Friday, 29 June 2012

When in Bologna...(or how Brits are more fun drunk) IV


Part 4 of K's Series

Before I go to SoIL and stay at a place that doesn’t have internet and barely a cell phone signal, I thought I’d finish this four part series. I may not take on four part stuff again because I never got around to finishing them. It isn’t like my job got in the way...since I don’t do that anymore :P

Well, on with the show! I’m sure the 12 of you just have to know why Brits are better drunk. :)

Our “light” lunch was at the beautiful farm of Corte d’Aibo. It is located about 13 miles (20 km) outside of Bologna, Italy. The views were simply breathtaking. We were on the top of a hill with vineyards as far as the eye could see. You just knew you were in Italian wine country. Corte d’Aibo was not only a restaurant, but a winery, and guesthouse. They even had an old farm dog named Mortadella. She did share the color with the baloney-like meat...and was very round.

View from Corte d'Aibo

There was bread waiting for us on the table with some wonderful EVOO and balsamic condiment. Then the all-organic wine began to flow. I suppose in a way it was fitting that we went to an organic winery for lunch. The entire day was focused on understanding where food came from and the ingredients involved. So when we started with Pignoletto Frizzante, made with 100% pigneletto grapes, I knew exactly what I was drinking. And, as the name suggests, it was slightly fizzy. Wonderful! Throughout the meal we actually had a taste of almost every wine on offer, plus one without a label. That’s how you know it’s good! N was closer to the wine bottle carnage and the corks seemed to be piled up in front of her. She wasn’t the one consuming the lion’s share though. She was sitting next a pair of British couples traveling together. They seemed to dominate the wine pouring extravaganza.

The beginning of the “light” lunch.

Our first course, after the bread, was juicy mellon topped with prosciutto. Alessandro recommended balsamic condiment drizzled on top. While I didn’t much care for prosciutto while at the factory, this combo was wonderful.

The second course was a small piece of lasagna. I knew this was going to be wonderful because I was having the dish where it was created. Something that I’ve noticed in the States is that many folks use cottage cheese in lasagna. The Italians use that fresh ricotta from the parmigiano-reggiano factories. I am not completely sure, but I think the noodles were made with spinach as well. Yummy!

The third dish was spaghetti with white truffle carbonara. Truffles aren’t a fungi that I often enjoy because of the cost and white truffles are the crème de la crème of the  subterranean mushroom. Of course white truffles come from northern Italy, so I was actually not only having a treat, but a local food as well. Since I was at an organic farmhouse, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were grown on the property. N doesn’t normally like mushrooms, but when mixed with the wonderful carbonara she was in spaghetti bliss.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeywan/4635431975/sizes/m/in/photostream/
I don't beg, I just wait for the third course

I should mention at this point that we are pretty full. The portions have been small, but our hosts continued to refill our plates to ensure they had no extras at the end of the meal. It was like going to grandma’s house. The Aussie sitting across from me physically covered her wine glass throughout the meal so that it wouldn’t keep being magically refilled. I didn’t mind since that should have meant more for me...except the Brits were monopolizing the wine refills!

The fourth course was a simple risotto dish cooked in the local Le Borre wine, which is made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. This gave the dish a very rich color with the flavor to match. We were instructed that a little bit of parmigiano-reggiano on top was a good idea. I knew from prior research on Italy that unless they offer you the cheese, the dish probably isn’t meant to have it on top. This one didn’t disappoint.

The fifth course was...ummm, it was...no idea. After having so many dishes, I don’t think I would have remembered even if I wrote this sooner. N and I agree there was a fifth course, but we have no idea what it was. It was good though. :)

The sixth, and final course was chicken thighs in the same Le Borre sauce as the risotto. The sides were local roasted veggies. While I really wanted to enjoy this dish, I was too full to have more than a bite. I wanted to take a break and have some wine but the bottles were all in front of the Brits. Damn!

After lunch we were offered coffee, which means espresso, and a small plate of bite-sized desserts. There were strawberries, brownies, and some type of wonderful lemon cake thing. This dish was small and delicate and I was able to have a few pieces of fruit.

It was time to be returned to the hotel. We were in the van with the Brits. They were a really lively bunch. The gentleman I was talking to kept dropping the F-bomb, which is friends commented that he only does when he was drunk. On the drive out and between locations there were probably five words spoken in the van. The way back was completely different. Once Brits have some alcohol, they completely open up. As a side note, I met a Croatian tennis player on a ferry in Croatia that used to live in London. She commented to us about her experience that the British weren’t very warm to outsiders. I suppose she just didn’t see enough of them drunk.

2 comments:

  1. The worst part about the lunch was that our host felt that I needed much more food than K, because I'm a lady. I have no idea how that makes sense, but I do know that my plate was filled time and time again, and it didn't matter how many times I said, "Oh God, no more!" And every dish was fabulous so I had no choice but to eat way beyond a comfortable limit. So delicious!!

    The guy sitting next to me in the van was leaning to one side to avoid the possibility of accidentally touching me earlier in the day. No talking. No eye contact. Nothing. On the way back it was like the six of us had been best friends forever!

    I wish I had gotten a picture of the wine cork carnage. It was pretty impressive. I was fairly good to go after the lunch, having had my glass topped off way too many times (because I'm a lady, dammit!). The Brits next to me drank nothing short of an unbelievable amount. I stand in awe of my tipsy brethren.

    My favorite Brit was the guy who kept reaching over and shaking the empty bottles surrounding me, to make sure there wasn't anything left. He was also the one who says "fuck" a lot when he's drunk. Hilarious guy!

    If anything, I learned that real Italian food is an experience not to be missed, and if you're looking to make British friends, don't forget the booze. So "Cheers!" to the Brits; it works on so many different levels.

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  2. Reading this was like reading a Redwall book, in that now I am completely hungry, but for something delicious and organic and hearty that I have no method of finding in my MidWestern apartment.

    Someday, Deeper n' Ever Pie... SOMEDAY.

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