A DAY WITH FRIENDS
On Friday we had lunch with Marcia and David, SlowTrav friends we'd met last summer. When Marcia emailed me to say that they'd be staying near Orvieto and planned to drive over to Bevagna, a stop at our house seemed like perfect timing. We were able to follow them on their travels from Rome to Sorrento and Pompeii through MARCIA’S BLOG.
Marcia also contacted Mary, and other Slow Traveller who we'd also met last summer at the big get together near Assisi. At that time Mary had just opened her beautiful country inn, GENIUS LOCI. The pictures we saw of the inn were gorgeous, and Brad and Palma, who'd decided to stay at the inn in order to be closer to the get together had told us how wonderful it was. Although Art and I had tried to get together with Mary and her husband Maurizio during the winter months, somehow it never happened, so this would be our first time to see the inn in person.
David and Marcia arrived at our house on Friday morning and we had a great relaxing lunch, nothing fancy: melon with prosciutto, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, then spaghetti with pesto. For dessert I thawed out the last of the fresh strawberries and tossed the juicy sweetened berries with cubes of a shortcake I'd made the day before.
Normally when I serve strawberry shortcake I make baking powder biscuits, just as my mom did. This time I decided to see if I could find a recipe for pound cake, since of course I couldn't possibly have company without at least ONE new dish!
Most of the recipes I found required sour cream, or heavy cream, and I didn't have either one in the house. Because it was Thursday afternoon, the grocery stores in San Venanzo were closed, and I just couldn't justify a drive down to Marsciano for just one ingredient. (Note: we don't have sour cream in Italy, but I use Greek yogurt instead with great success)
Eventually I found a recipe for strawberry shortcake in my trusty BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS COOKBOOK. This recipe sounded like a cross between a cake and a biscuit, and was baked in an 8" cake pan. I would have preferred to make individual cakes, but the dough was way too slack for that, so I baked it as directed, then planned to slice it horizontally.
Once the cake was baked and cooled, I decided to use half the cake freezing the other half for something else....cherries? peaches? Anyway I cubed the cake and put about a third of the cubes in a clear glass bowl, then added some strawberries (and the yummy juices!), then repeated the process and refrigerated it. Of course while it sat in the frig the cake absorbed all the strawberry juice but still held it's shape. When I served the dessert I simply scooped out a spoonful or two and topped it with some whipped cream. Yum!
The four of us enjoyed our lunch while we got to know each other better. After lunch we gave them the nickel tour of the house then headed out towards Bevagna to visit with Mary.
We'd passed the sign for GENIUS LOCI several times but had never turned down the road for the inn. We were quite surprised that it was just a short distance down the white road, but the setting made you feel as if you were miles away from the rest of the world! Off in the distance we could see Montefalco, Spello and Mount Subasio. Foligno and Bevagna were down in the valley, and the hills in between were covered with shades of green...the grape vines, olive trees and fields of various crops were spread out in a beautiful panorama! Wow!
Mary was waiting to greet us, and once we stepped inside the inn we were all wowed again! the interior was charming and quaint and absolutely beautiful. Mary and her daughter Mar, who was visiting from Pennsylvania told us about the three, or was it four? year renovation of the old farmhouse into a gorgeous inn. Stone walls, huge fireplaces, vaulted ceilings with beams.....this place is everything you dream about!
We sat on the covered terrace enjoying the view, and later Mary's son Michael, who runs the inn, stopped by to say hello. Wow! Another amazing view! This guy is gorgeous! After working in the hospitality industry for many years Michael is now dedicated to making Genius Loci a special place...and I think he'll succeed. His good looks are matched by his friendly and helpful personality, much like his mother.
We were treated to a tasting of their very own Sagrantino wine, and even though I don't know much about wine I know what I like and boy, was this wine yummy! Maybe yummy is too frivolous a word to use for such an impressive wine, but I'd highly recommend this wine to anyone who loves a delicious red. I think I may have to grab a few bottles of this for a special occasion.
If you'd like to know more about the inn you can click on this link for GENIUS LOCI, or to keep up with Mary's life, which of course includes the inn, you can check out MARY’S BLOG.