A week ago at this time, I was sitting in a car, barreling south on the autostrada, escaping the confines of the Alps and approaching the sea. At Palmanova, we veered left, and a half hour later we were across the Isonzo and at the start of the Carso with its characteristic iron-laden ruddy soil. TC and I were welcomed by these two fellows.
It was a restorative weekend of observing grazing animals, breathing in fresh air, strolling, and being caressed by gentle rain. Just a few hours to the south, you no longer need to worry if hardy rosemary will live up to its name and make it through the winter; it flourishes in the wild.
Inspired by this blooming bush, I bought a small fragrant Rosmarino officinalis today, though this time I won’t risk a repetition of last winter’s tragedy. As soon as I finish this post, it’s going into a pot instead of the big stationary planter on the balcony, and I plan on bringing it inside once temperatures turn frosty. By that time, we should have eaten our way through the nearly 9 kilos of culinary booty we brought back. The cheese, penne, and part of a bottle of red wine are already gone, and I suspect some of the chestnut flour will disappear over the weekend.
Years ago, I checked out a beautiful cookbook on the cuisine of Friuli from the library and copied 2 pasta recipes onto notecards. Easy and delicious, I prepared both of them this week. The first is so easy you have no excuse not to try it: 500 g penne, 290 g fresh sheep’s milk ricotta, and 2 tsp cinnamon. Cook the pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, mix the ricotta and cinnamon in a bowl. When the pasta is done, put it in the bowl and mix. Voilà. Here is the recipe in more detail using the imperial system. My version served two pretty hungry adults with enough leftovers that both of them had a nice lunch the next day.
One of the best investments I made last year was buying a Slow Food Italian osteria guidebook. On the three trips to Italy we’ve taken since then, we have eaten incredibly well and for reasonable prices. This time around, we tried out three places, all of which had their own character and served up great traditional regional food. I sampled toc’ in braide (polenta with Montasio cheese, milk, and butter) and cjalsòns (still can’t pronounce this correctly – dumplings with various fillings) while TC had orzo e fagioli (barley and bean soup) and baccalà mantecato (salted cod in milk sauce). Everything I had was dusted with a layer of ricotta affumicata. When we went to our favorite place to eat in Graz yesterday, I had to laugh because guess what was being served? Pasta tricolore with arugula, tomato, and…
He knows the answer – do you?