I hobbled onto the front porch to see 75% of our refrigerator's contents strewn upon the table. I mean, neatly strewn about on plates and whatnot. Apparently it was one of those "eat everything left in the fridge and make it into a sandwich" meals.
I went with lettuce, burrata splodge, sliced plum tomato and a basil leaf atop a buttered slice of toast. And I repeated this...oh, a few times (or more), until the toast and cheese ran out.
Something I didn't do many times (or perhaps even once) was drink a cup of the brown liquid that bubbled forth from our espresso pot. I'll admit that it looked kind of pretty and on some level I would label the smell as "not repulsive, borderline appealing," but...nah. I can't stomach the stuff. Not without saturating the few tablespoons of liquid per serving with a few extra tablespoons of sugar. Morten and Kåre would not approve.
Dessert consisted of a Kinder Merendero, an impulse buy when I was at the checkout counter at PAM. Kinder eggs are generally those thinly shelled chocolate eggs with a plastic capsule in the center containing the parts of an impressively engineered knick knack that you'll never have any use for, but will probably amuse a five year old for a few seconds. The Merendero variety was, to my surprise, not a chocolate egg but a bisected egg-shaped package, one side containing a pool of white and milk chocolate layered goo topped with two crispy chocolate ball thingies, the other side containing the useless toy. Stuck to the toy side was a white plastic shoveling tool meant to facilitate the consumption of the white and milk chocolate layered goo pool. Uh huh...okay...
There's a reasonable explanation for all of this. Intro to Kinder Surprise explains:
Kinder Merendero/Joy toys should not be forgotten here. During the summer months in Europe, it is often too hot to sell regular Kinder Surprise eggs, because the chocolate melts. So a substitute line called Kinder Merendero in Italy and Kinder Joy in most other countries is sold during the hottest part of the year.
I wouldn't say it was too hot to sell the regular eggs. I mean, PAM was also selling the regular eggs. I guess they had a lot of the Merendero variety left.
What was my reward for eating the chocolate goo with a plastic stick? It was...
SMILING ORANGE CRAB THING WITH SEMI-GOOGLY EYES!
When I say that these things are impressively engineered, I mean that this crab came in three parts that had to be snapped together. And snapped they did! Who's the person that has to design this stuff? "He should have a bumpy shell and bumpy claws...and this is how they'll come together." Hell, I don't know how to make toys.
Oh, this wasn't any normal crab. See the wide notches in its claws? They were sized that way to hold...a pencil. One of those skinny wooden ones that you used to use in elementary school, I mean. Anything else is either too fat or too heavy. In other words, I have no use for the crab, but he's sitting next to my stereo anyway. Gives the room some flair.
We spotted this sticker on the bus into the city. Pretty great, I thought.
Our destination for the day was San Luca, a church waaay, waaay up on a hill south west of the city center that is reachable by walking up a really long corridor of arcades. You see the hill on the left side of this photo with the tiny building poking from the top? That's it. Yeah, doesn't look too threatening when it's really far away, but up close is another matter.
And that's why we had to get gelato first. You know, make the Robyn happy before she goes into "sweating and wheezing" mode.
I went with my now typical cup of pistachio gelato and strawberry sorbet (sporting a mohawk, as Tina pointed out). It was good. Not great, but satisfying. You certainly wouldn't go out of your way for it, but if you're on your way to San Luca you'll probably pass it. And knowing that you won't encounter anything edible and awesome for at least the next half hour (the path is about a mile from where we started from) as your muscles burn from having to carry your ass up the hill, you may as well indulge in something caloric. Because you'll burn some of it. Like...5 calories. (I'm not the most efficient burner of calories.)
The walking wasn't so bad. Initially. Although we were going uphill, it wasn't steep enough to require steps. But then it turned into steps. And steps tend to strain the ol' bronchial tubes.
I don't recall complaining as sweat and exhaustion clouded my vision, mostly because talking would've required more energy than I could spare. Am I really that out of shape? Oh...yes, yes I am. Could've been worse though. Could've gone into asthmatic shock.
Morten trotted ahead like this was nothing more than a casual stroll in the part. Kåre lagged behind to stay by my side, or at least not go more than a foot in front of me were I to collapse and require some sort of medical attention.
The top of the last stretch of steps was marked by a cross glowing with the fiery daylight (so fiery that you can't see the cross in the above photo). Kåre, smiling as always and looking as though he did nothing more physically intense than pluck a dandelion from the ground, gave me some encouragement.
"We're almost there! ...Are you wheezing?"
My eyes twitched with hope while my lungs longed for relief. SO CLOSE. SO VERY CLOSE.
And we did make it. The torture was over! YESSSS!
Oh, I didn't actually go into the church, as beautiful as it may be. Since I was wearing shorts it didn't seem tasteful to offend God with my bare, chunky legs. Or something. I'm not sure; I'm not religious.
That was fine with me though. The scenery around the church and the view from the top of the hill were beautiful.
Birds were prohibited from reveling in the beauty. The ledge of the church overlooking the paved area was lined with electric wires meant to sizzle any birds who might dare defile the property with their bird-ness, or feces, more like. I morbidly expected to see a line of dead birds at the foot of the church (don't worry—there wasn't one). As the area was free of birds, it seems like they just learned—after repeated shockings—to never go there.
We sat on a bench for a while, doing nothing (or talking...I guess that's something) until we got bored of doing nothing and decided to go back to the city center.
We tootled around in the Internet cafe until heading to Nicola's for dinner, where we met up with Sarah, one of my blog readers (and fellow attendee of Vassar!, the difference being that she actually stayed there for four years instead of my one) who was doing post-grad studies in Bologna. YES, MORE SARAHS! Like Sara or Sara, but with an h! Which is quite different. Anyhoo, I seem to know a lot of Sara(h)s in Italy now.
We knew that Nicola's was known for pizza. What we didn't know was that it was also known for insanely long waiting times. Or if it's not, I'll like to give it that reputation. Their small staff resulted in us waiting maybe half an hour to have our order taken. And then we waited I don't know how long just to get our food.
"I know how to make our food arrive," said Sarah. "If I go to the restroom the food will probably come while I'm gone. It always works."
Freakishly enough, it did work. As the waitress was placing our pizzas in front of us, Sarah came back from the restroom. Eeeeriiie.
And what a great pizza Sarah came back to! With one basil leaf! Score! Her bufalina pizza topped with buffalo mozzarella and cherry tomatoes was originally meant to come with oregano, but Sarah requested basil instead. I suppose it was better than no herbs at all, but...um, one basil leaf? Really?
Morten ordered the giusy pizza topped with tomato sauce, speck, porcini, and buffalo mozzarella. No lonely wayward basil leaf.
Kåre's speck e rucola pizza was topped with...ah, I think you can figure this one out yourself.
And my pizza, the San Martino, was the most awesome of them all! Because it had MORTADELLA! OH YEAH! Oh, and mozzarella, mushrooms and arugula. Mmm. I wouldn't say I like arugula much in salad form, but it goes very nicely on a pizza. As does mozzarella, mortadella, and mushrooms.
I was satisfied with my pizza, its thin, chewy, non-flimsy crust lightly topped with a combination of ingredients I loved that I would never find at home. Sigh.
My biggest problem was cutting through the crust with my not so sharp knife. Which goes in line with my problem with eating pizza in Italy (or France); I'm used to eating pre-sliced pizza with my hand. The uncouth American way. I'm aware that such a crude act may seem revolting to the European eye but...it's so much easier! I hate having to slice the crap out of my whole pizza (as the handle of the knife digs a trench into my palm) only for all that effort to result in the chunk I desire putting in my belly to still cling to the rest of the pizza by a 0.5 millimeter-thick bridge of nearly impenetrable gluten. No, I'm not a weakling who doesn't know how to use a knife, nor do I think that I have the unfortunate luck to be continuously stuck with shitty knives. Or maybe I do.
The good thing about having to cut my pizza is that it slows down my eating. I can't shovel the pizza in my mouth. Yay. Awesome.
Although my belly was quite full after eating the whole pizza, I had to get panna cotta. It was on the menu! And it was awesome. You must be tired of hearing me talk about panna cotta's wonderously creamy smooth vanilla-tinged luscious something-or-other, but man, I love that creamy smooth vanilla-tinged luscious something-or-other. I want to give it a hug. And then eat it.
Overall I liked Nicola's aside from the two hour gap between getting to the restaurant and actually having food put in front of our faces. Maybe it was a bad night. (Avoid on a Sunday night at 8 PM.)
Even though I was full from the pizza and the panna cotta, I still wanted gelato. You're not surprised, are you? Good. I directed us to Gelateria Gianni to fulfill my craving for stomach-busting pistachio gelato. God knows what Sarah was thinking at this point; "She's wants to eat more? Sweet jesus!" Probably not that. Er. Maybe. :)
In addition to pistachio I ordered Mare d'inverno, a combination of pine nuts and...I don't know what the other flavors were. Whatever it was, I didn't like it much. I should've sampled it first.
Pistachio was awesome as ever, like sucking on a stick of frozen butter mashed with a million pistachio souls. Kind of. I'll admit that sounds gross. All you need to know is that it's awesome, really.
Finally, my stomach was satisfied. And mildly distended. As the clocked ticked near midnight we parted ways with Sarah, who had many more days of pizza and gelato eating ahead of her. If only I could be a part of those days. If onlyyyy.
Via Pietro De Coubertin, 30
40134 Bologna, Italy