Jamikins and Bikerscott do Italy!

Old Jun 25th, 2012, 11:29 PM
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Enjoying your report! Looking forward to the next installment. Thanks for sharing!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 12:30 AM
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Just found this wonderful yarn ... thanks Jamikins & Bikerscott, I'm really enjoying your trip.
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 12:56 AM
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I'm really enjoying it as well, really like the way you decribe your vacation, so funny and interesting at the same time.
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 09:25 AM
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Day Four – He Killed All the Chickens Because He Thought They Were Lazy, or Explanations to the Police after the Incident

As previously mentioned, I am a foodie with a delicate stomach but an adventurous disposition. This became an issue at 3:30 this morning when the heartburn was bad enough to wake me up – a combination of rich food with a surfeit of wine was making its presence known. Fortunately our forward planning at the airport meant that I have a ready supply of Zantac (or a reasonable non-branded replacement) for just these sorts of situations.

We got to sleep in until 9 this morning, which was nice after the rude night time interruption. Jamie had the brilliant idea to close the wooden shutters so the brain-damaged bird didn’t continue with his suicide missions (evidently this is a known issue, and a daily occurrence. Ashley and Jason have named the bird “Petey” for unknown reasons, and think he may be attacking his own reflections. Why he does this only in the morning is still a mystery).

Today’s mission was an unusual one for us – instead of traipsing across the length and breadth of La Marche in the car, we were instead going to spend the day in cooking lessons with Jason, a professionally trained chef from New York who not only runs the B&B with his lovely wife Ashley but does all the cooking and runs classes for those that are interested.

We started with a brief introduction and an explanation of the menu for the day. There was a lot of cooking planned, including a fair amount of pastry making, which is not one of my strong suits.

We’ve taken a fair number of cooking courses over the years, and in a comparison with other teachers, Jason ranks up there. The dishes we made were new to both Jamie and I, but not overly complicated and ones that we could make at home. In particular, Jamie’s versions of the extra-thin frittata and the veal in a pan with pan sauce were excellent, and she said that she could probably even make them at home – we may break the 10 dinners cooked in 10 years of marriage yet!

We had a busy morning cooking our lunch and doing quite a bit of the prep for dinner before having lunch at about 1pm, and then a break until 4pm to start cooking the rest of dinner. In our break, I managed to get what’s turned out to be a fairly good sunburn on my shoulders while frolicking in the pool (Jamie, who had the good sense to apply a generous portion of sunscreen, is burn-free). I then had a nap under a sunshade for an hour or so – an excellent way to spend a hot summer afternoon in rural Italy.

After our break, we cracked on with dinner prep – dinner included a meat plate (thinly sliced proscuito and slices of homemade salami), chicken liver on toasts that we’d made, chard tart (fresh as fresh could be – I even found half a caterpillar in mine, surprising since Jamie and I had cleaned and drained the chard ourselves…no idea what happened to the other half, but no one complained so I’m not saying anything…), and fresh peas from the garden with cherry tomatoes with parsley and mint in a beautiful sauce.

Our pasta course was a delicious white lasagne that had plenty of extra noodle off the edges which went all crispy (and little pieces thereof provided the ants a considerably challenge, after I dropped some relatively large pieces into their path – the pieces were all slightly larger than the entrance to their tunnel system – who needs tv when we have the Discovery channel live in front of us?). The main course was rosemary skewers on the grill with sausage and beef wrapped in proscuito – I haven’t grilled on open flame in almost half a decade, so it was heaven for me.

We finished with tarts that Jamie and I had made – strawberry for Jamie and fig for me. Mine was better, if I do say so myself. This with more “corrected coffee” for me, copious amounts of wine and homemade liquor, and great conversation.

Dinner was actually fairly crowded this evening – we had two other tables, including a family of four who had just arrived today, and the Dutch couple who’ve been here a few days. It might have been the wine, or possibly the brilliance of the cooking, but we got to talking to the Dutch couple and had quite a good night as it turned out.

They’ve decided to pack it in in the Netherlands and move to La Marche. They’re here to explore the region and possibly buy a house, if they find one they like. To say that Jamie and I are jealous is an understatement. They’ve fallen in love with this part of Italy and feel that it’s home – I think we’re sort of feeling the same.

After clearing the tables, Ashley joined us and the Dutch couple for a final nightcap, which turned into an hour or so of talking. Its always amazing to me how well people from all over the world can get along. No common background, but a shared love of a place (and a fair bit of wine, grappa, and homebrew liquor) make conversation so much easier. Including Ashley’s tales of her Okie grandfather, who at one point killed all his chickens because he thought they were lazy. When she made this pronouncement, I very nearly lost control of my bladder from laughing so hard – it sounds like the sort of thing that the family says to the police when explaining how things escalated to the “Incident”, which makes the evening news at six.

For us, a fairly quiet day, but I think the best we’ve had on a holiday in quite a long time. So good that we’re thinking of booking another week sometime next year and dragging a bunch of our foodie friends for a few cooking lessons. Despite the sunburn, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:07 AM
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now I'm looking forward to reading Jamie's account of this day - including who made the best tart in HER opinion!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:14 AM
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Well annhig, I tried them both and let's just say that in my opinion (and that of several guests-yes we had to get a score) the person that made the strawberry tart did a fabulous job!!

Cooking lessons were fantastic and to be honest, we just commented today that some of our favourite dishes on the trip were made by or with the help of Jason...the white lasagne was just incredible!! And me veal cutlets were pretty darn good too!! I am sure my wonderful hubby agrees (he better if he expects me to cook them!!)
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:17 AM
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i see u are experiencing the "restaurant almost to ourselves" italian vibe we had

yes i think we definitely need jamie's account on the tarts ;-)

enjoy your trip report-very jealous!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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haha speak of the devil
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:20 AM
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hmm- think u guys are going to have to do a strawberry&fig tart
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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I agree with Jamikins - the person that did the strawberry tart did do a fabulous job, it's just that the fig tart tasted better...ahh the joys of having two iPads while on holidays...I can reply almost as fast as she can!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:25 AM
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Oh, and the veal was excellent, surpassed only by the sheer brilliance of the paper thin frittata. Also, I need totalk to you about what you're making me for breakfast when we get home...
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:27 AM
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Hmmm depends - change of heart on the tart evaluation??

HG - we are almost always only one of two tables everywhere we go...and these restaurants are huge!! Do they ever fill up or were they built over optimistically we wonder....
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:29 AM
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just make sure one of them doesn't break! and my senses making me crave the fig (sorry jamie)- simply because it seems more italian. Its wimbledon here so strawberries on offer all round!!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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Oh HG, I thought we were bonding...fig?? Really??.
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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hmm good question- i think they do, in puglia we saw loads of pics of places full and i guess financially they must surely......
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:32 AM
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yeah but more due to ingredients rather then true chef qualities-because they feel more italian and i am strawberried out for now!! I'm sure if u did the fig tart it would be even tastier!!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:33 AM
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Hmmm ok I suppose I will accept that hahaha ok off for dinner!!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 11:36 AM
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enjoy!
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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.the white lasagne was just incredible!!>>

care to share the recipe, jamikens?
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 02:48 PM
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OMG - just rolled home from the best meal of the trip so far!! We ordered the antipasta della cassa plus pasta plus secondi - and the antipasta ended up being 10 small dishes EACH!!! SO FULL! We ended the night with a Laurel Liquor - they brought out the herb and we think its Bay leaf?? Will have to do some searching...

Recipe will come for sure - we are getting a small cook book from the farm so will be sure to report back!!

Off to clean up some photos and write the report - on Sat we have reservations at a place with an 8 course dinner - surely the 10 antipasta arent ONE course??????
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