July 23, 2008
Italy, part 2: Ravioli 3 ways
The first leg of our journey we spent in the lakeside town of Sirmione on Lake Garda. It's a small, quaint town 40k West of Verona with a Medieval castle right next to a five-star hotel. All of which makes for a splendid 'room with a view'(above).
The reason for staying in this town, apart from the beauty of Lake Garda, is its proximity to my friends' relatives who live in a nearby town. Gianfranco and Dora and their family are some of the nicest people I've ever met. They are the epitome of Italian hospitality and when the Americans come to town, they open their home to us with wonderful dinners and late nights enjoying each other's company.
Our second night in Italy we were invited to the family's lake house. In the winter they live in the city of Brescia; summer weekends are spent at the lake. Dora told us she had made a little something: just handmade ravioli, 3 different kinds.
These ravioli were unlike any I've had before. They were a beautiful bright yellow-orange color (most likely due to the quantity and high quality of Italian eggs) and very thin, their stuffings of spinach and ricotta, meat, and pumpkin faintly showing through the pasta. They were sauced ever so lightly with butter and sage and were shaped not like typical ravioli, but were twisted on each end like little candies, or "caramelle." So delicious. I would love to make ravioli like this.
For the second course, which was presented as something modest and "light" coming as it did after 3 portions of pasta...
a beautiful spread of cheeses, fruit, jams,
roasted peppers and sweet red onions.
Oh, and a little caprese salad with capers and fresh basil.
No big deal. Just a little something she threw together. Dora is my hero in the Italian kitchen. She reminds me a little bit of my mom. And the food that comes out of her tiny, modest kitchen belies the serious cook she really is.
Her husband, Gianfranco, is like the Italian uncle I never had. He's a big, smiling teddy bear, who happens to pour really good wine.