Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Old mill perfect setting for birthday celebration

Our first full day in Italy was a holiday, Liberation Day, which celebrates the end of Nazi occupation of the country. In the morning we drove into San Remo to do some shopping. This trip was very successful as we visited the Jaked swimsuit store. Jaked supplies the Italian Olympic team with some very stylish gear. Just as we were about to leave I asked the salesperson if she knew where I could find a wetsuit. As fortune would have it she had some right there. I tried on a couple before realizing that I had them on back to front. The zip goes at the back. Undaunted I tried the suit on the right way round but it was so hot, making it a really unpleasant experience. I didn't buy it but it would be really useful in the winter. At least now I know where to buy one.

This harrowing experience caused us to be a little late for meeting our friends back in Riva. We were still in time to have a glass of wine with Valter, Rossella and Clarissa before going to Volter's birthday lunch. We drove to the Locanda restaurant which is in a converted old mill with the mill stones still intact. We had been there before. Here we were joined by three more friends, and seated at a huge long table. Bread was already spread all along the table as was sparkling and still water and very soon carafes of wine.

I love Italian meals where you don't order anything because the food is just brought to the table. Of course we have learned through experience that pace is everything. You don't want to eat too much in the beginning or you won't make it to the finish line. The first course was a plate of hot appetizers including stoccafisso, dried cod soaked for days before cooking; potato, mushrooms and truffle in a little pastry; bresaola, which is air-dried salted beef with olive oil; a square of quiche and arancini, which is deep fried balls of rice with mushrooms and peas covered in bread crumbs. At the same time huge plates of salami and proscuitto were placed on the table. Next came a plate of risotto with pumpkin followed by a plate of pasta with artichokes. The main course was lovely veal served with roast potatoes and huge pieces of very tender steak cut into slices. For dessert there were at least ten choices. We shared panna cotta with a caramel sauce. Three hours later after toasting Volter with some prosecco and an espresso, we had finished. What a meal!

Now it was time so say good-bye to some of our friends. This involved kiss kiss and conversation right outside the restaurant accompanied by lots of conversation. Pictures were taken before we moved to the parking lot, where there were more kisses and even more conversation. All this took at least half an hour if not more. Seamus commented that you could make a full length Italian movie all about friends saying good-bye. Everyone else would see each other in the next few days but it didn't matter. Ciao, ciao!

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