THE CANADIANS AND A BIRTHDAY
In 2006 we received an email from a family in Canada who'd just bought a house in San Venanzo. They introduced themselves and told us they'd be arriving in the spring...would we like to get together? Of course we said yes, and from the moment we met Virgil and Jean, along with their two adult children Damon and Rachele and their families we've had so much fun.
Last year we missed the Canadians completely since they visited while we were in the states, but this year we're all here at the same time. Damon is a landscape architect, so we'd introduced him to Giacomo and Belinda who were just beginning their building project. Damon was thrilled with the idea of having a project in Italy....who wouldn't love to say to a potential client,"Yes, I've just been working on my design for some clients in Italy."????
The Canadians arrived at the beginning of July but Giacomo and Belinda were busy organizing activities for Larry and Shelly's guests, so we weren't all able to get together until Sunday. Giacomo was returning from Holland after picking up his two children, Santi and Mara, and Mara's cousin who'd come too, because after all, when you're a teenage girl you need someone to talk to and giggle with, right?
We'd been anxiously waiting to take Damon, his wife Jamie and their son Marcus up to our favorite San Venanzo eatery, Angelino and Peppa's. It's one of those places where you sit down and the food just starts arriving, course after delicious course. The wine flows and before you know it you're so stuffed you can barely move...but the food is so good you're still sorry you couldn't eat more!
Belinda called us on Sunday afternoon, and surprised us with her questions: did we have any birthday candles? Unfortunately we didn't, but whose birthday was it? Giacomo's!! We wished we had known, and I offered to bake a cake myself, but Belinda had already taken care of that, and just needed to find some candles.
The Canadians followed us up the road towards Ospedaletto until we came to Angelino and Peppa's, which sits on the side of the road. Our table was ready outside, surrounded by the pine forest. We sat down and the food began to arrive immediately. Our waiter was Stefano, the son of the owners, and he brought us bruschetta with tomatoes, crostini with chicken liver pate and with porcini. We had tagliatelle with fragrant truffles, so delicious and tender, yet we had to remind the Canadians (and ourselves!) to go slowly...there would be lots more food to come, including a second pasta dish.
After the second pasta...this one with a simple tomato sauce, the grilled meats arrvied....fat sausages, chunks of grilled pork and pieces of grilled lamb. Spinach was served as a side dish, along with hot torta al testo, a local bread similiar to pita. We'd chosen not to have a salad knowing that we just woulnd't have enough room for birthday cake if we ate any more!
I'll admit I was lax in the camera department. My only excuse is that I was just enjoying the food and the company way too much, but I did mangage to get my camera out just in time to snap Giacomo's cake with sparklers on top! The cake was surprisingly good, and Belinda told us she'd had it made at the Coop in Marsciano. Umbrians aren't the best when it comes to baked sweets, but this one was really good.
By the end of the evening, after food, wine, water, cake, champagne, grappa and coffee, it was hard for any of us to think about ever eating again. Damon was so excited by everything...the food, the setting, the unbelieveable prices! I think we paid €18 euro per person for our magnificent feast...all made fresh that day, from the bread to the pasta. The meats had been raised locally, the fruits and vegetables grown right in our town. The wine was Angelino's own, served in bottles with no labels. Everything was served family style, and before you could say "basta!", your bowl was filled to overflowing...but we somehow managed to persevere!
We absolutely LOVE to bring guests to Angelino and Peppa's because it's so much fun to watch their faces as they taste the food, and as they realize how much food there is to sample! Maybe they've had good food before, but never in such quantities, never with such quality and freshness, and never served with such obvious pride and joy! This evening was no exception, and we had the added bonus of being able to celebrate Giacomo's birthday with him!
I'm betting that when the Canadian's return to Canada this evening will be one of the highlights...until tomorrow night's dinner when we all gather at Giacomo and Belinda's house for yet another fabulous dinner! Buon appetito!