11.11.2017

Making Friends

When we travel, we like to make friends. Sometimes, they are friends for the week; sometimes they become friends for life.


Pretty much worldwide, if you shop with a particular market vendor more than once, you will be remembered. You may become friends.

I find that when I go back the second time, as I did with Arduino in our most recent trip, I end up with the best produce, which is held aside for the “regulars.”

And I like being a regular.

This isn't just with market vendors, though. This goes for restaurants, too.

About 25 paces from our front door in Siena, there was an osteria that looked good, so we lunched their our first day. Immediately, we all knew it was a place to which we would return.

The warm interior of Osteria del Gusto.
And, when we decided to go back, we made reservations online. Not convinced that the online reservation service worked, I popped across the street to check.

"Our" table at Osteria del Gusto.
The gentleman at the door was new to us, but was warm and welcoming. “Si, certo,” he said pointing to my name in the register, “Ecco qui la vostra prenotazaione.” (Yes, of course, here is you reservation.)

We enjoyed a bit of Moonlite at lunch that day!
When we returned the next day for our final meal in Siena, the staff was the same familiar shift we knew from a few days earlier, and we were greeted as if we were long-lost cousins. “So glad you are back! Would you like the same table?”

Making friends, even in passing, is a great feeling.

This recipe is my version of an antipasto they served in the restaurant. I made it for Annamaria and Giuseppe, the friends we visited in Carrara. They are back in Tucson now and being with them reminds us of our wonderful trip. The osteria used toasted walnuts, but I chose to use some amazing black truffle almonds which were a gift from our friends Susan and Appy. They are perfect for this dish, but walnuts or hazelnuts are wonderful, too.

~ David

Pear Carpaccio
Inspired by the dish at Osteria del Gusto in Siena

4 firm-ripe Bartlett pears
4-5 cups baby arugula leaves
extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces semi-hard sheep cheese (Italian, French, or Spanish)
6 teaspoons chestnut honey
1/4 cup black truffle almonds, toasted walnuts, or toasted hazelnuts


Wash and dry the pears. Slice 1/2 inch off the bottom of each pear. Then, using a mandoline on its thinnest setting, slice the pears “across the equator.” When you get to the seedy part, take a knife and cut about 3/4-inch and reserve. Continue making slices with the rest of the pear. Make a decorative bed of pear disks on 6 plates. Take reserved pear parts and slice them into batons.

Toss the arugula with a little olive oil, then put a small handful on each plate of pears.

Cut the cheese into small cubes and divide the cubes evenly among the 6 plates on top of the arugula. Add the pear batons. Drizzle each salad with a teaspoon of chestnut honey, making sure it is on the cheese and that some reaches the pears.

Halve or chop the nuts coarsely, and sprinkle over top. Serve immediately (to keep the pears from browning).

Serves 6.

30 comments:

  1. Beautiful David! And a lovely story. I enjoy being a regular too but always feared it meant I was stodgy. Now I have a better take on the subject!

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    1. I can’t imagine you being stodgy, Inger!

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  2. I became a "regular" at the green grocer when we live in the East Village. It was wonderful to have my produce tucked away for me until I could pick it up after work. Must try this salad soon.

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    1. It does make all the difference, doesn’t it Jill?

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  3. I love the look of this salad. We have a house guest next weekend; it will be a good time to try it out!

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    1. It is so tasty and perfect for the season, Lois!

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  4. We found the same thing as we travelled and became short-term regulars at cafes and restaurants that we enjoyed, especially when the service was warm and welcoming. Always sad to say the final goodbye, though!

    Such a beautiful and classic combination of ingredients in this salad, David. An easy starter or side for any type of meal, be it formal or casual. I love the sound of chestnut honey and truffle almonds!

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    1. I can imagining your both made a lot of friends in your travels, John. It is really fun feeling like you belong. Glad you like the salad. Reminds me that I need to order some chestnut honey!

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  5. I make friends with any salad! It looks delicious.

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  6. I love being a regular! And would love even more being one when traveling. I love that the pear carpaccio is the base for the bundle of greens and everything else. It's like a second smaller, pretty plate. :-)

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    1. That’s why I can’t decide whether to serve it as a first course or after the main meal, Valentina!

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  7. "being regular" is one of the feelings I miss most from Italy. here in London, most of the times, you are just a face, a number, a "next customer" /not much better in the countryside (meaning: it is not just a "big city thingI"): lived for three years in this idyllic, small, beautiful sea side village in Dorset (called Lyme Regis) and still, even after seeing me almost every day, some shop keepers would hardly acknowledge me. hum... hum.. said the grumpy old man! :) stefano

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    1. You are the youngest "grumpy old man" I know! But I get it. I feel very fortunate this here, even in the grocery stores, people chat with you and remember you. You definitely need to get back to Italy, Sntefano!

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  8. Getting to know your local fruttivendolo is one of the joys of life in Italy. When we became "clienti fissi", all kinds of benefits ensued, from lower prices to free stuff to cooking tips to—of course—that friendly hello. How I miss it!

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    1. "Clienti fissi" - so nice to have the term for it, Frank! Yes, is hard to find here.

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  9. What a lovely story - I, too, like to make connections where I can. This recipe looks delicious - especially those almonds!

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  10. Isn't making friends for a day or a lifetime the very best part of travelling! Half of mine seem to have arrived in thus fashion!! Love the simple, beautifully plated pear carpaccio and shall make 'in a hurry' but have to laugh at myself 'cause I always thought that whatever was 'carpaccio'ed [language, Eha!] had to be very thinly sliced!

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    1. Yes, Eha - I think the same way. Carpaccio must be thin! I hope you like it!

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  11. Being a regular is one of my favorite things to do in life. Love evrything about this dish, would never have thought to serve pears quite like this, such a beautiful presentation. And the chestnut honey sounds heavenly. Great post David!

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    1. It really does make for a pretty presentation, Cheri. And anything with pears tastes good! I imagine you can find chestnut honey somewhere in Phoenix!

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  12. Dear David, what a beautifully written post about travels, making (and keeping) friends and great food - delightful all around!
    Andrea

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    1. Yes, Andrea - keeping the friends is the best part!

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  13. Lovely dish and what a great story. Its always nice to make connections with people, even if it os only for a short time.

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    1. Thanks, Emma - people are the best part of traveling abroad!

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  14. What a sweet story David and I love your pear carpaccio .

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  15. David, my mother would have loved this salad. She was, like you, soooo good at presentation. I can imagine guests at your table, pausing with forks in the air, feeling just a bit sad to be diving into it and messing it up!

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    1. Thank you, Jean - such wonderful compliments!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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