I finally made it!!!
Having successfully killed enough time, I headed down into town in the hopes of finding the restaurant my parents had reminisced about time and time again. The city was beautiful and quaint, and the artwork gave it a truly unique flair. Everywhere you looked there were colorful paintings, wacky statues or bright flowers. I came to the main square and wandered into a building with a sign for the restaurant. I encountered an elderly woman, who was surely the grandmother of the family, headed down into the kitchen. She told me the restaurant would be open in another 20 minutes and I returned to the piazza, retiring to a bench in the shade. I settled there with my Kindle although I was mostly observing the comings and goings of the townspeople. I watched a woman come out the door of the restaurant, light her cigarette and walk across the square through an arched entryway. She came out minutes later with a handful of fresh picked basil and I knew I was in for a delicious lunch. When the time came I went back to the restaurant and headed down into the cool dining room that was flooded with light from the windows overlooking the vast valley below. A man greeted me and after hearing my Italian, he immediately switched over to impeccable English. He brought me a much needed bottle of ice cold water and told me about the wine list; there were no glasses served at the restaurant, only bottles and half bottles. Knowingly using unwise judgment, I ordered a half bottle of Nebbiola; there was no way I was eating a pristine lunch without wine! The server then introduced me to the menu, explaining that they usually served the 3 antipasto plates along with a secondi of my choosing. As a lover of both restaurant traditions and sizable amounts of food, I followed his suggestion, choosing to follow my antipasto up with agnolotti al plin. The first of three antipasti was called Rotondino but was really just the traditional thin slices of veal served with a tuna mayonnaise sauce. This was by far my favorite variation yet, as the sauce lacked the slimy quality of mayonnaise and had a mild flavor that complemented the veal perfectly.
It was served with a little bowl of anchovies swimming in an oil based parsley pesto. I munched contentedly, spreading the anchovies and pesto onto bread. My plate was cleared and my next course arrived, stuffed zucchini flowers. The flowers were fried perfectly and were lightly doused with a bright green pea sauce. I cut into one of the flowers, delighted to find it stuffed full of ricotta cheese and ground meat. I cleaned the plate, soaking up every bit of sauce with my last bite. The third antipasti arrived and I dug in. In a small ramekin, there was a flawlessly cooked egg topped with parsley and coarse sea salt. I dove in with my spoon and was thrilled to find a dense layer of porcini mushrooms hidden underneath the egg. YUM! I enjoyed my agnolotti slowly, eating each pinched ravioli on its own, savoring the buttery sage flavor that melded with the piquant filling which burst forth when I bit into the pasta. As I reveled in the blissful meal I had just enjoyed, I finished the last drops of wine and gulped down an espresso, matching each sip with a large swallow of water to ensure my survival on my return trip. I left the restaurant and stopped to fill up my bottles with water from a flowing fountain in the street. I saw a cute little cat and couldn’t help but try to tame him; the cats in Italy have been constantly resisting my advances! Of course, he skittered away before I could get near him, but I pulled out my secret weapon- leftover braesola! It wasn’t long before I had corralled in a crowd of hungry kitties, 4 or 5 of them, eager to get a bite of the meat. I was overwhelmed with a sense of self-awareness, at that moment in time I WAS the creepy cat lady, but I couldn’t resist a little loving from my feline friends. I set off along the route I came, determined to make it back in time for a siesta before the night’s cooking. The going was a lot easier on the return as it was mostly downhill, but it was also treacherous. I happen to have very weak ankles and I am no stranger to rolling and spraining, so I made my way gingerly down the rocky path. Even at my cautious pace, I made it back to Cortemillia in an hour in a half. I guzzled some water, showered off the gallons of sweat coating my body, and hopped into bed for siesta.
Pictures top to bottom:
The path up
"Via dei Feudi Carretteschi"
Reaching the end!
Me at the top
View of Bergolo from the church
View from the top; my horrible distance camera does it no justice!
The police station
Artwork at the top
My favorite painting; it took my breath away!
Stuffed zucchini flowers!
Egg with porcini
*** Don't forget you can click to enlarge any picture!!