Thursday, July 24, 2008

From Roccaraso to Sulmona

Buon giorno tutti!
What a fun week I have to report! On Tuesday I took a little trip to Sulmona. It’s a quick 30-minute bus ride from Roccaraso. Sulmona is a beautiful ancient city, the birthplace of Ovid. In the early 1700’s an earthquake nearly razed the city, but luckily several important buildings survived. Sulmona is best known for producing Confetti – an absolutely scrumptious confection, which comes in a variety of flavored fillings, including a confection made simply of a covered almond. The Pelino Company ( has been producing Confetti since the mid-1700’s. You find it all over Abruzzo, and in many pasticcerria establishments throughout Italy. Cristiana arranged for me to have a private tour of the factory and museum. After seeing the factory I wandered around Sulmona for a few hours taking in the pretty little town.

It finally snowed … and I really mean “snowed” here. It started on Wednesday morning and continued at a slowed, but deliberate pace, until Friday. It was absolutely beautiful! On Thursday morning I got up early and took a walk into the town and took a bunch of pictures. There had to be at least 6 inches that morning; and by the evening, at least another 2. Roccaraso isn’t quite as picturesque as Rivisondoli, or Pescocostanza. The town was destroyed during WW2, and built back up in the 50’s. It doesn’t have the “quaintness” or ancient look of Rivisondoli or Pescocostanza. Nevertheless, as you see in the pictures, it was quite beautiful that morning!

In most restaurants the staff eats together. Generally one person is in charge of making the food – but the boys take turns now and then. Cristiana asked me if I wanted to do a dinner one night, and I suggested Greek food. So on Thursday I was in charge of the family meal. I decided on Moussaka (eggplant casserole), Tiropita (crispy fillo dough with a feta cheese filling), a Greek salad and Baklava for dessert. As it turned out, we didn’t have any customers that night. Strangely I think the snow kept people away. (Strange, because it’s a ski town!) Anyway, it turned out to be a really fun night. They all seemed to be enthralled with me cooking… coming over… watching… asking questions. They helped me with everything - it was very cute! I don’t think I have ever seen my food consumed so quickly. The Moussaka disappeared in no less than five minutes… it was absolutely hysterical! After dinner I pulled out my laptop and started showing them all sorts of pictures. Wedding, honeymoon, vacations, Junior League events… you name it. The funny part - they are all completely enamored with Elinor (remember, they are all 20!), asking me all sorts of questions about her. I had some fun pictures of the three of us from the Junior League Winterball last year, and she looked gorgeous all dressed up. They were all oohing and awing…

The rest of the week rolled along. On Saturday Italy celebrated a day called Festa della Donna… Lady’s Day. It’s traditional to give women a sprig of a flower called a Mimosa. ( Cristiana brought me a tiny bouquet which was so sweet. Also on Saturday – which was a crazy day because of the holiday – Cristiana snapped a picture of me at the risotto station. I thought you would get a kick out seeing me in action! I’ve also officially “graduated” to making the risotto right through to plating. Niko lets me cook it, but will generally plate it himself. This weekend I got to do the entire dish, and got a “bellisama” in the process. (Very exciting!) Remember the new amuse-bouche artichoke soufflé I showed you a few weeks ago? It’s evolved just a little bit more. The artichoke soufflé still sits in burrata cream and is topped with a candied artichoke; but now there is also a bit of finely chopped caper and olive oil. (It really is quite tasty!) Well, this week I was put in charge of that; prepping and service!

So now I start preparing… I have so much stuff to pack. I‘m a little embarrassed to say that Larry is bringing me another empty suitcase with him this week. I’m not really sure how I accumulated more things, but somehow I have! So tomorrow I will at least get started! On Friday our friends Mark, Linda, Scott and Terry will be arriving in Rivisondoli. I’m so excited that they have worked a side trip in to their respective vacations to see me! On Friday night they, and Larry, will be dining at Reale. I’ve been working on the order of their tasting menu with Cristiana… it should be loads of fun! Then Saturday we all head to Rome for a few days.

I’m trying to figure out if I’m going to be sad to leave here. Everyone has really treated me like part of the family – even at the hotel. It’s been a very special experience for me. The boys have now taken to saying, “I louv you Mahry” (I love you Maria), which is quite sweet. Knowing myself – I’m sure I will be sad… although as I write this, I’m only thinking about Larry arriving on Thursday afternoon, and being home in eight days.

Arrivederci fino alla prossimo settimana!


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