Well, here it is, somehow one week later. And I have about fifteen minutes before I pass out...and more stories from this past week than I know what to do with.
* Disclaimer: There might be typos. But if I don't get this out now, it might not ever happen...
This past week = Joining the Indie Wineries crew (me, Summer, three-month-old Ettore, and seven dudes in the wine business) as we drove to vineyards/cellars/homes of some Indie producers, tasting wine and eating.
Thursday: Three wineries within a one-hour radius of Montaldo (Summer's home), followed by a huge dinner back home.
Friday: A 6am 30-minute HIIT workout with an Indie dude, in the dark, down a country road, before our four-hour drive to one producer--including a delicious multiple-course meal, of course--followed by a one-hour drive to Producer #2 (in Slovenia), followed by a late-night incredible meal by Producer #3 (also Slovenia). Then I proceeded to stay up with the men (with a new nickname: "Summerina". You know, I had to represent the Wolff--and the double-X chromosome) until about 2:30am, tasting wines galore in the cellar.
Saturday: Drive to Producer #4, known for the most incredible Prosecco imaginable (among other things), followed by a drive to fair Verona to check into our convenient apartments right in the center of the city and a festive dinner of pizzas galore (because everything else on the menu left much to be desired, funny enough) before a semi-late (as in, only 12:30am) evening drinking in the street outside the very famous Bottega Vini.
Sunday: Just one wine festival today, about four hours at Villa Favorita, followed by a dinner: Forty of us taking over the basement of a restaurant. Indie folks, producers, friends, etc. The typical course-upon-course: Meats/cheese/bread, pasta, another type of pasta, meat and potatoes, desserts. And, as always, wine from the producers who dined with us. After that, I joined the boys in the piazza until way too late.
Monday: What happened Monday...Ah yes! Vinitaly! The wine festivals of wine festivals. I spent most of the time, as I did at Favorita, chilling with the adorable bambino Ettore, until it was feeding time with Mama. And goodness, does that boy like to mangia! Summer jokes about the truth that, like obese people, Ettore sweats when he eats. Because he honestly sweats when he eats...After Vinitaly, an apertivo in the piazza, followed by a lovely dinner cooked by a few of the Indie boys at their apartment. "Only" 15 of us that night, aka "low key".
Tuesday: A long drive back to Montaldo, just us family, including a two-hour lunch at one of the most quaint restaurants I had ever been to. One of those stereotypical small village, homegrown Italian joints, where the waiter describes every offering that day (no menu), and they leave each bottle of wine that you order by the glass, so you can top off yourself if you want to. Antipasti: Pickled vegetables, celery-root-type veggie in homemade mayonnaise, fried tiny river trout, tuna and pesto morsels, sauteed greens...and I tried snails for the first time. Yes, they basically taste like dirt. And one was enough. But there you go: Cross that off the bucket list! Main course: More sauteed veggies and delicious cod...And then some espresso, and a "cookie" (kind of like a biscotti/cookie sheet thing composed of flour/corn flour, egg, sugar, butter, and almonds--and quite tasty, I have to say).
Which brings me to today, Wednesday evening. Our first day at home, pretty relaxed. Just some errands and a quiet dinner at home.
1. Suffice it to say that some meals have been incredible for me, and some have not. I have decided to limit the cheese consumption, unfortunately, as that did my body no good at all. As soon as I limited dairy again, my congestion ended. Ah well. Still enjoying more dairy that usual, especially in the desserts!
2. I have consumed more bread and pasta and desserts and wine on a daily basis than...well, I ever imagined I could. Meh. Whatevs. When in Italy...Pants aren't fitting tighter yet...Ha! The beauty of no preservatives!
3. My only "workout" this week was the 30-minute HIIT on Thursday morning. But I have been carrying around 20+-pound Ettore all week, which is a workout in and of itself. And I am perfectly fine with the lack, as the days have been incredibly long. Summer and I hope to start a little routine together soon, so hopefully we can make that happen.
4. I have met so many wonderful people and understand more and more of the constant Italian spoken all around me. Still don't use much myself yet, but jotting down some key words and phrases and taking it all in. Gioah, at the age of two, speaks both (mostly English) and understands both. It's absolutely incredible.
5. Wellness & Wine...Sounds like a beautiful way to live.
A few quote and moment highlights this week:
- "You can't apply other people's recipes to your land."
- "It's what's inside (the bottle) that counts."
- "It's not natural to force wine to do what you want [which many winemakers do]."
- Jamming to Frank Sinatra and 80s CDs, which we found at the Autostrata (rest stop), in the van
- About wine...e.g., bottling by the moon cycle, white wines in limestone soil/red wine in clay soil, how Sicilian wine generally is fruitier but doesn't age as well, that the acidity of brusco pairs well with a rich dish like butter and squash pasta, or pizza...
- That a pink ribbon by the road/outside a house means that a girl was born (blue for a boy)
- That some adorable restaurants leave the entire wine bottle at the table when you order a glass, just in case you want a bit more
- Trying the "perfect blend of wine" made from Merlot ("Feminine": Easy, charming, and smooth) and Cabernet Sauvignon ("Masculine": Wild and strong)
- That apparently I am funny looking, as Ettore literally just looks at me and cracks up until he snorts
And, finally, that life is short and, as always, in the end, family and love matter more than anything else.