Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy

Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy

The inimitable James C. has sent me some more photos from his Italian travels over these past few months. There are a few VFYTs, but there’s more. Also, keep reading for photos from Giuseppe’s special feast this weekend.

About the photo above, James writes:

Ah, to have Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (one of my favourite reds in the world) in its local area! That’s a caffè shakerato, a nice iced coffee that is popular in summer.

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James, on the above:

The town, where we were the only evident tourists.

Pacentro, Abruzzo, Italy

Pacentro, Abruzzo, Italy

Mornings on the breakfast terrace of our lodging in this place, on the slopes of the Majella National Park, take one’s breath away.

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Once again, no tourists, just a kaleidoscope of gloriously Italian local colour. Every day at about 5pm we made a beeline for the central piazza around that church tower for some of the best people-watching in the world.

Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Abruzzo, Italy

Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Abruzzo, Italy

All pastries and confettura made by the lovely lady of the house, with local mountain cheese and wild boar salami (the Gran Sasso range of Abruzzo gives Norcia a run for its money).

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The maze-like town, which reminded me of Castelluccio di Norcia

I swear, the Italian tourism bureau should hire James C. to go around the country eating and taking photos of food and the places he visits.

Now, are you ready for this? Our friend Giuseppe Scalas and his wife had a special feast this weekend in their place in northern Italy (I can’t remember if he’s revealed the name of his city, so I’ll keep it quiet). “Cassöla” sounds like the Italian version of cassoulet, which is one of my favorite things in all the world to eat. I see that our friend Wikipedia tells us that it’s a typical Milanese dish, and that it involves cabbage. Lord have mercy, I love it already! Giuseppe writes:

Yesterday we had our yearly Cassöla party. My liver is not complaining, which is good news.

We had a standing aperitif aptly irrorated by a prosecco and a pinot blanc. Our host this year was a friend of ours who’s also a gourmet, so he treated us with something special: little toasts with gorgonzola (a kind of blue cheese) and honey; panettone (the lombard cake) with tuna or salmon cream; a mousse of cannellini beans and Calabrian ‘nduja [ndOOyah] (a creamy, spicy hot pork sausage – the name probably is kin to French andouille) and crispy dried vegetables (my friend dried them in the oven at 120°F for three hours).

Here is the panettone:

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And here is the cannellini and ‘nduja cream

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But of course, the whole purpose of the dinner was the Cassöla. Here it is, in its full splendour

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and meeting its destiny on our plates

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Giuseppe concludes:

The wine was a Valtellina Superiore and a Barbera d’Alba.

For dessert we had panettone, home-made tiramisu and cantucci with vinsanto. For liquors a grappa from Piedmont and a home-made myrtle spirit from Sardinia.

In this dinner we break the rules of etiquette, as all men sit on one end and all women on the other. We are all married couples and we don’t need to charm the opposite sex with brilliant conversation or delicate manners.

Of course, the conversation touched the upcoming referendum. The table was mostly pro-Renzi (I was in the minority and remarked that my friends shouldn’t delude themselves of being a representative sample). The conversation was amiable notwithstanding the different opinions, as all of us know that politics is contingent. Someone, however, told of broken friendships and Facebook disputes turned ugly.

But, most important of it all, my valve was happy.

In case you haven’t heard, readers, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned after losing the referendum decisively today.

What a country, Italy! Now that is a country with proper theology and geometry!