Yes! Tonight we had hamburgers made by our local butcher. We were looking for an easy meal after two great days exploring the restaurants (and sites) of Perugia with our friends from Arezzo. The butcher makes the burgers himself from ground Chianina beef seasoned with parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. We don’t have a griglia so I cooked them with a bit of olive oil in a saute pan. They developed nice crust in the pan, but were medium rare on the inside. We had no buns or condiments, but the boys did not care. They declared them the best burgers they had ever had. Tonight’s meal capped two days of exploring the local food scene in Perugia.
We started on Thursday with lunch at Pizzeria GRYP on Piazza Matteotti in the center of Perugia. In addition to the regular toppings one finds at any good pizzeria in Italy (margherita, funghi, melanzane), they had a number of summer specials. I was tempted by the prosciutto and fresh figs, but went with the norma, eggplant with ricotta salata cheese, a variation on my favorite Sicilian pasta dish. Pedar surprised me by ordering a pizza with guanciole and zucca. Guanciole is like jowel bacon, but he forgot (or never knew) that zucca is a type of squash similar to butternut squash (but milder in flavor). Squash is not one of his favorite foods and I rarely prepare it at home. Nevertheless, he managed to eat most of the pizza and declared it pretty good. In fact, everyone enjoyed their pizza and we will certainly be going back to Pizzeria GRYP.
Pedar’s misunderstanding about the squash was just the first food translation blunder of the day. For dinner on Thursday, we made reservations at Osteria a Priori, the restaurant directly below our apartment. This little place specializes in Umbrian cuisine and the menu changes depending on what is available. The pasta is made in house and they have several varieties that cannot be found on the shelf in the supermarket. Pedar helped the five kids translate the menu, and they were all very happy when he told them they could have angel hair pasta with mozzarella, tomato, and basil. They were surprised, then, when their cappellacci arrived and they found little packets of pasta stuffed with mozzarella and topped with a light tomato sauce and basil. Cappellacci, comes from the Italian word for hat and the little stuffed triangles are probably meant to represent the hats worn by farmers (today Simon explained that cappello has two p’s while capelli [hair] has only one – seems that the intensive language course is paying off!). Recipes for cappellacci usually call for squash (zucca, again!) for the filling, but Osteria a Priori just used mozzarella. Despite the misunderstanding, the kids finished off everything they were served.
Osteria a Priori also provided another opportunity to indulge in Umbrian beef and truffles. For a main course, I had L’Arista di maiale al tartufo con patate arrosto – sliced pork with truffles and roasted potatoes.
Pedar ordered Il carpaccio di chianina su letto di insalatina– carpaccio of Chianina beef on a bed of lettuce.
Since Pedar is philosophically opposed to eating fungi, he declined to try my pork, but he generously shared his carpaccio with me.
Simon, who has always been an adventurous eater [ask him to tell you about lamb’s brain in Tunisia], ordered coniglio (rabbit) for his second course. Jake even tried some. But they ate it too quickly for me to get a taste.
This morning (Friday), Madeline, Lili, and I went clothes shopping. All the shops are advertising huge discounts for the end of the season; one has to look at least, right? I was not successful, but Lili eventually found a very pretty top (in the shop across the street from our apartment).
By noon the kids were starving and begging for pizza a taglio (by the slice) from the pizza place on our street. We got them all slices and sent them up to the apartment. The adults took the opportunity to have a quiet lunch in the bottega next to the butcher shop. This is a family restaurant that advertises daily specials by posting them on pieces of paper in the window. They also have an array of salads, which made Lili very happy. I had the cannelloni special: house made pasta stuffed with ricotta and porcini mushrooms. The food was good, but the portions were a bit small.
Our friends headed back to Arezzo in the afternoon. Back at the apartment, we waited out a thunderstorm that never quite materialized. By 5:30 the kids were hungry again and we set out for the butcher shop in search of something special (but easy) for dinner…