Twins Arrive, Fans Riot
Boy! My two cousins come into town and a riot ensues!
Connie and Gerry arrived yesterday morning, crashed out for a nap then wandered the town for a while. I met them in the evening at their Duomo-close hotel and we goofed around the piazza for a while.
Connie succumbed to the bird food man, mistakenly opening his hand when the guy thrust corn at him. These guys offer you corn, the birds land all over you, your friends take pictures of you with the Duomo in the background and you give corn-man some money.
Our 8:00 dinner reservation was early by Italian standards, and we wanted to find a place for a little pre-dinner drink. We decided to head to the Porta Romana neighborhood and look for a place near the restaurant. Down, down, down, deep into the subway system to the yellow line. We rode 4 stops and ascended to an arch, an old wall, and one of the busy circle roads ringing the city. We walked. And walked. Nothing like a long stroll after a long plane flight. Though we passed several cafés along Monte Nero, it was a frenzied, noisy street and we had hoped for something more quiet. We didn’t find it.
We went on to Osteria La Cala (Viale Monte Nero 63) a bit early, and were the first patrons. The menu review, selection and ordering that followed was every bit the best of comedies and tragedies. Certainly, we tested the patience of the woman serving us! She and I discussed the menu items, specialties of Sardegna, and Connie was sure we had just relayed our life stories twice over.
Finally (!) a wine selection was made, and the waitress made the decision to bring us a selection of hot appetizers, plus raw scampi and prawns for each of us.
The octopus was incredibly tender. The stuffed fish roll was topped with fava beans and delicious. The scampi crudi and gamberi rossi crudi were fresh and light.
Just TRY to get these two guys to decide what to eat! After much discussion and many more “relays of life stories” (according to Connie), we decided on the pescatrice, (that funny fish with the “lure” hanging off its nose), gnocchi with truffles and shrimp, and lorighitas with calamaretti and bottarga.
Bottarga is a dried fish roe sac, often served by being thinly sliced and/or grated over pasta. There are many bottarga variations depending on the fish roe used, place of origin and style of preservation.
We closed the place down. The few other restaurant patrons had left long ago, and we were, of course, undecided about whether to have any dessert or caffé. Our wonderful waitress saved us from ourselves by bringing us a plate of little sweets, a bottle of Mirto digestif right out of the freezer, and 3 little shot glasses. I’d swear that bottle was full when she brought it to us, but there’s surely no way we could have drunk over half the bottle! Apparently, it’s bitter flavor grew on us.
We exchanged handshakes, grazie and much laughter with the restaurant owner, our dear waitress and the kitchen staff. Just outside the front door, we waited for the cable car tram with the intention of riding it to a location near my apartment so the guys could see where I live.
It was the wrong tram. We ended up back at the Duomo, just as honking cars, canned fog horns and delirious fans started streaming in from all directions and clustered in the Piazza del Duomo, Milan’s living room. We were caught in the middle of it all. Milan’s Inter soccer team had just won against Barcelona and there was some serious celebration to be done. The local polizia hung back at the edge of the crowd to keep an eye on things. At the height of it all, Gerry and I lost Connie, consumed in the crowd.
We called him, found him and all headed back to their hotel room to get their better cameras. They wanted to come back out and shoot more serious shots, but got bogged down by their technology tethers.
Connie did his ode to Sir Isaac Newton.
It was fast approaching 1:00 in the morning and I hustled these guys out of their room to walk me to the subway stop at the Duomo. Good thing I did! I caught the LAST westbound red line run before they closed it for the night. I transferred to the green line, got off at Romolo and exited as a guy was standing there ready to lock the gate for the night!
I tell ya, those twins are trouble!