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While traveling in Italy this week, we realized that it was much more fun to gather ingredients (fresh pastas, tomatoes, bread…) and wine (LOTS of wine) throughout the day for our evening meals at our villa than to sit in restaurants at the mercy of the server, chef, and fellow patrons. (Twelve southerners can get a bit rowdy…just sayin’). We had our own “chef” among us…and plenty of “help”- (a person in charge of music, someone watching the wine, a salad tosser…you get the picture).

Our “event-planner in residenza” (from The Party Girl Events…with us by coincidence)  would set the scene…

And each evening, we would start with an antipasto platter, filled with local fare…

…then our gastronome would work his magic in the kitchen!

This particular evening, “Chef John” decided a bit of veal scallopini with pasta al pomodoro and ensalada verde would hit the spot. And did it ever!!

Check out the finished product:

the entire spread…pasta, veal, salad, bread

if only this were “scratch-n-sniff” so you could get a whiff of the garlic!  (Check out this pomodoro sauce from Bon Appetit)

the veal…lightly breaded, pan sautéed and oh-so- tender…loaded with capers, mushrooms and lemon (very similar to this recipe from Epicurious)

the salad with arugula and maché, dressed with a garlic vinaigrette (try this one from Martha Stewart if you aren’t comfortable “wingin’ it”)

a very happy belle’s plate!

But just remember…this fun can be had any old Saturday night after a visit to your local farmers market and a quick phone call to ten of your closest friends. When guests show up, give them a job, pour the wine, and see where the evening takes you!

Buona apetite!!