Saturday, September 26, 2009

To Italy and Back - at Lunchtime

We have had company.  Normally, in years past in our other "destination spot" homes, this meant playing tour guide, finding scenic drives and regional restaurants, and showing our guests all the beauties of the area during their visit.  This time, however, it involved a vastly different itinerary that involved tiring trips up and down the three stories of the townhouse, hours huddled in the basement bent over boxes, sneezing from the dust while poring through things to decide what should be kept, stored, pitched or repositioned.

My uncle passed away last year, and the house has been left virtually untouched since then.  This has been a blessing, in that we didn't have to transport our own furnishings to live here, but has also meant that we have had to box up and rearrange things to make space to unpack and stow our own stuff.  Only now did we all learn the extent of his deep-seated pack rat tendencies!  It has been a somewhat tedious and quite emotional task, for me as well as my mom.  Family mementos, photos and sad reminders accumulated nearly as thick ly as the dust we battled.

After several days of this mood-dampening work, Mom and I decided to get out of our grungey sweats, put on street clothes, and wash the spider webs out of our hair to go out for lunch, and a little shoe shopping, as is our girls' day out tradition.

I found just the spot to perk up our moods; we had located an enoteca while searching for vino from the Motherland, and discovered a haven that was so much more than a mere wine shop.  Only something this Italian would induce me to brave the Beltway and bumper up in heavy traffic.  Hidden away in one of those fake "town center" malls that I so despise, we found a piece of Italian paradise set in a sprawling suburb of "sameness".  Il Vino is anything but ordinary strip-mall mediocrity.  It is like... a real Italian osteria!

Upon entering, there was a strong sense of deja vu.  Wine bottles lining the walls and a few small tables scattered about beyond the brick archways reminded us of our friends' enoteca and osteria in Rome.  When I asked about a specific vintage, pronouncing it the right way, the proprietor, Massimo, responded in Italian and kept the conversation flowing in the bella lingua, to my excited contentment.

When the chef, a Siciliano named Beny, came out of the kitchen to join in and recited the daily specials (also in Italian, of course), I was ready to kiss them both and weep with joy.  I heard beautiful melodies of musical food notes in the conversation:  mozzerella di bufala, gli gnocchi, carefully prepared tortellini from Emilia Romagna...ah, Italia, I sighed.

It was all so familiar, right down to the streaming strains of Radio Italia being piped in over the airwaves, that I was lulled into thinking I was in central Italy instead of a generic 'burb.  Glasses clinked, fragrant basil tickled my nose, pillowy gnocchi melted in my mouth, and mozzerella di bufala leaked a trail of creamy milky yumminess onto the plate to be soaked up with crusty bread.  And that gorgeous language stumbled off my tongue in conversation for the first time in three months. 

Only when we walked outside and were greeted with the garish glare of the PF Chang's and other chain stores did we remember that we hadn't left the US.  For an hour and a half we went to Italy, and it was a divine daytrip!


Peter @ italyMONDO! said...

Don't you just love finding places like that!? They are few and far between, but what a treat when you do find one :-)

Laura said...

Ciao Valerie! Sounds like a lovely Italian oasis. I hope it's not too far from home for you and that you can visit often!

janie said...

I'm so glad you were able to find a little piece of Italy not too far from your new home. I wish we had a place like that where the food was authentic and the atmosphere was pure Italian!

carol said...

allora........quando andiamo????

Valerie said...

Peter - Yes, a treat indeed!

Laura - It's a bit far, especially with the traffic, but we'll be going back soon. (Bryan didn't get to partake and is very jealous!)

Janie - I am surprised there isn't something like this in SD. But then, you have that great cappuccino place to console yourself ;)

Carol - Sono pronta! Andiamo subito!

Linda @ Ice Tea For Me said...

How fun was that. I bet there are Italian clubs around that area taht will give you the opportunity to speak Italian and meet new people. I checked out in my area and was surprised to find several social groups.

South of Rome said...

Very Nice! My neighbor keeps trying to get us to go to 2 Amys up off Wisconsin near the National Cathedral. I looked at the website and they claim to make D.O.C. pizza! I'll let you know how it turns out.

Laura said...

Ciao Karen & Valerie! I used to work near 2 Amys off of Wisconsin and it does make quite good pizza. One of the closest you'll find to the style of pizza here. Yum! Have fun!

Valerie said...

Hi Linda - I think there are several clubs and groups in the area. I looked at meetup and there some on there. Now that things are calming down I can take the time to look more indepth.

Karen - Several people have mentioned 2 Amys (and now Laura gives it her thumbs up so it must be good ;) Let's meet there sometime!