September 26, 2008 - The Awaiting Table in Lecce, Italy

Have I mentioned yet how much I love the morning coffee ritual in Italy? We wander out of the portico of our B&B and get a hearty "Buon giorno!" from Antonio.
This morning the ritual was made extra special - as we sat sipping our drinks, a British tour group came in and attempted to overtake the shop, without so much as a nod to Antonio. This clearly angered him, and he refused to serve them - totally the opposite of the gracious service we received every morning.
Timothy joined us at the bar to finish our tour of Lecce which had been cut short by the weather. We wandered through hidden squares, heard the story of St. Irene's, and went into the Cathedral (busy with yet another wedding). Timothy is a wealth of knowledge, and somewhat of a nerd in the very best sense of that word.
Stephanie and Janet went off on their own to explore the newer part of Lecce and shop while the rest of us met up with Silvestro and Carolyn at the market to buy supplies for dinner.
We returned to school to make lunch, which was a HUGE fish soup, incredibly good, and I surprised even myself be eating the tentacle portions of the squid.We rolled out pasta and shaped them into maccherone so they would have a chance to dry a bit before dinner. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed making pasta by hand, and love both the taste and the denser texture of the pasta made with barley flour.At the conclusion of lunch, Giuseppe announced that would be our last lesson with him as he was leaving to go visit friends and family. We all bid arrivederci, sad not to be seeing him again (you can see why from the photos!).
I made the mistake of visiting Antonio for another espresso macchiato after lunch which meant I was unable to nap, so instead I wandered through the town of Lecce, photographing the beauty it had to offer.
I loved this photo of an older Italian man strolling through the park in the center of the city.
Although much of our week was focused on olive oil, this was the only photo of any actual olives growing that I captured.
We reconvened at school to prepare our farewell dinner, an extravaganza of food that we had selected based on our week's lessons.Perhaps the single most decadent thing of the week was the boratta cheese, so we used it again, this time in a salad with tomatoes and basil.Our second course was a pasta with a ragu made from tomatoes and onions, followed by the entree of baby lamb with olives and herbs.We finished the evening with pears poached in Primitivo with a Primitivo reduction.The table below filled with bottles and wine glasses is typical of how the table looked after every meal.We had our group photo taken and said our farewells, but not before Alessandro the olive oil guy could share his recipes withe me (he said I cooked like his mother which was the highest compliment coming from an Italian man!)

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