Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Last Week in Italy

Buon giorno amici!

So here I am, my last full week in Italy. I spent the beginning of the week trying to organize my things and begin to pack. When Larry arrived on Thursday I think he expected me to be a little further along… oh well!

I did a few “last time” ritual things this week. I did my last walk back-and-forth to the cafĂ© on Tuesday. They were just so nice to me day after day, sitting in the corner with my laptop!

Another ritual I had was to go to dinner every Tuesday night at a little trattoria, about a 10-minute walk from the hotel. I would take a book with me and read while I was having dinner. I got through a few good ones while I was here: Playing for Parma (John Grisham), Standing in the Rainbow (Fannie Flagg), My Life in France (Julia Child) and How I Learned to Cook, Culinary Educations of the World’s Greatest Chefs (Kimberly Witherspoon) and Near a Thousand Tables (Felipe Fernando-Armesto). They too were so great, letting me sit for hours slowing consuming my dinner, engrossed in my reading!

At the urging of the boys, I had Larry bring fun American food. For dinner I made hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut and French fries. It was completely perfect, well – it could only have been better sitting at Yankee or Shea Stadium with a huge beer! The boys were all fascinated with spicy mustard and relish! For dessert I taught them how to make s’mores. Marshmallows are non-existent in Italy – so they were all completely mesmerized. It was very funny! On Friday morning I make Bisquick pancakes with Aunt Jemimia syrup. As they were watching me one of them remarked – ahh… crepes! (How much more “American” could I get?!)

On Friday night Mark, Linda, Terry and Scott arrived from Sorrento. They zipped over to Reale with Larry for a fabulous dinner. They all had a great time. It was so much fun to be cooking for them! After dinner I came out (sans uniform) and joined them at the table.

On Saturday, we all said arrivederci to Abruzzo and headed west to Roma. It’s fun being back here with Larry. Yesterday we spent hours in the Museo Nationale Romano. It was so much fun wandering around looking at the ancient Roman artifacts! We’re both crazy about ancient Roman and Greek life… no surprise I guess!! Just as we were about to leave we bumped in to Scott and Terry who had been there at the same time – but wandering around on different floors! We hopped over to the Piazza della Rotunda and had shared a lovely bottle of vino with antipasti, in the shadow of the Pantheon. After zipping back to the hotel for a quick change, we headed back out for dinner. Larry found a great recommendation in his Rick Steve’s Guide and dinned near the Piazza della Rebubblica at Ristorante Target.

Today we head back to the Coliseum and Palatine Hill. We didn’t get a chance to walk through them in January. Then tonight we’re all off to La Caletta, the lovely Sardinian ristorante we went to in January for my birthday.

Tomorrow we head for the airport and my new adventure in America. This has been an amazing journey for me, and I am so glad I was able to share it with you. I am very excited about starting my new chapter. In the coming weeks Larry and I will be creating my new company “Bella Cucina Maria.” My goal is to have a catering business, specializing in private dinner parties and other special events. I am also going to try my hand at creating a line of food products. (Stay tuned for more information on that!) In mid-April I will be the guest Chef for a dinner at the New York Junior League. As soon we finalize the details, I will send you all the information.
So for now I am just going to say “ciao ciao, a dopo”!

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