[…] We walked through Ascoli a little while Siena got her legs under her again. What a beautiful town. Hungry now, we went to a restaurant Dwight recommended, Migliori. It was fantastic. I ordered a grand fried platter, and was thrilled—Ascolani olives, fried artichokes, lamb chops, and even squares of fried custard (which confused me, I thought “cremini” would be mushrooms, not cream, but it’s always a pleasant surprise to find a little dessert amongst your meal). I’ve had Ascolani olives several times, and about half the time the meat filling within the fried olive has the taste and texture of ground olive pits. But this was succulent. I was well pleased. Also with my contorno of cicoria, well braised with excellent olive oil and pepperoncino. Doreen and Paola ordered wonderful spinach ravioli dressed simply in butter. The butter really made the handmade pasta shine, and the dish was true culinary synergy. Keith had ravioli in ragù that he enjoyed mightily. Unfortunately, Gabe’s tagliatelle ai porcini did not boast fabulous porcini, prompting us all to vow to never order porcini again outside of porcini season. I guess this should’ve been obvious, but if they are not in season, they have to be jarred. And while these had a flavor much nicer than those from the day before, the texture is invariably an unappealing cross between slimy and mealy.We really enjoyed the wines. Instead of getting a bottle, we ordered two half-liter pitchers so we could compare two local wines. They were completely different from each other, so I was glad we did the experiment. In the first one, Doreen noted an aroma of horses and Siena detected the scents of nutmeg and ricotta. The second one Keith and I both thought was reminiscent of smoky bananas—in a good way, we all were smitten with this wine. And at €5,00 a bottle, it was quite the find. I tried researching these wines once home, so I could remember their names, but I came up empty handed. But I wonder if it almost doesn’t matter. All the Le Marche wines I’ve tried—the one left for us when we rented a house in Force, Dwight’s from his PS Winery, these from lunch—are all absolutely packed with character. Not a dull one in the bunch. I recommend going to your local wine shop, and bringing home a wine from Le Marche. I think they are now my favorite in Italy. Complicated, full, and brimming with personality. I’ve read the the whites are justifiably lauded, but it’s the Marche reds that have stolen my heart.
After lunch, we went to the main piazza and Doreen, Paola, and Keith enjoyed coffee in the grand, historic Caffè Meletti, while I stayed with the children who were playing tag with great enthusiasm—their favorite piazza activity. The piazza was empty, and they ran and sprinted, and giggled with joy. We wandered back out of Ascoli, to part ways from our friends for the drive back to Spello.
It was a wonderful exodus. […]
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