How could you not fall in love with this..….
Yesterday it was warm but there were dark clouds in the sky…..I knew the dry time was limited so I set out to do some of my daily tasks early….as I was walking my normal route to Elizabetta’s, I came across a small boutique that I hadn’t noticed before….I popped in and was overwhelmed by the abundance of stylish clothes at a reasonable price…and made in Italy….I’ve been good to date and mother’s day is just around the corner…so I purchased a few shirts and went on my way.
A few doors down was one of the many churches that I visit…this one is special because it is a church that we went to on our visit 8 years ago…and one that has a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary with real candles to light….so, with my bag in hand, I dropped in to have a chat with Mary and light a candle for a dear friend of mine…hung out for a bit to the sounds of a new organist trying his best at keeping a tune…and then went on my way…peacefully.
As I crossed the Piazza della Repubblica and headed toward the alley, my short cut, I knew I was running out of time….as I stepped into the alley, the sounds of thunder began to resonate off of the walls…and a light but consistent rain began to fall from the sky….I put my hood on…and watched my feet as they stepped feverishly from one wet cobblestone to the other……I began to hear another familiar sound….clippety clop clippety clop…..I looked up and trotting toward me at lightening speed was a beautiful white horse pulling a carriage….it was moving at a fast trot…down the cobblestone….like a scene out of an old movie….the grace in which this horse moved was like that of a ballerina….fluid in motion… mane blowing in the wind….classic. As it came closer, the thunder roared again. I stepped up on the sidewalk and watched the horse trot by…wow…so beautiful….so surreal. This was not the first time that I felt like I had stepped back in time….or onto a movie set.
Elizabetta’s was a nice respite from the rain…..we bid our usual ciaos and I announced my hope for the evening…..I wanted to make fried ricotta. I had found a recipe as I always do but so look forward to Elizabetta’s spin. She had a perplexed look and said ah yes….we make this in Tuscany…..but I don’t make too much…and then she went and grabbed a worn beautiful cookbook and began to explain how this chef is one of the best in Tuscany and he shops at her store every day…..and yes, he has the recipe…..continue this story and recipe at sholiveoil.com/recipe.
I picked up a few extra things from Elizabetta…organic sun dried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella…..one of our new favorite crostinis is bread…arugula…mozzarella….sundried tomatoes and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Emily likes to add Balsamic Vinegar…which is also a nice add. It’s not easy to find high quality sundried tomatoes…we sell the best I could find back home. I always make sure the tomatoes are packed in Extra Virgin Olive Oil….not an olive oil or canola oil….it usually means the producer is serious about their ingredients.
Anyway, Elizabetta also sent me home with the most adorable package of Confettra Di Cotogne..she tried to explain what it was but I couldn’t understand…the picture on the little box looked like a potato hanging on a tree and she was describing it by picking up lemons and oranges and putting them together …I wasn’t getting it. She said to put it on cheese…very very good…. I was curious and sold. I had to get parmesan for the fried ricotta so she said to slice a thin piece and add “this” and it is wonderful. (And it is wonderful….it is simply quince jam…but solid..not jammy….perfect with cheese….). And by the way…if you are going to serve it….you may want to call it “confettura di cotogne”…gives it a bit more pizazz then quince jam.
I loaded up my bag….bid my ciao grazies and off I went….back across town. I came the back way and took a left off of Via De Neri and up the alley way to our flat…before I reached our flat, I ducked into my right to see Christian, over pasta man. Christian makes fresh pasta from organic flour from their ranch every day(except Sundays). It’s quite an operation….I asked for spagetti today….per quattro persone come al solito….he smiles goes in the back and gets the dough that he made that morning….cuts it based on how much he thinks we need….puts it in a machine that flattens it (all the machines are old…traditional)….he then takes it and puts it in a machine that cuts it into the pasta…he cuts the strings in half and proceeds to the cutting board..where he carefully places it on the wax paper…adds some more organic semolina….and mixes it a bit…and then closes the package with great care.
“Abbiamo oggi il pane” he says….ah their organic bread that they make on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only….always a treat. So, he adds a loaf of bread to my bag….and rings me up….3.50euro for the pasta and 1.50euro for the panne. As I’m bidding my ciao grazies and buono serata (he taught me to say buono sera when I arrive and buona serata when I leave)….Christian reminds me…ravioli domani! I smile….they only make ravioli on Fridays…with spinaci and ricotta….why? Because on their farm they make ricotta on Thursday only. There is such charm to limited availability….when it is based on such goodness….it puts you in a food rhythm….and makes everything special. And when people are out…they are out….so you learn to get their early….I’ve been late a few times…and went without…and although disappointed…there is even a charm to that!
With my bag pulling at my shoulder and my lower back screaming in pain, I tighten my abdomen to take off some of the pressure….reminding me I STILL haven’t joined the gym……and then I turn the corner to my flat and bid ciao to the familiar neighbors….walk up two flights of stairs……and plop the goods on the table. The three teenagers entranced in their computers jump up with excitement and ask what I got from Elizabetta….and what kind of pasta we were having….they help unpack the goods with a gleam in their eye as if it was a stocking at Christmas time….we pour ourselves a bit of Chianti and put dinner together…talking about Elizabetta…the recipes…our day….the food….tomorrow…life….and the haute dog beauty contest that we have just entered Bella and Alli in. ☺ We share a wonderful meal…..the kids fight about the dish duties….and I retire on the couch…..I read a bit and then put my book down on my lap….glance out the window as the church bells ring…this is still so surreal….the beauty of it all…..I never knew such a thing was possible…but I admit….I have truly fallen in love with this life….within this City…how will I ever go home?
I hope your days are filled with beauty!