We are still in Ohio (until tomorrow afternoon)!
John and Christa were given some liquid gold, aka OLIVE OIL, from Uncle Charlie (made from olives picked and pressed by him) in Sicily. I am a bit envious. This liquid gold is GREEN and smells divine. Christa uses it sparingly in her cooking and a little bit goes a long ways. I noticed it right away as she had it slightly “hidden” behind the other bottles of olive oil! My mom used to do that, keeping the best stuff hidden away in the back of the cabinets and closets. When I was in Grotte, Uncle Charlie wanted me to bring some back, too, but I didn’t dare accept his generous gift because you can’t carry the oil by hand with your carry-on bags (liquid!) and I was afraid it would leak into my checked in luggage and ruin my clothing. However, Christa is a genius and brought an empty olive oil bottle and a screw on cap with her. After Uncle Charlie filled up the bottle, they covered the lid with electrical tape and then wrapped the entire bottle with bubble wrap Christa had brought over from the states. The olive oil was with her checked in luggage and not a single drop of it leaked!
Here is the precious bottle of liquid gold from Grotte:
We had a fabulous lunch today. Christa is like a hummingbird in the kitchen. Very hard to photograph her because she moves SO FAST. In no time at all, she made fabulous pea soup and a veggie sandwich. Check out Chri-Chri’s creations below (this nickname was given to her by Uncle Charlie in Grotte. Sounds like “Kree-Kree” with rolled rrrr’s.)
Christa’s Pea Soup
3 16 oz bags of frozen peas
3 leeks, sliced
1 yellow onion (medium sized), finely chopped
large handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
vegetable stock (make 4 cups- add more if you want a thinner soup)
salt, pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of butter
olive oil for drizzling (the best you can find!)
In a large pan/pot, saute chopped leeks and onions in melted butter until translucent. Stir in the vegetable stock and cook until simmering. Add bags of peas until defrosted. Blend in food processor. Return to pan/pot and add finely chopped fresh mint, salt and pepper. Drizzle individual plates with olive oil. Salute!
We enjoyed eating outdoors again:
And yesterday evening, we celebrated our time together by taking John and Christa out to their/our favorite Italian restaurant in town, Scali’s. We arrived and immediately Mamma Maria came out to greet us. I hadn’t seen her in over a year. She and her family, the Scalis, are from Calabria. The Calabrian and Agrigento dialects are similar enough that we understand each other really well. She suggested I order her homemade ravioli with fresh tomato sauce which is exactly what I did. Yum! Crazy how much her cooking is like my mom’s. Soul satisfying. Johnny ordered the same thing. At one point, we looked at each other and we both had tears in our eyes. A rush of understanding passed between us.
John has a friend, Reynaldo, originally from the Dominican Republic now living in Florida, who somehow found out we were going to Scali’s and suddenly, while talking to Mamma Maria, her son Franky comes up to us with a fine bottle of wine and says, “Hey John, your hermano from Havana phoned us and got this wine for your table.” We all laughed because Reynaldo’s -who is NOT from Havana- surprise gesture tickled us to no end. We still can’t figure out how he knew where to send that bottle of wine.
On our way to Scali’s:
Franny and Johnny at Scali’s:
I love being here with John. We have a dream to live near each other again ONE day. When? I am not sure. How? I don’t know, but we have to figure it out!