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Trip to Treviso Region/Dolomites


babyluck
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Mr. Babyluck & I spent a wonderful 8 days in Asolo, Italy (40 miles NW of Venice, just at the beginning of the mountains) about 3 weeks ago. We ate very well, mostly at casual and traditional restaurants, and drank our fill of house red and prosecco. Most meals came to 15-20 euros per person. It was a really pleasant surprise to eat so cheaply and so well in such an affluent area. This was our first trip outside of the big cities in Italy but definitely not our last.

PART I

"Speck & Cheese, Please"

The first meal I had in Italy, speck and a local brie-like cheese (and a glass of Cabernet Franc). The café became our unofficial office for the week, and many times I wished I was not too full of prosecco to go scout another place for lunch. The speck & cheese was delicious but I got really, really tired of it after a while.

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We had a picnic lunch to celebrate our 5th anniversary with bread from the bakery (pictures of that coming soon), and speck & cheese from the deli.

Speck:

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(we loved how the man at the deli packed it so beautifully!)

Cheese (Asiago):

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(Later we tried the formaggio di Asolo, a hard parmagiano-like cheese, delicious!)

Speck & Cheese:

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Crik Crok (Italian for "Strange Pringles")

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Edited by babyluck (log)

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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Thanks for posting on your trip Babyluck. Your report is off to a wonderful start with great photos.

And, I wouldn't at all mind being in a position to start feeling, "not speck again"--although it would take quite a long time... My grandparents live a little over the border in southeastern Austria so speck is something I grew up with and really love.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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PART II

"Do-lo-MITE!"

Our 11-hour day trip to the Dolomites (rock formations in the Alps near the Austrian border) provided the culinary and panoramic highlights of the week.

Also, my first cup of decent coffee (our innkeeper served the same reheated coffee every day and should have been apprehended by the Italian Beverage Authority...):

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And someone tried the cioccolata calda:

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But lunch brought the most amazing part--fresh pasta filled with radicchio paste with a lovely buttery sauce and fresh porcini!

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I know you want a closer look:

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Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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PART III

"The Shops/Temptation"

The bakery where we bought the bread (I call this shot "Longing"):

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Inside:

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The rest of these shots are from Bassano del Grappa, where grappa was first made. Mr. Babyluck went with some of our friends without me so I can't really elaborate on them except to ask you to commiserate with me on my loss:

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There is more but I can't bear it any longer!

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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PART IV

"Pizza at 'Angelo's' a.k.a. 'Cafe Centrale'"

This is Angelo.

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This is Nick.

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This is the guy who makes the pizza:

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This is the pizza that he makes:

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P.S. I ordered that one off-menu on the last night we were there. It was like the Simpsons where Bart suddenly starts speaking French (he's an exchange student and his host father is putting antifreeze in the wine--remember?). I opened my mouth that night and a stream of fluent Italian came pouring out as I ordered all the dishes I wanted to try, or have one last time, before going home. Everyone at the table (French, Dutch, and American) just stared at me with their mouths open.

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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Thanks for posting on your trip Babyluck.  Your report is off to a wonderful start with great photos. 

And, I wouldn't at all mind being in a position to start feeling, "not speck again"--although it would take quite a long time...  My grandparents live a little over the border in southeastern Austria so speck is something I grew up with and really love.

Thank you! I should say that Mr. Babyluck took most of these pictures. I was shooting black-and-white film--not the best thing for food photography.

I wish I could have shared some of my speck with you!

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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P.S. I ordered that one off-menu on the last night we were there.  It was like the Simpsons where Bart suddenly starts speaking French (he's an exchange student and his host father is putting antifreeze in the wine--remember?).  I opened my mouth that night and a stream of fluent Italian came pouring out as I ordered all the dishes I wanted to try, or have one last time, before going home.  Everyone at the table (French, Dutch, and American) just stared at me with their mouths open.

Ha, that's happened to me when I've gone too! After two days of timid "per favore", "grazie", "mi dispiaci", I suddenly was able to reel off reservation instructions, order meals, give directions, etc.

Great pics so far. We loved that part of Italy when we went, too, and would of course enjoy going back and really spending alot of time just in the Veneto and Friuli, which is pretty high on my "visit next" list.

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PART V

Other Stuff at Angelo's

Tagliatelle all'asparagi! With (of course) the in-season white asparagus, the most important spring specialty of the area. I don't even like asparagus that much (and thought I hated white asparagus especially after an unfortunate incident in Sweden) but I quickly became addicted to it...

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Mr. Babyluck asked Nick to surprise him; he was feeling pretty glum that night but this cheered him up:

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And he brought us these, which also helped...

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The bread at Angelo's was really good, the best we had:

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He remembered a friend of ours from 2 years ago and brought her out his special jar of oil... and that was after she sent back the pasta to get cooked to mush! (It's OK--she's French)

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Squid in olive oil... legendary. The dish that could not be ordered except by accident. Luckily when we got to the table one night our friend had already had some--one of his "bring me whatever you want and keep it coming" nights. I pointed at him and said I wanted the same. Nick says "OK, such-and-such, this, that, 2 liters of red wine, 5 grappas..."

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Some fantastic anchovies:

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And a special pasta dish we didn't get a picture of. It was tagliatelle with white asparagus, gorgonzola, and big chunks of raw garlic. Damn. You need some grappa after something like that.

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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PART III

"The Shops/Temptation"

.....

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Did you give in to temptation :wink: ? The Bottega del Pecorino looks extremely inviting, I sure would have given in!

Great picture. I had never seen so many dried chilis in Northern Italy before... those northeners must be gatting the hang of hot food finally :smile: .

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Great photos. I spent a week in Verona and the Valpolicella and Barolo regions in April and the food was incredible. Simple and delicious, and you're right. Not that expensive.

My favourite meal was in the town of Castiglione Falletto in Barolo country. We had a tasting menu of about nine courses and the cost was 30 Euros. The chef came out with each course and explained to us in perfect English what everything was. This was interesting because the town seems to attract mostly German tourists. Maybe it was off-season but I found the accomodations reasonable as well. Can't wait to go back!

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PART VI

Agriturismo!

Our farewell dinner with the group at an agriturismo on the outskirts of Asolo. I was exhausted and sluggish from the week and the dinner started at 12:30. I could barely keep my head up but I could not stop eating!

It started with bread, cured meats, and cheese (no pictures, sorry) then we had gnocchi and bucatelli with ragu:

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Next we had salad, I think--it all runs together--then fava beans and some kind of anchovy mixture that I'm sure has a name, wonderful fries cooked in olive oil, delicious sautéed spinach, and meat, meat, meat!

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Here is the meat cooking on the grill:

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Tiramisu and apple pie/cake for dessert.

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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PART III

"The Shops/Temptation"

.....

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Did you give in to temptation :wink: ? The Bottega del Pecorino looks extremely inviting, I sure would have given in!

I should have subtitled it "Torture" instead because I wasn't there! I wasn't around so Mr. Babyluck went to Bassano without me... not his fault, I knew there would only be one empty seat in our friend's car so I secretly orchestrated it so that he could go without feeling guilty. I wasn't too disappointed until I saw these pictures after we got back to the US! The deli in Asolo was good but yes, oh my, the Bottega del Porcino... I'm just dying to know what's in all those beautiful bottles--next time!

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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PART VII

Etcetera

The Osteria al Bacaro, a really wonderful rustic restaurant in Asolo. Entrees were 5-8 euro! Unfortunately we didn't take pictures of the food. This is where we ate on the first night and I was introduced to the amazing asparagus. I must admit their rendition had a leg up on Angelo's. The only reason we didn't eat there as much was because there was no outside seating=no smoking.

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One day our waiter at the outdoor cafe (where I got the speck & cheese) showed Mr. Babyluck his fine selection of rare rums, and said something to the effect of "You know, there's more to me than Bellinis and vino rosso!" To prove it, he made a mojito. It was the best one I've ever had. Just goes to show you, people are usually more than you first think!

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On another day, I was having an argument with a British friend about the value of American wines and told him that Oregon Pinot Noirs tend to be particularly excellent. He ridiculed me for spouting patriotic nonsense. Not twenty minutes later, the same waiter spontaneously told me how much he likes certain American wines, especially Oregon Pinots! I made him repeat it for my friend... who said I must have paid him... sometimes you just can't win. Anyway, here he is, our hero, though we never knew his name:

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That's all for now. Salute!

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Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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  • 2 weeks later...

One last thing. I must know what the story is on "bruschetta" in Northern Italy. I was so excited all week by the British telling us about this great bruschetta bar right in Asolo and finally one day we were motivated enough to get off the speck & cheese train and try it out. The menu was not what I expected (read just like the pizza menu at Angelo's). I ordered something simple with tomatoes & cheese and Mr. Babyluck ordered the "SATANIK" with hot peppers, anchovies, etc.

What came out of the kitchen can only be described as "home pizza"--a big slice of mass-produced wheat bread topped with pizza sauce and Polly-O, melted in the oven. I wanted my slightly charred grilled country bread rubbed with garlic and oozing with spicy local olive oil!!!

The only explanation I could come up with is that the place seemed to cater to German tourists--it was essentially a beer-and-bruschetta bar, and Asolo does get a lot of Germans... maybe that's what they expect from bruschetta?

At one of the towns we stopped at in the Dolomites, we saw this signboard, which will give you an idea of what I'm talking about:

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And a really nasty close-up:

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What is this stuff??? Is it really Italian, or what?

Queen of Grilled Cheese

NJ, USA

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