Friday, July 11, 2008

A Quick One While He's Away

Before I forget the events that comprised the night, I should record them.

It was said that Kyuss (real name Fabio, cousin of Lucca and local awesome dude) had a fix on a restaurant that would serve the local delicacy, donkey ravioli, if given advanced notice. Two days ago, in Brescia, we gave said notice and I thought little else of it.

I spent my last hours in Brescia walking the streets, eating a fantastic home-made meal of pasta noodles with peccarino cheese and home made olive oil from Sicily. Then it was off to the train station, for a three and a half hour ride back to Alessandria, where I will spend my last few days in Italy.

Upon arriving, we are picked up by Max and his apparent life partner (or rather, assigned drinking buddy) and Tommaso, Max, Drinking Buddy and I meet Kyuss, his girlfriend and Lucca in the city square of Alessandria. I am thinking we are going to a place in Alessandria, but it turns out, we take an hour long drive out into the country, amidst vineyards, sunflower groves and stop next to a castle at a quaint little place owned by an elderly couple. Kyuss's girlfriend has arranged all of this, so we sit back and relax (with her hound dog) while the restaurant, which we have to ourselves, prepares the table. I knew that the old woman cooked all the food, and I knew that they bought and prepared donkey especially for us, but i had no idea what was in store. Let me list off the courses:

- Pork Sausage that was unbelievably good.
- Omlette with some kind of greens, served cold, also fantastic.
- Carpachio (raw beef, sliced paper thin) with olive oil and parmessian reggiano cheese.
- Pulpo (Octopus) salad. Fantastic.
- Grilled red and yellow peppers topped with olive oil.
- Sardines with vinegar.
- Some kind of fish in Manyonaise (which the Italians make with lemon, giving it a wholly different flavor than in the states.)
- Home Made ravioli stuffed with stewed donkey meat, and tossed with a ragu of donkey. The meat is lean and tender and rich, I can't believe we don't eat this in the states. The ravioli pasta was every bit as good as the filling.
- Local cheese served with local honey.
- Donkey loin stuffed with parma ham. Also fantastic but by this time I thought I was going to explode.
- A plate full of grilled shrimp and fried calamari.
- Grilled zuchinni.
- Followed with a cake that was similar to pound cake, one plain, one with apples.

This was all accompanied by local wine from the vineyards outside, both red and white, of which I had both, two different liquors and a cup of cafe at the end. By the end of the night, I was drunk on food and wine, and teary eyed at the hospitality I was shown while in Italy. I met these folks ten years ago, and here we are, with a special evening arranged for me. It was humbling, beautiful and filled with laughter and love.

As we drove home, I spent the little time i had left with Tommaso before he leaves for a wedding tomorrow engrossed in conversation, while Max drove wildly through the woods listening to George Michael, Abba and Lil' John. What a day, what a life.

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