If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

09 May 2006

It's a small world, after all

Truly, there isn't much I love more than sharing this place with friends. And particularly, having the chance to connect kindred spirits with each other. Life really is all about the people, when it comes right down to it.

As a triumphant finale to the many weeks of guestness, my friends N.Terza* and the Ancient Historian (along with their little ninja) came for dinner Saturday night. They live about a half hour away, but she is originally from Michigan... as is MaryAnn (of The Professor & MaryAnn) who were in visiting for a few days.

Turns out that N.Terza and MaryAnn went to the same school, had the same major, same crazy professors, worked for the same company, LIVED IN THE SAME APARTMENT BUILDING, and generally have lived totally parallel lives a few short years apart, never having met. MaryAnn now lives in California, N.Terza in Chianti, and they run into each other through a random friend. CRAZY! The world's six degrees of separation just might be shrinking again. It shall suffice to say that it was a fantastic evening and the whole group got on like a house on fire (without ACTUALLY setting the house on fire, as the previous dinner party extravaganza did!)

FieldSalad, my chef friend, has written to ask for recipes. The problem with recipes is that I'm totally useless with measurements, everything seems to need a substitution of some sort, and, worse - this is totally a braille cooking culture: you just feel your way through! Evidence: when I ask someone here for a recipe, it never includes measurements.

For now, I'll post the menu so you can live vicariously. I *will* come back and give the recipe for at least two of the items, once I work the measurements out.

Pecorino Nero Semi-Stagionato (partially aged sheep cheese from Pienza)
Finocchiona (traditional tuscan salame flavored with fennel)
Marinated olives
Prosecco (the italian version of champagne with slightly smaller bubbles. We drank Ferrari and Berlucchi that night - nice mid-range sparklers. Prosecco is the worlds most perfect beverage!)

We walked with our bicchieri di prosecco up the wooded path to the ruins of the Roman Road that runs through the property, because I wanted Ancient Historian to see it and tell me what he thought ... literally, he's an archaeologist who specializes in Roman and Etruscan history. He had some fascinating insights and said he wanted to come back with a shovel, which I think is a good sign. Standing on that road, I always get a little shiver up my spine as I can literally FEEL the history vibrating through me, nearly able to see the centurions on the path and making camp here.

Carciofi (artichoke) & salsiccia (sausage) risotto cakes on bed of wilted greens
Pappa pomodoro (traditional tuscan bread 'soup' with just a kick of peperoncino)

Cinghiale (the remainder of my gift from the hunters, the wild boar from my property.)
Baked paprika chicken with water chestnuts in a sherried sour cream sauce (this is one of my favorites: not Italian, but rather from the 'San Francisco a la carte' cookbook. The water chestnuts had been imported in my christmas stocking and I had been saving them for a special occasion!)
Steamed white rice (a totally non-Italian side dish)
Asparagus (okay, well, we were SUPPOSED to have asparagus but we totally forgot to make it.)

Chocolate chocolate chip fudge cake with Baileys' drizzled over the top (also not an Italian dessert, but the little ninja loves chocolate....!)


Cannetto, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2000
Col d'Orcia, Brunello di Montalcino 2000
Castello Banfi, Cum Laude, Montalcino 2002

Tenuta di Collosorbo, Grappa di Brunello di Montalcino (*amazing, amazing, amazing Grappa. Smooth as liquid silk. Beautiful winery, too, near Sant'Antimo.)

All in all, a brilliant evening. Old and new friends, sitting beneath the real-candle candleabra** in the tiny farm kitchen; laughter filling the old stone house. I'm confident that this place has been witness to much sadness and joy in its 350 plus years, that it is the keeper of countless secrets and stories, and it is my hope that we honor it with our celebrations.

*It's rare that I explain a nickname, but N.Terza deserves a mention. In my life, I have had three really significant, "life-altering" moves. One, from California to Chicago as a child. The second, from the midwest to Washington DC. The third, from DC to Italy. IN EACH PLACE, my very first friend (and inevitably, over time, my closest) has been named Nancy. They are, actually, the only Nancys that I can even recall knowing in my life. Two things make a coincidence, three makes a pattern, and so with N.Terza (the third Nancy), I have come to consider the name Nancy as a marker of sorts - the sign of guardian angels to new experiences.

**Pic courtesy of Eurobimbo, my brilliant photographer friend and fellow expat. Her adventures are well worth reading, too, especially if you want stories with more visual appeal than mine have!


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