Friday, October 5, 2012

Italy is a feast!

Brandon follows me wherever I go in Italy, or perhaps I'm following him. In a country known for its cuisine and wine, how could he not be with me everywhere? He was our foodie, gourmet cook and wine connoisseur extraordinaire! I've picked up mortar and pestle sets in olive wood and marble, thinking how Brandon would love them to grind herbs, only to set them back down again. In Montalcino during a Tuesday blitz of three Tuscan hill towns, we tasted a number of Brunellos at the Enoteca di Piazza, as a helpful salesperson explained the differences and similarities based on barrel type and size, aging and appellation. Two towns later we were in Montepulchiano and tasting the family Vino Nobile at the Contucci Cantina. A few years ago Brandon decided to get to know the wines of Italy. He bought a book and traveled through it region by region, buying examples to better acquaint him with each wine discussed. And he loved to share his knowledge when I'd purchase the wine-tasting sample bottles. So Brandon was with me again when I enjoyed some of the wines he'd introduced me to.

Learning that Pienza, the picturesque town between Montalcino and Montepulchiano, is known for a particular cheese and that some of the local ristorantes serve it warm with local honey and fruit meant one thing. I had to buy a wedge of the younger pecorino and a small jar of a local honey that the local bees apparently made from pear blossoms. The next evening we heated in the oven at the villa where we're staying and drizzled the pear honey over it, serving it with the villa's house wine, of course! I could hear Brandon cheering me on as I insisted on trying this cheesy experiment. (It was delicious!)

Wednesday three of the six villa "group" decided to take a cooking class from Chef Lorenzo and his staff at his Ristorante Zeppelin in Orvieto. (Chef Lorenzo and his sous chef, Marco, made a meal for us at "our" villa Monday evening. Wow! That's la dolce vita!) Brandon would love the tales of cooking with Chef Lorenzo, but as much or more, he'd love trying out the 50 recipes shared with the cooking school "grads" and the apron of the ristorante that each got to keep. I've picked up and put down chef aprons all over the regions we've visited on our travels, thinking of him with each one. Tonight is our last night at the villa, and the caretakers are preparing our dinner. Brandon, whose hero is Bobby Flay, would flip if he could cook on the Umbrian wood-fired grill Alex is using to cook tonight's meat, and I know he'd've loved to talk food with Alex about marinades and the use of rosemary.

This country is a mental, physical and spiritual feast. This post was about the physical feast. More on the mental and spiritual in future posts. But laughter and tears, Brandon's special touch is part of all.  


  1. Yes, the picking up and putting down... that is so how it goes.... The "Oh yes!" followed by the "Oh no!"

  2. Every moment you think of Brandon, whether it is enjoying the flavour of the food, the the scent of the wine, or the view of the scenery not only are you remembering him, he is "touching" you!!