We decided that we were going to pick up supplies to cook with tonight after our trip to Florence and Fiesole. We tried to look for signs for an In CoOp supermarket or an alimentari Grocery store... but no signs and the only alimentari on the way back to Mormoraia was closed (at 5pm on a Saturday afternoon?), so we pulled on the side of the road and asked Tommy where the nearest one was. Niente closer that 20 miles... at least that's what he says. I don't trust him totally. After all, besides sounding a bit robotic, his accent is pure American! How much can he possibly know about local shops? He's just a tourist--just like us!
So I figured that nearby San Gimignano must have an alimentari outside the historic walls... so we set course... 8 minutes away. We found one! A nice one too. Paper towels for napkins, cleanup and to clear my clay dusted rear window... eggs... sliced tachina (turkey)... brasciola (very thin sliced salt cured beef)... little tomatoes... onion... snacks... drinks...butter... half loaf of bread. We were set for dinner and breakfast--or so we thought.
Another side hassle was that we were so chatty with the prospect of a home cooked meal combined with our friend Tommy not calling out turns for some reason as he usually does... we kept missing the turn-off out of town--four times! Sigh. (Our family travel theme song, to the tune of Beach Boys, I Get Around: "Turn, Turn Turn around, I turn around... Turn around, ooh..ooh...oooo... I turn around... I'm gettin' bugged drivin' up and down the same old street...")
As we hunted for basics in our cucina cupboards, there were no staples that typically are found in these apartment or house rentals... salt, pepper, foil, spices, coffee, sugar, etc. So this meant that problem solving Babbo had to fix this somehow--and we were not going to pay the 50 Euro per person for dinner in Mormoraia's little cafe!
OK... boil water... cook bird nest pasta we bought... frying pan... butter... slice up the brasciola (salty enough) into the pan... Lucas, slice those little tomatoes and toss in... add some wine... reduce sauce... toss in a bowl and grate little piece of leftover pecorino cheese we had two days ago... butter the unsalted regional bread... pour the rest of the wine... and Presto! My new recipe! Pasta Pomodoro e Brasciola alla Babbo!
Lisa and Lucas said it was one of the best meals here so far. Bravo, Babbo! One morning I made a down and dirty frittata with the little we had in our Mormoraia pantry. Buono gusto!
Other times we bought food at the large supermarkets, which had great cheese displays, not so decent breads, unrefrigerated milk in cartons, but lots and lots of produce. The fruits and veggies were very good for supermarkets. The tomatoes disappointed me, though. They seem to be selling a lot of hybrid hothouse grown tomatoes (like tomatoes on the vine in the U.S.). Decent quality, but not organic, fresh picked or heirloom varieties.
The cheeses were something we could get anywhere--supermarket or alimentari. Cacciacavalo was our favorite... a dumbbell shaped cheese with mellow, nutty flavor which went with everything. One of my favorite things was the millefiore honey... thick as jam and incredibly delicious on bread in the morning. It was also great with ricotta. (I was never really a fan of American style honey.)
Lisa also fell in love with making coffee (espresso, excuse me) in those little Moka pots. I'm sure Santa will leave one under the tree for her. I wish I had access to a pizza oven while in Italy. I would have loved to make pizza there... but heck, I discovered that I make pizza better than we had in most of Italy anyway.
Cooking for ourselves in Italy became one of our favorite things, although Lucas always liked eating out in a new ristorante.
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