LOCATION: Housesitting in Cingoli, Italy
WEATHER: Like spring – mostly sunny, windy. High 60
We returned to the walled hilltop town of Cingoli, about 7 kms from here, for lunch. We had seen an interesting looking restaurant when we visited the town a few days ago, but it was closed that day. It is down a narrow, winding alleyway.
The restaurant is in the family palazzo. It is a warren of small rooms. The owner supposedly is the 40th Marquis in his line, and we read on the menu that several Popes are in the family ancestry and lived here at one time.
We steeled ourselves to order drinks, then perused the menu. There were a lot of items that I couldn’t figure out. As with most Italian restaurants, there is a section for antipasti, then a first course section, then a second course section, salads, and desserts.
Many years ago, when I was a university student in Spain, I travelled one summer with my brother and his friend. The US dollar was strong; we mostly slept on the trains on a Eurorail pass; and I controlled the daily budget of $1 per day! Yes! With that in mind, we didn’t eat in restaurants very often. Mostly bread and cheese (and the occasional reindeer sausage in Norway, but I digress). So, when we visited Italy, I was delighted to see that restaurants offered first course items (mostly pasta) that were very inexpensive and within our budget. We found a cute-looking place and ordered heaping bowls of pasta. Full and content, we got up to pay and leave. The owner started yelling at us and chased us down the street, screaming that we didn’t order the required second course. If I recall, we just ran away.
Since that time, standards have changed, and waistline-watching Italians don’t always eat both a first and second course. So, today, we ordered one first course, one second course and a salad to share between us. What a selection!
For our first course, we ordered the “gnocchi ai funghi” — melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi in a creamy porcini mushroom sauce….
Second course was “filetto di maiale al tartufo e scarmosa affumiacata”. We weren’t sure what this was, other than a filet of something and I knew that tartufo means truffles. It turned out to be pork loin medallions with smoky scarmosa cheese in truffle sauce. Wow!
We shared a mushroom/arugula salad drizzled with the slightest hint of a vinaigrette with thin slices of parmesan on top.