The restaurant we went to in Arezzo for lunch today was so adorable. It held about seven tables and the colors were a brick-red and white. The menus were hand written in Italian. We ordered the antipasti to start which consisted of different meats, a bread salad, a couple crostini’s and a piece of ham…we followed that with a salad and a pasta served with wild boar sauce. The salad was fine and the pasta was very good…you could tell the noodles were homemade.
We walked around just a bit through Arezzo, seeing the main square and some of its boutiques. The city seemed much bigger than the other small town villages but not a large city either. We got back in our car thankful we didn’t have a parking ticket and left for a town called, La Verna. We really didn’t know much about La Verna but reading the Michelin guide…it sounded like it had a really nice viewpoint and we wanted to see some of the Arezzo region.
We drove for about an hour and noticed the elevation was increasing and the small narrow roads were extremely curvy, as in if you get car sick…do not take this road. As we got closer to the town, we saw a huge monastery on a cliff high above where we were…we assumed the road would take us to the top but then saw a big hiking sign. We parked and walked over to see what kind of hike there was…we found out we were in a national forest. We took the steep hike uphill through the woods, huffing and puffing our way to the top. When we arrived and walked onto the large open area of the monastery…we saw breathtaking panoramic views. There were monks walking around and just a couple other people enjoying the scenery. Absorbed in the serenity, we enjoyed the moment…we could feel the peacefulness of this special place. Leaving the monastery for our hike back down, we soon realized we were surrounded by beautiful tall slender trees and were all by ourselves in the forest.
Sweaty and out of breath, we returned to our car and continued driving up the mountain to Camaldoli, another small town centered around a monastery. It had about six or seven buildings within the town and was surrounded by tall trees…a definite hiking and mountain biking area. We walked through some of the monastery and stopped at a cafe for a fresh squeezed OJ with blueberry ricotta pastry. We were so hungry and the restaurant we planned on going to was supposed to be in this tiny town but we couldn’t find it. We showed the name of the restaurant to the women working behind the counter and she told us the restaurant was only a few kilometers away and was her uncle’s restaurant! Small town…
Sure enough 3-4 kilometers later, we arrived in a tiny town called Moggiona near the village of Poppi at the restaurant we were looking for, Il Cedro. As soon as we walked in…we felt like we were at our grandparents house. The furniture and the decor just felt like we were in grandpa’s dining room. We found out this was a family business and the restaurant was added onto the family house. The women who took our order was also part of the family. She took out one of the family photo albums and pointed to herself when she was younger. She said the restaurant opened over 30 years ago. She gave us a warm welcome and instead of handing us menus…she verbally told us what our options were. She named multiple homemade pastas and various meats. Giff had homemade noodles with hare ragu and I started with a typical local pasta dish (we can’t remember the name) which is basically homemade ravioli stuffed with potato in a bolognese sauce. Both pastas were very delicious. We followed it with a dish of slow roasted wild boar served with white beans which was also very good. I would give the link to this family run restaurant because you should eat there if in this area…but I don’t think they have one.
Tired from our long day, we headed back to our place.
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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