A Taste of Abruzzo – Oh what a Lunch!

Rinascita Lancianese in Lanciano is our favorite Cantina. I don’t think they make a wine we don’t like. Alessandro, my Italian friend/language coach introduced us to this cantina because it’s run by a very good friend of his! On Sunday we attended a wine/food tasting event at Rinascita Lancianese and it was wonderful. OMG the pork!
The mouth watering dishes above don’t include dessert. We drank their white sparkling wine, Trebbiano and a wonderful Merlot. It was organized for expats. Australians, Americans and Brits. There were 20 of us and we had a blast.
Did I mention the pork?

Foraging and Cooking – Local Delights

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. This silly old girl broke her wrist last week. Yes, I fell in the house and have three fractures and one break. hurts like crazy, but mostly it is frustrating. Difficult to function with one hand. Typing one handed is something I never thought I’d have to do! Anyway…..

Let’s get back to food! I purchased some very cheap, local red chillies on Monday. Don’t they look delicious? I had enough to make five small jars of picante sauce, which goes great with any Italian pasta. The only ingredients were chillies boiled in olive oil, garlic, and salt to taste. Delicious!

Yesterday I was given a bag of wild spinach by the little lady who lives down the steps from me. We see her foraging often walking the country paths with her walking stick over her shoulder and bags full of wild greens dangling from it. It seems to keep her fit and healthy. Today I picked out the grass and weeds and chopped off the thick stalks, before chopping and washing the spinach. Now I’m going to wilt this in olive oil with garlic, pesto (made from my own basil) and serve it for lunch with chicken.

I think I’m quite daring. I think foraging the countryside to use what is available is a great idea, and there is a lot available. Wild spinach, asparagus, artichoke, pomegranates, plums, apples, olives, persimmon to name but a few.

The good people of Abruzzo live cheaply, what can’t be foraged is bought local, it works well.

Songs of Summer (Canzoni d’estate)

Summer days run into evenings filled with fun, food and lots of singing and laughter. Every year this young gentleman hosts a party for his American/Italian friends who return to Colledimezzo for the summer. Look at the size of that pasta pan. Most of these youngsters left Italy to make their fortune in America many years ago, but still maintain their homes in the village.
Now they are retired, but return to enjoy the summer tranquility of Abruzzo (and the parties).

So lucky to be included in this group. Last night there were around thirty of us. We heard fantastic stories as folks reminisced. The food was fabulous, the laughter genuine, and the accordion player set the atmosphere.

Can’t wait to do it again.

Food Glorious Food

When we first moved to Abruzzo I wasted so much food. I’d shop as I used to in the US…carefully converting pounds and ounces to kilos and grams, but I still ended up with way too much food. Yes, I made mistakes with the conversion sometimes, but we also received so many impromptu lunch and dinner invitations. As well as home cooked meals, we’d be taken to favorite local restaurants. The food I bought would sit in the fridge unused. I’ve learned my lesson now. I no longer shop for the week, but buy fresh every two or three days.

Food is a way of life here and conversation revolves around family, food and football.

Hope you enjoy my little insights into “retirement in Abruzzo”

Thanks for stopping by, and say safe.

Lazy Hazy Sunday!

This morning started bright and sunny so we decided to go ahead with our plans to visit Ortona. Beautiful drive, but by the time we got there it was spotting with rain. Not enough to wet us, and it was still warm, so we enjoyed our walk overlooking the Adriatic. Plan was to stop for lunch, but…there was no room at the Inn. Everywhere was fully booked. Of course there is only outside seating at the moment, so it’s difficult for both restaurants and diners. We enjoyed our walk anyway and headed back to the car.
On the way home we stopped off at a restaurant called “La Scogliera”, (the Cliff) which is just before San Vito and timed it just right. We were shown to a table for two, but after we arrived folks just kept showing up, and being turned away. Busy day!
The food was amazing! I was the DD and drank sparkling water, but my dear husband had two big glasses of wine, and a silly grin on his face.
I’m enjoying my glass of wine right now.
Saluti!

Freedom

Beautiful Vasto

One week from today, numbers permitting, Italy begins to open up a little. Outside dining will be allowed. When I heard the news, I couldn’t help but think of Vasto. My daughter and I visited this beautiful little town, on the Adriatic Coast, just after we’d put in an offer on the “Old Olive Mill’ in Colledimezzo. That was almost four years ago! A lot has happened since then.
In 2017 life was much simpler. We weren’t fighting a pandemic.
Now there is a light at the end of the tunnel and the anticipation I feel is almost as intense as I used to feel prior to a vacation in Italy.
Yes, I live here now, but haven’t been able to travel since September. Now I can visit Vasto again, it’s on my list for next week.
Hopefully this is a new beginning for us all.
Stay safe everyone, we can do this!

Largest Loaf on the Van

Largest Loaf on the Bread Van

This morning I woke up full of energy, so I breezed through my housework, repotted plants and rearranged furniture. That wasn’t enough! After brunch I was still full of energy. It was a beautiful day, so I took a walk. The clear blue sky was a perfect backdrop for the snow dusted mountains.

A three mile walk was easy, and brought me back to the piazza. A glass of wine seemed like a good idea, followed by another…and then someone persuaded me to have a third. The villagers, (cittadini) were socially distancing, but enjoying the sunshine and each others company. Then the bread van turned up. Lester, a huge bread fan, decided to purchase some delicious freshly made bread…and bought the biggest loaf on the van.
A good day I think, lets hope summer brings a drop in the new cases of COVID. We’re all ready to mingle and have fun.

Reflections

We invited friends to our home for lunch yesterday.
I set the table ahead of time with glasses, bowls and napkins, then stood back to see how it looked.
It was a table that invited lively conversation. It was a table set for five friends to sit and enjoy good food and wine.
I reflected on how my life has changed this year.
I no longer have crystal glasses, with matching decanters, or fine plates and bowls. I left those in the US for my my daughter to enjoy. She’s young and will appreciate them for many years to come.
My glasses don’t match, nor do my pans.
The wine is no longer $30 a bottle, but seven euros for a five liter box from the local Cantina, and much more enjoyable.
Yesterday was the first time I’d invited one of our Italian friends to eat with us, and I was terrified. We’ve enjoyed meals in his kitchen on several occasions and he is an excellent cook. Of course he brought one of his culinary masterpieces, which made our little soiree even more enjoyable. I sighed with relief when he complimented my risotto!
“You’re a good cook.” He said. I was thrilled.
Here in Abruzzo, it doesn’t matter what your glasses look like, or whether or not your plates match. What does matter is the people who sit around your table and share your food. People come first and foremost here, and thats the way it should be.
I still miss my daughter, she should have been here with us for Christmas…next year!

Fresh in Abruzzo – Colledimezzo Days

When I first moved here a couple of months ago I felt a little lost. Everyone welcomed me with open arms, but I felt like a fish out of water. I was no longer working, so my days had no structure. It took a little while, but now I’m comfortable. I’m still a source of amusement for the locals because of my mispronunciation of many Italian words, but they know I’m trying.
Since Abruzzo became part of the red zone last week, I’m getting even more familiar with how the world turns in Colledimezzo.
On Tuesday lunch came from the porchetta/rotisserie chicken food truck. On Thursday I went to the piazza and made a purchase from the vegetable man who passes through twice a week. Yesterday I heard what I thought was the butcher’s van (they all make a great deal of noise as they drive through), and left the house quickly to make my purchase. I found I’d chased down the fish van instead…quandary, I didn’t know what any of the fish (other than mussels and shrimp) were, so I chose a couple of nice looking specimens which were called cipal. After a little googling, we discovered they were grey mullet, which apparently are particularly good when fished from the Adriatic. Of course they were whole and still had their innards. It’s been a long time since I gutted fish, but I’m up for it. Incredibly fresh and so cheap!
This morning, at the recommendation of our good friend Nino, my husband arose early and braved the rain to meet the cheese van in the piazza. He comes at 7:30. It was definitely worth it. The price was unbeatable and, you can see from the photo, fantastic cheese. Can’t wait to try it.
I’m getting in the swing of things now and I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy spending the rest of my days in Colledimezzo.
Just need this awful pandemic to end so I can see my daughter again.

The Weekend – Italian Style

This weekend brought us two glorious sunny days!
On Saturday we returned our rental car and picked up first (and hopefully last) Italian car. I didn’t realize buying a new car was such a big deal here. Our lovely shiny red car (macchina), was ready and waiting for us when we arrived at the dealership. Marco, the lovely man who sold it to us, was excited and enjoyed the admiring look on my face as he peeled the cover off.
Yes Italian cars come wrapped!!!
When we got back to Colledimezzo the locals made a big fuss and congratulated us on our new purchase. (I have yet to drive it, new cars make me a bit nervous).
Today we met our friends in the piazza for the usual Sunday lunchtime drink. So much fun sitting in the sunshine watching everyone come out of church in their Sunday best. We got home and I hadn’t even taken my shoes off before the phone rang...”turn around and come back out, we’ve all been invited to lunch with Pio, he’s cooking”. This is the way things happen in Italy, beautifully unplanned. We had an amazing lunch made with local produce and served with good wine. Everything of course made better by the great company and wonderful conversation.
We finished the afternoon with a walk. Gorgeous weather, lush surroundings, autumn colors still exploding (even though its November).
And what made this whole weekend better…TRUMP lost the election. Of course the petulant child has not conceded yet, but no one expected him to be gracious in defeat!
Now we need to beat COVID and we can end the year on a much happier note.

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