14 September, 2017
2017 – Verona Day 2 – The Streets Are Paved in Marble
The feature picture of today’s post is of a building with original frescos that date back to the 1500’s. I can’t imagine not painting the outside of your house for hundreds of years. With the Portland weather we’ve repainted our house twice in 11 years!
Ricardo thought it was great that the apartment owner had special toilet paper designed with his first initial. The rest of us just “go” with it. 🙂
Tour of the town Antimo arranged a tour of the town with a local who shared a lot of great history of Verona. See how the street is paved in red marble (which this city is known for).
While we were walking around there was a strike forming and they apparently wave flags that represent the different “unions.” We left that square fairly quickly as we can’t afford bail if they took us to jail.
We were also informed that in Verona they eat horse and donkey meat. Not a fun fact I needed to know. I think we’ll eat lunch in the apartment today.
Juliet, Juliet, where for art thou…. Statue of Juliet right outside her family residence.
Ricardo and I standing in the archway to the Juliet balcony – which you can see in the background. There was always a balcony in this spot but this is not the original. Her family home is to the right of us. And according to the guide, it is true that Shakespeare was never in Verona. Another writer who did live in Verona wrote the story of Romeo and Juliet originally. So would that make Shakespeare a plagiarist to some degree?
After our 2-hour tour, we stopped for coffee. Ricardo ordered cappuccino (I know he broke the Italian rules of ordering this kind of coffee after breakfast, but we’ll let him). They did do a nice job of decorating the foam on top.And then there was this coffee that I ordered. I didn’t know what I was ordering, other than it had chocolate with the coffee. Little did I know that the glass was lined with chocolate and had coffee in the middle. It was decadent.
There are several streets in Verona that have high-end shops like Gucci and Ferragamo. Ricardo was a little nervous walking down these streets and kept holding my hand tight so I would not walk into any of them. While the stores had beautiful displays I wouldn’t want to see the prices on the merchandise.
We decided to eat lunch in the apartment today because we have a nice dinner planned this evening (and that horse meat thing had me a little freaked). So, we stopped at a local grocery store to shop for ingredients to make soup and salad. Antimo on an escalator going down to the produce department.
I had a blast shopping with Antimo – he would pick out the produce, give me the number, I’d weigh it and label it. What a team!
This way of dealing with produce is just ingenious! After you have chosen your fruits or vegetables, you take them to a scale to weigh them. Each item has a number (similar to the bulk items in the USA). And this is the part I think we need to get grocery stores to do – once weighed and priced, a label comes out that you put on the bag of produce. When you get to the check out, the produce label is scanned – so easy!
An impromptu cooking class ensued. Antimo and I making minestrone soup and a vegetable salad. Ricardo had his contribution to lunch, the Monterosola wine. Yep I didn’t think it would make it home.Salad is served!
Minestrone soup in the pot cooking away.
It was a flurry of cutting and chopping so I was paying attention to make sure I kept all my fingers attached. Here is the recipe for the soup, although understand it was a handful of this and that so I don’t have exact measurements – these are just guesstimates. And ingredients were made from what they had available at this time of year in Verona. However, this recipe will be rewritten and featured in Antimo’s cookbook that will be published in late 2018.
- 1/2 cup pancetta chopped & cubed (could substitute bacon or leave meat out for vegetarian)
- 3 green onions chopped
- 1/4 to 1/2 shredded cabbage (depending on size)
- 1/2 to 1 cup squash chopped (we used like a butternut but you could use zucchini or any variety)
- 1 cup green beans chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 2 carrots cleaned and chopped
- 4-5 tomatoes chopped
- 4-5 stalks of celery
- Small handful of parsley finely chopped
- Small handful of basil finely chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 4 cups water (could substitute beef or chicken broth if you prefer)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dash of olive oil
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese shredded (or add in cheese rind if you have one)
- 1/2 fennel bulb chopped
- Sauté pancetta in pan to desired crispness. Add a dash of olive oil if needed to keep pancetta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Add in all the ingredients except the cheese. Let simmer for about an hour or until vegetables are done to your liking.
- Add cheese as you serve the soup.
- Add rice or risotto for a more dense soup. May need to add more water or stock.
- Ingredients can be substituted to suit your taste.
- This recipe reflects the vegetables that were available to use while in Verona on the day we made it.
Dinner tonight was at Villa Vento in the town of Custoza. It’s known for it’s Bianco di Custoza – an incredibly good white wine. We sampled some with dinner. (Does drinking a whole bottle qualify as sampling? Well, there were three of us.)
The restaurant is located out in the middle of nowhere but worth the adventure to find it. Sampling the famous Bianco di Custoza white wine. Appetizers on polenta. I never liked polenta, but I’m being won over with how it is prepared and served in this region. The salami was paper thin and oh so delicious. The other two have mushrooms in a wine sauce and a cheese that has been whipped on top.Antimo and I had Risotto Via Vento. It was risotto rice cooked in a creamy sauce and flavored with mushrooms and homemade sausage. Ricardo had pappardelle with duck. A real gastronomic feast!Dessert was sfogliativi con marmellata di fichi (puffed pastry with a pudding cream and fig jam). The little white balls were meringue dots. We forked that dessert to death!
Update: We found a farmacia and purchased some tablets for Ricardo. He is feeling much better. In the meantime, the mosquitos realized I was in the country. I’m sure they “tweeted” every mosquito from miles around. I now have 3 bites on my face alone, one right in the middle of my forehead. I almost look like cyclops with a third eye. The other bites are on arms and legs – the usual spots. Thank goodness we brought Volteran to help with itching and swelling.