Sunday, October 27, 2013

Vacationing for a meal in Italy

Almost. It's actually Eataly. It's actually Heaven... at least for us it was. As only other Italians can fully appreciate, Linda and I will do just about anything to shovel stinky cheeses and cured meats into our faces as often as possible. So there's a place called Eataly and it is a glorious, fresh Italian farmer's market that's a square NYC block. Peppered throughout are restaurants that use only ingredients from the market. You can get fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, pastas, cookbooks, wine, cooking tools, coffee, desserts and more. Since there are restrooms; all I need is a cot and I see no reason to ever leave. Think of any 5-year old you know and picture them in their favorite section of Toys R Us and you can imagine me in Eataly.

They don't sell furniture but we found a fantastic Italian throne. I now have 3 tasks - find how the buy the throne, figure out where to put the throne, convince Linda to let me do both of the above. I may need to rethink the order of those events. Although she seemed to enjoy it.

Isn't she adorable?

We decided we wanted to shop and bring home deliciousness, but... we were very hungry. Unless I suddenly started making triple the amount of money, we needed to eat first so we could have some self-control. We chose La Pizza La Pasta and got on the 45 minute waiting list. Good time to do some recon around the market, but first, let's stop by wine bar for cool, refreshing glass of verdicchio. With wine in hand we roamed around, making mental notes of what to go back for later.

We got buzzed that our table was ready. Empty stomachs, big glass of wine and menu with fresh Italian meals - one of everything kept coming to mind. In the end, we got 2 antipasto dishes to start. One included slices of 4 meats - salamis and prosciuttos and the like. The other was 3 cheeses and a honey mustard with almonds. As an aside, I've recent fallen in love with sweet mustards on either stinky cheeses or soft goat cheese. Try caramel mustard on a smoked cheese. Anyway... take a look at these culinary delights. Don't ask me what's what.

Then we went on to have pumpkin ravioli in a brown butter sauce and pizza with spicy salami and buffalo mozzarella. We were so excited that we couldn't manage to get pictures.

What kind of Italians would we be if we didn't finish up by stopping by the dessert bar? I got some trio of chocolate cake, she had a mini tiramisu and, of course, we both had espresso. 

Well sated, and still in the clouds from our earlier event - see Details if you don't know what that means - we set off to shop for more deliciousness to bring home. We exercised some self control and came home with two kinds of fresh pasta, a couple blocks of cheese and a small variety of dried, cured meats. Yes that's with self control.

What better way to finish a day like yesterday? It was the food adventure that was the pretense to get her in the city in the first place.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Details are a funny thing. They are always part of something larger, yet we always let them win out over the larger end goal. And then one day you wonder why you're letting the details take any kind of starring role in your life and you grab life by the you-know-whats and do what's right for you.

Linda and I have been together for almost two years. As a matter of fact, as I'm writing this it is 2 years since first we met. We've been living together for a while now. It's no secret that we are best friends. We do everything  together and we're usually hysterical laughing in the process. One day I'll tell you about the time I crowned myself "King of the carpet section" in Home Depot.

Throughout the transition from military to civilian, pseudo-southerner to prodigal New Jerseyan, and unemployed to employed the concept of making an honest woman of Linda took a back seat to the details of the process to make that happen. Then I got asked a question by 2 very important people - "What's the hold up?" and I thought about it and I realized there wan't one. At least not a legitimate one. It was just one of those things that we planned to get to - and as long as it remained a vague thing in the distance, we'd never get any closer.

So it was time to pull the trigger. Linda just so happened to be out of town one weekend so I took a ride up to the family jeweler in Morris County, along with my mom, and for hour upon hour we pored over the endless rows of gleaming and sparkling rings. Finally, I began whittling down into a short list of potential winners. I found 2. One was too much of something and the other was too much of something else. Somewhere in the middle was the key and my buddy just happened to have one in stock. That was that. Then the real fun began.

The event was planned out. All I had to do was survive until the delivery date. No matter how sure we are of the answer, we still manage to make ourselves nervous wrecks. I'm sure every engaged or married guy can attest to this.

Linda has a thing for the Brooklyn Bridge. She takes pictures of it, she had a painting above her bed and she once told me (nearly 2 years ago) that she always wanted to be kissed on the Brooklyn Bridge. So I had to get her there. We also go on "food adventures." It's a thing we do where we travel near or far to some off the wall or famous or specific place to eat. For this one, I chose Eataly in Manhattan (a separate entry on that is coming). I was halfway there. As you know, I'm also big into photography and she is learning. "Let's take the cameras with us while we're out on our Eataly adventure on Saturday," which also gives me a place to hide the ring box.

To avoid raising suspicion I got lost in Manhattan with a couple of wrong turns that led us to a block from the Brooklyn Bridge. I haven't gotten lost in Manhattan since I was 6, but she bought the whole thing. Screw it. We're here. Let's walk up and get some shots. Right up to the middle we walked. I put down the backpack with camera gear and her ring as we surveyed the photographic angles. Well... she did that. I tried not to throw up over the side of the bridge from nerves. There are people all around us. We decide that we're better off getting some distance from the bridge, but we had to get at least one shot from the middle.

So... I took a knee, seemingly to retrieve the camera and lens while asking her "did you figure out what you want to a take a picture of?" I then grabbed the box, hoisted it up and followed up my original question with "or would you prefer to marry me?" She collapsed in a heap alongside me, screaming, smiling, shaking and crying all while unsuccessfully trying to answer the question. Finally she eked out a "yes" and tried to take the ring and put it on herself. I took it and slid it on her finger and there we sat, laughing, crying, smiling, hugging and kissing.

Once she calmed down I told her a very important story. On the day of our wedding, she will be the 4th Viglione to wear that stone. It was a diamond in a ring of my great-grandmother in the late 19-teens. She gave it to my grandfather who used it to ask my grandmother to marry him. She gave it to my father to give to my mom. My mom gave the stone to me to give to Linda, making her #4 to wear that 100 year old diamond you see below.

And so we walked off the bridge as Mr and Mrs to be and The Adventures of Jason and Linda started all over again.