Friday, February 22, 2013

Italian Memories

In years to come, when people ask us what we most enjoyed about Italy, I'm sure they'll expect our response to be something about the famous sites and cities that we've been fortunate enough to see. But I know Cole and I would both agree that some of our absolute favorite moments are from days like last Saturday. We really do feel like we're living la dolce vita during these times. It's the moments when we get to experience the true Italian lifestyle that make us greatly appreciate the Italian way of life and culture. We love the times we feel a little bit less like tourists and a little bit more like honorary Italians... even if it's just for a little while.

We joined one of Cole's co-workers, Tony Rosso, and his group of friends for a very traditional lunch of polenta, rabbit, potatoes and of course, molto vino and delicious desserts, too. This was no hour-long lunch. We were there for four hours! Eva did surprisingly well...

We started with salami and prosciutto, as well as bread.

Next we had the delicious polenta - polenta grassa. Basically, it's fat polenta. See all that cheesy, buttery goodness? Mmmm... We knew it was going to be a memorable meal when the restaurant owner was wandering around to check on the tables... We (Tony) asked about the type of cheese used in the polenta and he sort of grinned and shrugged at us and said, "Ehhh." (Insert Italian-looking hand gesture here.) In other words, "Wouldn't you like to know?!" That got us all laughing... never ask the cook his secrets. We later learned that it's basically a locally made cheese - kind of a combination of several types/methods...

We followed up the polenta with a plate of rabbit and fried potatoes... This was our first time to eat rabbit, and it was pretty good. Tastes like chicken. No really, it actually does!

That is a lot of butter! More than I remember. Must have been the wine?

Here's a picture of the entire group at dinner - which was basically served inside a small, rural farmhouse... Getting there was fun and scenic - with gorgeous views around Lake Como.

The front of the restaurant, Rifugio F.I.E. Anna Maria.

As we were leaving, Tony mentioned that the restaurant owner was preparing his next batch of rabbit in the kitchen, which was all pretty open to the restaurant. Tony asked if I could take a photo... Poor bunnies. I think the Italians kind of got a kick out of the fact that rabbits are more like pets in the US. Tony promised me when our plates arrived that they were not cat or dog. Only rabbit!
The group as we were leaving - an awesome view of the mountains was in the background, but somehow
I wasn't able to get the lighting right... You'll have to trust me on that one. ;)
Tony's friend - leaving on his Harley... Brr!
Tony's van... Cole loves this thing - he is determined to find one we can use for camping/tailgating... 
This was the view from the restaurant! :) Not bad at all! 
Here are some pics of Eva in the restaurant. She was SO GOOD considering how long we were at lunch.