Thursday, September 07, 2006

If I Could Live Anywhere...

We arrived back in Virginia yesterday after having dropped Jordan back at school at her new apartment. It’s a great space and the fact that it is a fifth floor walk-up only makes a difference if you’re living there and happen to be over 50. That is probably not going to happen. She’s pretty excited about the possibility of buns of steel without paying a fee at a health club.

the roomates in bean town

We stopped four times during the trip. It’s about a 7 1/2 hour ride and we usually stop once or twice, but we increased that to four because: a). we found a barbeque pit at a rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike. b). there was a torrential downpour and that increases the likelihood of needing a restroom c). gas is cheap in New Jersey d). it was a Tuesday and Cow Town was open. For those of you who have never actually been to Cow Town, and there’s no reason why you would have been, unless like us, you happened to be driving south on the Turnpike and wandered off to find Jersey tomatoes (I’m a Jersey girl) and a young woman at a bad diner suggested you might go 10 miles out of your way to find them at this giant flea market called Cow Town. It turns out that it is more than a flea market. It is a wonderland of chachka’s (crap) and like other imaginary places this one appears or is open only on Tuesday and Saturday. Contained within the walls of the first inside flea-arama building, (there are outside booths as well) is the best cheese steak you can get outside of Philly, and I’d go one on one with Pat’s for Cheese Steak Champ. In the same building but only on Saturday (on Tues you have to go to the second inside building) is a guy who sells fresh roasted peanuts—to die for. In the first building there is also a Pennsylvania Dutch family that sells barbeque chicken and chicken wings, but get there early because by noon the line goes around the block for the wings. Directions will be given upon request. Whew! We did more eating yesterday than I have done in the last five months.

I was very excited about the visit to Cow Town. Almost as excited as I am about our trip to Italy and France in three weeks. Although France is not my favorite place, because unlike Italy you can get a bad meal, we are going to Bordeaux where David will open a show and we will visit a wonderful college friend and her fabulous mate. They are wine mavens. Her last communication was something about a sale on wine in Bordeaux and that we should figure out how much we could transport back to the US. See, that’s the difference between a wine maven and a wine slut – I just want to figure out how much I can drink at one sitting.

But I am an Italian wine cheerleader. My favorite vineyard, if you can have just one, is Lungarotti. And is it because the wine is so fabulous? Well, the wine is terrific but I love the Lungarotti’s—personally. It’s a business run by Chiara, the daughter. The son is a lawyer somewhere and had no interest in the family business, so the father passed the business on to his daughters. How great is that? The first time we went to the vineyards, which is attached to a fabulous restaurant, Le Tre Vesselle, where we were hosted by the Lungarotti’s. Chiara took us on a tour and then Mrs. Ortolani, the PR person with whom we have become great friends, made arrangements for our complimentary meal. It was a 5 or 6 course lunch with a different wine for each divine course. By the time we were finished I couldn’t distinguish between the wine and the vehicle we were supposed to drive back to our villa in San Casciano de Bagni.

And speaking of San Casciano de Bagni, our favorite place in the world, we will visit there during out trip. We will stay with our friends Cristina and Andrea who have a B&B called La Crochetta. ( You cannot have a better meal or more wonderful company than at this small marvelous inn.

The rooms are cute but not luxurious and the food is delicious yet not pretentious. The first time we were in San Casc, Jordan had pici (the local pasta) with truffles for dinner and then she had it again for dessert. Did we raise a kid with good taste or what? This is a little hill town famous for it’s mineral baths, 4 three star restaurants within 2 miles, and being Joe Allen’s getaway. When we are there we swim in the warm and comforting 20X40 foot pool of mineral water that our friends call a vacation home. They have a castle in the middle of town. We visit local vineyards and buy cases of wine for 3 bucks a bottle, then find a market where we can buy chicken from the ambulant roasting truck, a porchetta (pork) truck and cheeses and vegetables and bread, and if we need to shop, some living room curtains. I adore the markets. I adore the Venice and Verona, and Tuscany and Umbria and Florence and Rome and, and, and, -- there is hardly anything about anywhere in Italy I don’t adore.

We will be away for about ten days. And we are looking forward to being together in a place we love with people we love, and a great deal of wine to drink, just in case we start to think about real life. We’re just sayin…Iris

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