So don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.
Poveri noi! Not even half way into the week upon returning from Alto Adige and already we were facing another long weekend. I know, some people have all the luck. But that’s what happens when the 150th anniversary of the Unità d’Italia (unification of Italy as a nation) falls on a Thursday and MotH is obligated to take Friday off…paid of course. Yep, a stroke of good fortune, especially when it amounted to 4 solid days of gastronomic bliss.
Day #1 – Thursday, March 17th: 150 years of the Unità d’Italia
I am patriotic as it gets but only when it comes to the meal part. Green, white and red food dominated the table, and it didn’t take much to put this all together. I present the menu of the 150° Anniversario della Unità d’Italia in the chestnut forest:
Tri-colored canederli – large spinach, speck and beet gnocchi served in poppyseed and sage brown butter, and cream sauce spiked with horseradish in that order.
Polpette di tonno – tuna croquettes made with fresh sicilian tuna, dates, pine nuts and mint. Served in a simple tomato sauce and garnished with basil.
Gelato in 3 colors – pistachio, mixed berry and panna (cream). But wait! You can’t celebrate 150 years without a cake so voila! An upside-down cake made with sicilian blood oranges.
Day #2 – Friday, March 18th: Date Day in Milan
If there can be a date night then why not a date day? I can understand why the MotH doesn’t care to go into Milan. He has had enough of city air since his days at the university, but when my husband sees me using street view on google maps, pushing that little yellow man inch by inch through Milan’s busy lanes, it means time to take the wife out of the cave. There is one place that reminded him of his youth – Bar della Crocetta – and it would be here that I would be introduced to a sandwich in a cup. This panino shop has been putting stuff between 2 pieces of bread since forever, their signature item being the panino in coppa. Cooked ham and melted cheese are the main components – too bad it didn’t measure up to the ones he devoured some 20 odd years ago (he said back then there was so much melted cheese in there that you used a soup spoon to get it out…not a long teaspoon). The menu boasts 12 dozen+ varieties of sandwiches, all with cheese, 5 varieties of panini in coppa, and a couple dozen varieties of panini semplici (simple sandwiches). Simple? I guess that would mean no cheese. A fun, nostalgic experience but at 10€ for a sandwich…well whaddya think?
Day #3 – Saturday, March 19th: Festa del Papà | Father’s Day
MotH’s parents would be thrilled if we could lunch at their’s more often, so we try to reserve special holidays just for them alone. Father’s Day is just one of them, and like the majority of italian mamas, the queens of the kitchen will rise to the occasion with a feast. Tagliatelle and cooked prosciutto in tomato cream sauce, roast beef, chicken and prosciutto roll-ups and a dish of stewed mixed vegetables. This year I had forgotten about the traditional zeppole di San Giuseppe treats, but the vanilla pudding in caramel sauce that my mom-in-law made was just as satisfying.
Day #4 – Sunday, March 20th: I cook brunch in my sheep pajamas
While we wait for spring to really take hold in the chestnut forest, Sunday mornings mean waking up as late as we like then puttering around the yard after. I took this a step further and refused to get out of my jammies until after brunch. Yes brunch, it’s alla moda in Milano right now but what those people don’t realize is that brunch is better (it’s sexy!) when you make it yourself. I’d love to invite my inlaws over for brunch, but I believe it would upset my mother-in-law too much for the fact that she ain’t the one cooking – and that I’m still in my sleepwear. Lucky me that MotH doesn’t care as long as I don’t start a fire in the kitchen.
The rule of thumb is to clean out the fridge. Clockwise from top left: fruit and yogurt, leftover speck, cornichons and buttery tuscan zolfino beans, wholegrain sunflower seed bread, cheese and hot pepper jelly. Below: affunniatelle (a molisan dish of gently stewed onions, tomatoes, deseeded sweet green peppers, parsley, basil, chile pepper and scrambled or coddled egg) and soft-yolk egg on fried rice.