Aside from the books I brought on the trip (yes, I know Kindles are lighter, but I’ve tried and failed to enjoy reading that way), I made it my mission to travel light this summer. Which included what souvenirs I chose to bring home.

Funnily enough, the limoncello and selection of olive oil didn’t make it back to Texas. The bottles were all empty (!!!) when I unpacked my luggage, a mysterious case I’ll never crack.

Thankfully, the small packets of morel mushrooms, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasonings all made it, along with a couple of ginormous plastic bags filled with unusual pasta shapes I’ve never found in the States.

Rounding out my culinary treasures was this adorable cookbook from Cinque Terre. If I were playing favorites, these gorgeous Italian seaside towns would edge out everywhere else we visited in the French and Italian Riviera. I’ve never seen water so blue or scenery quite so stunning and unquestionably unique.

While remembering our time in Cinque Terre, I couldn’t help but smile as I flipped through the recipes  back home. There’s an excellent recipe for a hand-pounded pesto that I’ve already tried (so summery, fresh, and delicious). I’m not sure when I’ll come across a “red mullet” but the Fritto misto di pesce (mixed fried seafood) sounds incredible, too.

And rounding out the list of “hmm, that sounds intriguing” is a recipe for Polpo in casseruola which translates to octopus casserole. It calls for one “big” octopus (how big is big, exactly?), four glasses of strong dry red wine, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes, and is sure to be a big hit at the next potluck I attend right?

I’d love to see everyone’s face at the buffet table when considering whether to add some to his/her plate. People in the South do love their casseroles, after all. 😉 Okra is slimy, so maybe everyone will be okay with the octopus in casserole form?