October 30, 2007

10/30/07 Verona Italy

Montecchio di Negrar Italy

Well, woke up to a different kind of noise today - rain! I think Marta was disappointed because she had planned to take me to Lake Gauda. She hoped the rain might quit so we would have a chance in the afternoon but it never stopped. I spent the morning running errands with Anatella, driving to some of the other village neighborhoods in the hills surrounding Verona.

At lunch I got to watch the kitchen ballet as Marta, Anatella and their mother handled the noon-time rush. Everything is made fresh and there isn't a microwave anywhere. Homemade pasta is prepared fresh every day, sometimes three of four times during the high season. Meats and polenta are grilled on the open fireplace. Anatella tells me that warm food should be served on a warm plate. Instead of a commercial plate warmer, they heat up the plates in the great cast-iron cauldron filled with boiling water that hangs in the fireplace. You can tell these women grew up in this kitchen. Not a single wasted bit of energy. They almost made it look easy. But they tell me this doesn't compare to the high season between April and September where they might work 12-15 hours a day, 7 days a week. And this is a restaurant far from anything, with no sign even, but word of mouth praising the Tricol's traditional homemade foods keeps new customers coming all the time.

Where it all happens

Homemade pasta

Anatola & Marta

As the rain continued through the afternoon and early evening, I offered to help with anything. Marta had me folding napkins and for Anatella I sorted silverware. Despite the dreadful weather, they had several large groups come to dinner, so I got out of their hair for a bit to let them do their work. Had to call a lot of hotels in Rome before I found one with an opening. At 70 euros ($100) a night, I hope the Hotel Galli is a good one.

Anatola waiting till the next customer comes in

As my last night in Verona wound down, the girls talked a lot about coming to Kansas City for a visit. And of course, I said yes. But while we were talking, one of the regular patrons stopped by. This whole time I thought Marta was the quiet, serious one in the family. But I didn't know was she was telling the man that I was a big-time manager from a company looking to buy property here in Verona . They said it was a good thing I was leaving in the morning because by tomorrow afternoon, everyone would be down here to sell me property.