11 Dec The scenic route
As I mentioned, Nino hinted that he had the cheese but wouldn’t give it to us unless we came for lunch. We would have gone anyway, but getting our hands on the cheese was an added incentive. If he didn’t have it, he would at least bring us to the guy at the Soverato market on Friday.
Now, Uncle Bru and I made a pact before we left for Italy that we would dip into the Ionian Sea together. The water is an integral ingredient to life in the region, and dumping into the water would be the ultimate Andreolesi baptism.
Nino promised to bring us to the perfect place for a dip before we had lunch at his place. The spot, he said, was near his house in a more private location than the center of the Marina, where we had planned to make the plunge.
They all thought we were crazy, but we didn’t care.
So we piled into Nino’s VW and headed out to the water.
Ten minutes into trip we were still driving parallel to the water, though it should have only taken us a minute or two to get to the location. At first, we thought Nino was still looking for the right spot. But he soon informed us that he was taking us someplace different first.
After a brief chat with Nino, Uncle Bruno turned to me: “He’s bringing us to the cheese guy.”
“He’s bringing us to the cheese guy’s factory.”
Cool! We were going to get the deed done sooner than we thought. And we’d get to meet the cheese guy!
Now we’re talking, I thought.
Just then Nino turned to ask for the factory’s address, pointing to the white plastic bag beside me in the backseat. I opened the bag to find a pot of gold: the original block of cheese my grandfather wanted, wrapped air-tight in plastic with the branding “Fattoria Pirritano” in Guardavelle Marina.
Nino had it all along, but he knew we wanted to get more for Uncle Bruno, my father and Aunt Vera and he was prepared to make sure we did.
Nino wanted the address because he realized that we passed the spot where we should have turned toward the factory. He stopped to get directions and turned around. No more than a minute later we came to sign with an arrow directing us toward Fattoria Pirritano. It was up a road that was more dirt than gravel.
This is when I noticed something strange for a cheese seller in the middle of no where: a Web address. My mouth dropped. Could we have simply ordered the cheese online at fattoriapirritano.it?
Maybe, but as a I thought about it more, I realized didn’t care. We were on our way to the cheese herder, on our way to il pecorino degli pecorari (cheese of the goat herders). What better way to get the cheese?
So we drove down the road, passing old abandoned stone houses and a few farms. We also drove closer to the mountains, where the region’s rugged natural beauty shone through. It was a sight to behold.
Finally, Nino, who hadn’t been to this area before, informed us he was lost. We stopped at a stone house near the road that had a truck and some cars parked outside. Perhaps this was the place.
We checked around, trying to avoid the mud, though Nino, again in a suit, didn’t seem to mind.
We came to the rear of a barn attached to the small house and noticed the asses of four cows sticking out. Nothing else.
We called out, but no one came, and we decided to head back home without seeing the cheese guy.
We eventually did get that dip in the sea, and we had a nice lunch at Nino’s place, where we even got a taste of some of Nino’s own stash of the cheese, as well as some homemade soppresata. We also got the season’s first taste of Nino’s red wine.
Not seeing the cheese guy was a bit of a disappointment, but we knew we’d still have the opportunity to get the stuff.
And if not, we could always order it online.
Mimo Pirritano told us the factory was on the road we traveled, but further up into the mountains.
Next: The Soverato Market