Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today, May 7th, is Laurie's birthday.  We will have more on her day a little later in this blog post.

Happy 61st Birthday to my Bride!

Fratelli Menza

This is one of my favorite places to eat in Catania.  It bills itself as a Bar-Gelateria-Pasticceria-Snack-Gastronomia-Pizzeria-Tavola Calda-Ristorante-Salumena, that pretty much covers every possibility in the Italian cuisine spectrum!

Menza has been a Catania institution for 146 years but has been closed the entire time I have been here this season for renovation.  This past weekend they re-opened for business.  On Wednesday we went to Menza for lunch.

Laurie seemed rather impressed by Menza's selections.

We had a delicious pasta based lunch and Menza did not disappoint.

I had been telling Denver and Paul how great Menza is as we passed it twice a week on our way to practice but as it remained closed, they started to doubt me on it's reputation.  We stopped by on the way home from practice Wednesday night and they were instant converts.

Menza IS INDEED really good!

Classic MG

Laurie and I marveled when we saw this car driving in Catania's ANARCHY on our way home from Menza.  Why would you risk the potential damage?

"Every Woman's Crazy 'bout a Sharp Dressed Man!"

Wednesday night we coached the Junior (16-21) Team for one hour before the Elephants practice.  We will work them out in T-shirts and shorts only, twice per week during the month of May.  This potential stud lineman came dressed ready to play!

The 2009 Junior Team at Workout #1

If it is Thursday, it MUST be Palermo!  We met with two of the West Coast Elephants (Alessio D'Arpa and Andrea Specchiarello) for lunch at their favorite Palermo ristorante simply called Cucina.  We ate and talked for three hours.

Laurie's Birthday Surprise

We let the boys order a series of typical Palermo dishes.  This entire boiled octopus was the big deal of the day!  After first cutting off the legs one at a time and consuming them with a little lemon and the blank ink oozing out of the octopus, we were in for a VERY special taste treat. . .

. . . Octopus brains!!!  Neither one of us had ever tried this before, but as Alessio and Andrea's friend Bruno started to carve up the legless octopus' head for each of us to share we knew that our streak would soon be over.

Could there have been a better way to celebrate Laurie's birthday?  I think not!!!

Paul discussing Octopus Brain with Chris Pagliaro

Chris is a former high school and coomunity college football coach from Santa Barbara who is visiting Italy for three weeks starting with the Palermo area from where is family hails.  Chris' stories about coaching football in Milan years ago is part of what motivated me to coach in Catania.

Chris' travelmate Linda shares some Spaghetti al Nero with me.

Bruno, Alessio and Andrea

Thumbs Up to our Chef!

With Palermo's Mayor,
the Honorable Diego Cammarata

I wonder if he ordered Octopus Brains?

Paul digesting his lunch.

We had to buy some supplies from this cigar smoking pharmacist.

A good Sun always makes me smile for some reason.

Palermo's Teatro Politeama

Our birthday girl is dwarfed by the left side of the Elephant's Offensive Line.

We had another GREAT day in Palermo today and we want to thank Alessio and Andrea for a good and VERY INTERESTING lunch!


Laurie Says:  What a wonderful day!  Thank you to everyone in Sicily and everyone on the internet for all the good wishes.

I did want that green Vespa for a birthday present.  Maybe next year!


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to the best future mother in law in the world! =)

Loren Brucker said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! What a great way to spend your birthday. Have a wonderful year. With love.
Loren & Sandy

DPLassen said...

Happy birthday, Laurie.

The green Vespa would be nice -- but if you had it, you'd be expected to ride it there in Catania, and are you really ready for that?

Laurie said...


I absolutely would NOT ride it here. But wouldn't I look great in SoCal? That green is really 'in' this year.

Thanks for the good wishes from you all!

Dick Bellman said...

Happy B'day Laurie. Hmmm octopus brains - I'll have to put that on my list to try sometime. Do they serve octopus at Cronies?

George said...

Cronies only serves it at their European locations.