This holiday was the longest we have shared as a family, the previous record being 12 days in Japan a few years ago. Spanning 15 days; more than 3.500 kilometers on the road; shared bathrooms with teenagers; and one tantrum (mine), and no matter the mood, be it, “I know I should appreciate this, but it looks like Florence!,” to “Can we stay another day?,”somehow it all came down to the food. Sitting for a meal, whether at a trattoria or in our personal lodging, the laughter and good family times flowed as easily as the wine. And really, isn’t that what a holiday is all about?
We are not a hotel family at all, preferring self-catering whenever possible. On this holiday, though, our first night on travel required a hotel stay. Asking the fabulous Concierge Carlo where we might enjoy seafood in Ravenna, our Adriatic stop a couple of hours south of Venice, we were directed to a small trattoria with tables inside a church courtyard, serving up our first of many plates of the bounty of the sea.
Branzino ravioli, hard to guess from the photo, but completely identifiable to the taste. Fabs.
Blackened Swordfish. Yum, yum, yum. We all shared.
The remainder of the holiday was a blissful seafood blur. Tartares, ceviches, they were all delicious.
Antipasti in Assisi, served with a dose of embarrassment for the two American families near us who did not understand (or care) how mealtime in Italy is observed. 🙁
Mushroom lasagne. A new recipe for me to recreate.
At the Rialto Fish Market in Venice, the swordfish and cuttlefish tempted us, but the simple kitchen at our farmhouse in the Veneto swayed us otherwise.
This particular stop was memorable. Not wanting to sit for the customary two hour lunch, we partook of the homemade offerings of a Nonna’s grocer along a side lane in Ostuni. Probably one of our favorite meals.
Sometimes a stop at the grocer was a bit much for Anna Grace, between the skinned bunnies and the “Equino” meat sections…
We happened upon a small trattoria in Puglia, where plate after plate of deliciousness graced our table.
As did the Limoncello. Anna Grace declared it the equivalent taste of kitchen cleanser.
In Siena we did the tourist thing and enjoyed pizza and people watching along Il Campo.
And in Venice, a serendipitous stop at a street food stand we discovered on our visit last autumn. The sardines and squid were still crispy delicious, and the white corn polenta was piping hot. Buono apetito!
If any meal across our two weeks stands out, not counting the attempt at tacos in our Umbrian cottage (in a different manner!), it would be our supper in Alberobello. We arrived a day later than expected, due to having spent the previous day at a Volvo dealer for emergency service on the car (a whole ‘nother story), to discover that the area totally embraced Austrian shopping hours. That is, all the grocers were closed, in stark contrast to what we had been enjoying even in rural Puglia. Tired and too unmotivated to find a restaurant, whatever were we to do for dinner?
A hopeful stop at a small and seemingly unpromising grocer turned out to be our saving grace. Not only did the proprietor have the essentials of fresh pasta and wine, but when I explained our plight to her, she left the store in my command to run over to her house to return with a plate of tomatoes, pepperocini, garlic, and parsley (and a recipe!) with which we could prepare dinner. There is good in this world.
Remembering a salami we had brought along, dinner came to be a fresh and fabulous pasta with the pomodoro, garlic and pepperocini.
As we settled in with a Nats game via the Apple TV (as we are wont to do), toasts were made to “the best holiday ever!”