Bona Sforza of Italy was chosen to be the wife of Sigismund I of Poland some 5 or 6 centuries ago, thus merging two of the world’s most amazing cuisines, in my humble opinion. My heritage may be Polish, but I think the gene for the love of good food is at least half-Italian.  And so I share some of my favorite food from this holiday with you.

 Bologna, The Fat. I could shop at chandelier-ed food markets every day.

Design inspiration for one of the niches of our wine cellar.

Who can decide?  Not I.  So I brought home one of each, with no need to be concerned about getting the items through customs at Dulles (where I may actually be listed as, “Notorious Cheese Smuggler”).  Parmesan Risotto is on the menu this week; I’m happy to set an extra place for anyone who wishes to join us.

To pair with the risotto, of course.

Sweet signs of spring.
Blue crabs!  We thought we would not see blue crabs until we returned to the US.
Jams and spreads at the chocolate festival, although not all were chocolate based.

Like this roasted pepper jam, which paired deliciously with fresh ricotta and crusty bread before dinner. And made for a quick bite while the morning coffee was brewing.

Another treasure brought home from the festival, bitter orange chocolate liqueur.
We live in Austria and don’t ski. We live in Austria and don’t eat Sacher torte, either.
Any Italian rental villa worth its salt should have one of these hanging on the wall. Ours did.
A once, and sometimes twice, daily pause. Who wouldn’t?

A non-culinary diversion, the Santa Maria Novella parfumerie. I can now smell just like Catherine de Medici any time I desire.

None of us could figure out what was hanging in the window.

Cinghiale proscuitto, in case there was any doubt.  Clayton Theodore loved stopping at these markets.

Olive oils and mood lighting. Food porn at its finest.

So what did we actually eat on our holiday? Lunch each day was decided upon by the children, which meant pizza for them, and whatever the regional pasta or risotto or fish special was for me and for Tony.  Crispy polenta with sauteed mushrooms, salads of dandelion or ruccola and shaved Parmesan, and ribollita, a soup of beans, vegetables and stale bread that takes a couple of days to make, rounded out the lunches. Dinner at the villa was whatever golden yellow, fresh pasta the local market had, with, again, whatever fresh sauce was jarred and stacked nearby. A cozy fire, crusty bread and red wine completed the table setting.