We limped back to the Hotel San Giovanni, where we found that several of our compadres had arrived. Judy had been there since Monday, navigating and exploring on her own. Deb and Randy, Sandy B, Shirley, Teresa, and Rosemary arrived while we were statue-gazing. Six of us decided to strike out for a restaurant called Mario’s that Charlie and Rick Steves had recommended as a good, cheap place to eat, but it was closed. An older American couple walked by us and recommended the place next to it, where they were headed, so we followed. From the left, clockwise, Laurie, Sandy B, Judy, our waiter, Deb, and Randy. This was our first real Italian meal at the Osteria Pepò, via di Rosino.
We were treated well and with patience, since none of us were used to the Italian customs of eating out. Sandy B was a vegetarian, not an easy choice in Italy, and of the six of us she had the most European experience, in Germany. We decided to called my Sandy “Sandino” – a nickname he has had as long as I’ve known him so it was especially appropriate for this trip.
First the waiter brought us a bottle of Prosecco on the house, and I ordered a bottle of Chianti Classico Machiavelli, simply because I thought the name was funny, but they were out and the waiter brought a bottle of Chianti Classico Le Lame for the same price. Very good. I could have gone for another bottle but this was not a partying crowd – plus they were as exhausted as we were the first day.
We didn’t order all the courses. Deb and I had crema di zucca con crostini e formaggio (a creamy pumpkin soup). Randy had a spicy beef dish, Sandy had spaghetti alle vongole veraci (spaghetti with clams), and I had filetto di maiale profumato al tartufo, pork with a truffle-scented sauce. I had decided not to restrict my food choices on this trip, but I did want to try to eat seasonably if possible. I knew that truffles and porcini mushrooms were in season. The sauce was actually made with an essence of truffles so I’m still not sure what truffles taste like. The pork was incredibly tender and the sauce was delicious and creamy. I bought a small bottle of truffle oil to bring back home with me later in the hopes that I might recreate this with some local pork this winter.
Sandy and I still had room for dolce, since we had had a very light day of meals. We had the tortine al cioccolato and another custard-like dish, the name of which I forgot to write down. They were both great.
Sandy and I agreed as we gazed at the fresco above our bed that night that this was a great crowd to hang out with in Italy. I knew Deb and Teresa from other classes, but for the most part Sandy didn’t know anyone. I was looking forward to the morning, when we would explore the Mercato Centrale, a famous Italian food market, with Deb and Randy.
To be continued…