Yesterday was a Very Busy day and I want to share it with you.
It started out pretty early. We had an appointment with my knee surgeon at the hospital for X-rays. It was the standard 45 day post op checkup. I’m happy to say I’m fit as a fiddle. I’m now cleared to walk normally up and down the steps, which I did with very little problem. I’m very happy!
It was a pretty day (mostly) with a lot of fall colors and watery blue skies. Not too cold. To go from our house to the hospital in the city of Perugia we can take the SuperStrada around the city (faster but busier), the road that goes through the middle of town (tiny one way streets) or the pretty 2 lane road through the mountains. So, on the way to the hospital Luther took us through the city. On the way home I chose the mountains.
The road goes by a winery and agriturismo we like so we stopped to buy some wine. They also raise pigs which become prosciutto. Here’s the big ole sow. The piglets had run inside. The pens are super clean, and have inside and outside parts.
We also stopped at a place we’ve been passing all the years we’ve been here. It is an enormous castle and a beautiful golf course. We were looking for the restaurant that was supposed to be there. We drove up to the castle which is shuttered. Word has been it was supposed to be an upscale hotel, they also advertise condos for sale. For a long time it was covered with scaffolding but it had been removed a year or so ago. Yet still it is not open. Somebody put a lot of money into this property with the 18 hole Trent Jones golf course.
Old olive groves surround the castle
The golf course. We don’t have many golf courses in Umbria, or Italy, for that matter. It had a number of people playing. The sign at the entrance says welcome in Italian, English, German, and…Russian. Tells you who they are hoping to attract.
We had been invited to la cena (dinner) by our friend Vera. She is such a gem. Her suocera (mother-in-law) was having a big dinner for friends and family. No special occasion that I could discern. I was a little reticent but decided I need to mix more so we said we’d come. Vera said not to expect much. It was a down-home feast with the contadini (contadino means farmer) so local folks – working people, farmers.
I will tell about it in pictures 🙂 Here is Vera and her suocera.
The meal was going to be in the garage. As garages go, it was a nice one. Here is the cinghiale who watches over the scene.
I asked what the wires across the ceiling were for. I was told they were to hang the grapes that they dry to make Vin Santo. It is for personal consumption. The grapes are allowed to raisin to get sweet before they make it. They don’t make it every year so no grapes were hanging.
What garage do you know that has a crackling fire? It was for warmth but also for roasting chestnuts at the end of the meal.
Beside the fireplace inside sat Silvester, the ancient Tom Cat. He’s 13 years old and never been to the vet. Not castrated…Italian men don’t allow “cutting”… he didn’t want to be bothered or touched. When he moved it was the slowest I’ve ever seen a cat move. He must be hurting 🙁 But he did seem to be enjoying the fire’s warmth.
Just outside is their big forno (wood oven). And the outside fireplace. Both were roaring hot.
Here is the pork liver (I am fairly certain I’ve never had pork liver before) that had been cooked for both the crostini and the secondo, much to Luthers dismay. Not really, there was plenty of food and he tasted it. We were surprised Italians love liver so much!
The meal begins with crostini. One, liberally dosed with the new olive oil, the other, fegato (liver). Very, very rich!
Beginning the polenta. Two kinds of corn meal…Add to the boiling water, bring to a boil again and continuing adding hot water, “til it is right”, cook, stir.
Takes a LOT of stirring to make polenta
The polenta is pronounced ready.
To go on top, a luscious ragu. It had simmered for hours and hours in the biggest pot I’ve seen in a home kitchen! It was pork bits. All sorts with bones and all. Plus lots of sausage. By now the meat was off the bones. They scooped the meats out and put them on a separate plate. Then they took the tomatoes, which the meat had simmered in and scooped it into a separate dish. Rich and mouthwatering.
To serve, the polenta goes in a plate, add meat and sausages, and top with rich tomato sauce.
Two long tables. All men at one, all women at the other – hah! (Kids were upstairs) Very typical. After a while Vera and I moved over to the men’s table. There is no rule or prohibition to sit together. But the men and women prefer to talk of men’s and women’s things so why sit together?
I had fun. It had been a long day and I was pretty tired so we had the dolce (dessert) and headed home before the chestnuts were roasted. A very traditional, home cooked meal that couldn’t be beat! And a unique experience.
Yeah, I know! right? A fireplace in the garage. 🙂 OMG the food was fab. But very, very heavy. Especially the liver. I loved it on the crostini but I just ate a little for the secondi. It the polenta meat tomatoes dish was to die for.
Omg that meal looks delicious. I want a garage with a fireplace!
Hi John, I had never seen good Italian home cooks make polenta before either. It was all by feel. No measuring 🙂 I do like polenta with ragu or braised meats. And you can save it and fry it the next day.
You would have Tess! It was a fun experience. And I am really thrilled my knee is doing so well. Thanks!
Nancy, thanks for sharing your experiences. How to make and serve polenta is a weak spot in my Italian culinary/cultural background, so I really appreciated seeing how your Umbrian friends do it. My Friulian friends did something with rabbit and a very dark, rich gravy that came from the meat. Glad to hear your knee is doing so well and that you can get around better now.
I would have loved that. Your Italian must be coming along leaps and bounds! So happy that you walking well and that you are happy with your progress!