Sunday, May 29, 2016

Day 24: Modena

Day 24:  Modena
Pictorial pop quiz: what is this?
POTD:    Madam: Senhora 
This must be a mis-reading, otherwise it's 120 degrees

Weather:  Warm, up into the mid-90s at times, no humidity, stays warm well into the night

Department of Corrections: THB was actually mostly in and around Bologna yesterday, not Modena. The name of the town that nobody (but our co-leader) shopped in is Vignola, not Vongale. 
How late was the co-leader? 5 minutes after a 15 minute extension
Department of Unmissed Opportunities: It appears that THB and DB didn’t miss much by skipping out on dinner. The same guy that overcooked the pork tenderloins a few nights ago did this meal as well and, from limited feedback, there weren’t many courses worth making a detour for…as it was, the group got back at 11pm, so we’re doubly thankful we didn’t make it.
Italian bale colors

THB and DB are up very early, after a long night’s sleep. Walk along the road, meeting up with two mountain bikers. Actually, they were meeting partway on the hill, on the gravelly section, one going up and then joining his partner who was going down.

They baled hay along the road yesterday: looks like the wrapped the bales in Italian colors.

While the group last night got the word that the departure time was set back 15 minutes, THB and DB did not. Not a big deal, at least they didn’t wake us up at 11pm to tell us of the adjustment.

And, true to form, even with the extra 15 minutes, two are at least 5 minutes late including one of the co-leaders.

Opera02 is very close by to the Ferrari Museum. We get headsets and after about 10 minutes THB realizes he would enjoy (well, tolerate) the tour a lot more if he just turned off the headset. THB is clearly not a car guy. The guide is not turning THB into one, either.
She's talking
And THB isn't listening
After the tour, our group has an hour reserved for “real simulators” where two members can “race” side by side. THB is also not a video game or arcade game guy, so passes on the “real” simulation (THB will ride a roller coaster….a “real” roller coaster).
The message: Ferrari is always innovating, just not always implementing

Hybrid: costs a lot more, doesn't save much gas

There must be a fake simulator AND a real real simulator somewhere else

Our lunch at Ristorante Montana is a short ride from the museum, and was highly recommended by Ferrari dealers in the US.

The first course is thinly sliced and steamed zucchini done the only way THB can think of to recommend with zucchini: drizzled with olive oil, pepper and salt, and toasted pine nuts. Recipe hint: this also works without the zucchini. Serve with good bread or hard rolls. 

The second course is also exceptional: a large crepe rolled up like a bag with a twisted top and tied off with a string of leek, filled with béchamel and then settled on top of a pea pesto puree (well, it was green, THB thinks it was pea). Rich and savory, and also should be served with good dunking bread or hard rolls.

It’s very good, however it is very hot in Montana and DB is not feeling well (tummy problems; it’s amazing that the entire tour group hasn’t fallen to the wayside…on other hand, this is our week four of eating like this and they are only on week one) and since it’s a short ride back to Opera02, Luigi takes us up the hill.

THB will find out later what the rest of the meal was like.  

Ed. Note: THB did not find out what the rest of the meal was like, going into slacker mode on day 387 of eating like crazy
LaVedetta B&B

DB and THB rest up, well needed, and are early for the departure for dinner. Three more join us: one co-leader’s parental units and the other’s hubby

Our last night’s event is at a nearby B&B, not exactly your normal B&B! It’s behind a gate in a very upscale development, includes a gorgeous pool, a big vista, a wood-fired pizza oven, and its own vineyard, cherry orchard, and veggie garden. A young couple (with young children/helpers) and the parents of the husband are on hand (with another family of friends) to aid us through the meal.

Goji  berries: tart

There’s picking of the salad greens, the making of pizzas (and the lightly topped pizza dough as appetizers), serving parmesan and their own balsamic vinegar, frying up those sopapillas, and several wines and a beer.

THB's pizza pre-oven

THB likes a dark bake!

THB rolls his own dough out, ladles on tomatoes, cheese and eggplant, turns his own pizza in the oven, and thoroughly enjoys the meal, chatting away with the parental units.
Luigi and a fridge inside a fridge

Around 9:30, THB requests a ride back to the hotel so we have a semblance of a chance of getting a few hours of sleep before the 3am pick-up. That gets the ball moving for a final-final goodbye. Around 10:30, we’re at Opera02 and saying another round of goodbyes, nobody is going to get up at 3am and wave us goodbye.

One more round of gossip: Among the Canadians, there is one odd couple: we can tell she’s older and he’s around 50. He’s doting on her to the point of infantilizing her. They live part-time in Ft Lauderdale, part-time in Toronto. From idle chatter, we gather that she’s actually quite a bit older (20+ years?) than him (though he may not realize it), extremely wealthy after selling her business to a VC outfit, has a huge architect-designed place on the waterfront of Ft L, divorced from an older guy and ended up with the house (and money), and that they may only be engaged, not married yet. Is he in it for the money?

Another rumor is that while they are on this reasonably expensive trip, she’s doing the paying…for all six of the Canadians? Just for two? The Canadians seem to be well-off and can afford to pay their own way, though at least one of the women was looking forward to shopping the outlet mall on Sunday. We think that is just old-style behavior.

Who knows! That’s what makes it gossip….

It's a lawn rumba: cuts the grass unattended

Bonus question: what is this?

Yep, you can wash your hands on one side and dry them on the other

Friday, May 27, 2016

Day 23: Around Modena

Day 23:  Modena

POTD:    Four: Quatro

Weather:  Warm, up into the mid-90s at times, no humidity

Even though it is a relatively early start of 8:45, THB and DB go for a walk and are at breakfast at 7:30. The breakfast isn’t quite ready, those awesome croissants haven’t arrived yet. We wait! With the croissants, we have fruit, yogurt and cereal plus decaf cappuccinos.

The usual 10 minutes

How late was she? Her usual 10 minutes, with all of the other Canadians scurrying around. It’s a long drive to a gelato machine manufacturing facility. What’s the difference between gelato and ice cream? Gelato is artisanal, made in small batches, ice cream is commercial and made in large batches. THB’s view: what a bunch of whooey. Gosh, we in the old country are doing it the way our ancestors did it and you (implied, Americans) are just in it for the big bucks.

Cute T-shirt

We attend a 30 minute Master Class (usually a 4 week’er…) on how to use the machines and then break into small groups to make our own gelato. 
Master class teacher

She's on tippy-toes!

Banana-kiwi, not THB's fave

THB and DB and Houston biz guy are a trio making Melone02 di Modena (clever, no?), cutting up cantaloupe and then adding water and fresh lemon and pre-mixed sugar and other additives.

Lots of fun, and when our extruding machine is just about to pop out with Melone02 di Modena, the teacher comes over and adjusts our machine to extra-fast mode. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS, there Melone02 di Ploppen-on-the-floor.

Strawberry, kiwi, and banana are the other flavors, consistency is all pretty decent, and everybody gets a ton of tasting in.

For our second stop of the day, we drive up to a monastery at the top of a hill, dining outside in a lovely setting. As we’ve become accustomed to, the restaurant is ours alone for lunch and the food is tremendous (THB can’t really say that every meal is the best one, it’s damn close to the truth for the last few days).

K from Canada goes Mammoth before the umbrellas provided full sun protection

And, we’re going light (by Italy standards): an unbelievable pasta of soaked bread and pesto, served as just individual layered squares of about 1” piled up at random. This dish is very unique, even in Italy. In the US we would call it a best-seller.

foccacia bread is terrific, a crisp crust

The second course is a bowl of veggies (celery, carrots, radishes, fennel, etc.), served with broiled tomatoes, chard, a veggie mix (the least interesting of the dishes), those hot sopapillas and squished crumpets, soft cheeses, jams, slices of prosciutto, mortadella and pancetta.

Lots of wines, beer, and water.

Since we gone so light, there’s a chamomile soufflĂ© with lemon aspic for dessert, another unique and excellent dish.

Back in the van on time at 2:30. It’s hot, so THB and DB decide to forego the 1-2 hour shopping in nearby Vongale. By 3:30 when the van arrives at the hotel, THB and DB have decided to skip the group dinner, staying in at the hotel.

Feels like the right decision. A long nap for DB, a short one by the pool for THB.

Dinner in the room:

Packing tonight because tomorrow night we’re not sure what time we’ll be getting back and then the pickup for our ride to the Bologna airport is at THREE AYE EM. Whoa momma!! That’s early. About 45 minute ride to the airport and our flight leaves at SIX AYE EM for Amsterdam; a two hour layover (THB prays that is enough) and off to SFO. Home again home…to a kitchen remodel that made very little progress past the deconstruction before electrical panel issues slowed everything down.

Shots of the town/monastery near our lunch spot:

And a few more shots from the gelato manufacturer