Rule #1 at Italian wedding dinners – PACE YOURSELF. Same goes for Chinese weddings – perhaps this was something else Marco Polo brought back, or vice versa? Truly we had never eaten so much food per hour in our lives as we had at Kristine and Emanuele’s wedding, which spanned two Tuscan towns – Cortona and Feretto – and twelve hours, only 1.5 of which were not spent consuming anything.
After the ceremony in Cortona where we sang “That’s Amore” as Kristine and her dad, Manfred, entered the courthouse where the ceremony took place, it was off to a terrace overlooking the main piazza for the first gorging. Here, there were several tasty platters filled with cream-cheese tartlets topped with caviar, walnuts or truffle shavings, proscuitto florettes wound around cantaloupe balls, Tuscan bread soup and much more, all washed down with Prosecco.
One walking tour of Cortona and drive back to Feretto later (the aforementioned scant hours spent not eating or drinking), it was time for dinner pre-game – I was glad to be wearing a black wrap dress! Set up in the back of the Giussani family country home was the Frivolezze de Apertivi e Antipaste del Preludio a Buffet, a vast array of salumi and cheese, served with grissini and flatbread warmed in the brick pizza oven. My favorite thing from the cheesy, meaty bounty was the headcheese, which I’d never had in Italy before but supposedly it is widely available in Rome. Agnes, a former colleague and friend of Kristine who served as the wedding translator, said it’s called cuppa de testa in Rome and often has orange or lemon rind in it. During the pre-dinner munching was where we first encountered the keg of La “5” from Birrificio L’Olmaia, a doppio malto that is one of Kristine’s favorites from a brewery in Tuscany. It was an unfiltered rustic farmhouse ale similar to a French Saison but without the sourness. Delicious!
Then it was straight into the sit-down dinner – whew, all that standing up and eating was really tiring me out! The menu:
La Papa a Pomodoro rivistata alla maniera dello Chef (tomato soup with sesame breadsticks)
Risotto Zafferano Porcini e Tartufo (mushroom risotto with generous shavings of black truffles)
Caramelle de Pasta fresca con pomodorini pachini e basilico (fresh pasta shaped like caramel candies wrapped around goat cheese in a tomato basil sauce)
Grigliata in Bellavista (mixed grill, which consisted of veal, sausage, bistec Florentine, chicken, spareribs and vegetable skewers)
Buffet di Contorni (potato gratin, wilted kale, peas with pancetta, baked mashed potato, carrots, etc)
Torta Nuzziale (the biggest wedding cake I’d ever seen! Although only the outer circumference of each layer was cake, the amount of real cake would have easily fed double the amount of people present. The bottom layer was over three feet in diameter!)
Buffet di Frutta in Bellavista (pineapple, peaches, plums and other fruits, served alongside 10 other types of cake)
We danced the night away to songs from the 80’s, top 40 dance hits commonly heard at the gym and Rino Gaetano classics before waddling back to our rooms in the house, dreaming of a speedy digestion. All the cakes we didn’t have room to try spent the night in tinfoil, patiently waiting for us on the breakfast table!