Vacation


Ohhhh! THAT is how you get a whole-grain roll.

My time in Vienna is drawing to a close – and I have finally learned the proper way of getting whole wheat bread on the table.

Ask for BLACK bread!!

I’d had no luck with asking for “whole wheat” “organic” “brown” or even “dark”. At breakfast – fewer than 48 hours from my departure, I saw a man eating the roll that I wanted.

Kornspitz at the Cafe Eiles

It is apparently called a Kornspitz. I did what we uninformed often do: I pointed to it and asked the waiter “What is that, please? Bitte. I want one of those, please. How do I order it, please?”

Black bread.

Now you know.

I have this thing where I romanticize the “different tastes” from other countries when I travel. Whether it be “eggs” in every Dutch dish I ate when I first visited in the 90’s.

Or the “acqua con gas” I drank in Rome from a company called Claudius. It was my go-to bottled water. Likely because I imagined it was drawn from the ancient wells of “I, C-C-Claudius”.

My first night in Vienna this summer of 2019, I ate at a Greek restaurant. The meal was fabulous. Beef tasted like real beef. Tomatoes: real (you get the picture).

The water was labeled “prickelnd“.

Though I’d never seen the word before, I could divine the water was sparkling.

Onomatopoetic.

I had this view that the water was naturally extracted from some bubbling spring in the Vienna Woods NOT that it was a bloody Coca Cola product. I mean, where’s the romance in that? I bet those bubbles aren’t even natural.

Bastards.

I am smitten with the idea of the life of the person or people behind that window across the rear courtyard here in Roma.

It caught my attention because of the candle. Plus, everything else I could see in the space below was inanimate. This promised a story.

The table was simply, but elegantly, set. It didn’t have the quotidian feel of just another dinner.

I first saw a youngish woman setting something down – maybe she had just finished setting the table. Then a man – her partner, roommate, friend? (Probably not just friend – the candlelight after all) – sat a pan down with something sizzling. Maybe it was veal scallopini – but more likely chicken breasts (unlike Jimmy Stewart – I had no binoculars plus hey!! I wasn’t spying or anything).

I had just finished washing my day’s undergarment- and hanging it out to dry on the little clothesline outside my kitchen window – in time to catch them eating their meal together. He seemed rapt with attention, pouring her sake – and I imagined her elusive. Like maybe they were just courting.

That’s it. I walked away from the window. Watched 007 (Sean Connery) in Italian. Then went to bed.

In the early morning hours, I peeked to see what I could see. I saw shutters. In the awake time of the day, a laptop and papers on the table.

Though it struck me that I had invaded their privacy by looking, I also considered that they could be staring at my window. And seeing my Hanky Panky® on the clothesline.

So, I set out for a lake adventure on this sunny Spring day in Italy – getting an “open ticket” on the ferry, allowing me to stop in one of six towns on Lake Como, including Bellagio. 

I realize once I am on the boat that wherever I start – I would have about a two-hour wait until the next ferry departure because it was lunchtime. That’s okay – I am going to need something to eat anyway. 

I make my first visit at Lenno – walk along the waterfront. See a few tourist places – and head up the hill to find the center (il centro) of the tiny little town. And a restaurant not for tourists – which, of course, I don’t regard myself as — but a place to eat for the townsfolk. 

I stop at a post office and buy some stamps (francobolli) for my postcards (cartoline). I ask the dude behind the counter – in Italian (of course: hey, I’m no stinkin’ tourist!!!) (which is ridiculous because I am. But I digress). 

Where can I find a restaurant, I inquire. Oh, we have hundreds of restaurants, tanti (many). 10 kilometri. 

I know enough to know I am not walking 10 kilometers to find a non-tourist restaurant. Pizza would be fine. At this point. Tic toc – lunchtime is almost over. My ferry departure is closer. AND I needed a toilette!

I return to the restaurant I’d  rejected. Order a nice salad and a glass of vino bianco and ask the waitress. Scusi. Dov’è il centro?  Oh madame, she answers: here! This is il centro!!

Ha! Serves me right. 

Lunch was perfect, by the way. 

It comes to the table – steam, redolent of garlic, warmly wafting from the plate. 

A mosaic of buckwheat pasta, melted cheese and green vegetables.  Where to start?  With a bite of potato? Or some kind of perfectly cooked green vegetable: the leaf of a romanesco cauliflower, a slice of – I don’t know – perhaps fennel. Subtle little greens – maybe broccoli – maybe spring vegetables. 

And that pasta! Humor me as I wax poetic over this pasto di pasta. A thick, not wide, noodle – with that hearty bite of buckwheat, delicately covered with sauce. 

It may triumph over Cacio e Pepe.

Maybe.  I haven’t spent any real time in Roma, yet. 

My very first pizzocchere. Accent on the second syllable: pea-ZOCK-uhree. 

Oh – did I mention dessert: la meringa con fragole?
Soft and crunchy. Meringue. With strawberry sauce and a kinda squishy, gelato-like layer. 

Burp!

Janet Eats, indeed. Better head out for una passeggiata up and down those steep and narrow hilly streets called contrada.

Minnesota State Fair 2016

Every year, my trek to the Great Minnesota Get-Together is both the same.  And, absolutely different than years past.  But, always, consistently, fun and memorable.

Steve & I at the Fair

I always go to Day One of the Fair in Saint Paul with my “fair husband” Steve. We are particularly compatible as a fair couple because we like the same things, yes, but are also open to the choices of the other person. Plus, we share the food.

iron range meat

Iron Range Meat & Potatoes

So without further ado (because I know you are dying to find out) here is what we ate at the Fair:

  • Iron Range Meat & Potatoes
  • Pronto Pup®
  • Honey Sunflower Ice Cream, Honey Lemonade, Honey Lemon Sorbet (can you tell I am a big fan of the honey wing of the Horticulture Building)
  • waffle fries
  • birch beer
  • vanilla milkshake (only 2 spoonfuls; too creamy. Me, I like icey shakes)
  • blue cheese & corn fritz
  • candied bacon donut sliders
  • cup of coffee, flight of dark beer, Clown Shoes chocolate porter, lots of water
  • roasted corn
  • cinnamon banana dark chocolate Jonny Pop.

For more pictures and narrative, I invite you to check me out on Instagram @nyproducer

 

 

October, 2015: my annual voyage to Italy.

I visited my cugini in Bologna. I really love to spend time with cugina (Italo-Americano) Paul, his beautiful Italian wife Laura, and one of their daughters: the adorable Michelle. The other daughter, Alessandra, is in California right now – attending high school in the Bay Area.

Bologna is, as I mentioned in a prior post, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Pretty much when you think of Italian food, you are really thinking of food from this region: prosciutto, lasagna, tortellini, ragu, etc.

Food in Italy — as in many countries, even the USA — is regional. On this trip, I discovered many foods that, for the most part, haven’t “travelled” to American tables. Like:

Tigella – you can read about these little discs of breadliness in my post – Tigella Paradiso

Garganelli – a quill-shaped egg pasta served in brodo or with ragu. Maybe I have seen this pasta shape before, but I don’t remember. It is the pasta being held in the left hand of my new “friend” from Bagnocavallo:  Signora Maria.

You can read all about my adventures with Sig. Maria on my sister blog, rulingwoman.com. In short, I learned to make this pasta and fully intend to do so when I return to America. 

Giuggiole (JEW-joh-lay) is this fruit that grows on trees around Bologna.  

It looks like a nut. When you bite into it, it has a crunch and taste like an apple, with a pit.  Beautiful. I’d like a sweater in the colors of the giuggiole.  And, finally

Passatelli in brodo. Very VERY regional. My cugini and I went to a restaurant on my last night in Bologna. When the waitress spieled off the dishes for the night, she mentioned Passatelli. My cugina, Laura, was delighted when she heard that, and immediately ordered it. “What is it,” I entreated.  It is a “pasta” made out of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, eggs, lemon and nutmeg that is pushed through a press with holes (extruded almost like spaetzle though not quite). Passare –  passed through. Dropped into a rich, steaming-hot broth. The waitress ladled this brothy, cheesy, doughy bit of wonderfulness into our bowls. Yep, I slurped it right up, I’m sure of it! Luckily, I didn’t have my phone with me, so nothing could stop me from diving right into this sensuous repast. 

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