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April 22, 2017

A most amazing dinner

In Italy,  dinner is serious business. Shame I left my phone in the car, because this was nearly a “Pictures or it never happened” experience.
 
There is an agriturismo near us called Montagola. Agriturismo is a B&B set on a working farm. They typically also have a restaurant as well. The one at Montagola only serves Saturday lunch and dinner and Sunday lunch. We arrive and there is a small horse standing in the driveway. Guess we are parking down here on the road then. Horse follows us, wondering if we have anything good to eat. Puppy attack at the top of the drive. He latches onto my pant leg and gets dragged to the front door.  Very rustic and homey place, but you can only get in with a reservation.  It is a small dining room, they can handle about 40 people. Often difficult to get reservations. We were told by friends ahead of time to – go hungry. They were not kidding.
 
We began with a traditional antipasta tray. thin slices of prosciutto, cheeses and olives. next comes another small plate with small fried breads. (fritelli), then a plate of fried onion rings. (Cipolla), then arrives a plate of garlic stuffed mushrooms with fried cheese slices. Close on its heels was another bread treat. Surely the pasta course must be….Ooops, a small bowl of chopped spiced lamb, then another bowl of a thick barley and lentil soup. Then, at last the Prima Piatte, or first plate, which is traditionally pasta. Fungi and truffle with pasta for our course. Can’t finish it all, but sooo good. Omg, stop it your killing me. Second Piatte, is the meat plate.  The salad traditionally arrives at this time as well, which is good cause I’m pretty sure I will need that roughage in the morning. Mixed meats, pork, lamb, sausage with potatoes. A little dolce? Small raspberry tort followed by the digestif cart. About ten bottles of various shape on the cart. Grappa’s, amaretto, limocello , and some things I cannot pronounce and which would probably make a moonshiner sputter and cough. Then, finally, the coffee, which is the traditional end of the meal. An espresso, sipped as we wonder how in the world we are going to ever eat again.
 
It is dining like this that reminds me I am not in Kansas anymore. There was no menu. Like moms kitchen it was you eat what I make. The waiter did not ever once ask “So, hows it tasting?” In fact, the only time you see the waiter is for the arrival of the next course, or if you lift a polite finger and say scuzi. Whatever you ask for, is delivered ‘subito’. Or immediately. In these types of restaurant, wine is on the table in a pitcher, which mysteriously refills. It is part of meal, and like Olive Garden breadsticks, is endless. When it is time to pay for the meal, you must ask for the conto (check). Our tally for the two of us for tonights meal? 23 Euro each. One typically does not tip on a fixed price meal. In fact, one rarely tips at all. Many times I will round up to the the next five, or if I’m in a tourist place a few extra euro handed to the waiter with a polite ‘resto per te’ to make sure they get it. (although frequently, you may see a service charge added to your bill in very tourist areas)
We will be going back, but first we need to collect a couple of unsuspecting, and hungry friends to take along with us.

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