Italians, I have learned, like to eat.
It is not ambiguous as to why; food is great. Even better when enjoyed in the company of friends, lovers, or extended family members over a stone table as you paddle back in forth from pool to kitchen for more sun and more sangiovese. Dining is an experience, one as sacred as a Sunday Mass, but without the pesky limitations of a dixie cup of wine.
Last night provided tangible proof of such a mindset. Aaron and I spent the evening in Florence and had our dinner at a local place recommended to us by my friend Sergio. The place, called Trattoria Da Tito and located a convenient block way, is "good for the young people and good for the meats," or at least that's how Sergio described it. Not only do the Italians at Tito's enjoy a solid meal; they provide a vibe and energy that fuses into one magnificent, pomodoro-scented "experience." We were greeted with a hearty, "CIAO" and then a fat jug of a super tuscan, followed by three courses of utter euphoria, and then a liquid dessert of limoncello. The space between each course was timed perfectly, so that we were never hungry or overcrowded with plates (which illustrated profound consideration for the diner). At midnight, our waiter turned 26, and he rode through the restaurant on a bicycle and asked us to partake in more shot-taking. Um, duh.
Besides, waste is frowned upon. Which is why I most recently prepared a snack using an amalgamation of leftovers found in our cucina.
I made these "bruschetta chips" a few days ago, on the afternoon of our first full day in San Gimignano. The night before we had been searching for a grocery store, navigating our u-haul-sized Fiat through the mockingly narrow streets, and finding only small markets that sold small things. We were tired, expressing common familial frustration, and the place sold wine and bread and cheese and a few vegetables. Just fine. My mother is a wonderful chef, and she and my aunt were able to combine these beautiful babies to create a heavenly, Tuscan pasta dish.
The next day, the grownups took a trip to the actual grocery store (a mere 20 minutes away!), and I rummaged through the leftovers to make them something yummy. There were fresh tomatoes of the roma and cherry variety, diced red onions, black olives, and parmesan cheese. The owners of our home had gifted us a bag of toasted bread wedges, that depicted a bland exterior, but were actually very good. Bruschetta was soooo possible.
And so with a juice glass of grenache and dripping pool water on the kitchen floor, I chopped and tossed and stirred and made one of the easiest things in the world: bruschetta dip! The juicies from the tomatoes and olive oil create a lovely pool at the bottom of the bowl, perfect for soaking into crunchy bits of bread and filling them with the smooth tang of earth and acid. It's romantic and sexy and I want to feed bites of it to my nearest and dearest.
I recommend it on a day where you can do nothing but read and eat, preferably in a bathing suit or something just as playful. It pairs well with a dry rosé.
"Yeah, go ahead and throw it in there" bruschetta chips
Chop the tomatoes into tiny squares (depending on desired chunkiness) and add to a medium-sized bowl. Chop up any of your mediterranean fixins and add the the bowl, along with the onions. Chiffonade (or finely chop) the basil and toss that guy in there. Add the balsamic, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper to taste. Shred the parmesan over the bruschetta and stir. Taste. Add more. Add whatever. Go out into the garden. You've got this.
Serve with wedges of crusty, toasted bread. I like to break the bread into small bits, because I find it fun to consume this dish in a "chips and salsa" fashion.
1 lb of cherry tomatoes
4-5 roma tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion
anything mediterranean that you've got (sundried tomatoes, capers, olives)
coarse sea salt
toasted baguette pieces (for serving)
- Stay cozy!