One of my three friends named Nicole had a few people to her house on Saturday for a meal of gnocchi in sage butter, fire roasted beets, buratta and buffalo mozzarella "caprese" salad.
For dessert we had her homemade shortbread covered with fresh plum compote and vanilla ice cream. Larrapin! ( as my family used to say)
There were all kinds of good wines and a tokaji ( a dessert wine from Hungary brought by my gourmet husband.) It was divine.
BURATTA, is a form of mozzarella made from cow's milk. It is extremely creamy and the center of the ball can even be eaten with a spoon. Not many people know about it. It is made in Italy but not France and even some Italians have never heard of it. If you can find it, it is a delicious surprise. But even "mozza" made with Buffalo milk is a huge taste treat.
Nicole went to Ventimiglia, Italy, right across the French border to find everything for the meal.
We all go to Ventimiglia or to San Remo, Italy from time to time because these are market towns on certain days each week. You can easily take the train if you don't have too much to carry back.
On market days big white vans carrying every kind of local merchandise ( and sadly more and more from China) roll up and set up their stand from morning until noon or so. There are bargain prices for factory overflows in leather, scarves, gloves, cashmere etc. In fact there is just about everything.
And there is a thriving permanent covered food/flower market in a big hangar like setting. It is very colorful and lively. Around the edges of the flowers and fruit are bakers and delicatessens offering cheese, meat, eggs and local made specialties like NETTLE RAVIOLI.
Nicole and her friend found the whole meal in Ventimiglia on Saturday morning, including the many kilos of plums that she brought home to make the compote.
The fruttivendolo (fruit and veggie seller in Italian) didn't want to take the rest of his ripe plums home so he offered them to her at a few euros. (I secretly think that he took one look at my friend, a beautiful woman and good cook, and wanted his plums to go to a good home.)
I am posting one picture here that actually comes from a pal in San Francisco. (If he wants I will put his name). This photo seems to sum up the spirit of the lively and crazy-fun dinner on Saturday.
And don't you just love this kid.....what style...what a smile....what high tops! My pal said that he asked her if he could take a pic of her shoes. She said, "You just want a photo of my shoes !!!!! " Of course not.
She even has that Italian " je ne sais quoi."