For our last dinner in Sorrento, we actually booked a reservation. See, there was this little farm shop in the square (where I bought Arugula liquor! Shut up, I know!) and they advertised a special dinner at their farmhouse. We decided that would be perfect for our last night, so we booked days in advance. But when we got to the shop on Friday night to meet the driver, the shopkeeper needed to reschedule, due to Easter Celebrations screwing up traffic.
It was our last night, and the shopkeeper, who we found out was named Theodora, apparently saw how pitiful we looked, so she volunteered to take us up the mountain via the bus, then drop us at a point where the driver would take us to the farm. Desperate for dinner and thankful, we agreed and set out on foot.
As we snaked through the crowds to a bus stop, Theodora kept ducking into stores randomly. She would murmur something about her phone, run into a store for three minutes, then emerge and we would move on. So my Squirrel Imagination started to simmer. “What’s going on? Where is she going?” When we got to the bus stop, she had a heated conversation on the phone, and my imagination took a churn for the worse. “Seriously, what is going on?”
We made small talk, which, since we speak American, was pretty miniscule, then boarded the bus. She began to explain that we were going to get off early, take a SHORTCUT up a mountain path, then meet the driver.
Okay, Squirrel Danger Sense went into full tilt as my imagination filled in the gaps with the only possible pending scenario: Theodora was leading us into the unknown where she and her thugs would drug us, harvest our organs, and leave us to wake up in a bathtub full of ice. End of story.
But then she began to open up to us, to tell us about her kids, about how she is actually Romanian, and how hard it is to be an immigrant in Italy. As we disembarked the bus and found the path, we fell into her story, and really got to like an feel for this genuinely kind woman who was doing all she could to carve out a life for herself in this country and raise her children. Shame on my silly Squirrel Brain. Anyway, we got to dinner safely, it was a farmhouse fantasy.
Bundles of onions braided together, hanging from the rafters. Antique wine demi-johns incased in wicker baskets. Bowls of roses on each table, potted plants and geraniums everywhere, in buckets, pots, even in a wheelbarrow next to our table, which sat on a flagstone landing overlooking the main room. It was so lush, so rustic, so very much the Italy I imagined when dreaming of this trip.
As for the dinner itself, to be quite honest it was eclipsed by the beautiful setting, the fiasco leading up to it, and the antipasti that we ate. The waiter never offered us a menu, just suggestions. So we just nodded a lot. Ten minutes later, he came out with the plates. Sliced bresola and prociutto, a trio of cheeses, including mozzarella with their own olive oil, grilled eggplant and zucchini, braised cannellini beans with garlic, a citrusy chilled calamari salad, pickled carrots with dill, an assortment of fresh breads and fried fritters, a warm dish of rich, stewed baby squids…I think that was it. Seriously, it was a culinary traffic jam on our table. It was a feast in and of itself.
Stuffed, but still struggling with the language barrier, we gave up the prospect of trying to tell our waiter we couldn’t possibly eat more, and just kept on ordering food. We left stuffed, but happy. Check out their website for a complete and beautiful tour.