Help! I have some catching up to do in chronicling this vacation. :)
Our friends John and Margherita Wheeler invited Rob, Paul and I over for lunch on Tuesday. Although Margherita was born in England, her mother was Italian and she had created a four course Italian feast that did justice to her mothers' homeland!
We started off with traditional Italian antipasto, which Margherita explained means "before pasta." The antipasto was an assortment of cured meats, olives, goat cheese and artichokes. I learned how to pronounce prosciutto properly--"proshooto."
Next came the most flavourful pasta I have ever tasted. The secret of the intense flavour in the tomato sauce? It had simmered for four hours the day before, and two hours the day it was served.
All of this was accompanied by a white wine (Liebfraumilch) and red Chianti.
Next came the main course: escalope alla Milanese which was thinly sliced beef, marinaded overnight in beaten egg, dipped in home made breadcrumbs and fried in olive oil. It was served with a tossed salad.
Finally fresh raspberries and strawberries were served with thick Devon cream or the lighter creme fraiche, with crumbled merengue.
Never was there a more lovingly prepared meal!
After we pulled ourselves away from the table, barely able to move, we sat out in the sun and enjoyed a coffee, while John, Margherita and Paul reminisced about their days in the needle industry. John brought out of his shed one the stools that they sat on as apprentices. While Paul left for Canada and began a career working in social services, John continued in the trade they learned together over five years. It was so interesting to hear of the slow decline of the needle trade that had once been of such importance in Redditch, where they both grew up.
Another guest hovered in the background; Buddy, the cat that belongs to neighbours, but who spends most of his time at John and Margherita's as the neighbours both work and are away most of the time, while John and Margherita are retired. Margherita said that when they go away for vacations, they make sure that they tell the nieghbours, so that they know that they will have to look after their cat! :)
Good friends, good times, good memories.