Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Eve + The New Year

Buon anno!! It is now 2010 and we have had a fantastic past 2 days! On New Year's Eve day, Heather, Dad, and David went to the store and got some things to satiate us for the next couple of days. They picked up some cavolo nero, cauliflower, and some tortellini for our soup. We had all decided beforehand that New Year's Eve day and the New Year would be our days for relaxing. In the morning Alan, Heather, Mom and I went on a long walk on our property (Dad and David had to go back to the store, ugh!). It is so beautiful and huge! We didn't see a single soul on our hour long walk. Heather and Alan kept peering into ponds and streams hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife but, unlike Florida, every body of water isn't teeming with life and they didn't see anything. The weather was overcast and a little chilly but it was still a lovely walk. When we were close to home it began drizzling a bit... the theme of our trip! Alan and Dad whipped up a fantastic lunch of tortellini in brodo and chicken salad sandwiches (with homemade mayonnaise!!). We all lounged around for the afternoon, catching up on our reading and whatnot. Then it was time to get ready for the big night!! Amidst getting dressed, MY LUGGAGE CAME!! Finally!! I was so relieved and happy. We all put on our most stunning gear and we were off, headed to Sienna to celebrate the New Year. We took a long walk to the Piazza del Campo. So beautiful and quite a sight to see! It is a huge half circle of buildings facing the main church and tower which soars above the entire town of Sienna. The half circle is bordered with bars and risoranti and the middle is empty. On this particular night though, there was a stage in front of the church for the show later in the evening. The locals stood scattered throughout the center of the piazza, throwing off fireworks and firecrackers, unconscious of people walking through the piazza. The noises of firecrackers reverberated off the walls surrounding the square and it was amusing to see everyone jump when one of them would unexpectedly explode. Since we had arrived before our reservation at 8:30 we stopped at a bar bordering the piazza and had drinks. It was quite enjoyable people watching as most people were dressed in their finest for the occasion. After our drinks we headed to the restaurant and were seated upstairs at a table especially reserved for us! We were served complimentary champagne and some amuse bouches- we had a tempura fried sushi with salmon, a pretzel topped with salmon, a pastry filled with some kind of salmon flavored cream and roe, a flavored bread-like scone, a thing that resembled a pizza roll with no filling, and a fried meatball of hare. Then we were served a plate of gelato over a hard, sweet polenta cake and a fish with a thick, sweet sauce on top. These were all complimentary and not part of the 8 course menu that followed!! The next course was a chicken liver served with some sort of celery-like vegetable that was topped with breadcrumbs. For the next course, we had a risotto with baccala. Next was a tortelloni filled with cinghiale. Next we had hare with a pureed beet and some preserved onions. The hare was so gamey and some people didn't like it but I thought when you tasted all the components together, it was quite delicious. Next were beef cheeks which were absolutely heavenly! It looked like a cut of filet mignon it was so huge, and I ate every bite! Dessert was a bittersweet chocolate sauce served over pears. At 12, when we rang in the new year with an incredible bottle of champagne, we were served a homemade pannettone. Everyone in the restaurant wished each other buon' anno and auguri and toasted to the new year! Last but not least we were served lenticche, for prosperity. While I was the only one to finish every plate, I only had one bite of the lentils... salute to prosperity!! We headed into the streets crowded with Italians and went to the main square. We stuck to the outskirts and enjoyed the light show and music. The entire square was filled with people, amazing to see, and had a light show which projected images onto all of the surrounding buildings. The theme was a soul type Motown show and while surprising, it was great! We stayed until about 2 am when we squeezed our way through the crowds to the opposite side of the piazza and walked back to the car. Half of us endured the incredibly smelly, dirty bathroom in the parking garage before we left... but hey, the parking was free, buon anno!! We had such a great new year!! We made it home safe and passed out immediately. Today we all slept in as long as we pleased. We had breakfast around 2:30 (tee hee) and then started the fire. We bought a whole suckling pig which was small and perfect for the 6 of us!! When the time came though to season the pig... we realized some bad news. We pulled it out and unwrapped it and had quite a "funky" smell. After getting the opinions of everyone and even cooking it a little, we all decided it wasn't good to eat. Very upsetting since so much time and effort was put into it, not to mention the fact that we were all looking forward to the celebration. Ah, well. We just finished up a large pot of pasta topped with a spicy, red sauce served over buffalo mozzarella (which melted delightfully underneath the hot pasta!). Luckily, we have some sausage in the freezer that we'll be cooking up in the fire and serving with cavolo nero and cauliflower. Tomorrow, we're headed to Volterra and we will spend our last night cooking at home before our departure to Roma. BOUN ANNO, AUGURI to everyone at home in America! We miss you and you are in our thoughts as we begin the New Year. Ciao for now! xxo.