Nidi: it means nest in Italian.
And what this meal was, a nest of happiness.
My most memorable meal just happens to be the most delicious in my recent memory, but that’s not the reason it’s the one that comes up as my most memorable (there are certainly others, but this one is most fresh – voluntary memory). I was in an adorable town in the Tuscan countryside of Italy called Orvieto. It was quiet and it seemed like the group of us from Study Abroad Italy were the only ones roaming the tiny cobblestoned streets that day, but that was probably because just minutes earlier (and minutes later) the sky would open up with 40+mph winds and hail. I was in Orvieto with my study abroad company, but it was just three friends, Lisa, Katherine, and Kelsey that visited this family owned trattoria down an alley in Orvieto. It was recommended to us by SAI and the menu looked awesome when we walked by, but it wasn’t open. So we walked down the street to a chocolate shop and indulged our senses there, and with promise to return to buy chocolates for the bus ride back to Rome, we headed back to the trattoria – eager for lunch. It was still not open, so we waited outside while the waiters smoked out the side of the kitchen door next to us. Finally, about 15 minutes later, they opened up and seated us. The place was tiny. Probably about 6 tables or so, but its walls were painted yellow and you felt at home when you sat down. The waiter brought us the menu which included the wifi password (which is how I figured out what nidi was!). We perused the menu, my friend Kelsey and I decided to split a ragu sauce pasta and the nidi di rondine, pecorino e miele caldo (will get to how I remembered this exact name in a moment), or nest pasta with pecorino and hot honey. I had just discovered the blissful combination of cheese and honey on this weekend trip to Tuscany and was very excited about this dish.
When the meal got delivered, there were two ‘nidi’ on the plate, so Kelsey ate one while I enjoyed the ragu sauce dish, and then we switched. This moment will be engrained in my mind forever, I took a bite of the nidi and was in foodie heaven. The perfectly al dente pasta was soft and fresh, and was wrapped around warm, soft pecorino and the whole thing was drizzled generously with incredible Tuscan honey. The sharp and powerful flavor of the pecorino combined flawlessly with the sweetness of the hot honey. It was a dish that was so unique, yet so simple, which is one of the best things about Italian cooking; they don’t need a laundry list of ingredients to make a delectable dish, they know the flavor profiles of things and how to make something so simple taste so great. As I was enjoying every bite of this simply perfect meal, the sun was shining in (after absolutely crazy weather the whole day), and the yellow walls made the whole place just feel warm and homey. I was sitting at this adorable trattoria in Tuscany with three girls who two months earlier I never knew existed, and with my roommates back in Rome turning out to be not the greatest people, I was finally enjoying a fun, drama free weekend with genuinely nice people. I wasn’t thinking about anything but enjoying the company I was with and the meal I was eating. This meal will always be a memory of my time in Europe not only because it was my favorite meal, but because I really felt it was a quintessential study abroad moment: new friends from all over the country, a quiet hilltop village in Tuscany, and perfect food. This is what I came to Italy to do. Perfetto.
Photo credit to: http://frnickolas.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/037.jpg
Comment about this photo and finding it: I was so enamored with this meal that I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it, and if Kelsey did, I never saw it! So, when writing this post and looking for a photo, I just Googled ‘Nidi with cheese and honey’ and not one, but TWO blogs that I looked through had been to the exact same trattoria in Orvieto and had this meal, so this is THE meal, just not my meal. Thank you to the owner of the above credited blog for capturing this wonderful meal…and for making me drool.