Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Avid about Agriturismi

Today I treated four friends with whom I work in AVID to lunch at an "agriturismo" called Valle dei Margi, about thirty miles from school. An agriturismo is a restaurant and sometimes an inn "on the land" where they usually raise some or all of the food they serve. This one was in the middle of olive groves, fruit orchards, and vineyards. Leslie and Anne had been there before and brilliantly recommended it.

Unfortunately, the website is all in Italian, but you can get a glimpse of the place. It was a *really* nice place, and the photos don't do it justice. They have not only a great restaurant, but also hotel rooms, conference rooms, training rooms, a pool, tennis court, and a "zoo" (aka "lunch").

The minute we walked in, we were handed flutes of fruit juice to refresh us. No need to say who we were. We were "expected." The appetizers (antipasti), water, and pitchers of red wine arrived immediately when we were seated--fresh mixed mushrooms in vinegar, grilled eggplant, mozzarella balls wrapped in ham, olives (split and seeded), cantaloupe with Parma ham, warm ricotta cheese, and a few other vegetable items that were layered like lasagna. Then came two large platters of pasta--crescent-shaped, meat-filled ravioli with a light meat sauce and grated cheese and a Sicilian short pasta in creamy tomato sauce. (Keep in mind we were only five women!) Next were two meat dishes. One was a veal cordon bleu and the other was a cheese-filled chicken roll-up. With these came potatoes and lettuce and tomato salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Dessert was served with expresso or cappuccino. There were two types of delicate little pastries (one ricotta and one creme) and baskets of fresh fruit. To top it off, three kinds of Sicilian liqueurs were offered--lemon, mandarin orange, or cinnamon. All of this took a couple of hours to consume. The price was ridiculously low. How the Italians eat regularly like this, I have no idea, as they do not seem to be overweight very often!

We arrived back at school just in time to go home. (No Ferrarri, only Anne's mini van.) The perfect work day, I'd say!


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