Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Saturday in

Another weekend, more pedala forte and mangia bene.

As we've pointed out so many times in the past, one of our favorite things in life is a challenging bike ride followed by a wonderful meal. You'd think we'd try to make a business out of this idea eventually, no?

We have other obligations for Sunday so Saturday was to be our ride hard, eat well day, starting with this wine DIODOROS (above) from the region of the Greek Temples in Agrigento. Our ride wasn't a super long one, just an action-packed 55 kms with a reasonable climb in the middle. It's cool and blustery today. so 55 kms was enough.

There's a meat market just outside Siracusa, one we pass on a lot of our bike rides. It's always busy, so yesterday we stopped on our way home to check out what they have. Larry went a little crazy and came out with a classic bistecca Fiorentina so Saturday's late lunch/early dinner was to have a Tuscan theme despite our being in Sicily. One thing they do have here in February is wonderful tomatoes grown in the volcanic soil. Makes it easy to start with a bruschetta al pomodoro (above) antipasto especially with the fresh, fragrant basil that grows in that same rich, volcanic soil.

We have a TON of stale bread around as we buy a fresh loaf each day. These are freshly baked right here on the island, but we never eat all of a loaf in one day, so "dead bread" piles up, waiting to be made into croutons or, in this case the famous Tuscan pappa al pomodoro, a tomato and bread soup (above) enjoyed as our first course. The tomatoes for this came out of a jar as we're too lazy to put the effort into using fresh ripe tomatoes and think this comes out just as good anyway since there's a long cooking time.

Our secondo piatto (main dish) was that bistecca Fiorentina (above) traditionally "three fingers thick" this one was more like two, weighing in around 700 grams and costing about $10. We don't have an outdoor grill here so the stove did the trick using one of those grill pans with the raised ribs. The proper cooking technique for these is hot coals where it's just seared on each side, then slapped on the plate after some salt, pepper, olive oil and maybe a squeeze of lemon. This ain't US corn-fed beef, but's it's mighty tasty!!!

In addition we enjoyed artichokes (above) prepared in a way Larry learned at the American Academy in Rome last year. Yank off all those pesky leaves (they're little more than vehicles to eat mayo or butter anyway) cut out the choke, then pare the whole thing down, stripping off all the stringy, tough outsides, leaving just the heart and the stem. Cut 'em in half, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake on parchment paper for 20 minutes or so under the broiler, I think the Academy folks used the convection setting on their oven to make 'em more crispy, but they're tasty either way!

Finally a non-Tuscan, heck, non-ITALIAN (but we like it) Caesar salad. Why? Mostly because the good anchovies needed are cheap and easy to get here and we had croutons to use up.

Illy espresso, courtesy of our little GAGGIA iperespresso machine plus a Sicilian torroncino (chocolate covered nougat with the best almonds you can imagine) capped off our hybrid Tosco-Siciliano meal. Now it's time for a nap!

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