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Why door knockers?

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Why not?

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My mother always takes pictures of small details when she visits foreign places.  She’ll go to Japan and not take a single picture of a temple, but a hundred pictures of leaves and sea glass.  I picked up some of this habit from her, but I still have my father’s deep appreciation for grand buildings as well.   These images are all from around Italy on our last trip.

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Today seemed like a good day to share these knockers.

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Hoping some doors open for everyone this week!  (^_^)

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And this Chianti farmhouse door is just cool without adornment…

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When we last stayed in Verona for the last wine expo, we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast called Casa Guilia.  It was a lovely place- full of soft greys and feathery blues.

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The most magical thing about it was that a lot of the furniture seemed to be from Ikea- and yet the owner of this inn seemed to have better taste than those designers who put the Ikea display homes together in their stores.

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or maybe Guilia just happened to have 3 things Ikea didn’t.

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A very old house, very good taste…

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…and an eye for beauty.

On our recent business trip to Italy I managed to eat mountains of pizza and pasta, and liters of wine.  Since I lived to tell the tale, here are a few of my favorites…

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The Cinque Terre DOC wine is a blend of three grapes- Vermentino, Albarola, and Bosco.  It’s light, semi-sweet, with a little grass on the tail end.  In my opinion, it is a mysterious cross between a Northern Italian Sauvignon Blanc and an Argentinian Torrontes.  I was delighted to experience it, but due to it’s no-name recognition in the state, we decided we could not sell it in the states.

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The local pasta shape here is called Trofie.  It is thick and dense, rolled like a cigarette, and fun to chew on.  Pesto is also a regional sauce, so I got two birds with one stone!

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There were no end of pizzas.  We went to one restaurant that had “50 kinds of pizza” though they were all really close to each other, so I didn’t think it counted.  On this day we had a traditional Magherita (Marinara, Basil, Mozzarella), and a Capriccosa (artichokes, olives, sardines, sausage, ham, and Mozzarella).  Total opposites!  Very good!  We also snaked on some mini bruschetta assortments.  Yum!

ImageOutside the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we got a little hungry, so we had a beer, which by the way all taste like nothing, and cost about 3 times as much as wine, which is very backwards in my head!  And we ordered some small open-faced salmon toasted things which looked crazy fancy, only to discover that all that cream-colored stuff was mayonnaise, which I find to be a crime against humanity, so I wiped it off and then found it all very tasty.

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Arguably the best pizza of the trip!  This dude was arugula (man, they love arugula there!) cherry tomatoes, Pecorino Romano flakes, and Balsamic on a white sauce.  Uhm… wow!  I can’t wait to make one of my own.

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The Calzones of Italy are delicious- they are moist on the inside, so they don’t need all that sauce on the top, which is good because when I first saw this in front of me- I panicked thinking it wasn’t going to be very good.  I was dead wrong!

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A moment of respect for the humble sardine!  Oh, how delicious you are when you are not pickled and  fresh!  Olive oil and spices make you a new love of mine!

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It’s not pretty, but boy was it delicious!  Cingalino Pasta!  (That’s little wild boar, to you).  I don’t remember what the straw-like pasta shape was called, but this salty dish was mouth-watering, and I’m not normally one for meat.

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Olive Garden eat your heart out…  Seafood by the sea!

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Oh, you!  You, you, you!  Newly discovered for me, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOC. The first DOC declared in Italy in 1995.  It was written of by Dante in the divine comedy as a gluttonous wine, surely due to the sweetness it could achieve.  I chose a drier style, but the crisp sweetness still came through, and it was delightful!  We’re definitely bringing some to the Colorado market.

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Fruiti di Bosco Panna Cotta.  I am not a custard/jelly fan (I had the creme brulee) but I had to admit this was beautiful!

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I never knew I liked Carbonara until this trip, and now I am eager to find a good recipe for it.  The secret, I’m sure, is in the egg and Pancetta!  Yum!  Our wine this evening was a local Chianti Reserva (Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Malvasia) from Vico de Elsa.  It was not overly oaked like our California reds, despite having been in oak for so long, but its underlying tannins pulled the heavy sauces right off our palates!  Chianti and meat pastas go well together, otherwise I suggest the Salice Salentino.

There are many other delicious foods and wines we tasted, but these were the best, and I can’t wait to go back again someday for more!