Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A few days late, but never a Euro short.

I have very bad news for you all. There were no crazy incidents, due to my fault or others, on this trip to Genoa last week. Just some great food, a great win by the USMNT and some parting thoughts I had not been able to get up as soon as planned for various conspiring reasons.

Let's forgo the rambling narrative this time, and just deal 'em out like cards...

  • As I said before, until eating it in Genoa, I had never had real pesto. I thought it was pesto and thought it was good, but it wasn't. I seriously need to learn how to make that stuff correctly.

    Next time I'm in Genoa, I am finding time to take a cooking class to learn that if I must - and no, I am absolutely not kidding or exaggerating about anything. I would have happily lied down for a nap in that pesto.
  • Speaking of ridonkulous food, make sure to go eat at Zefferino's (near Piazza De Ferrari) if you ever make it to Genoa. That place is silly. They are the nicest people and the chef is a true host. I had already eaten when I arrived to sit down with USMNT press officer Michael Kammerman, Grant Wahl, the NYT's Brian Sciaretta and a new face, Bobby McMahon's Fox Soccer apprentice Michelle Ackermann. A couple of Chievo officials were supposed to join us, but didn't for some reason I never caught.

    Amid plenty of laughs and stories, there was a lot of "yummm"-ing going on over plates of food. Brian and Grant had actually already eaten their the night before. I finally found out why at dessert (but before Limoncelo and grappa with the house). I have never paid $15.75 for a dessert before. For this pear-chocolate torte, it's worth every penny. I made everyone try it because they were looking at me like I was crazy - that taste solved everything. Suddenly, it was serious.

    Since returning, I checked and there is also a Zefferino's built by this chef in Vegas. I'd advice you not skip it given the chance.
  • I kept running into an Italy press staff translator named Claudio around town everyday. One time, he had come from a "stressful meeting" with the federation officials. He sat down for a couple glasses of vino blanco with conversation and a traveling American in for the game named Rob even joined us.
  • Overall, the team had an air of calm confidence about it that I'd yet to see (the wide-eyed happiness daze of Terrence Boyd notwithstanding). This was precisely one of the elements missing before. The current US team does even consider whether it has something to prove and is enjoying its job. Whether one likes it or not, a fair share of the credit for this has to go to Klinsi.
  • I'm never staying in a hotel again if I can help it. Renting a flat is the way to go. The one I had in Genoa came with a huge rooftop terrace facing the port (not to mention an actual pirate ship from some old Italian movie) with 360-degree view of the city and the hills in the background. And it had a wash machine and proper kitchen and proper beds and an attentive host, and it was less than hotels.
  • There were some celebs at the game, including Brian McBride, Inter Milan chief Massimo Moratti, Mike Piazza and the U.S. ambassador to Italy (who travels like Beyoncé with a security team the size of her tour crew). I also happened to spot a primary scout from a top Eredivisie club on the premises - but we'll say no more about that for now.
  • It was easy scoring the genuine Genovese pasta and pesto for my niece Courtney. For her new sister Audrey, I was able to find hand=painted galoshes with alligators on 'em. Middle sis Sam was meant to get a USA/Italy friendly scarf, but I didn't see any on the way in, got to working and forgot all about it. Oof.

    I suddenly remembered all this during my afternoon layover in Barcelona on the way back. And then, as if by magic, the official FC Barcelona bottega appeared before my eyes.Long story short, Sam (a goalie for her team, mind you) will now be getting an FCB keeper shirt as her trinket from my trip. Uncle Greg is not S-ing around, man.

  • Italian trains and internet need some help, man. Help!! Good grief.
  • I told this to my friends and such: an afternoon in Barcelona is better than weeks' holiday in some places. I need to go back for realsies, that place is amazing and I had somehow not been yet.

And yes, it was an actual pirate ship.

- Greg Seltzer


Will Parchman said...

Then don't watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Greg. Visions of a Penelope Cruz, Gaudi and Scarlett Johansson sandwich will hound your dreams... in a good way.

Commander Duke Dog said...

Barcelona is definitely the place to be. Especially when scousers invade for a few days!