“The Etruscans always built their houses on top of the hill-aa.” said Julia, always stressing the last word of the sentence such that hill sounded like hillaa. “They believed that this advantage of height would work to their favour-aa”, she nodded her head and waved her arm to make a strong point. “As we know that was not the case and the Romans defeated them in the 4th century BC-aa”.
We were on a day trip to the Tuscan countryside from Rome. Enjoying the breathtaking scenery outside was Bowni, my daughter and I. A mother-daughter trip that we meant to do for a long time finally took place. The rolling hills were covered with grapevines. The tall Cypress trees demarcating the properties. The red poppies were just starting to bloom.
Our first stop was Montepulciano a tiny medieval hill town. A steep climb to the town centre, Piazza Grande left me gasping for breath. Ektu jol kheye nao, drink some water, offered Bowni.
The Piazza Grande was dotted with a church and some wine tasting stations. Cheese made from sheep’s milk or Fromaggio Pecorino proudly displayed in the shop’s windows. The stone walls of these buildings must have so much to tell, if only they could speak.
A short drive from Montepulciano was the Poggio Il Castellare – a family run business producing wine from the locally grown grapes.
Their wine Brunello di Montalcino has remained the best wine of the region for the past few years. We had lunch in the wine cellar, large oak wine barrels, shielded from sunlight, carefully monitored for precise temperatures and humidity, serving as our background. We sampled bruschetta with different toppings, Pappa al pomodoro a tomato based dip and Pici, a locally hand made spaghetti. The green topping on one of the bruschetta made me go for seconds. Dessert was Cantucci (a type of biscotti) and a cake with prune jam topping. Shawb kichu niyechho? Have you taken all your belongings, Bowni reminded me as we were boarding the bus again.
We headed to Pienza next. Olive trees with silver coloured leaves covered the landscape. The bushy trees sitting in geometrical lines looked like the pawns on a chessboard. Julia was in animated conversation with Faustio our driver, who negotiated the tight hairpin bends sometimes with one hand causing my right foot to move reflexly as if to brake.
“We are heading back to Romaaa”, Julia announced, her curly dark hair moving with her head. “Any questions-aa ?” she enquired. Recipe ta oke jigesh kawro, ask her the recipe prompted Bowni, noticing that I really enjoyed the green topping on the bruschetta. “Parsley, mayonnaise and garlic-aa.”, Julia said in one breath.
My mind wandered back to a time which only felt like a few years ago, a time when I had to remind Bowni if she needed to drink water or use the bathroom. Why was the lunch box not empty when she came back from school or if she needed help carrying her oversized backpack to school. I held back my tears as I realized I had lost my little girl.
I gained a friend and confidante instead…
Back home a few trials later, here is a very close replica of the Parsley topping for Bruschetta that we enjoyed the other day in the pictureseque Tuscan village.
I have added a few ribbons of mango as a garnish.
The amount was sufficient to top about ten baguette pieces.
Fresh parsley chopped One cup packed
Mayo Four Tbsps
Garlic cloves Three
Olive oil One Tbsp
Mango ribbons One Tbsp
Blend the parsley, garlic and mayonnaise together. Set aside.
Cut the baguette in one cm thick pieces. Heat a nonstick pan on medium. Add a Tbsp of olive oil. Arrange the baguette pieces, lightly brown both sides.
Top up with the dip, garnish with mango ribbons. Serve right away.
I tried a few proportions of the ingredients. This one worked for me.