Category Archives: Food

39 Days

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It’s been a long journey. I’m having difficulty remembering that five weeks ago I was a student at BABILONIA in Taormina, Sicily. I’ve traveled, made new friends, seen new places, revisited and glorified in the treasures of Tuscany, delighted in the company of Telma, reveled in the remembrances with Sally and Johanna. It’s been a long and wondrous journey.

As I sit in the Doubletree near Heathrow, I’m reflecting on these past weeks with gratitude, anticipation, and wonder. I’ll share some secrets.
. . .I was brought to tears walking down a small vicolo, alleyway, in Modica, after acknowledging to myself that I can do something I’d never imagined possible. . .speak, and almost, sometimes, understand Italian.
. . .I adore Italy and all things italian. . .even half-italian, like Don.
. . . I believe this will be my final 39 day trip for a long time, for a variety of circumstances.
. . .i can travel through 3 climates with a carry-on bag that’s been crushed and filled with things I never intended to buy.
. . . We shared this trip with Nana Weinberger. Her ashes lie under a lemon tree in Sicily, in the Ionian Sea, in the Alacantara Gorge, in the garden of Bristol Cathedral, and on a beach in Sicily. She was a traveller and we intend to keep her traveling!
. . .I missed my mother on her birthday, November 8.
. . .I worry about my family when I’m away.
. . .Im extraordinarily grateful for opportunities. It’s really about seeing the possibilities and having the courage or stupidity to follow through.

A few outtakes of photos. . .

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Con Te parterĂ². . . Time to say goodbye. Wheresweinberger closes today, until the next adventure. Where?? When?? Chissa!. . .Who knows?!

What I Know for Sure. . .

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I’ve learned one or two things about me as a mature, seasoned traveller.

1. It’s wonderful to have a day of exploring, seeing new places, being on the go,
2. It’s not to be repeated the next day.

A day off was in order today. And that meant. . .leisurely cuppa in the morning, no real schedule, and a day at home.

A midday trip to the grocery store was in order because Johanna and I are in charge of dinner the next two nights. Like Telma, a day out in a foreign grocery store is enough of a field trip for me! I discovered lovely English things like salad cream, individual Christmas puddings, and long beans. But they’ve not found their way into my suitcase!

Instead, our mission was provisions for lasagne, salad, chicken Marsala, and the accompanying vege, antipasti, ecc.

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We did well. . .

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Later in the afternoon another old, dear friend, Dave Ramsay, arrived. He’s been our friend and fun hair guy since 1976. He gave Ben his first haircut. He and partner Jayne met us in Italy a few years ago at La Tavola Marche. He and Don share affectionate names, like “old sot,” “wanker,” and others equally as x-rated.

Today he was here to catch up on news, and cut my hair, thankfully.

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OK, Mrs. Weinberger, it’s time to remove your blouse. Oh, how did THAT get in this post??!!

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A pub meal seemed in order so off we went (after I inadvertently took Casper’s car key and caused anarchy and a Harvey family meltdown!). How wondrous to be able to walk to and from the village and the pub. So very English.

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My lamb pie was enormous! Must have been a big lamb. . .

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Beside the pub I discovered Pearl and Rosina’s big brother, a real handsome fella.

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Old friends, old cars, old pubs. . .a great day for sure!

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Cucinare di Lillian

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Lillian Gattavecchi runs the tiny cucina, kitchen, at Gattavecchi, a ristorante and cantina nestled beneath a centuries old chiesa, church. The wine cellar is a former monastery with barrels that hold 3300 bottles each, and an Etruscan tomb lies beneath that.

But what beckons me to Gattavecchi is Lillian. . .her warmth, smile, and cooking. We were fortunate that during this week, as in my last trip to il Sasso, a cooking class was planned with Lillian, so off went Telma and Luisa for a culinary adventure.

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Greeted by Lillian’s son, who gave us a tour of the cellrs, we were treated to their vernaccia (grapes are grown near San Gimagnano), cheese, salami, and marmalade. Then it was time to hit the kitchen and make la cena, dinner, complete from antipasti to dolce!

Our antipasti focused on zucchini, both fried and grilled. Nothing leaves Lillian’s kitchen without a touch of fantasia.

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Lillian, who is exacting in her kitchen, sharpened each knife to perfection. I’ve never had a knife simply float through a tomato and create a perfect slice!

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We prepared a pork tenderloin which received chestnuts, both as a roasting accompaniment and a cream, sauce. It took four of us to peel all those darn boiled chestnuts, which by the way, were the sweetest I’ve ever eaten.

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The fun continued with making pasta that incorporated Vino Nobile.

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Under the tutelage of The “Mrs. Patmore” of the kitchen, we successfully rolled, floured, and cut out pasta into tagliatelle, although Lillian proclaimed that there were a we pieces of papardelle that snuck in!

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The final results. . .

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Well-sated after the sumptuous meal, with coats on and saying farewells, Lillian would have none of that. Back to the table we went for a pecorino cheesecake that was light and flavorful. Then, with gift bottles of Rosso in hand, we found our way back to the car and drove home over darkened Tuscan roads.

Thanks, Lillian for another memorable evening and delicious food. I’ll try to recreate it in Pennsylvania, but it will only be a shadow of its former self!

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