Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Grill, and some uninvited guests

For me, part of vacationing at the sea means eating the freshest seafood. A few nights ago, we grilled these spigola, Italian sea bass. I bought three thinking I could easily eat one and a half, and Roman would surely like to try this mild, white fish.

While preparing them, I noticed a wasp buzzing around the kitchen. No big deal, I shooed it out and went about my business. Later when P. lit up the grill, more came. These were not just regular back yard wasps. They are more your long-legged variety. In sum, they are scavengers that eat meat and fish (shudder) and they were after ours. We quickly moved our plates, food and baby inside to finish our meal, although my appetite was largely gone just thinking of carnivore insects.

This morning we drove to the next town over, Bari Sardo, to buy fish, Tuesday being the recommended day to get the freshest and most abundant selection. I bought two of our favorites. Fresh squid and fresh sardines. I marinated them both in garlic and fruity, local olive oil. They tasted divine, but again, the wasps came, so we ate inside, luckily with a nice breeze coming through.

In Bari Sardo this morning, we were delighted to find that we can do all our shopping in town. The butcher, fishmonger, baker and a vegetable stand are all conveniently located at one intersection. We bought this beautiful, rustic bread and P. got another bottle of Cannonau, which is best consumed chilled, wasps or no wasps.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Culurgionis and a night to remember

As if it weren't enough that today Roman had two perfect naps, played joyfully in the sand at the beach and laughed hysterically as the waves splashed up on us....as if it weren't enough that we enjoyed each hour of the day, ate the freshest grilled seafood for lunch, were fully relaxed, joking, laughing...then to top it all off, there was tonight.

Tonight we walked down the dirt road onto the main street here in Torre di Bari to attend their sagra (festival) dedicated to their famous ravioli, culurgionis in the local language, sardo. These local festivals remind me of being a teenager and experiencing this for the first time in Spain. There's something about the tinny sound of the accordion and its playful music, the bustle of the crowds, and the children running wild way past their bedtimes, that fills me with hope and happiness. It was so much more fun tonight, seeing it through the eyes of Roman, who wanted so desperately to run and dance with them all.

We only stayed for an hour so that Roman could still get to bed at a reasonable hour, (he's not pure European, after all) but that one hour filled us with enough life for a whole year. We soaked in the simple life that is worth so much more than any money could ever buy. These are the moments that we live for, that truly restore our souls. Every vacation should be this good.

Culurgionis are ravioli stuffed with potato, cheese and mint and served in a tomato sauce. The result is a creamy, velvety texture and the mint is such a nice surprise. Sharing a plate between the two of us was our only mistake.

3 on vacation

Two days ago, we arrived in the remote town of Torre di Bari on the eastern coast of Sardinia, a rural and actually quite rustic community on the Tyrrhenian sea. Other than being soothed to sleep by the sound of the surf and the swish of pine trees, awoken by doves cooing in the morning and breathing the lovely sea breeze on the terrace, we are discovering some of the Sardinian culinary products.

For our aperitivo, we tried some sausage from a nearby town, Villagrande, along with some mild sheep's cheese and the local flat bread, "pistoccu". The bread is the simplest thing you can imagine. It was made to last while the sheep herders were tending their herds, apparently it keeps for up to eight months. I bought the whole wheat version, containing only stone ground semolina, water, salt and leavening agent. It's bland but surprisingly addictive with its strong crunch, I find myself munching on this without realizing how much I've been eating.

Talk about remote, there is almost no commerce here. Just one supermarket in a nearby town which is good for provisions, but other than that we're buying fresh fruit and veggies at roadside stands, all grown here in the countryside. This morning I ate a peach that was the most succulent and flavorful I've ever tasted and it was actually a shame that I contaminated it with yogurt and weetabix cereal.

Last night I sauteed up some onion, garlic, zucchini and red pepper in local olive oil and made their local pasta called fregola sarda, toasted semoline pasta- a close relative to Moroccan couscous, only a bit larger and not uniform in shape. Roman enjoyed it tossed with some olive oil and parmesan. We sampled some of their local wine, cannonau, from a guy we met in town, but more on that later when we visit a vineyard.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Being Fed

I'm home. I'm being fed by family- meals lovingly prepared by my dad, stepmom, sister, uncle. I'm actually chewing my food. Relaxing. Breathing. My baby is feeding himself. Rice, pasta, lentils, blueberries, peas, oatmeal, yogurt, pepère's baguettes. Trying something new every day and being held by his sweet cousin. Happiness is...

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