Tag Archives: dinner

Bites, Beaches, and Birds

outside the Duomo

near the Duomo in the castello district

After our day exploring the great outdoors, we arrived in Cagliari–Sardinia’s biggest city (population somewhere around 100,000), situated on its southern coast. I had already seen Cagliari last summer, but it was interested to see the island’s bustling capital in the winter, decked out in Christmas lights, and with a busy night market near the port, selling everything from fresh olives to traditional rugs. We spent the next morning wandering around the castello district, the city’s historic and picturesque area, situated high above the modern city. In the afternoon, we took a short excursion to some of the other towns on the southern coast, toward Pula, Nora, and Chia, where there are now-deserted beaches, that must be packed in the summer, and of course more ruins along the shore. On the drive there and back, we finally caught a glimpse of the island’s legendary wild flamingoes…they’re all over the Sardinian postcards, but I had been starting to doubt their actual existence until we saw tons of them hanging out in the salty pools on the side of the road.

surreal

landscape near Pula

I also enjoyed some of the best Sardinian food of the trip while in Cagliari. The hotel where we stayed was in the marina neighborhood, close to the port, with skinny cobblestone streets packed with shops and restaurants. Sardinia cuisine has its own characteristic pasta shapes, and includes lots of sheep cheese, seafood, olives, lamb, and pork. During our two nights in Cagliari, I enjoyed tasting lemon veal, sea urchin, gnochetti, Sardinian ravioli (filled with potato, mint, and sheep cheese), and of course some delicious local wines.

mmm delish

olives at the Cagliari market

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Filed under Cagliari, Italy

Futurism

Some experiences transport you far without taking you anywhere.  Last night I found myself far from the Princeton campus in…Italy?  The future? My Italian professor was hosting a futurist conference for the weekend, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of futurism, and 40 or so Italians (including one of my favorite professors from my Italian summer class in 2008) descended upon Princeton’s campus for the weekend of talks and performances.  I was invited to the dinner on Saturday night, along with the rest of my Italian class, and it was certainly surreal.  We gathered in the Chancellor Green rotunda, a hexagonal room with stained glass windows, and one of my favorites on campus.  The evening began with student performances–cacaphonic dialogues and a destruction of place settings which turned into spontaneous ballroom dancing (this was all just as confusing as it sounds).

impressive meat sculpture

impressive meat sculpture

dessert table: aerocookies and fragolamammelle

dessert table: aerocookies and fragolamammelle

When dinner began we found all of our food arranged in artistic, amusing, and presumably futuristic manner.  Appetizers included crackers, olives, fig, gelatin, peppers, and meat carved into letters.  Next the main course: veggie pastries (surrounded on the table with computer parts, pills filled with cinnamon, and pop rocks), rice, risotto, “rice oranges”, and a meat sculpture.  Dessert: rice pudding, cream puffs with purple filling, airplane cookies, and fragolamamelle (yes, pink breasts…made of cheesecake and actually delicious).

futurist appetizer plate

futurist appetizer plate

Following dinner, Italian mimes (brought in for a silent performance of a cookbook, which I regretfully missed, the evening before) engaged the audience in one last “futuristic performance.”  Blindfolded, we wore capes of various materials, and had to locate the other person in the room wearing the same type of fabric and begin dancing.  Luckily, I understood the Italian or I probably would have been completely lost by this part.

The performances and ballroom dancing over, the presence of an iPod caused the black tie dinner party to degenerate into a 1980s wedding reception, as the guests of all ages excitedly danced the night away to “YMCA,” “Dancing Queen,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and other classics.   After all this, I’m still slightly unclear as to what futurism actually is…aside from a somewhat surreal Italian artistic movement.  But I got to dance to “Build Me Up Buttercup” in an academic building, so it was a Saturday night well-spent.

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Filed under New Jersey, Princeton

U Tianu

I’ve learned to swear by the Let’s Go guides while traveling: they are usually well written, concise but thorough, and serve my purposes perfectly (ie getting the most out of a place without breaking the bank). I’m still trying to to come to terms with the fact that they are all written by Harvard students.

So on my first night in Bastia, I decided to check out a restaurant called U Tiano, which came highly recommended by my guide.  It apparently specialized in traditional Corsican dishes.  In the name of research, of course, I figured I should go. 

The walls of the upstairs restaurant were plastered with all things Corse (well except for Che Guerrera who made it in there somehow),  from old magazine covers, and separatist posters to a clock shaped like the island.  I turned out not to be the only one eating alone, although I assumed at first that the man sitting in the corner was waiting for someone else, since he had a pitcher of wine and three plates on his table. Was I ever wrong…

There was no actual menu a U Tianu–instead there was a menu in the French sense of the word, which means for the set price of 23 euros I get my choice of one thing was a few options in each category (ie one appetizer, one entrée).  

 

appetizers and wine

appetizers and wine

The first step was the aperitivo, a pre-dinner drink. I chose the cap corse, which my waiter explained was somewhere between a martini and porto. He also brought me a pitcher of water…a cold one! (highly unusual in Europe)…thankfully. Next was the appetizer, which is misleadingly called the entrée in French (actually it’s we English speakers who misuse their word).  The appetizer spread included a bread basket, an oily and tasty salad of chickpeas and basil, a gray paste whose contents were unclear (but it tasted somewhat like seafood, so I will assume and hope that’s what it was made of), and local charcuterie, three types of dried meat and sausage.  And when I ordered my wine, which was also included in the price of the meal, I got not a glass but a pitcher, roughly equal to an entire bottle, which needless to say was not finished, since I was hoping to actually find my hotel again.

It seemed like he was taking forever after clearing my entrée to take my order for my plat, or main course. But soon the waiter reappeared with three serving dishes. Apparently here you didn’t choose which you wanted, you simply got all of them. There were cannelloni, with a thin red sauce and filled with brocciu, the local sheep cheese in one dish.  Next, lamb with penne and finally dark lentils with bacon.

excessive?  or course not.

excessive? or course not.

Just when I was full to the point that back home I would imagine most waiters coming to clear the table, he asked: do you want me to reheat those for you?  Umm, no I think I’m done, I said, feeling quite full.  No, you must eat more.  I waited for him to laugh, assuming it was one of those waiter-customer jokes. He just moved to the next table, apparently serious. Feeling a bit like a 3 year old told to finish her vegetables, I spooned some more onto my plate.  A few minutes later, he returned, plesed to see that I had made a larger dent, but said, you have to at least finish the cannelloni. I did. 

But there was more.  Continue reading

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Filed under Bastia, France