|View past the "garage"|
Our delectable dinner delayed our arrival to the villa into the night but the headlights of the car uncovered glimpses of awesome rustic beauty as we pulled into the "car port." The three passengers, which included myself, aggressively corrected the driver's mistake as the ignition turned to rest underneath the covered patio in the yard. The old stone and thick wood doors led us into a refurbished kitchen which provided the only modern touch to the beautiful historical architecture. Exposed beam ceilings, uneven hand laid floors fireplaces and even a fire pizza oven at the front door completed the picturesque masterpiece. The fireplace in the kitchen provided two nights of great atmosphere among entertaining company. There was even a wine cellar in the basement complete with its own corking machine which capped off the amenities that our temporary home had on offer.
After drinking wine by the fire into the early morning, we woke up the next day to explore our weekend paradise in daylight. With the exception of the tiny village in the hills below, there was not another man-made dwelling in sight. We were surrounded by hills and trees on all sides in the midst of pure, untainted nature. We descended down our hill in search of breakfast supplies at the one small grocer in the town. We were blessed with perfect sunny weather as we hopped from grocer to baker gathering up goodies before ascending back up "our hill" to eat and prepare for the next leg of the journey to Perugia. Hills, lakes, vineyards, castles, and other unexplored scenery passed by our car windows as we made our way through Tuscany into Umbria. Finally, we arrived at our last piece of transportation, the mini metro, a cable car that serves as the main access route to the hilltop city of Perugia.
Admittedly, the city of Perugia remains vastly unexplored in comparison to the other cities I visited. The chocolate event was so overwhelming with people and chocolate stands that it was as if you were unwillingly and aimlessly herded through the city streets. Every kind of chocolate imaginable and unimaginable exists at Eurochocolate including simple treasures like a true hot chocolate and extravagant treats like a chocolate kebab. We navigated through the mass of people indulging in free samples of chocolate treats and even tried our hand at shots of chocolate grappa. The vast swarms of people deterred any sightseeing and even made picture taking a difficult task.
After consuming some chocolate covered dried fruits, I caught wind of some sausage cooking at another street vendor and decided to indulge in a sausage piadina. This was already my second snack after warming up my taste buds with a porchetta piadina earlier, but after all, this was a weekend full of culinary intent. We tasted truffle cheeses and sauces, and so many more amazing foods. The free tastings were successful in their intent as we made sure to purchase an excellent truffle sauce, among other treats, that would play a role in serving up the amazing evening that would follow back in Sambuca.
Prior to returning to our villa in paradise, we stopped along the ride back to put together a dinner menu for the evening. The inspiration of our purchased truffle sauce would serve as a base for one of the best homemade meals I have ever consumed. The fire lit in the kitchen fireplace signaled the start of the culinary genesis. Homemade wine was uncorked as the thick rustic wood table was set. The first course of fusilli served in a truffle sauce alongside black olives and mushrooms opened the door which led to freshly cut veal steak seasoned with a mustard rub and cooked in balsamic vinegar. Accompanying the second dish were steamed broccoli and carrots. As the first courses were served among laughter and joy, chestnuts were roasting for dessert only to be followed by truffle cheese and pecorino which complemented the endless supply of wine.
The following day we woke up to another simple and relaxing breakfast. After eating, we ventured through the surrounding woods and I even came across a possibly lost dog up wandering through the woods which I carried back down the hill while his tongue hung joyously out of his mouth. This fun was the cork to our amazing weekend. I had never before experienced a culinary weekend quite like this and it will be a memory of fulfillment and gastronomical satisfaction