Because my friend Giovanna lives close to, if not in the middle, of a winery region, and because my friend Giovanna has a very extensive background in Food and Beverage administration, is that she took me to all the places that a foodie like me, let’s rephrase, a foodie like us, have to go…
But before jumping straight to the food, it is not my first time in Italy, but it is the first time that I spend so much time having an Italian host. And these are a few things that I learnt about the Italians. First: Italians love their food. From the most humble restaurant or the Discount Supermarket, food is good. You will always find prosciutto, speck (a slightly smoked brother of the prosciutto) or mortadella. Sundried tomatoes, olives of any kind and size or color, anchovies rolled around capers. The house wine is always a good wine. It might not worth to be listed in the Wine Bible, but is decent and fresh. Funny thing: I found in the discount supermarket pasta brands that at home are sold as premium. Cheeses are always of a good quality, and olive oils are always present.
On a regular (regular) supermarket, the salumeria (cold cuts and cheeses section) looks like a jewelry shop! Prosciutto de Parma o San Danielle with different ages, mortadella with or without pistachios, and a thousand different types of sausages, salami and other types of cold cuts that it would me about a year to taste them all, and would bring me the disapproval of my cardiologist!
The other thing that the Italians love is their aperitivo. We, the rest of the mortals, drink an aperitif before lunch, in certain occasions, and when is called to it like before a barbecue with friends on a Sunday lunch. In Italy, I sat at a bar to write at 11 a. m. and asked for a cappuccino. The bartender gave me an ugly look and said: “Is too late for coffee, at this time we drink an aperitivo”. Can you imagine that? Too late for coffee? Alcohol at 11 a.m.? It is not alcohol… it is an aperitivo!
Italians didn’t invent the vermouth, but they mastered and they cherish it. Campari, Aperol, Gancia, Carpano, you name it, and they drink it. And I’m not talking about bars in the heart of downtown with yuppies dressed in Armani, I’m talking about the attendant of a shop, or the delivery guy taking a 5-minute break just for small drink, or a glass of prosecco wine with a few chips and going straight back to work to keep it up with the day. That and a few words with the other patrons, a compliment or a tease to the barmaid, two euros and that’s it.
Still, even when at 11 a. m. can be too late to have a cappuccino, never is too early to have an aperitivo, neither too late. And just in case they also invented a few drinks that have no alcohol for those that cannot ingest it. And they are bitter, as they should, and also tasty, I have to say. Still I don’t buy it. An non-alcoholic drink has the same appealing to me that a shot of decaf espresso… None!
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No solo que siempre hay una buena excusa para beber un aperitivo, sino que hasta se consiguen en el bar de la estación de trenes… Aperol Spritz entre un tren y otro! . Not only that there is always a good excuse to drink an aperitif, but you can even get it in the bar of the train station … Aperol Spritz between one train and another! #aperol #aperolspritz #aperitivo #trevino #trenitalia #italia #italy #worldcruisefoodie #worldtraveler #worldshonestfood
This brings a story to my mind. Several years ago, while I was working as a barista on one of the big ships, I had a Italian Bar Manager. And at this point I have to recognize that I pre-judge people by their nationality. If you are Italian, I like you. Just like that. But this short and bald little gentleman was the exception that confirms the rule. I just didn’t like him…
So, one morning I was working at the coffee shop along with some of my colleagues. I started the shift at 7:30 a.m., we worked like crazy the whole morning. It was a sea day, so all 3,000 passengers were onboard having nowhere to go, but the Coffee Shop! It was about 11 a.m. and none of us had time to even go to the bathroom. We were having orders like: “May I please have a 16 oz latte? Double shot, but one of the shots make it decaf, because I like the strong flavor but not much caffeine… with non-fat milk, one shot of sugar-free vanilla syrup and a few drops of chocolate. Ah! And top it up with a sprinkle of cinnamon?”. Anyway…
It took us about twenty minutes to serve all the passengers that were waiting, we were refilling the fridges, coffee, coffee cups and all the other stuff when this manager I mentioned before orders me a decaf cappuccino with non-fat milk (I think I said before that I despise decaf coffee). Well… I gave him a glass of water… he didn’t take it gladly…
Anyway, going back to a happier subject, In Italy you don’t have to spend to much money to have a good meal. I was taken to a trattoria in Fonte, surrounded by sunflower fields, in a idyllic background, that is well known because everything they serve is homemade and sourced locally. We were four, and we had plate of cold cuts and sausages as an appetizer (I love antipasto!!!) and four dishes, that mine was a fantastic plate of tortellini with butter and sage. We washed it down with a red house-wine and we wrapped up the lunch with three tiramisus (one of us was on a diet, not me), coffee and the classic homemade limoncello and we didn’t pay more than 60 euro.
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Tortellini al burro e Salvia… hace años que no comía un plato tan sencillo y sabroso!!! Tortellini with butter and salvia… it was years since I had such a simple but delicious dish!!! . #tortellini #burro #salvia #trattoria #veneto #italia #fonte #worldshonestfood #worldcruisefoodie #worldshonestfood #pastarellena
Now, if you decide to spend some money, what you will get is out of this world.
World traveler in the quest of the authentic flavours from wherever the ship takes me.