I’m Up at 6 again today ready to have my coffee on the balcony. It’s my favorite day in San G! Market day!!! Market day is much like the farm markets at home- 9 to noon and on a specific day of each week. Thursday is San G’s day and has been for literally a hundred years. Crazy. The difference with these markets from Home is that they have much more to offer. Our markets are mostly farm goods and hand crafts. These are farm goods, winery offerings, food trucks, fish mongers and deli trucks. A LOT of clothing and leather and scarfs. Interesting to be here at a different time of year then normal. I usually stock up on dresses and flow-y cotton shifts, but this time there are heavy wool scarfs and sweaters and jackets. All perfect for my style profile-over sized and knit. Mom and Dad, Chris and I, drive to the market and Nicole and Gary decide to walk. It’s a 10 min uphill walk and we don’t want to break my parents.
Chris does really well with the van and maneuvering it into the cramped parking lot. Driving in Tuscany is exactly like the Valley where we live, but doing either in a van this big would be a challenge. Good job hubby!
Mom makes out like a bandit at the shops! She gets a BEAUTIFUL red wool coat that would easily cost $300 at home with its “made in Italy” tag and its Murano wool-for 30€!!! She picks up a few wool sweaters, some leather-a wallet and a purse-and a few scarfs. I find a wallet also, more scarves then I can count, a leather bag, and the largest clothes in Italy. You know how I know it’s the largest clothes in Italy? Because the Chinese man who sold t to me told me it was. Italians are very direct as it is-so take an Asian (I learned in China that they are EXTREMELY honest) and bring them to Italy-and it’s like they are hooked up to a lie detector at all times. I walked into his stall and he started to bring me everything he had on hand that was tent like-all the while putting his hands inside the garment and stretching it like he was auditioning for a hefty garbage bag commercial. “Look! This one really really really big. And strong. Keep all of you in it for sure! No leakage of fat!!!” I buy a few of their nicest wool tent sacks (dresses) and he tells me I’ve made good choices. There are no bigger or nicer clothes at the market. I have a strange mixture of delight and hate by the time we leave his tent. I should just start bringing extra extra small men’s underwear to these markets to sell to the male vendors. I’ll take great lengths to explain to them they should buy them because there are no smaller gussets anywhere in Italy! See… barely any room for ANYTHING in these underpants! Perfect for you!! Humph. Oh well, in reality, I do love a good tent sweater. So-do your worst Italy.
Nicole Mom and I are also able to stop at a local clay and pottery vendor and pick up some clay Cyprus trees! They are beautiful even if over priced-and we talk excitedly and quickly about where we will put them in our homes!! They may be the best purchase of the trip so far!!! I’ll take pics and post when I get home.
Dad and Chris settle in for a coffee at a lovely little cafe and we (Nicole Gary Mom and I) continue shopping. Picking our way through leather vendors and clothing shops-shop drunk and getting poorer by the second.
We decide that for Lunch there is Nothing better then the chicken truck!! They have rotisserie chickens all lined up on long metal poles, roasting over an open flame and dripping their amazing juices down on the “patate fritte” below. Amazing skin-on French fries. Heaven. So Chris and i order 2 chickens and a gigantic bag of fries and something else that I think is duck wrapped in chicken. Enough food to feed 8-10 people easily. They do most things in Italy by having you take a number and just stand around waiting for your number to be called-so although it looks like chaos, it’s actually quite organized and easy once you get the nerve up to try. We can tell that the woman on the counter speaks very little English, but she tries-and she can tell we speak very little Italian-but I try. At one point she tries to tell us our total-asks the man she’s with to help her-she says two two in her broken English and I say ventidue- (ven-tee-doo-eh) in my even worse Italian. She nods excitedly, so pleased that I’ve tried to say it in her language. Unfortunately we have heard so many tourists not even trying to speak any Italian at all. When they pass locals in the street not even attempting a “Buon giorno” but instead insisting on a hi. The worst is when they just speak English LOUDER to help the Italians translate it. Cause that helps. Eye roll. I heard a woman with a Texan accent yesterday muttering as loud as possible to a vendor about how, if your going to own a tourist shop you should at least learn to speak other languages. It was everything I could do not to slap her in 15 different dialects. Here’s what travel has taught me: westerners think they are the most important people in the world- and that everyone wishes they were us or lived where we live. This couldn’t be father from the truth. I think most other countries feel bad for us and our lack of culture and knowledge and cringe when they see our arrogance on display.
For this reason the four of us always make it our goal to learn a little of the language of the country we visit. As an apology for the Miss Texas’s of the world. And it has served us well. In the case of the food vendor today? When she heard me trying to speak Italian… she gave me a loving smile, and said “un momento” And reached over and put 4 deep fried polenta cakes in our bag with a wink. A gift to us. Sigh. Sometimes I love people.
We wander back to the car (and Nicole and gary walk back to the apartment) and we meet at Home for our feast. Devouring the chickens and fries like savages. It’s tender and juicy and I’m gonna need more tent sweaters.
Mom and Dad go up for their daily nap in their Tower and we sit by the pool with Franciacorta to start (a bubbly wine that I swore I hated but now am a little obsessed with) and he winery Red. Then we are off to get ready for the evening.
Tonight we are taking a cooking class! And then eating our creations! I’m so excited. Nicole and Mom show up in the same outfits. This Happens a lot. And Dad and I show up in the same outfit. Navy shirts and blue jean bottoms. This also happens a lot. Our cooking class is here at the winery we are staying at so we can walk down. We reach the kitchen and Carolina greets us-she is very sweet and much younger then you would expect for an accomplished chef. I would put her at about 25. I would recommend her cooking to Bobby Flay himself-she is a genius as we’ve come to see while eating here. So I’m excited to learn from her. First thing she does is offer us wine. She’s in.
She starts by having dad and Chris make pizza dough. They do an amazing job-we picked the right people to do this job- all done with your hands and then kneaded-it clearly takes some strength. She explains the whole process in detail and broken English-this is adorable. They sit their dough aside for rising.
Then gary and I are chosen for the pasta prep. We make pasta dough for ravioli and get flour all over each other and giggle-me breaking eggs like a pro with one hand, gary breaking eggs with all his hands-and I swear his feet- and spending 3 minutes after each one picking all the shell out of the mixture. Then our dough gets set aside for resting.
Next mom starts the pomodoro pasta sauce by cutting up carrots and onions and frying them with garlic and olive oil, adding crushed tomato’s and salt/pepper and leaving to simmer for the rest of the class-while nicole makes the inside of our ravioli-with sausage, spinach and garlic in the stove top, and then adding ricotta and mixing and sitting aside to cool.
Then we all take a turn at making a tiramisu! Dipping our lady fingers in cold coffee and layering it with the mixture she has chris make-egg yokes, sugar and mascarpone cheese.
Then back to gary and I to stretch out our pasta and lay it out for the ravioli stuffing. Carolina must hate when it’s our turn. We start by dosing each other with flour. Gary putting a half cup or so in my hair, and me putting flour hand prints on his man boobs. This pasta making is a whole thing. Gary insists on singing “O’Sole la mio” the whole time which pretty much has me in the fetal position in the corner with denture whittling flashbacks. Then the even more devastating thing happens. Before I say this-I need to emphasize that gary can’t cook. I joke about my sister not cooking-but she CAN cook- she used to cook. She actually taught ME to cook originally. But gary? He struggles with peanut butter toast-having to concentrate to remember which happens first-do I toast the bread and THEN put on the peanut butter? Or the other way around? Me? I cook all the time. I didn’t get Italian tent sweater ready by eating pre-made salads. So that will explain why this is so hard for me to admit. Gary does a MUCH better job then me. Like, he’s a pasta making pro all of a sudden. Who knew. Mine comes out with holes and thick, and his comes out almost perfect. He loudly says “Carolina… do you have any bandaids for Karen’s pasta?” Jerk. We stretch the dough, lay it out and then fill it with Nicole’s cooled filling And then we transfer our assembled pasta to a plate. These raviolis look like 4 year olds made them. As a joke. Gary’s look much better then mine, no question….. but I’m surprised we are not kicked out of the kitchen -or even Italy- for what we’ve done. Caroline says she will cook it for us. Then she drinks. We laugh and say-no Carolina! You must have back up raviolis on hand! Surely to god your not actually doing to try and cook these??? And she says oh no. We’re eating what we made.
Then dad and Chris make their pizza, starting with pomodoro sauce and layering prosciutto and salami and breaking up mozzarella for the top. Then the oven. It. Looks. Amazing.
Then our job is done. We are taken to the garden eating area and told by our waiter that he will bring us food as it comes out of the oven. First the pizza. And more wine. The pizza is TO DIE FOR. I mean, this is probably the best pizza I’ve ever tasted!! Thick crust and lots of meat caramelized just perfectly on the top!! Even the waiter says it looks good!
More wine. We’re gonna need it. Next is the ravioli. I can picture poor Carolina trying to keep these Rav’s together while boiling them-muttering about how she needs a raise under her breath.
When the waiter brings the plate of raviolis out and places it in front of us he actually, not kidding here, says “good luck with that”. We ROAR laughing. I think Amanda Knox was locked up for less. I mean it’s bad. We eat a couple each. And the sauce is amazing-thanks to Mom-but the ravioli? Wow. Just wow.
We finish it off thankfully with the tiramisu which is delicious. And we decide we’re amazing at cooking. Ish.
Off to Home for Camilla and Gonzo’s bedtime, and then a Muppet lounge visit for the kids. In bed by 10. Full and happy and floured.