Dining with Friends

Dining with Friends

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Really I should say lunching with friends. I did have dinners and lunches a number of times but these were two notable occasions. Just a week after I had arrived in Italy Paolo invited me to a barbecue (his word) at his country place near Imola.  Paolo is an orthodontist and almost everyone (at least the men) were dentists or orthodontists. I learned the meaning of the term “alla brace” (“brace”  means “embers”). The way it works is that the grilling area has two fire boxed. In one, you start a fire and let it burn awhile until it is a roaring blaze and has consumed a lot of the wood. Next you take a heavy stick or something similar, perhaps metal, and bash the fire so that coals drop through the grate. The you take a flat shovelish kind of thing and transfer the coals to the other firebox underneath the grill and then start grilling stuff. Not a bad system since you can continually replenish the coals as needed since the fire continues to burn. The food started off with bruschetta, then some peppers, yellow and red were grilled and finally a variety of meats – steaks, sausages, and spiedini of mixed meats. Of course there was wine and bottled water and a round or two of lemoncello afterwards. It was a terrific afternoon marred only by a few insistent zanzare (mosquitoes). At least they had bodies other than mine from which to choose,

The other terrific meal and excursion was in the Apennine mountains not far too far from Bologna. It was about an hour or so drive in Vittorio’s Alfa. First we stopped by the cemetery so Barbara could put flowers in the tomb of her grandparents. Every tomb and grave-site had flowers. It was All Saints day (Tutti i Santi Ognissanati) on November 1st and that is a pretty much iron-clad tradition. Actually it is supposed to be the next day, All Souls Day for the flower thing but November 1st is a holiday and November 2nd isn’t so they’ve adapted. We then went on to the agriturismo where they had reserved a table for 10. The place has a history dating from 1485. You can visit their website by clicking here. We ate a lot, especially a local specialty called crescentini. These are little squares of bread (about 1 inch on a side) that have surely been fried in very hot oil. They are not at all greasy and puff up like little pillows. They are eaten with a variety of salumi – mortadella, salami and prosciutto with a side dish of pickled onions and peppers. I also had hand made tortellini in brodo which was terrific and appropriate for the colder weather. In the photo of the group you can barely see me in the last chair on the right. If you look closely you can see that I’m holding a bottle of grappa – the first that we consumed.

As always with the larger pictures you need to click to see the whole thing.

Mille grazie to Paolo, Cinazia and Vittorio and Barbara and all of their friends for being such great hosts. I hope to return before long and see you all again.

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