Cenone: An Italian New Years Tradition

Now that the holiday season is winding down, I have a chance to write an update on the various eating endeavors I’ve taken on in the past several weeks. For Christmas, I went to a friend’s house in Montalcino, a small but famous wine area in Tuscany.. For those of you wine afficionados, Montalcino is the home of Rosso di Montalcino as well as Brunello… Brunello has a very affluent following as a bottle in the States sells for as much as $300.

Montalcino Countryside: A view from the top

To say the least, I ate and drank very well over the Christmas holidays. But that wasn’t the end of my adventure. Within two days of returning home to Parma, my boyfriend Andrea and I embarked on a 4 hour journey into the Italian Alps, to a quaint little town called Pozza di Fassa where he has a cozy mountain apartment. Not discouraged by the winding mountain roads, and occasional hydroplanes close to the cliff’s edge, I was excited to see this new region of Italy, Trentino, a place I had never been in the country I call home.

Just a quick aside, I was shocked by how German this area of northern Italy truly is. Trentino-Alto Adige is quite close to Austria, making the culture there very different from the rest of Italy. In fact, the first language there is Ladino, a dialect that combines German, Austrian, and some Italian. Me being me, I was particularly interested in the cuisine of this region, because while traditional pasta and pizza plates can be found in restaurants, so too can German specialties such as kraut and wurstel!

Infatuated by this geographical change in menu, Andrea and I decided to go traditional for New Years and sign ourselves up for something called a “Cenone” which translates to “Big Dinner” at a hotel near his apartment. Now, keep in mind that a “big dinner” on Italian terms isn’t your traditional 3 course meal… rather, a 4 hour 13 course eating extravaganza. Could my underfed American tummy handle the pressure??? For a belly busting 90 Euro a person, I was well aware of the magnitude of the feast that was before me.

Starting with an Aperitivo (remember what that is?) at 7:30pm, we were welcomed with sparkling Prosecco, various bitter cocktails, and some light snacks. I made sure not to eat too much of the early stuff because I was well aware of the feast that awaited.

Then we went to our table, which was nicely marked with our names. Then the real deal began. Here is the menu:

New Years Cenone Menu

For those of you that can’t see the menu clearly, there were 5 starters, 2 first plates, 4 second plates, a palate cleanser, and 2 desserts.. accompanied of course by bottomless wine and champagne. This was the hedonists dream.

Aside from the fact that our dinner companions were the strangest mix of Austrians, Germans, Italians, and various other Nordic cultures, we definitely had ourselves a ball of a time. The experience could be described as a strange mix between a John Hughes film from the eary 80s and an awkward European sitcom.

Nonetheless. I thoroughly enjoyed my holidays. A little romance, a lot of food, and of course, always gourmet.

Here are some more photos from the trip:

Happy 2010 everyone! I look forward to a very eventful and successful year, and I wish the same to all of my loyal readers. The best is yet to come 😉

P.S. Good luck to everyone who is attempting the beginning of the year diet. I’m with you on that one… until lunch that is…

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