Now THAT'S Italian!

Italian men playing Bocce in San Giorgio a Cremano, Naples, Italy.Wikipedia

The resort where we are staying for the winter made two new additions to the park this year. One is a pickle ball court (a sport that resembles badminton and tennis. It is played with a hard paddle and a wiffle ball.) The other is a bocce ball court. Since bocce ball originated from ancient games in the Roman Empire, I thought it would be fun to throw an Italian-themed party centered around playing bocce ball.

First, the menu. Hmmmm...Well since we'd be outside, I didn't want to deal with something real messy. So I decided to go with Italian sausage on buns topped off with peppers and onions fried up in olive oil.

My family has always eaten this tomato salad, and I thought that it would be a nice compliment to the meal. It's a combination of cut up tomatoes and onions, add olive oil, salt, and Italian seasoning. Stir. Also, as a nice touch, you could add fresh mozzarella cheese cut up into small pieces.

I asked each of my friends to bring something to make up the antipasto platter: 1/2 lb. of hard salami, 1 lb provolone cheese, I contributed prosciutto and another type of cheese, and I asked another friend to bring olives. I stopped by her place and said, "Okay, I'd like you to buy a small container of gourmet olives. No olives in a jar please. Just go to Safeway and they have a display right in front of the deli where they have all different kinds of olives. Just grab one kind, Italian, preferably, and that's it. Okay?"

You would have thought I asked for the moon by the look on their faces! I saw them later in the day and asked, "Did you get the olives?"

"Did I get the olives?" Larry repeated. "I bought four kinds of frickin' olives! I didn't even know they HAD gourmet olives!"

We had a good laugh over that.

The day of the party arrived. I had already picked up two sets of bocce balls from the activity office. I was a little worried about "claiming" our space. I wasn't worried about the lanes - there were plenty of them - 6 in all. It was the beautiful bar that I wanted. It was first come, first serve. I had heard some grumblings that there was going to be another party that day, but I didn't know the time. Jim and I loaded up the truck with what looked like everything but the kitchen sink and trekked over to the courts, a few short blocks away (still within our resort.)

I was relieved to see that no one was there when we arrived. Yes! We quickly unloaded the truck and I spread our stuff all over the bar. I had brought my IPOD and docking station and turned the music to Andrea Bocelli. The ambiance had arrived!

I skipped the step of making Bruschetta from scratch and just bought the large jar of it from Sam's Club. Have you ever had it from there? It is delicious. I served it on the hard Italian toast that they also sell called Nonni's. That was a huge hit.

Jim and I had played bocce ball once before; everyone else had never played. Jim brushed up on the rules before the party. The women were still chit-chatting, so the men started their own game. Then we wanted to play so Jim gave us a lesson before we started. It sure was a lot of fun. In between we'd go over to the bar and nibble on some hors d'oeuvres.

When the games were finished we filled our plates with the Italian sausage, tomato salad, and anything else left over from the hors d'oeuvres. We sat around the fire pit and talked and laughed.

I brought out the homemade Tiramisu and Smirnoff's Tuscan Lemonade (made with a limoncello) for an after dinner drink. The sun lowered in the sky, turning it to orange, then purple, then black. The stars came out one by one. Finally, we gathered up our chairs,and loaded up all the rest of the things I had brought. The evening ended with me kissing each friend on both cheeks and saying, "Ciao", and calling out "Arrivederci!"

Another great party with my "Arizona" family.
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