19 December 2016

2015 ITALY 49 - Wrap Up

We are sorry it took over a year to finish the blog on our Italy 2015 trip. But life is busy and it was fun coming back to it every now and then. We had to do some research to make sure our facts were straight and proofing my own work was a bit sketchy. Hey, if you see errors, let us know and we'll fix. We enjoyed fond memories by checking our notes (pretty scrawly) and seeing the photos from that trip.


I felt bad for the dogs in Venice. There is no grass for them to romp on. We didn't seen one blade of the green stuff. Just cobblestone walkways. Miniature trash cans are occasionally along the sidewalks for the public to place their poop bags!! And we did not see many cats wandering in Venice. Just one on a rooftop.

To get into our hotel in Venice, we had an old skeleton key!

It seemed weird to come home and not have a bidet. Every room in every hotel has one. Wonder if individual residences also have a bidet.


This was a culinary tour and Chef John (previously with Zazios restaurant in Kalamazoo and currently Director for Culinary Education at Kalamazoo Valley Community College) was the perfect guide. Most of the winery and production (cheese, cured meats, etc.) owners had connected with him in the past and welcomed him (and the group) with open arms. It often felt like old home week.

Chef says there is no such thing as Italian food. We all were taken aback by that. He clarified by saying each region of Italy has its own "signature" foods.

Among other things, Turin and Alba in Piedmonte enjoy beef and veal, the tajarin egg noodles, and grizzini (breadsticks we tasted in Barolo).

Parma in Emilia-Romagna has its parmagiano cheese and cured meats.

Florence in Tuscany has its pork, in every conceivable form.

Venice in the Veneto region has seafood.

Other regions also have their specialties. Although we did not go there, we learned on a TV show that even Sicily has culinary regions within the island.


About a month after we got home, we had another treat. Although Chef John works for KVCC now, he was invited to be a guest chef at Zazios. He developed a menu inspired by the food of our trip and suggestions from the group that had traveled.
Here is the menu and wine pairings inspired by the trip. Mike and I suggested the buttery, eggy tajarin noodles from Alba, and Chef did a fine job in recreating that dish.
This is the Uovo in Cocotte with shaved truffles.
 This was served with the Tajarin al Ragu.


Another fun thing happened this summer. Do you remember when we visited the Antica Corte Pallavicina restaurant in Emelia-Romagna and the culatella caves there? We saw a culatello with Anthony Bourdain's name on it.  Well, Travel Channel played a rerun of No Reservations and one segment showed Anthony picking out his personal culatello...the very one we saw aging on our visit there.


Basically, we LOVE Italy, but had not planned to revisit for a while. So many other countries to explore. As it turned out Chef John planned another tour from Rome heading south to Amalfi. Guess, what? We signed up for the September 2016 trip. And I have lots to say about that one, too.

But first I'll write a little about "what we did on our 2016 summer vacation." 

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.