Every now and then, my husband and I have a date night. Except we don't go anywhere. Instead, we situate the kids with a movie and a pizza inside the house. And we sit in the backyard by the pool with glasses of wine and a platter full of fresh fruit, cheese and Mediterranean olives. To us, this is a hundred times better than getting dressed up and eating out in a crowded restaurant.
The food is simple and delicious. The wine is chilled. The conversation is uninterrupted and easy. The night air has a breeze. It doen't get any better than that. We picked up this simple way of enjoying time together when we lived overseas in Italy. It seems that the Italians have perfected lingering over a meal, turning it into an all evening long event. So, what foods do we take with us when we sneak away to our backyard date night? Come on, I'll show ya.
Put on your apron! Don't bother getting dressed up. A t-shirt and shorts is fine. Remember, this is your backyard. Not a fancy restaurant. Just slice up several types of fresh fruit. Cantaloupe melons, strawberries, grapes and red pears all work well. Next, slice up several types of fresh cheese. We like to use Gouda cheese, Edam cheese and Havarti cheese. We also like goat cheese. You can usually find it available as a soft cheese spread with different things added in. My new favorite flavor is goat cheese with cranberries and cinnamon. Very snooty and high falootin'. You can also add some Italian dry salami and a mixture of Mediterranean olives. Arrange it all pretty on a platter and look at what you've got...
Now, did you happen to catch the wine label? Brognoligo- an Italian white wine from Soave. Remember Scaligeri castle in Soave? This wine is from the vineyards surrounding the castle.
There is another type of white wine that we discovered in Italy. It is called Est! Est!! Est!!! There is an interesting legend about it. There are several different versions of the story, but they all have the same general plot- a wealthy gentleman traveling to Rome sends his servant ahead to write Est! (It is good!) on the walls outside of the inns that served good wine. In Montecchio, a town in central Italy, the servant found a particularly delicious wine for which he wrote Est! Est!! Est!!! outside the inn. The wealthy gentleman visited the inn and he thought the wine was so delicious there that he never left. Oh, and he never made it to Rome. Or so the story goes.
I recently discovered a vintage cookbook from 1955 and it is overflowing with Italian recipes. So, over the next few weeks, I'll be reminiscing about our travels and adventures in Italy while sharing some of my favorite Italian recipes. I hope you'll join me. Maybe you'll even find a few recipes you like for your own date night.