Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Best Meal I Had In Italy

The picturesque Tuscan countryside--a patchwork of pretty fields, crops, sunflowers, and vineyards--provided a gorgeous backdrop as we drove from Venice to Florence. We stopped at a vineyard here called Fattoria il Poggio for an unforgettable lunch. Aside from producing wine, they also grow olives and make their own olive oil, which is pretty much its own food group in Tuscany, and used to cook and flavor almost everything. Seriously, I'm pretty sure if you asked for butter in Tuscany, you'd be slapped.

Okay, first off...can we just talk about how much more delicious and refreshing Coca-Cola is in every country besides the United States? I never drink Coke in America, but when it showed up on a meal table in Italy, it felt like Christmas morning. Factors that contribute to this phenomenon not making sense include: Coke is super expensive. Coke is served without ice and often at room temperature. Coke does not come with free refills. Really, I should hate Coke in other countries. But...there's something about the sweet familiarity of it that just made it the greatest thing ever in Italy.

Here starts the beginning of our meal, with--what else?--pasta! We ate pasta nearly every day on our trip, but this dish really stood out. The noodles were handmade into thin little sheets. I've never really seen pasta shaped like this before, and it just melted in my mouth. I got the vegetarian sauce, which was a simple, light tomato sauce.

Then we got to sample lots of yummy Tuscan foods--fresh bread (we also had bread grilled to a perfect crunch in olive oil), aromatic vinegar and olive oil that's made on the farm, smooth Pecorino cheese, flavorful sun-dried tomatoes, and kalamata olives (pits intact).

Next was the most delicious bruschetta ever, artichokes, and chunks of amazing parmesan cheese. Did I mention that I was full after the pasta?

To finish our meal, we had crunchy little almond biscuits (biscotti), which are traditionally dipped in Vin Santo, a dessert wine. I definitely shoved a handful in my purse and nibbled on them in Florence.

I was so full after our meal, I just wanted to lay down and unbutton my jeans. But we took a little tour of the vineyard and farm, saw the wine cellars, and got to see the machines where the olive oil is made. Here's part of the vineyard.

I love the simplicity of Italian food. The elements are so pure, simple, and fresh, and just a few combined ingredients--a beautiful tomato, fresh olive oil--can create a perfectly flavored meal. Nothing too weird, spicy, or assaulting to the senses...just purely delicious.

1 comment:

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