That's right, I said 'Happy Anniversary!' No, not a wedding anniversary like everyone else has. Today is the first anniversary of my very first (hopefully NOT last) trip to Italy and subsequently, the first authentic Italian meal! On this day, September 20, 2007, I traveled with friends from Cheltenham, England where I was on vacation, to Pisa, Italy for a mini-inside-my-vacation-vacation.
Once we were to Pisa, we traveled by train on to the historic city of Florence. The owners of the apartment we rented for our stay suggested a family restaurant/meat market just around the corner. We were hungry travelers searching for sustenance. No time to check the travel book for a place to go so we followed their directions to a place that in my opinion, served the BEST food of the entire trip! We ended up eating their on two separate days, it made me happy :) Communication was minimal between the us and the waiters during the entire trip but as you can see, we were able to work it out. My first meal? Lasagna & Bistecca (steak). Fantastico!
Tonight my mom and I ate at a local restaurant here in St. Louis called Trattoria Toscana to commemorate the occasion. I was a bit let down by all the artwork which seemed to consist of about 90% Venice and 10% non-specifically geographical Italian scenes, rather than anything even closely resembling the beauty of "Tuscany" as the name would suggest. It was not a visual reminder of my trip, unfortunately. I later learned the owners are really Albanian. Hmmm. The food was overpriced but had big portions. Not all foods make good leftovers. I would rather have had a smaller portion and a smaller bill. I had tilapia and mom had linguine with clams. We started with a smoked salmon antipasti with toast, butter and lemon. Mom thinks the butter was actually cream cheese, I thought, is this Italian fare or Jewish?
It just goes to show, nothing can compare to the real thing. Ding, Ding, Ding! Everyone raise your glasses, "Here's to the hope that I will again some day, return to the home of my ancestors and feast on the abundance of a time and place I will dream about forever!" Bonapatito!