It’s fun being around the Huntsville crowd. It’s my first time in a while being around southern accents. Some words have extra syllables added (“Now” becomes “Nay-ow.”) while some have syllables taken away (“Bry-an” becomes “Brine”). They’re good people and the people, places, and activities they talk about remind of good memories growing up in HSV.
This morning Mom and I went into the town center for some provisions. We bought up necessary staples (wine) and nice-to-haves (water and food) and brought them back to the villa. Despite our noontime return, everyone was only just getting up—don’t they know that the siesta is supposed to be in the afternoon??
Auburn engineering won major street cred today. Except for one Hokie and this Rice Owl, all of the men on our trip are Auburn engineers. After much levering, bracing, pushing, and discussing, our fearless Tigers got the sliding door to one of our grandevans back on track. While walking back to our villa, the engineers detected another cry for help. A group of French tourists could not start their car—Auburn engineers to the rescue! After a few minutes they had isolated the problem to a fault in the car’s CPU but were able to bypass it with some “creative” modifications to the battery cabling system. War Eagle!
After a leisurely afternoon, the evening was something really special. We went to dinner at Don Alfonso, the best restaurant in Italy south of Rome or one of the top three restaurants in all of Italy, depending on which guide book you consulted. Either way it has two Michelin stars and it earned them both!
Most of our group ordered the prix fixe’ tasting menu but I just stuck with a few appetizers (asparagus, deep fried lobster, and roast duck in cacao/orange/sweet wine reduction). Even still I found myself incredibly full after all the breads, cheeses, and other inter-course palette cleansers that were brought out. One of our group captured it aptly when he said, “I’m so full I can’t even swallow.”
Fortunately we had 5+ hours of dinner so plenty of time to digest. The service was excellent, including choreographed presentation of entrees and coordinated removal of their silver covers. Despite their 25,000-bottle wine list of the best of the best of Italian and French wines, we kept it simple. We began with a rose’ champagne, moved on to a Rhone mix from Liguria, and wrapped up with Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove 2000 (the second wine of this Super Tuscan), which was superb. I will have to try the Ornellaia 2000!
Some of us also had the opportunity to visit the restaurant’s cantina, which is an underground system of caves and tunnels dating back to the 1500s. Disguised as a well, these passages were used for nobles escaping Sorrento (I was never clear on what exactly they were fleeing.) but now house Don Alfonso’s wines and aging cheeses at naturally perfect temperature and humidity.
What a great day! Hopefully the weather will clear up tomorrow so that we can explore the coast.