Today is our last day in Barolo…our Italian vacation is coming to an end! After a slow breakfast we drove through the area to see some of the other local villages.
The first was Serralunga…another hilltop town. We climbed our way to the top and stopped to take pictures. There were barely any places open…we have been told that this month many Italians take there vacation, so some of the shops and restaurants are closed. European vacation is much different from US vacation…on average we get about 2 weeks and Europeans seem to get about 4-6 weeks.
We continued onto our next place which was Monforte. This town had its old center on one side and its newer part of town on the other. We saw a large church in the newer area and stopped to take a look inside and snap some pictures before heading to the old center. After walking through the wall that surrounded the center we saw this town was an uphill through the cobblestone streets. As we walked up the main street, we saw an alley with a restaurant called, La Salita (www.lasalita.it).
We quickly realized we were in a restaurant which made very good food. The breads were all homemade as was the pasta and ice-cream. We ordered a tasting menu to split between us. The first course was steak tartare and a Russian salad. The tartare (raw meat) was served with a creamy goat cheese which was the consistency of butter. The Russian salad had peas, carrots and potatoes all mixed into mayonnaise. The tartare was the better dish. The second course was their house made potato gnocchi…served in a light olive oil with shavings of parmesan cheese and black truffle. The gnocchi was so chewy…it was like little pieces of doughy goodness. The third course was lightly seared steak served with sliced grilled tomatoes and hand-cut fries. Our tasting menu ended with a homemade strawberry ice-cream which was so light and creamy…and a chocolate cookie. Oh and did I mention each course was served with a glass of local wine? This restaurant was legit…
Since we decided it was necessary to eat a 4 course menu for lunch…it was nice to burn off those calories as we hiked to the top of the old town. We recognized the same brick/clay colored roof-tops and buildings, and of course we were rewarded with a spectacular view once at the top. After our climb back down, we drove through a couple other small villages before heading back to our B&B, which was holding a tasting in the wine cellar.
Of course we had a great time tasting the many many many wines of Cascina del Monestero (our B&B). There was one other English speaking couple on the private tasting/tour and the wine maker…who spoke all Italian. He walked us through the cellar having us taste the various types and vintages straight out of the barrels as we talked and tried to translate the Italian to English. After the barrel tasting, he brought us into the old stone tasting room where he had 10 different bottles lined up for tasting! He showed us the wine cork opener, pointed to the wine bottles and said he would be back. The four of us looked at each with smiles and began pouring. Now, maybe his intentions were for us to pick what we wanted to taste out of the line-up but how were we supposed to know which ones we liked without tasting them all? Hours went by…the winemaker would come in and out watching us drink. We decided to share a bottle of our Montefalco, Sagrintino with him, and we had to pour it through the little hand blown Murano glass decanter we had purchased in Chianti. He liked the wine…asking where it was from as he poured himself a second glass, but he loved the decanter. He made his wife come in to taste it and write down the website of the decanter for themselves.
Being it was after 9pm, we thanked everyone and walked up to our room where we ate some of our picnic foods and watched a movie before bed.
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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