Parents and Piodas

With a pleasant twist of flying-standby fate, my parents were forced to fly into Italy earlier than expected for a long-anticipated visit, which means that John and I have an extra two days with them here in the Alps. Oh yes, find a job working for the airlines and you, too, can visit your children in Europe for less money than a road trip to the next state over.
Just a casual evening walk through ancient churches and the Italian Alps. We do this every night.
Trekking up to nearby Teglio, a 30-minute uphill walk (single file style optional).
For $50 a night in a B&B that's only five minutes away, we've realized that this should've been the plan to begin with. And since the only plans for the weekend are to house/petsit while Paolo and Marisa take their prize-winning Bernese "Doc" to an international dog show in Switzerland, things couldn't have worked out better.
Workouts with the prize-winner
A little leisure at the B&B
To show our appreciation for their overseas trek, John and I decided on a home-cooked meal using Paolo's pioda. The pioda is a large flat stone that was historically the roofing of choice for this area because it was abundantly mined from the surrounding Valtellina Valley (although cheaper and easier—though not necessarily better— methods have become the norm since then). Eventually, some crafty Italian figured out that the stone would also make a perfect source for grilling. Word spread, and this big beautiful hot plate of stone was born for all of your grilling needs.

The pioda stone as roofing! When used for cooking, it's typically two inches thick and should be taken care of like a cast iron skillet.
The pioda is kept low to the ground in order to keep the fire directly underneath. Here we have one of Paolo's fresh-caught meals. River trout rubbed with local herbs.
The food ends up being infused with the scent of the smoking wood that burns directly underneath, but without grill grates, whatever you're cooking seems to maintain moisture especially well yet remain perfectly crisp.

I took a page from Paolo's book and made a revised pesto with parsley and salt-brined capers thrown in with basil and EVOO, which was a fresh and fitting spread for both the grilled meat and the vegetables.
With Paolo's rather "hearty" cooking absent for the weekend, we opted for a vegetable bonanza.
Perfectly pioda-grilled freshwater trout from the nearby Adda river rubbed with local herbs and lemon
Keeping dessert simple, we opted for local chestnut honey, the first figs of the season (praise Jesus!), a hunk of 24-month parmigiano-reggiano, and a layered "cake" of gorgonzola dolce and mascarpone.
The first place we hit when mom and dad arrived: the Sondrio food market, of course.
The lighting may be poor, but luckily that has nothing to do with flavor. This is what honey is made for (thanks bees).
Life away from home and family can be hard. It can be amazing, but it can be hard. It's nice to have the folks around.
Ca Branchi was my parents fantastic B&B that sits just below the town of Teglio and is run, aptly, by a Swiss woman named Heidi. It's a bit out of the way, but the views are worth it. If you're interested in booking, don't judge the place based off its sorely out-of-date website. Take my word, it's worth a visit!

Tomorrow we celebrate the anniversary of the day Teglio made peace with Switzerland, some 500 years ago. Huzzah history!

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