It’s time to talk about some Italian food!
You probably remember the photo I posted on Facebook and the blog of the sweet fried raviolis and other treats of Carnevale. In addition to bringing us a beautiful selection of these treats, our lovely neighbor Antonella brought us two kinds of homemade raviolis. One plate was stuffed with ricotta and spinach in a yummy sauce of pork. Then later she had her son, David, deliver a beautiful dish of ravioli’s stuffed with meat in an incredible tomato sauce. I could just kick myself for not taking a photo of those beautiful dishes!!! Ravioli is my favorite pasta and I think I blacked out when I saw them and when I awoke they were all gone. Seriously, they were the best raviolis I have ever eaten in my ravioli-filled life!
The multi-course meals we had at the two party locations (Cantina del Arte and Caffe Bistro) were very good but not blog-worthy as they were cooking for a crowd. But so reasonably priced at 20 Euro per person including the wine!
Our dear angel Grace left for three months in Australia a couple weeks ago and we already miss her a lot. Our new friend Jo (born in Pittsburg) had a small bon-voyage dinner for her. As always, we were excited to visit another Italian home and Jo has a reputation as a great cook. Jo and her husband, Maurizio, have a gorgeous home (condo in US terms) in the Villa Pigna area not far outside of town. It is full of her handmade lace and other needlework creations as well as those made by her mother. Grace picked us up and we were joined by Lucia, Serafino and Gina at Jo’s beautifully set table. There was prosecco and a smooth red wine chosen by Maurizio. Antipasto consisted of Jo’s homemade water crackers, fig and brandy jam and fresh pecorino cheese, homemade hummus, veggies and olives. I brought Grace’s favorite, Ina’s crostini with tuna tapenade.
Primo was a very unique pasta that I had never seen before called Pizzichero della Valtellina. It is a buckwheat pasta with cabbage and potatoes that was incredible. Jo even sent me home with the recipe and a package of pasta so I could try making it. Secondo was a very impressive plate of sliced turkey roulade stuffed with spinach, leeks with apples and a deicious sourdough bread made by Jo. (Stevie, she keeps a starter alive in the fidge like you do.) Contorno was a fresh-from-the market salad with apple and nuts. Dolce was a fresh fruit salad served with a yummy homemade jam crostata (first time I had seen one with a solid top which was lovely). All this was followed by baci candies, caffe and a choice of grappa or other digestivos. It was a fun night over an incredible meal and the perfect way to say bon-voyage to our friend (and incredible cook) Grace.
Cinzia’s Memorial Banquet:
Our ambitious Italian angel, Cinzia M., has taken it upon herself to put together a three-day soccer tournament in memory of her father. He passed a few years ago but in his prime was a major soccer figure in Ascoli as a player, coach and organizer of several tournaments. We were invited to the first of many functions leading up to the tournament, the kick-off memorial dinner. Since we know nothing of soccer and could not understand the many heartfelt testimonials, we were there to support Cinzia and for the food. It was also a great opportunity to renew acquaintances with Cinzia’s family that we had met at Christmas. Lucia and Mariella picked us up and took us to the event. The Hotel Villa Pigna is a beautiful 4-star hotel and the banquet room was beautifully set in peach and cream. Cinzia looked radiant (and stressed) in her matching peach dress. We were very impressed with her ease at the microphone with no notes – speaking just from her heart. She organized a wonderful meal and memorable evening that went off without a hitch. Everyone was there from the Mayor to every person in Ascoli that is involved in sports. Ascoli has been named “the City of Sport” for 2014.