Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Living on an Italian vineyard

I wrote a blog a few days ago on the phone, but we have not been able to get on the internet for a while. I will publish that one when we get on WIFI, but for now, things will be out of order. Also, this keyboard seems to have no apostrophe, so I can not use contractions.  Continuing:

We spent the last three days living in the Agritourismo on the Barbarani vineyards, a guest of our friend Niccolò and his family.  Niccolò was an exchange student with my sister who lived in my bedroom for a couple of weeks 15 or so years ago.  He and his family are amazing hosts and took great care of us.

We left Venice on the bullet train to Florance on Saturday June 25.  We had a few hours to kill before our train left, which led us to wander around Venice and stumble on a large area of what seemed to be public housing.  It was very clean and seemed to have less graphetti that the rest of the city. But I digress.  The train was fast and comfortable, and we sat next to a girl traveling by herself from Guatamala. We did not know there was anyone in Guatamala well off enough to travel around Europe.  I digress again.  In Florance, we picked up our rental car and promptly got lost.  At least we were on the right side of the road.  Amidst flashing lights, a few horns, and lots of tailgating, we found our way to the interstate and headed down to Umbria, the region south of Tuscany.  There we followed Niccolòs directions around a beautful lake along curvy mountain roads to the Agritourismo, a restored Umbrian farmhouse on their winery.  We admired our view of vineyards and the lake, then headed into Orvieto to meet Niccolò for dinner.

Dinner was an Umbrian feast.  Black truffles are in season, which means they find their way into every course of every meal.  Fortunately, we love them.  For those who do not know, like me, truffles are a tuber, like potatoes, and not a fungus, like mushrooms.  They taste like very delicate, mild mushrooms, to me at least.  We started with proscutto (ham, my spelling is awful), cheese, bruscetta with liver, bruscetta with some type of bean and meat paste, bruscetta with marinated pork cheek, bruscetta with lard, honey, and rosemary, and bruscetta with truffle spread.  Sounds weird, but trust me, it was delicious.  Anna followed with vegetable pasta and I enjoyed a perfectly cooked steak with olive oil and truffles.  We enjoyed Barbarani Foresca wine, of course, and finished with tiramissu.  On a side note, we have had tiramissu twice, and both times it was more custardy than cakey.  The lady fingers were small and completely subsumed in the coffee custard.  I like this style more than the kind you get in the US.

Our tour guide just arrived to take us on a tour of the castle and winery where we are staying in Tuscany.  I will continue to fill in the blanks as we have the chance.  For all to know, Anna is feeling better and is learning to drive stick! 

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