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Friday, May 15, 2009

The Potato Croquette

The end of a two-week business trip is coming to a close and my italian team and I will need to make some decisions on which properties best meets the high standards for U.S. fractional share offering by My Italian Hideaway. We covered over 160 kilometeres of driving and inspected over 15 villas, apartments, and townhomes immediately eliminating 5 properties.We have met with the geometra (surveryor) poured over technical floor plans for hours.

Now I take the day off and am getting an early start because I am going to have lunch with my friend Claudia and it's my turn to bring pranzo. I love the drive to Asciano as it takes me through the Le Crete Senese rolling hills of limestone and clay, a landscape too surreal for Toscana. The surrounding hill towns of Montecontieri, Val d'Asso, and Trequanda shimmer in the light of early morning.

Just beyond the hills, I see flocks of sheep sway their heads to the music of the morning sun. I am determined to get to the fresco mercato in Rapolano Terme ensuring my arrival for just after the vendors place the finishing touches to their meticulous and mouth watering stands of fresh fruits, flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Parking can be tough because the market, my italian hideaway market, is set in a tiny parking lot outside the tabaccheria (smoke shop where you buy bus tickets, phone cards) and by 8:00 a.m. the locals have scooped up the perfectly shaped deep purple carciofi (artichokes), roasted chickens, fresh fish. - so by 9:00 a.m. it may be too late!

Fresh outdoor local markets usually open by 7:00 and close by 1:00 p.m. and can be found in nearly very town, village, and neighborhood on a given day.What makes this market so special is, well, ok, I'll tell you. The Potato Croquette. Nonna's Potato Croquettes. Not just any potato croquette, but Nonna's potato croquette made with sheep's milk!!

Parking is easy so I begin my morning stroll up and down each isle selecting a few pieces of fruita, un po di pecorino, and a large loaf of Toscana bread (which is made with no salt). I head to Stefano's for chicken. Per piacere (polite for please) un pollo. I order one roasted chicken.

Si, signora, ritorna in un ore. Come back in an hour. Now I peak down the isle and see that Nonna has started to prepare the croquettes with her tiny but strong hands. It's too early, she won't be ready to fry them for at least an hour.

Time to get an espresso and see Eva. We spent some time chatting, laughing, and catching up on properties for sale when I check my watch and an hour has gone by. O dio mio I must get back to check on my pollo.

Stefano sees me approaching and grabs my plump beautiful golden skinned chicken, I pay and head to Nonna. Perfect timinig. She has started the frying. The line is long and I think I will faint from the smell of the potatoes . Now its my turn.

Dica! Tell me! Nonna, io vuolo (I want or take) cinque patate (potatotes). Cinque? (5). Si, cinque (5). She asks if I am sure that I want only 5 croquettes. Si, yes, certo (certainly).

I am taking pranzo to my friend and I need 5 patate croquettes. Nonna takes her hands and the croquettes and gently places them into the beautiful golden olive oil . Within minutes they are golden and bagged for me.

I've got everything I need. Claudia will have the table set, wine glasses in place next to her beautiful torta. It's not long before I steer my Opal thru the gates crazily beeping my horn. Now it is time to have some fun with Claudia. Ciao, Claudia, sono qui! Hi Claudia, I am here. I have goodies just like you asked.

Do you have the bread? Si, Claudia, I have the bread. What about the cheese? Did you get cheese? Yes, Claudia I have the cheese. How is the chicken? Just like you asked. A beautiful plump farm raised golden roasted pollo - look Claudio how fresh and juicy. Ok, I hope you didn't forget the croqettes! No, Claudia, no. I got 4 just like you asked.

To Be Continued Monday - The Decision