where we are from, we say New York, she immediately puts her arms around us and welcomes us to a table meanwhile staff comes out of the woodwork with tablecloths & flowers adjusting our sun umbrella etc.  She was so genuine, so sincere and so proud of her restaurant and inn.

Long story short it was an exquisite meal.  Not because it was fancy, or because of the Michelin stars (I didn't know about the stars until later), but because it was so simple.  We were the only diners and weren't rushed given that the dinner crowd would be coming any moment.  I had lobster pasta and Chris had steak with some of the best french fries I've ever had.  The pasta tasted like the sea, there were bits of lobster in every bite.  The flavors sang and you could distinguish each ingredient that went into the dish.  Also to mention everything was organic, farm raised and local.  You can't get much better then that!

At the end of our meal, we were shown the wine cellar that went down into the ground 25 meters.

Talk about claustrophobic!  No it was OK.  This was an escape route during one of the ancient wars
400 BC, it lead all the way from the cliffs of where we were out to sea.  I've never been anywhere so old.  The most expensive bottle of wine was 15,000 euros so you can do the math.  Then at the very bottom of the cellar down a decrepit spiral stair were balls of aging cheese... talk about the stink!!!! At that point it was time to turn around and make our way back.
So, back to my post theme - one of the things I learned in Italy is to keep my food simple.  As we were eating dinner tonight, freshly made whole wheat fettuccine with a meat sauce Chris looks up from his dinner and says if I close my eyes it's like we're back in Italy.  I hadn't mentioned my whole inspiration for the dinner.  It was the best compliment a girl could get.  It could not have been more simple, lots of garlic and onion, browned (farm raised organic) meat, caramelize a bit of tomato paste and add a small can of diced tomatoes plus a big handful of chopped Italian parsley, salt, black and a bit of red pepper flakes.  Finished with Parmesan...
I know... I didn't do the twist when I served it tonight.  I was too hungry ;)


1 comment:

  1. What an amazing experience that must have been. I'm drooling over here...