When we were in Tunisia, barreling down the road towards Douz in a louage, we shared our van with a cute pair of Italian guys who had flown over for a week's vacation on a whim. Lorenzo and Giovanni, fresh off the plane from Milano, knew little to nothing about the country in which they'd landed. That evening, they wound up at our hotel, and later, they kindly invited us out to dinner.
When we sat down together at one of Tunisia's ubiquitous crowded restaurants, the waiter brought us the usual basket of stale-ish bread, with a dish of bitter olive oil and harissa. Amidst flies buzzing all around, the rest of our food arrived, most of it looking like it had already been digested.
Staring at his plate in dismay, twiddling his fork in the unknown reddish brown substance, Giovanni's bottom lip jutted out in a pout. He then let out a whimper and whined:
"I want to go EEE-taly!"
It was adorable, and we feel the exact same way sometimes. To this day, whenever we are faced with food choices that are less than ideal, or have had too many plates of white rice and meat in a row, or find ourselves pining desperately away for this…
…we think of Giovanni and (only semi-) jokingly whine:
"I want to go EEE-taly!"
Tonight, we have precisely one thing on our minds: Italian food. Luckily for us, we hit the jackpot, dining at the best Italian restaurant we've been to since Italy itself—the oddly named Good Morning Vietnam. Seated in a cozy trattoria-type setting, we start with glasses of red wine and a simply dressed salad served with rosemary grilled flatbread.
A plate of Italian cured meats comes next, including our favorites, speck and salami milano, and then a cheese platter, with morsels rich and feety and delicious, drizzled with runny honey.
When we've scraped those plates clean, our main courses arrive fresh from the kitchen. There's a hand-tossed wood-fired cheese pizza, melty with mozzarella, gorgonzola, and parmigiano, with a crust that blisters and bubbles and crackles apart. Alongside the pizza, we tuck into a plate of homemade tomato basil gnocci.
We cap off the best dinner in recent memory with a fantastic dessert: sweet marscapone cheese over boozy, coffee-stained lady fingers, topped with bitter chocolate… the tiramisu here is a revelation! By the time we're through, we are delirious with contentment.
We're about to leave, satisfied with our meal, when the server comes over to bring us glasses of complimentary house-made limoncello! After we've downed those, we roll out of the restaurant, full, tipsy, and in a state of post-delicious-dinner bliss. I'd say our desire to go to Italy has been successfully staved off for awhile.
Hi Grandma & Grandpa!
Remember when you sent us that money with the explicit instructions to "EAT!"? Well guys, I think you'll be happy to know that we did just that. We had the most delicious Italian feast tonight, courtesy of you two. Thank you so much for your generosity!
All our love, Tara & Tyler
PS: Here's the kitty that hid under the restaurant stairs.