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Italians: Wine, Food, Love

I am over the moon! Yesterday we had one of our Italian Wine Makers, Antonio Sanguineti, for one hour at the cafe. He is in town for a week or so, and just last Thursday Doumina Whyman called me and said she would make time to bring him by. I had only a few days to get the word out, get some of his wine for folks to try, and we got him a pen to sign the bottles that he sold. It was a whirlwind hour, with so many wonderful people stopping by to meet Antonio, taste his wine, and of course fall in love with it! I ran out of bottles to sell and took orders for more because his wine is FANTASTICO and everyone who tasted it agreed. But that is only part of the reason that I have this big grin on my face. The other part of the reason that I am so giddy is that Antonio LOVED our food, and he complimented me so hugely (partly without even realizing it) that I was truly stunned, then honored. Now I must tell you that every single time I make a dish, be it at home, for the cafe or for catering, I am thrilled when I overhear people making yummy noises. I love it when others love my food! I can’t help it.. If you have ever cooked a meal for someone you care about you probably glowed in the light of their eating pleasure. You love it when others love your food, too; it feels so good to feed someone well.

So first he tried Mark’s ricciarelli cookies. You know the ones: almond cookies (gluten free!) with powdered sugar on top. He loved those cookies and told Mark that he does a fantastic job, just like in Italy! Next, when things had calmed a bit and we had a moment to sit and talk, I brought Antonio some lunch. A bit of soup and salad: garbanzo bean & quinoa soup with a roll, and farro salad with ricotta salata. As he ate he was making yummy noises and murmuring ‘bellisima…bellisima’showing obvious pleasure with our food. He paused his intake for a moment and very slowly turned to me while saying “this is perhaps… no… this is definitely the best salad I have had in the U.S.” I was stunned… This was a huge compliment. Having been to Antonio’s region of Italy and knowing how amazing the food is there, I took that as one of the greatest compliments I have had to my food! He went on complimenting my food and my technique and I won’t bore you with the details of my being overcome with emotion… and that is why I am grinning today.

After he left Kat and I went in to Seattle to Tom Douglas’ Palace Ballroom to taste some wines from Piemonte for one of our distributors. Barolos are fabulous and it was Kat’s first trade tasting and we had some fun for sure! When we were done we walked over to Top Pot Doughnutsand I got Mark and Travis (our nephew) and the rest of the crew a bunch of treats. Top Pot roasts their own coffee so I had a lovely espresso and the staff was exceedingly friendly. I am not the hugest doughnut fan, though if I ever want another one I am heading to Top Pot!

Kat and I were no longer in the mood for the museum after sitting in the traffic for 40 minutes to go a mile! So I took her to a place the I have been wanting to hit for some time now, and thought this was the perfect chance. Slim’s Last Chance Chili Shack & Watering Hole is exactly what it sounds like. A throw-your-peanut-shells-on-the-floor kind of place that looks like a hard core dive… and their food is phenomenally awesome. Kat was the perfect choice to take there since she wants to try everything and so do I! We sampled several dishes, which is not too expensive in a joint like that, and I had a Manny’s on tap. They make Chili Verde (pork), Texas Red (all meat), Brisket & Beans, & White Bean Turkey chili. Chilies come plain, on the jalapeno mac n cheese (we got a side..YUM) or on white cheddar grits (oh yes I did!). Their chili cheese kobe dog is Snake River Farms beef and the Texas Red with cheese… Kat’s eyes were HUGE! This is a great place and after an afternoon in the city it was a fun way to transition home. Pig Iron BBQ is right next door and I think both places are related…it will be my next place to hit. It was hard not to go in there and get some Bar B Que, but we were FULL!

Sunday is our pork party with my new friends Shauna & Daniel and it ought to be SO fun! I am going to (try) to make an Italian version of ham from scratch, Farmer George was going to get me a leg with the shank and I have a recipe to try. We shall see… I do have a backup plan. Travis is here and working with us for the summer, taking weekends off to go back home. We love having him and he is a big help at the cafe…we have the most fun of the summer when he is with us! I am going to get him in there so he can clock in and wash some dishes! I know I was late on the blog this week, and I have a big sinus headache so I am not going to do a recipe. I will report on the pork party next week and will have some great ideas then! Ta ta and take care!