Sunday, December 27, 2009

Voi primo giorno!

Ciao from Italia!! Us kiddies departed Orlando around 12:30 for our flight to NYC, then nearly missed our 8 hour flight to Roma. The flights were, as expected, hellish! Shrieking children on both and stuck taxiing in NYC for over an hour because of the weather... but WE MADE IT!! The free alcohol on our international flight definitely helped ease the pain of travel. We struggled to find mom and dad but after we finally met up with them we got in our huge Mercedes 9-seater van and hit the road! After making it out of the city, which apparently has seen a lot of growth according to my parents, we stopped at the first AGIP we saw. We loaded up on paninis (the bufalino had buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, and arugula, and the porchetta had an incredible roasted pork on a beautiful, hearty bread) and hit the road once again! We tried to stay up for the sake of dad but since none of us got any sleep we all ended up passing out. Dad navigated on his own for a bit, quite impressively, then we all woke up again as we passed by the towering town of Sienna (where we will be spending New Year's Eve). After a couple of missed turns, we made it to a small, quaint town on top of a hill called Montereggiano. I remember this town from trips past and returning to it was a pleasant surprise. The town is surrounded by walls and at its center is a small square lined with shops, ristoranti, and gelaterias. Other then the main square, there isn't much to see besides a few streets surrounding it, but it really is a memorable place to visit. Through its walls entrances you can overlook the Tuscan countryside and it's easy to fall in love with the quiet little town. We asked for a table of 6 at a restaurant my parents frequent and the waitress answered with the typical "no" and shake of the head. After a bit more persistence, and my dad's mad Italian speaking skills we managed to put our name in- they really struggled with Ganssle so we settled for DiPasqua. We walked around the town a little, exploring the streets and peeking into some of the stores. When we sat down to eat, everyone was immediately drawn to all the plates containing tartufo. Oh tartufo, how I have missed you!! I started out with l'antipasto tartufo which included bread with a mushroom puree and shaved tartufo on top, prosciutto filled with the same, cannelini beans with shaved truffles and chingiali, wild boar sausage, all presented on beautiful radicchio leaves. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh plate of delicious food where every component includes tartufo!! Alan and Dad both got the same primo piatti as me but mom got a melanzane soufflé served over a bright red tomato coulis which was very delicious! For my secondo, I ordered bistecca con funghi porcini. The porcini mushrooms were unreal! Tender, huge, and delicious!! The steak was ok though- I don't think I will be ordering bistecca for the rest of my trip. I'll stick to chingiale which Alan and Dad both enjoyed with a rustic tomato sauce stewed with olives. It was amazingly tender and flavorful. Mom ordered pasta con tartufo which was served over a freshly baked pastry and took my breath away. Heather ordered pasta con poricini and David ordered bistecca con tartufo. On top of that, we drank two great bottles of Brunello!! Dad and I finished off a great first meal with a glass of Montenegro and Moscato D'asti. We strolled back down to the car where I realized I left my purse sitting at the restaurant. I luckily retrieved it quite easily. I even used my Italian skills with the waiter, "dimentico la mia borsa!" After the meal we were all a little sleepy but with the excitement of reaching our villa and the beautiful Tuscan countryside rushing by, we all managed to stay awake! Mom and Dad somehow were able to find the small road that leads up into the terra federale that our villa and others reside on quite easily since they have been here before. We met up with our concierge and took the bumpy ride up to our villa, "Monterotondo". There is a lot of wildlife around and on the ride up I saw a pheasant! We made it to the villa and... WOW!!! It is SO BEAUTIFUL. It sits on the top of a hill so it boasts incredible views of the Tuscan countryside. The place is huge and rustic, with beautiful tile floors, brick ceilings, marble, marble, marble and huge windows which allow the beautiful Tuscan sun to shine in! The house is a main building including the kitchen (which is SO great), the living room, and dining room. Upstairs is the master bedroom and another bedroom, where I am staying. And then there are 2 "casitas" outside the house with their own sitting areas, bathrooms and bedrooms. The house even has a beautiful infinity pool which, unfortunately, is much too cold to venture into. Our concierge had already stocked our fridge with beautiful food- proscuitti, chingiali sausage, formaggi, and verdure. We settled in, unpacked and took showers and then our pizza dough that was freshly handmade was delivered!! After most of us conked out for short naps, we woke up and made fantastic pizzas! Outside the villa, there is a huge pizza oven. Dad filled it with logs then pushed the burning embers into the back to create the perfect atmosphere for the crusty, cheesy pizzas we produced. We added prosciutto, mushrooms, garlic, buffalo mozzarella and oregano onto our pizzas laden with homemade tomato sauce and enjoyed them with yet more bottles of great wine. It was so delicious and quite enjoyable. Mom and dad passed out while the kiddies did the dishes. We ventured outside into the freezing 30 degree weather and explored the property a bit. Heather, David and Alan got to see a huge jackrabbit enjoying our back yard! Everyone is exhausted now so we are all heading to bed. Tomorrow, we are taking a tour of a vineyard and receiving cooking classes! I will be sure to post about it and will be posting pictures, which I'm taking tons of, on Facebook ASAP. xxo

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