This is where it gets a little saucy. I do not need to tell you what a fantastic Chef Ron is, because most of you out there know that and I am sure miss tasting his daily creations. I, on the other hand thank my lucky stars on a daily basis that the talent this man has is bestowed on me with pleasure. This was not our first and certainly not our last time in Italy together and to remind you all (and possibly nauseate you a little) even with unruly wayward children in tow with us, Italy is truly still the place for lovers.
It felt like the moment we crossed the Swiss border heading into the beautiful lake Como district that we were drawn closer to each other with the warmth and hospitality showered upon us.
Ron, who truly has always loved his own version of Italian style of cooking almost tripped over himself the first afternoon as we stumbled upon this very cool winery http://www.vicara.it/ . We spent our first lazy afternoon drinking wine with the wine maker of this place and the kids entertained themselves on the property climbing trees (falling out of trees) and drinking the 'oh so fine' grape juice they received. As luck would have it, the winemaker had just finished doing a competition tasting with the officials from Gamberro Rosso 2008 Wine Guide so we go to sip and savor just about everything they had on offer. He was also good friends with Pio Cesare and suggested we stop by there for a few drops of vino during our stay in Piemonte. (OK, twist my arm). We loaded up a few cases of this very well priced wine and headed back to the villa.
Again I have to thank my good friend Tom Tom navigation system for sticking with us throughout this trip. Those little villages in Italy are worth driving through (stay away from the excellent toll roads if time allows) because the towns need the revenue.
When we got back to the villa, we strolled to the local butchers to get some meat to grill and trust me folks, if you have never ventured into an Italian butcher shop to buy some meat then put this on your list of things to do before you die. First of all - it is quite possibly the cleanest place you will ever step foot into (they are all this way, we became a little obsessed with butcher shops whilst on holidays) - and keep in mind we live in Sterile Swiss Land. So, inside the counter, was this robust butcher, red and white pin stripe apron waiting to take care of us. First, he greeted us warmly, then came out from behind his counter to feed the children some meat snack - no idea what he gave them, but of course they ate it and loved it.
In this immaculate display case we discovered so much more than meat and 'went to town' . The children begged and begged and begged Ron to buy the whole rabbit they saw there (eyeballs and all). Jack was really disappointed that we did not get this to grill out and asked several times throughout the duration of the trip if we could 'get a bunny for dinner?'. The only reason we did not get it, was because it was HUGE and we would have been eating rabbit for a week.
The butcher sold us a small carefully wrapped (in cheesecloth) package of little home made agnellotti's (teeny tiny little ravioli) made by his daughter. They took all of a few milliseconds to cook and if you think you do not like ravioli (like me) then this too should be added to 'things to eat before I die' list. They barely existed in your mouth for a second before disintegrating on your tongue. Always filled with something differently delicious (so you would not get bored) and Rory has decided that she will never eat another ravioli as long as she is alive unless it is the little agnellotti's from Treville. (love that girl).
I could write a book on all the wineries we dropped in on whilst in Piemonte. We were less than one hour from that adorable little town - you may have heard of - Barolo?? Yes, we spent a long time there wondering just why on earth you could possibly ever want to take the road anywhere else. But, one other winery pops into my mind as I sit here and type and and that was http://www.danilospinoglio.it/ - the reason I bring this one up is because it was an experience (non verbal) most memorable. The wine maker (again, we were just lucky on the timing) showed us a shady spot under the trees to park the car with precious sleeping children and then he brought us all the wine we could drink. He spoke not a word of English, and we no Italian. He was interrupted a few times to assist his neighbors as they came to fill up their 'cucina vino brocche' kitchen wine jugs ?? We learned a lot that afternoon. In a country like Italy, there is really no language barrier with foreigners like us. If you speak the language of love, food and wine, you can in a very easy way communicate with the locals. I cannot explain how - it just is.
Signing off for today,