LOCATION: Housesitting in Cingoli, Italy
WEATHER: Mild and sunny. High upper 50s
The homeowners packed up and left this morning for a holiday of skiing in northern Italy. The cats and we lounged around all morning, luxuriating in the sunshine on the patio. I gobbled up an entire book. (Since our apartment is set up as an AirB&B, the homeowners have provided tons of books, DVDs and CDs for us to use).
Although we don’t need much food (compliments of a refrigerator stocked for us by the homeowners), we did want to buy a few groceries, so we went into the little village that is 3 kms from our house. The tiny shop was chock full of everything you can imagine you need, including a very large pasta section. From there, we went to a restaurant that is only 2 kms from our house that the owners had recommended.
Although it appeared quite elegant, it was not uppity at all, and most of the customers seemed to be working class folks, on their lunch break. This is an area unexplored by most tourists, so virtually no English is spoken. I can understand some Italian since I speak Spanish. The waiter welcomed us and told us to sit wherever we wanted (so far so good with the Italian). Moving along nicely, he asked if we wanted the set fixed price menu or whether we wanted to order off the menu. I replied with the fixed menu option. I then thought he would bring us today’s choices on a chalkboard or something, but he started rattling off very quickly today’s options. Oops! I only had to ask him to repeat a few times. At one point, the cutie-pie waiter mumbled under his breath something like “I should have paid more attention in English class”. We had several decisions to make — first course, second course, vegetable and drink. I wasn’t 100% percent sure what we ordered.
The waiter brought us a bottle of red wine. (I knew I had ordered red versus white, but I was expecting a glass and not a whole bottle. Oh well!!). I had said “no thank you” to the “fizzante” which I thought was sparkling wine, but turned out to be sparkling water, so we ended up with a bottle of still water. No problem. The wine was from the region. They just fill up the bottles from a cask in the back. (3 Euros). He also brought a bottle of olive oil to the table. I managed to ask the waiter whether the oil had been grown from olive trees on the property and pressed by the restaurant. “Si” to both.
First course was a pasta dish with homemade tomato purée for me, and a different kind of pasta for George with salmon bits ad sauce. Superb and a lot of food!
Second course was prosciutto and cheese for George and arrostoncini (Italian pork bits on skewers) for me.
I looked around, and was satisfied to see that the locals had ordered pretty much the same as what we had on our table. The main difference is that everyone else had ordered the “fizzante” (sparkling water) and mixed their wine and fizzy water together. Maybe that is a lunch thing?
We were stuffed. Way too much food. I successfully got the leftovers wrapped up to take home. (I doubt if that is a very Italian thing to do but we didn’t want to waste the delicious food). The total bill (two courses each, two veg, a bottle of wine, delicious hard rolls, and a liter of water) was 28 Euros, about $33. Amazing! It was such a fun experience, that I’m sure we will return another day.
George took an afternoon siesta and I played with the cats.
We were still full from lunch so had a simple bowl of cauliflower soup for dinner, which the homeowner had kindly prepared and left for us. The evening was spent watching BBC DVDs with 2 cats perched on our laps.