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Memo, The Beautiful

It was spring in Perdifumo, Italy where I was staying at a fairytale villa with my friends Becks, Nat, Viss and Trish. It was our last day before driving to Rome to meet up with my brother Ryan and two more friends, Ben and Stace, for a 10-day drive through the Balkans, and we decided to spend it exploring the mountain villages near the villa. After a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs with tomatoes, Nutella spread on chewy bread and hot coffee on the terrace, we loaded up and headed out along the windy roads.

We passed ramshackle stone houses, discovered the abandoned home of a duchess, and delighted in the simple details of white sheets drying against ancient stone.

After exploring and walking for a couple of hours, our tummies were rumbling and we were in dire need of sustenance. We had stumbled on the tiny village of Laureana Cilento – a place that charmed us with it’s quiet, narrow streets and unbelievably jolly and kind townspeople who waved at us from school windows and came out of their homes in aprons and house slippers to smile and nod.

On our way in I had spotted the Il Blu di Prussia Cafe and was smitten.

More antiques shop and artist studio than cafe, I was confused as I stepped inside, feeling like I was in someone’s living room. But then the owner, beaming and welcoming assured me that yes, yes, it was indeed a ristorante.

His name was Memo The Beautiful. He told us so himself as he clasped his hands to his breast then flung them out dramatically. We fell in love with him instantly. πŸ™‚

He brought us limoncello and Coke (American rubbish! he informed us ;-)) out on the terrace, apologizing that they make everything from scratch so it would take some time. Apologize? Seriously? We were THRILLED! We sat out under some beautifully flowering trees and visited away happily as we sipped our drinks and waited.

Finally, all was ready. He led us grandly as if we were visiting dignitaries and seated us on antique chairs, around an antique table, surrounded by old books, chandeliers and and his own exquisite Old World paintings.

Then the feast began.

Memo served us antipasti: roasted peppers, eggplant, artichokes, puffy fritters, locally cured olives, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, marinated lima beans, asparagus frittata, an assortment of hard cheeses, fresh bread and a lovely red wine served from a jug.

Next came homemade gnocchi with wonderfully savory Bolognese sauce. The gnocchi in Southern Italy was completely different than Northern, more like pasta than soft dumplings.

This was followed by the best roast chicken I’ve ever had in my life, with exquisitely crunchy skin, moist meat, and outrageously amazing potatoes crisped in the chicken juices, fluffy on the inside.

Before dessert we were granted a respite with luscious strawberries, still warm from the sun.

We leaned back in our seats and groaned as Memo and his lovely Aussie wife came out to visit with us while the walnut ricotta cake finished baking. Memo instructed that we must ALL come back to Italy so that he could find us good, Italian husbands. πŸ™‚

Dessert arrived shortly, cool, creamy and and absolutely delicious.

With scarcely pinch of space left in our tummies, we still found room for sips from the tray of frosted bottles filled with homemade liqueurs, delighting in the strong flavors of lemon, almond and anise.

As our lovely dinner came to a close, we hugged our new found friends farewell, promising to visit them again some day. Then we were off to explore the mountain, finding a wonderfully overgrown castle and a secret garden we spied through the big blue door.

It was a beautiful day. πŸ™‚

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