Take a ten minute trip to Italy

We went to Cortona to book our tickets for an evening of wine tasting and an open air concert. A very sweet lady conspiratorially whispered to us that the tickets are much cheaper on the night, and that only imbecilic foreigners pay the full price. Also found a lovely hat shop there (do they exist anywhere other than Italy?) and am considering buying a fine Borselina hat. It certainly looks splendid, but appears to cost more than the suit I got married in

Our friends Mel and Soren are from London. They just got back from two weeks in our place in Italy. Soren is such a good writer and Mel is a shutterbug with a great eye. They entertained us no end with their Letters from Italy. We asked them if we could share their photos and written email notes of their trip to Panicale. It was a trip to see it through their eyes.

There are photos all through their notes here and, at the end, a slide show/mini-movie that captures the spirit of this visit. And, stay tuned, a future blog will be their Notes from Home.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

Hi Midge and Stew,

Happy to pass on greetings to your friends in town, in our basic (but rapidly improving) Italian! Soren has just had his first trip to the barbers – the shave of a lifetime! Only had a couple of days here, but we love it already! We are going to the market tomorrow, and looking forward to doing some cooking, and eating on your terrace.

Thanks once again,

Mel and Soren

the beans of italy, taste of Umbrian fall


The weather is glorious, but we did have one of those month’s rain in hour storms as we were driving back from Perugia – I actually quite enjoyed the drama of the lightning and the roads awash with equal amounts of rain, leaves and branches. It certainly was Biano who gave me my close shave (you draw him well) and I am impatiently waiting for my stubble to grow to the length required for a return visit, and when I do, I shall pass on your greetings.

We went to Cortona to book our tickets for an evening of wine tasting and an open air concert. A very sweet lady conspiratorially whispered to us that the tickets are much cheaper on the night, and that only imbecilic foreigners pay the full price. Also found a lovely hat shop there (do they exist anywhere other than Italy?) and am considering buying a fine Borselina hat. It certainly looks splendid, but appears to cost more than the suit I got married in; Mel helpfully reminded me that true style comes at a price.

All is good here. One small uncertainty: where do we find the glass door that leads us to washing machine? I think we are rather timid explorers and don’t want to trespass on your neighbours’ land, but the position of the glass door is beginning to be discussed in the same terms as one might talk of a fantastical door in a Tolkien novel. We are well stocked with clothes (I should know I carried the suitcase), but we will probably need to get laundering at some point.

Thanks again for the opportunity of getting to know this wonderful part of Italy, right now it’s Prosecco Time at Bar Gallo,



Don’t worry about our comfort – we are absolutely loving your place. Last night we sat and ate, and the view across the lake was stunning -stripes of amazing colors rose in a perfect spectrum above the lake. We just sat and stared, and then sat and stared some more.

Last night was the first time I have cooked. We went to the market and I saw those amazing borlotti beans. Mel wanted some to photograph and I wanted some to cook so they were bought in ample quantity. Having loaded the bag the lady at the market wandered her nimble fingers over a few other trays so that the bag now contained some celery, some carrots, parsley, onion and basil – it was as if she knew I wanted to make a fresh bean soup. I made ribollita, and the fact that everything tastes better on holiday acknowledged, I was pretty happy with results. Mel loved the beans – she couldn’t believe the beans were as pretty as the pods – like ivory marbles with flecks of burgundy, brick, earth and terracotta.

a fine Italian Hat

Our day will consist of the following:

1. Armed with your instructions, a search for the glass door
2. My first go at cooking with umbricelli pasta
3. Cortona hat shop (I’m sure Mel is encouraging my eye-wateringly expensive hat purchase so that she can say “you remember that time you spent two weeks wages on a hat? Well I’ve just found …
4. Wine tasting in Cortona
5. Open air classical concert

How can we ever return to work?

Thanks again,



The door has been found! Mel was getting a little anxious because she was down to her last twelve clean tops, but now the disaster that such a diminished range of options has been averted, all is well.

Mel is slowly finding her feet as far as the camera is concerned, and is looking forward to uploading pictures when she gets back – we decided against bringing the computer after the usual 50 weeks a year I spend as a Mac widow, so we’ll be sure to share upon our return.

The Hat.
I decided against the grand purchase, in favour of two less expensive models. One, a fine linen cap and the other a fine summer hat, favoured by men of experience in Italy. The shop attendant assured me that this style of hat was favoured by either very young men or very old – I decided to take that as a compliment, but he may have meant it as an insult! That said, the fine Borselina hat may well still be purchased; making that my first grown-up hat would have been a bit like buying a Rolls Royce as a first car. The two that I have purchased may be important stepping stones.
cafe society, italian style, life in the piazza with a cup of cappucchino

The Concert.
As advised, we managed to pay 15 Euros each, rather than 75, by bowling up at the last minute. The setting was amazing, and hearing the fight of the Montagues and the Capulets from Rachmaninov’s Romeo & Juliet in such a charming square made it all the more special. One slight disappointment was the assembled crowd’s muted response to the finale – I was expecting an uninhibited expression of latin euphoria, but alas, I turned around to see a crowd made up almost entirely of restrained Brits quietly clapping their appreciation. Never mind.

The Trattoria.
Salsicce. What does that come with? For a long while I have complained of London’s restaurants obsession with novelty and experiment. I have been I frequent victim of a bungling chef with a huge ego, attempting to offer an exciting new take on more conventional combinations: liver in lager; prawns in jam etc. Italy and itàs fine trattoria offer me the perfect antidote. Choose Salsicce and what do you get? Two perfect grilled sausages. Pair them with some lovely stewed beans and you have exactly the sort of meal I live for!


I will fill out some of my observations and get Mel to illustrate them with some pics (she unpacked the tripod last night and was talking about buying an easel – a sure sign she is finding her feet). We can get them to you when we get back, and be assured that Mel and I will really enjoy doing it.

There is quite a tale tell from our wine tasting. The “expert” was not shy with his own measures and unwittingly offered a lovely study in the progressive (or should that be regressive) stages of inebriation. I will get that down on paper soon – I will never forget the moment he took of his sunglasses to reveal two of the hardest drink eyes I have seen in years – priceless.

Off to the barber’s now (where Biano will receive your salutations), and then off to Montepulciano.

shave and a haircut. two bits or three bits of italy


All good here. Started on some blog material (wish I had brought mac now!) will send it for your perusal when I get back. We have jazz in the piazza tomorrow and have decided that I can’t do without a fine Borselina hat, so a trip to Cortona hat shop tomorrow. Love Panicale. last night the bottega shop door jammed (the one fifty yards from you – what lovely people, and what an amazing range of tasty foods in that tiny shop) and it was a fantastic scene of multiple advisors and a series of men Arthur and Excalibur style trying to open it. Much advice and a series of failed attempts followed. I know it is a bit of a cliche, but it was a classic example of italians having a noisy agreement i.e nods of agreement accompanied by shouts of discord. Quite like the phrase two italians having a noisy agreement. Is it mine, or have I borrowed it? Can’t remember.

Couple of questions. Is there a food market you would recommend i.e lots of stalls selling food rather than underwear. i think we haven’t cracked that one yet. Also, haven’t had a pizza yet. where would you recommend – happy to travel for a real top-notch one.

Hope these mails aren’t a nuisance, and please don’t feel obliged to reply to them.

Loving it here, and dreading the prospect of next Thursday.


THE hat will be purchased.

Had a great night in Panicale last night. A jazz night, courtesy of Aldo, featuring Hot Club Aurora filled the piazza. The whole town seemed to have turned out and it was an amazing atmosphere – swing, blues, ragtime, mambo … (clearly, a very versatile outfit). I loved the way the pretty fountain and its steps formed an impromptu stage. We got there in good time and Mel photographed with real application. I fear her intake of Ammaretti Di Sarrono may have led to some rather abstract photography, but she seemed to have got some great shots.

I have got into a happy habit of spending the afternoon in the shade filling up a school child’s jotter bought at Panicale’s bazaar. I think we could have a bit of sport where I describe one of the town’s characters and you can see if they ring any bells. I think the first portrait will have to be of someone Mel has dubbed “Lady Scratchcard” who at an established hour exits the bazaar with a train of lottery cards as tall as her and seats herself at Bar Gallo and starts scratching and revealing symbols that seem to mean either outrageous wealth or absolute penury. A small circle of intimates hover around mouthing consolations and congratulations as appropriate – a wonderful bit of theatre to accompany a glass of Prosecco.

italian landscapes

Went to Citta Della Pieve yesterday and really liked it. Bought some amazing pasta (was it really that cheap?) and cooked it up as soon as we got back. Needless to say it was delightful. Also found a great butcher there with astonoishingly good prosciutto and salsicce, only then to return to see that the local butcher had a little hand-written sign announcing “oggi porchetta”. Well seeing as it was only available oggi I had to. Again, amazing. We might still be novices as to the region’s churches, but we have shown real application in our study of its food and wine.

Savouring every moment here, thanks again,


After a wonderful two weeks in Panicale, sadly our time is coming to an end, and we’re starting to prepare ourselves for London life. We’re looking forward to a final evening meal at Masolino’s tonight. Soren has also arranged for his final shave with Fabiano, early on Thursday morning, and we hope to enjoy our last Panicale capuccino and cornetto at Bar Gallo before setting off for Rome Ciampino. We have had a fantastic time, so thank you SO much! We have pictures and copy, should you like to use them on your blog (good shots of the barber’s, who was pleased to show us a print-out of your blog on the Panicale barbers experience!). We’ll send them to you when we get back to London.

Stew’s note: Enjoy the Mel and Soren Slide Show of late summer in Italy. And watch for their next entry based on their notes from back in Jolly Olde England.

Water, water everywhere. Life on an Italian peninsula.

CASTIGLIONE DEL LAGO, Umbria, Italy – Not a bad place to be on a sunny day. The “del Lago” part you’ve probably already figured out is all about being right on the lake. Strangest, no – I think the chamber of commerce people would say most unique – geography I can imagine. First, you have this nice round lake in the middle of the Italian peninsula. There are some hilly approaches to the lake but mostly on the far east and some on the north. On the south it is all an agricultural plain around the lake, same with the west where this peninsula, for no reason at all, inexplicably juts straight out into the lake. And there it is. A long, tall rock in the middle of a lake. How did that happen?

I suppose it really doesn’t matter how it came to be there. The point here is that the peninsula is very interesting and when you get up there, the town built there on the peninsula has water on all sides. And you have enough elevation to pull up a gelati and enjoy the view. Look, isn’t that Panicale on that hill over there? If I squint I think maybe it is.
castiglione del lago in umbria, on an italian lake

When you first drive through the main gate you will likely be parking in front of a big palace where there are art shows and exhibitions. That palace is connected to a long skinny defensive corridor to an imposing fortress where the views get really grand and wild. You can sometimes see outdoor movies in the center of the fortress on a summer’s eve. Been there, done that, quite liked that. People smoke, they talk, kids run around, there is a long intermission. Very much not like a night at your multiplex back at the mall in your home town. Meanwhile, along the main, and almost only street, are frame shops, books stores, restaurants, hotels, and pastry and fruit stores of every stripe. And lots of stores with mounted cinghales where you can get wild boar sausage, wine, cheese and other necessities of la dolce vita. And down by one arched entry to the city (you can just barely see it in one of our photos here) is an eccentric “antique” store. Its merchandise is all over the map, just like the owner. He’s tiny and busy as a bee. We usually talk in Italian but every now and then he surprises us with his English. Something about South Africa? I disremember exactly where he misspent his youth. But what I do remember is pushing in through the clutter and inching my way sideways like a crab past decorative farm tools and glass dishes to the furniture cavern at the back and being kind of bowled over by the lofty, seemingly optimistic, prices. I expressed my “concern” over the cost there and the owner said “oh, you need my ‘cose povere’. We have a whole building full of poor things” He herded us out of his building, locking the door behind us, jumped on a long suffering Vespa and motioned for us to follow him. And we were off. The cinder block building he led us to was just a few blocks away, down the hill. And when he opened the doors it was like Ali Baba’s cave to us. Great, fun and funky stuff, dirt cheap. And choices? You bet. This was a nice size place and full to the rafters. In more, shall we say, our price range. We bought things we loved, he steered us to a cousin who is an aces restorer, we picked new marble tops for all of the pieces. That made them seem to match, we had them all stained to match, and a few months later we had a set of bedroom furniture to be proud of. They look old money but they cost hardly any money. And we got what we wanted.


Below the walled town itself the ground goes almost to sea level – ok, lake level. And there are beaches and ice cream vendors, and ferries to the islands and parks. And a nice drive around the peninsula. Being Italy, it is a bit of circuitous route with a baffling one way / non one way kind of pattern to it. Someone in their department of transportation decidedly thought about this way too long. But along the drive, on a sunny day anyway, the lake can be an almost unnatural Caribbean turquoise blue. And should a storm come up, I’ve seen that that blue can change to black water and white caps in a flash. When we took these pictures it was sort of an in-between kind of day. Just recently along this lake drive there is a new modern crop of sculptures that have sprung up. Their job seems to be to frame views of the lake the way their ancient ancestors in the city up above have framed their views for centuries. You remember Katia the broker of course. The people shown next to the sculpture are Katia’s parents celebrating life, good health and Italy on a summer day. Wouldn’t mind being there with them right now. Ciao, Mario, Ciao, Angela!

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

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Visiting London, eating Italian

LONDON– But are we really in England? When did London go back to being a Roman outpost again? True, I do gravitate to all things Italian, but that’s lucky for me because it would be tricky trying to avoid Life Italian Style in London today. We have many totally Italian tales from Italy but are going to do a couple Italian in England tales on the way. Bear with me? It all makes sense at some point.

It started the minute the car dropped us at our apartment near Marble Arch. (more about Globe Apts in another blog at a later date. Great cheap excellent way to stay in London). We took the aces day flight Boston – London which was almost empty. But yet as soon as the plane lifted off I saw a concerned dad standing in the row ahead of me holding a pristine, unused airsick bag. Holding it with that aw shoooot. . . tooo late look on his face. That blurr going by? Me. Headed as far away from baby Vesuvius as I could get. Stretched out over yet another five seats across, I drifted off to nap time thinking of the joys of travel with children. Luckily for us, we are traveling to visit adult children rather than traveling with and cleaning up after cute baby children. Yes, the Wiley Traveler is all grown up and living in London for the next year or two. Getting her masters in film direction. She needs us once in a great while so she says she’s actually only two thirds grown up. Regardless, she’s a great excuse to come and visit London and once we’re that far we really might as well drop in on Umbria, right? Hung for a sheep, hung for a lamb.

So there we are. Getting off that lazy flight and thinking happy dinner time thoughts. But by the time we got to our apt we were closing in on full on hunger alert and it was starting to get on the late side of dinner time even for a big city like London. We threw our bags in the apt and shot out to the nearest pub. Too late for pub grub. People throwing back pints at the rail were British from the accent, but all the tables we walked by inside and out were full of people speaking Italian. Stepping out of the pub and glancing around like hungry wolves we see a sign of life across the intersection LOOK LEFT oh good an Italian restaurant. And it is open. They kind of look at their watch and say sure, sit. They clearly are going to feed us as their last customers of the day. And we ate like ravenous kings while listening to Italian musak between snatches of Italian conversation happening all around us. Then off to lovely sleep perchance to dream.


Leonardo and Tuscan Interiors
Hey, its morning already. Lets do something totally British. Lets take the tube to South Kensington and go to the Victoria&Albert, OK? Two shows, no waiting. Choices, choices. Shall we see their show about that famous Italian Leonardo or should we see their At Home in Renaissance Italy show? We’d spent all morning at de Gournays looking at wallpapers for a renovation we’re way into so I guess we will pick “Interiors For 400”, Alex. We may do more on de Gournays at some point. For someone with an artistic bent and a new house to redo, this was a very Kid in Candy Store moment.

Finally, that night we did something non-Italian. The Wiley Traveler has scored us tickets to Wicked the musical pre-quel to the Wizard of Oz. If you get a chance – GO. We got last minute tickets and were almost in the last row and it still swept us away like a Kansas twister.

Apuglian PastryThe next thing we knew it was morning yet again. Isn’t that funny/tragic how fast that rolls around when you have your clock set on Goof Off? Well, it was certainly morning. And you know what that means. Find cappuccino. Find now. We stood on our corner and looked left and looked right and Wait a minute what is that? Another bit of Italy dropped right on our doorstep. A ‘Puglian Pastry Place. Full of Puglians no less. And Pastries. Oh, and what pastries they were. Frutti di Bosco tortes sitting behind glass screaming “Pick Me”, “No! Pick ME!”

Isn’t Bosco a funny word for “The Woods”? When I think of a food and the word Bosco, I can’t help think of the funny kids add-it-to-milk-and-stir kind of drink. Wasn’t that an ad icon on Saturday morning cartoons? But Funny name or not, Frutti di Bosco is a wonderment. I want that on pannacotta – when Stefi makes it at Masolino’s in Panicale. And when I can get it on a tasty looking torte sign me up. Like here at La Masseria. Tiny, tart wild berries in red and blue on the lightest pastry almost floated off my fork. Come back here, you pastry you. Nope. All gone. Again with the Italian music in the air and the staff all chattering away in Italian. I swear, these days in London, if you see someone coming at you on the street talking at the top of their lungs and gesturing madly to someone on their cell phone just assume it is another Italian headed off to yet another Italian coffee or food shop. They are everywhere. Case in point.


The Wiley Traveler and her Daniel have the nicest apt in Golders Green. The town is just out of central London but their apt is pure civilization as it is over an ATM, next to a very quiet very convenient train station and from their bay window you can see not one, not two, but three big cappuccino dispensers in the form of Starbucks, Costa, and Café Nero.

totally Italian, really Italian Piazza Express
Side benefit of owning a house in Italy: People COVETwantDESIRE MADLY what you have. And are willing to trade big for it when you are not using it. There are people we’ve found listed in an International house exchange who live in Wiley’s town. They want to trade. In fact, when we call they can’t show us their house as they are in Chianti. We may just consider doing a trade sometime. We’ve done that in the past with a house in the US and it worked swell. Charming town Wiley lives in: Golders Green. (You saw the bit about the number of cappuccino places.) Most of the stores in town are kosher and many people on the streets are the formally dressed in black hats, beards, prayer shawls etc. And yet. There is a Pizza Express. Ubiquitous in London, like Macs in Moline. They aren’t too bad and they are quick and once again we are starved. And even here in the burbs and in a pretty much kosher burb, in a chain pizza joint, the waiters and their friends are all hanging out, folding napkins and nattering away in fast paced Italian. You can run but you can not hide from Italians in London these days.

Daniels Family in Holiday Mode in Harold Wood outside LondonLONDON TIMES

Except maybe at Daniel’s family party in Harold Wood. What happened to the Great British stereotype we are wondering over food, fun and chatter. Where is the famous reserve, the stiff upper lip business? They even challenge Italians to a bit of a contest with hugs and kisses and singing and carrying on and just having a fine time and making darn sure you are having one too. We are so not in Kansas, Dorothy.

Travel tip. Do not assume because 80 year old grandpa George is here filling a glass with whiskey and water and downing it with great regularity that you can do the same. Or accept a beer every time you are generously offered one. We are rank sissy amateurs thrown to the lions here. These are pros. Do not attempt to go where they go.


A scene I’m glad to replay in my mind is the Grandpa and the Spilled Whiskey Moment. He’s neat as a pin, ramrod straight. Was in the service and you can tell. He carefully set his fifth? fifteenth? fiftieth? whiskey & water down next to his chair and someone walking by knocked it over for him. A number of people went Oh, too bad, bad luck that George. And put a new drink in his hand. And a new smile on his face. Then. And this sequence of things is what is important. Then, and only then, did anyone sort out the spill on the carpet. Jolly good. Lesson learned. Life is all about priorities.

non smoking children welcome in London restaurantAND THE SUNDAY TIMES

And yes, yes, yes, ok, we did have a classic Sunday lunch in a pub. Was it the one with the No Smoking Children’s section or was that from the place we went after the play? Regardless, we spent a lot of time in this beyond classic, dark wood, etched glass pub called the Holly Bush in Camden Town.

This is a long-time Wiley Traveler Favorite Pick from her undergrad days. We’ve eaten there with her in the past and will look for any excuse to do so in the future. It was packed to the gills, we got a bit of nook big enough for one tiny table and we sat and sometimes talked and sometimes kept reading the Sunday London Times and watched the show around us. RobertoVision at the Holly Bush in LondonA Roberto Beninni type was behind me with three, count’em three, girls. One had her arm lolled around his shoulders giving him a happy Isn’t This Fun? squeeze every now and then, but when she would go off for more cigarettes or to “the loo” one of her mates (that blonde ponytailed one) would ever so casually slide her hand into the back pocket of Roberto’s stone washed jeans. And just sort of leave it there till her girl friend would show back up. He’d never bat and eye. And of course, neither did we. There was a mirror over our table and so his act was Must See TV for me. I’d read the paper and glance up and get a bit of RobertoVision and read some more. It was swell watching Roberto smoke and talk and talk and smoke and get hugged and patted, and patted some more, his every word producing tickled responses from all three of his adoring crew. They all needed to get a room already. But they settled for our table when we left.

Little Piggies of Siena

Four ravenous foodies nibble their way across ancient Tuscan town

SIENA, TUSCANY, Italy— If we were not actually putting food in our mouths yesterday we were looking at ceramics to put food on or in. We did leave for Siena to be pretending to be cultured types heading for some of the many art shows in town. It turns out one of the best shows in town was after in Miccoli’s deli on your way to Il Campo or the Duomo as you come in to town from the Porto San Marco. This fine deli on Via di Citta is right near the Palazzo della Chigiana. It has a strange old 60’s bicycle outside all made of cane and bamboo. And a boar’s head wearing bifocals. Ok, Ok, that all sounds sufficiently corny when I write it down, but relax and enjoy the show. We did. We must have come at a slow time but we spent over an hour of high spirited fun here on a cold winter day. Never unintentionally eaten so much fine food in any one place. My travel companions were three serious cooks and food fanatics and this place just rocked them back on their heels.

We laughed and ate and ate some more and every few minutes with high comic timing that we never saw coming the owner, Antonio, would deadpan “Hai Fame? Are you Hungry?” even though he was feeding us non stop like Christmas Geese. And there before us would be yet another sample of wine or sausage or cookies or oh my gosh stop the madness.

The store is packed to the rafters with delicacies and just prime photo ops every where glance. Not the least of which is Antonio with his awesome old world Van Dyke beard mustache combo that you rarely see outside Victorian tintypes. Anyway there are signs everywhere No Photos. So we didn’t. Our hands were too sticky with honey dripped over pecorino to really operate light machinery like a spy camera. And we saw why he says no. Dooofus older American tourist came in and bought next to nothing and said Photo Please. Antonio said no. And then relented and said OK. One. And picked up a big loaf of bread and posed with his arm around his plump happy Hai Fame amico and straight man. Meanwhile the tourist spends 10 minutes, I swear, posing one picture. Of the proscutti hanging from the ceiling. Moving customers out of the road. Telling us Americans he did not want any of us non-local people in his shot. THEN he asks to take a picture of the owner. No. Not now. He clearly shot the wrong ham first.

HAM HAM and more HAM
We then spent the rest of the post-deli portion of our day on a marvelous tour of our friends Tenuta Spannocchia just outside town. In fact from the time you leave the center of town headed towards San Marco to their farm you are constantly in Contrada Chiocciola. The Neighborhood of the Snail for all you Palio horserace fans.

At the farm we saw them raising their fine black and white belted Sienese pigs (an old native breed nearly extinct 20 years ago). Then we callously watched some of their recently departed brethren being stuffed into sausages and being salted down for next year’s prosciutto.

Then, under a stuffed and mounted wild boar head we had wine sitting literally in a huge fireplace snuggled up to the fire. And then we sat down and ate prosciutto. Followed by porcini soup to die for. Which we followed with a perfect hot creamy polenta and then SURPRISE, roast pork. This time in the form of some of Spannocchia’s cinghiale wild boar. The tenuta (Italian for estate) is a stupendous 1,200 hilltop acres. It is a non profit, self sustaining farm. They heat with their own wood in high tech wonder furnaces, they grow their own chestnut beams and rescue ancient breeds of farm animals and crops while preserving the old Mezzadria sharecropping lifestyle that was in place here for 800 or so years until after the last war. We have been coming here for 15 years and it just keeps getting better. It is an ocean of work and I could not respect them more for what they do. The fact that their organic food is all marvelous is just gravy!

By the way, it was actually fairly ok that we were “pigging out” on this particular day as it was the very last day, Tuesday, of Carnivale (carne va le meat go away get it?) Mardi Gras indeed.

Italy is still locked in a freak cold and now I have managed to get a bit of a cold too. I am presently using that excuse to stay low for the day, make soup and sit by the fire. By the fire in my new woodstove. Everyone who is tired sick and tired of hearing about it please raise your hand. Ok, only one more: it takes place upon arriving home last night at midnight after Our Day of Pork. I came home to an empty house but with a fire glowing in the stove. Bruno could not bring him self to trust me with the bigger wood until the stove was properly broken in but earlier that night he evidently brought in some of the big stuff and lit off a good one. A wonderful warm Welcome Home.

I know, after all the exotic food yesterday how how how could I stoop to a Bag O’Soup? Was it the catchy, ironic homage to Dean Martin: That’s Amore? Hmm. Maybe that factored in but the main thing is that this is a seriously good soup. Frozen soup in a bag. Yes, true. Just add water and in ten minutes you can serve this to company. Fair warning, I do.