Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Going off Track...

OK, who the hell is paying for Tom Cruise's need for the FBI? He owns, HOW many planes? He makes, HOW much money? So the poor tax payers have to pay to have him protected for going out in the open using his notariety and Hollywood face to push Scientology, and WHAM, look what we get to pay for!!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

High Quality Food Culture

I have so many things to write but these last two months have been busy trying to organize living quarters and now we are under the push of the holidays adding more to the plate. The other day talking to Golden Piglet we began to discuss the culture in Italy of high quality food, the fact there are so many strict rules regarding food production and the food industry. Recently there was a problem with pork from Ireland and all and any shipments to Italy were stopped, the issue is this, rarely do any of these problems originate in Italy. You never hear of bad beef or pork or lamb originating from Italy. Yes this country does have its problems with pollution getting into the water veins and affecting grazing land for buffalo milk but it is something that never leaves the country for later recall.

The United States does not have a strong FDA for the protection of human consumption regarding food production and thus every two or three months there is a ground meat recall, a spinach recall, etc.

Gang, the fact is this, one eats well and healthy here in bureaucracy-land Italy and the fact remains, simple cooking, simple food for honest, healthy meals. There are no coulis of this or that, or vellutato of this or that unless you are trying hard to make some fancy thing. Some say Italian cooking is boring or predictable, others try to jazz it up with fancy sauces and interpretations on a theme but in the end, the culture for the best using the least still wins the prize and when people pull their heads out of that dark place and see the light, they will realize all the most sophisticated kitchen equipment or kitchen for that matter does not make a better meal.

I have heard some say how boring eating in Italy is, every region having their specialties and traditions and the fact that it is hard to find things a little out of the ordinary. I ask those creatures, how is it then that Italians tend to be more appreciative of what they have than what they do not? They are happy to cook a good capon, or to make another fabulous broth from scratch...simple cooking, simple food, honest flavors. With that, I leave you all to your Christmas meal planning, searching for the ultimate meal for the holidays, looking for something new and missing the whole point of the kitchen.

Cheers and happy bubbles over the holidays to all.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gotta Love the Left Over Queen!

I just thought you all should head over to the left over corner, where the queen of left overs has truly presented one of the best blogs I have seen in a while and not only her blog but her ideas for left overs! She mentioned our blog in finest-foodies-friday and when I read more about her I was happy to find a fellow Italian lover as well as, one who purports simplicity in the kitchen (she is also the one responsible for Foodies Blogroll.

Golden Piglet is a bit of a pain in the butt regarding left overs that is, they need to be consumed quickly for the mass of bacteria and molds that set up shop so quickly (he takes the fun out of my left overs being a microbiologist maniac). I have never been able to use left overs very well and now, Jenn has answered my prayers and even though the Piglet loves to eat so our left overs never make it far anyway, now I have a good reason to have left overs! :-) So, as you ponder what to do with what is in your pantry against what is in that Tupperware, go see what
The Leftover Queen has to say. Thank you for Jenn for the nice review, we certainly appreciated it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Coming Soon...

Snow White is working on a few posts, one about the cradle of history, one about Franciacorta (eat your hearts out French Champagne), the differences between ragù, King Porsenna and Chiusi with La Solita Zuppa, Pietra fetida, La Murrina seconds store in Milano, mini wine bricks just for starters.

The weather is nuts over here right now, snow at low levels, Zermatt getting wads of the stuff, Rome's Tiber ready to overflow it's banks, Tuscany practically a whole new lake and this all adds up to...yep you guessed it, eating because it is cold and making trips to the hottest pastry shops around.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Green Gold – Extra Virgin Gold

The last of the olive harvest is over and the crop was a good one well I take that back, it was fantastic. The hard work always brings a smile after the olives have gone to milling and the finished product is dripping from a thick piece of bread toasted quickly at screaming high heat, rubbed with a clove of garlic and sprinkled with salt…true heaven for those who love just-pressed extra virgin olive oil. There is even more satisfaction as it rolls over the tongue, spicy and fragrant, a bright emerald green; the thought that you picked it yourself and, you worked your blooming arse off to get it...add to the flavor appreciation.

Nowadays, in Italy the laws have become so encumbering, picking olives has become another dying act. Granted in the past, people took advantage of those they hired to help pick; today if you hire, you need to pay insurance on them, pay them an hourly wage, a minimum of 9 Euros/hour (hell, way beyond minimum wage in the States) and some go as far as asking for product as well the hourly wage. So tell me, how can anyone afford to even pick the fruit off the trees when the product sells at market price of 9 Euros per liter????

If you do not have a large family, which is now the case in so many Italian homes as the families are not only getting smaller but moving to the easier jobs and cleaner jobs as well meaning, they leave the parents on the farm, alone to do what used to be done in numbers.
So what is a person to do who is alone with a butt load of trees to pick? How are they supposed to bring to market a lost treasure, stupendous in flavor (and organic)? An oil tasting of fresh green olives packed full of beneficial properties and history? It used to be “an event” in the countryside at “olive time” where the families came together, took days off from their jobs to get to the fields and pick. Lunch would be had in the fields either over a makeshift campfire grilling fresh sausage, bread, pancetta and such all watered down with homemade wine.

The time spent picking wa
s a time of recounting gossip of the month and catching up on who is doing what, there would be laughter and voices of others in fields nearby floating upon the air who were doing the exact same thing. Everyone happy, working quickly if the weather was cold since harvest time was usually the beginning of December, and if not cold everyone would be relaxed, happy and working for that liquid gold, for that first Bruschetta of the year.

Life was simpler, harder but full of satisfaction.
Today, it is a rush to get to mill, the weather is not the same so harvest time starts at the end of October and if you have too much to pick, you might wind up leaving the fruit on the trees unable to pick it all. You legally are not allowed to have anyone help except direct family, mother, father, son or daughter. Cousins mean insurance, actually anyone means insurance however tell me…are those bastard twits in uniform or undercover from the Finanza really going around looking for people picking olives?

Seriously! I need to figure this one out…or do they show up if someone rats on you, like jealous neighbors? Damn, always have to be nice to neighbors because you never know when they might stick it to you and here in Italy, the laws are made for snitches and tattletales.

So what is for dinner tonight? La Bruschetta!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mingao - Dessert for Buongustai


3 tablespoons of sugar per egg yolk
Use 4 egg yolks
1 -2 tablespoons flour or one generous one.
1/2 liter of whole milk
scorzza di limone/lemon zest. Use half a lemon for those who like the lemon flavor and use a good zester tool, use a whole lemon.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar (from 10-12 tablespoons) and the flour energetically for five minutes until nice and soft. At the beginning it will be dense and difficult to stir but will soften up as beaten.

Add the whole milk at room temp with the lemon zest.
Place on low flame and stir slowly with wooden spoon, bring to boil. After it begins to boil stir one more minute and then turn off. Pour immediately into cups and cool.

Note, this is a great dessert when placed in pots du creme or nice little liqueur glasses. Serve using chocolate spoons made by Lindt (unfortunately Lindt is not one of our sponsors, of course we would not mind if they contacted us...;-) If you cannot find chocolate spoons, regular ones will work just fine but garnish with a a dash of grated dark chocolate.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ashera - Luxury Cats

OK, has anyone out there heard of this breed...or even seen one? I have been discussing this with a vet friend of mine and we get into some heated discussions about genetic stuff and is the link A-4ft-leopard
It seems Lifestyle Pets created this and a few other unique examples and as much as I might be aginast breeding, these cats fascinate me (check out the prices while you are at it)!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Computer Affaiar

Have you ever had a relationship, in the beginning where all communication was based on letters, phone calls or now, the internet? Thinking about that the other day, I realized how much fun those can be, how exciting and frustrating as well. So, Snow White presents one of her best efforts with technology and love. ;-))

She gets up out of bed, the two legged “thing” in the bedroom is snoring, so she takes the chance and scurries down the hallway, in the dark; well not too bad since the "on" light from the computer casts a glow on the walls. Nonetheless, she hurries down the hallway, trying to throw her arms into her robe as she moves and trips on a cat. Scream, howl an
d screech, from the cat. Oh damn!!! She grabs the walls and regains her balance, for two seconds and she is off again muttering under her breath, “ Damn cat!” What the hell were you doing in the middle of the hallway anyway, in the dark on the rug?”

Unfortunately the cat woke the dogs up and so they decided it was time to investigate what was going on. Here comes the big one and pushes her from behind at her knees, she buckles and goes down on all fours as number two dog jumps over her. Damn it again!! She pauses; listening...he is still snoring, yes? She waits; yes...he is sawing down a forest. OK, great! She stands up and continues her journey to the "office" and enters only to find another cat in her way and one under her foot, and another one on the desk trying to brush up against her and as she tries to maneuver around them, the dogs screw everything up by insisting on coming in and joining the party!!!! There is no more room so she makes a lunge for the chair on wheels and slams herself into the corner of the desk.

Oh my God she screams in silence! Tears roll down her cheeks…as
the pain hits her full force. &%§£, that hurt; she is jumping around, swearing quietly, crying and glaring at the zoo before her. The dogs are cowering, the cats could not give a damn. She twirls the seat of the chair around and crashes into it still holding her shin, swearing, pissed...but on a mission nonetheless. She turns to the computer while still holding her shin, moves the mouse around to wake up the monitor, while waiting, she nurses her bruised bone. All four cats are on the desk wanting to be fed. “Damn it guys, go out and catch some rats or something, leave me alone, I have super important things to do here!!!!!!!!”

The monitor slowly comes to life and she tries to type in her password, but she cannot see because she has not turned on the light for fear of waking the great “white logger” in the she practically has her face on the keyboard to see the keys but to no a
vail. She mistypes, and again, and again; Oh to Hell with this! She turns the light on low and quickly types the word but now she has her glasses on...found them in the light. Shit, will miracles never cease?

OK, here we go she thinks to herself, but the mouse does not move well over the new mouse fact, it really sucks! She is desperately trying to click on her browser.....misses, clicks and viola!! Finally!!!!!! She looks at her mail tab; no new messages; oh crap, that is not possible! She is nervous now. It must be this stupid browser. She closes all tabs and launches her browser again. All five tabs come up....oh lord how long does this thing take??????????? I could pull five files out of a file cabinet faster than this!!!!!!

OK, here it is, the mail tab......she looks, and then looks again; nothing is there.
Crap, now what??????? Desperate for a fix she goes in to her file of emails from him....ah....finally some old mail to read. She peruses a few of those until she knows them by heart, OK, now what? I’ve got it; my sent file! Let's go over what I wrote him, maybe I'll be inspired to write him some more gibberish (she is now panting...nothing is working she is needing a fix so badly she is ready to do just about anything...god how my shin hurts she thinks....all that pain....)! Bloody hell again!

OK, get a grip on yourself; this computer is not at fault, do not yell at Bill Gates because he did not cause this mail failure. OK, fine! I'll get over this....I will. She turns to her two trusty friends and pets them, which helps calm her down and at the same time, makes her realize how addicted she is to her torrid love affair with this electron
ic box!

The dogs understand, they nuzzle her and then leave and go back to bed, the excitement being over for the night. The big fat 15 pound cat comes over and just plops himself down on top of the desk next to the monitor and looks at her..."you stupid nut, she is thinking he is thinking...." I guess I'll have to make myself a chamomile and just try to go to bed she says to herself.

A voice in her head tells her: In the morning my child, must wait until morning, for the computer monster does not relinquish emails until then...calming down...wishing she was in another part of the world that very second...OH
MY GOD, how am I going to last???? One word, just one...even gibberish would work....I'd sell myself for one word she thinks to see his email address in my inbox....yes that would do it....that is one word, isn't it, that address??? Yes, I would be happy (liar)!!!!!!!!

OK, computer...I'm leaving now so do NOT crash on me between now and the mo not look for viruses or I'll kill you myself...and for god's sake, do not let any spy ware get through the "protection" or you are going to be under the next delivery truck that passes by!!!!!!

OK,...going back to bed...she is totally blinded in the dark after the brightness of the computer screen...walking down the hallway with both hands on the walls...teeny tiny steps ...shuffling her feet in case there is a cat...OK, so far so good...listening....crap! He is STILL snoring...that is good and bad...still asleep is good but that means he will keep her awake...oh GOD NO!!!! No more sleepless minutes, please (meaning more time to think about emails)! Ughhhhhhhhhh, how will I survive??????????????????????????

She slides into bed as her mind turns on instead of off; drowning in thoughts of another place in time, sleep never coming.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Musing over...

She looks down to the floor at the gray furry friend she has staring at her with his big orange eyes, she knows the only reason he is looking at her is not for affection; she has supermarket written across her body and hands! Yes, that is all he wants, any and all food either from her hands or plate!

She is sitting at her computer with the view facing the lake watching the weather change from sunny to a mix of overcast, windy hot gunk and eating a piece of Parmigiano cheese making sure she sliced a few smaller pieces for the beast
at her feet (why she bothers to cut them into small pieces she wonders, he throws any size down when it comes to cheese)! Thank god he does not like wine and at his age, she would give him anything he wants as long as it does not contain gluten. Hum, he seems to be eating more of her cheese than she, a bite for her and two for his little skinny body.

Hell, he is good company even though he couldn’t give a rat’s ass about her, at least he is a snoring, breathing living body who shares her meals and wakes her up a few times in the night with his toys. She knows he listens to her when she talks to him because his tail whips back and forth so fast slapping the floor or the furniture he is near. We still have not graduated to purring and after having a great home for 14 years then torn from what he knew as home, she cannot blame him at all for not being ready to take on a new boss. The nice thing about him is that after a ½ inch of cheese he’s ready for a nap and so he high-tails it to his blanket on her bed or to his basket in front of the toilet (yeah I know, great place but he was used to that before so I cannot break his habits). Nothing like having company when you go need to visit the porcelain god!

The bells from the church on the island are so close she feels as if they are right in her back yard particularly if the wind is right. She hears the sounds of the trains as they pass below her nest, gliding over the tracks reminding her there is a world in constant movement even though here looking at this idyllic view one would think otherwise. The sounds of the occasional Ferrari or super sports car as they wind around the roads float to her open window as well as those idiotic motorcycles screaming over the road by the shore.

The azaleas are in full bloom leaving massive bright color blotches all around the area and in the towns. She decides to finish a few postcards and get those ready to post the next day and look over some tourist ideas for the next day as well, trying to decide on museums or a drive; reality seeming so far away just like the villas on the other side of the shore.

Actually, she thinks this is the perfect kind of weather to go to town, sit at a table outside with her marrochino and begin planning the course of her book, the cast of characters, the overall flavor and tone and begin a rough outline. Of course, it would not be all work because she loves nothing better than to people watch and soak up the sounds and flavors of the towns while sitting in the piazzas or along the shores or ridges or whatever it is in that particular spot.

She gathered her belongings, packed her little tote bag and went to fire up
the big beast and point it towards town, time for a dose of life, coffee or maybe a glass of wine. As she closes the door she hears her furry friend snoring up a storm; that’s good she thinks, at least he is satisfied and happy on his full cheese belly. A dopo!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Men, Food and a Deserted Island

Here is a quick test to see what kind of man you have in your life. I thought of this after reading one of my favorite blogs. OK, so I decided after living with three male monsters who were selfish and self centered, I would come up with a type of “what would you do…” type of screening question for future men in my life.

I realize the home is truly the responsibility of the woman and she really does know almost every thing there is in each cupboard in the kitchen and refrigerator. Now, you bring a man in there, he opens the door and cannot find his beer or the cheese because it is not FLAT OUT in front of his BLIND face. There may actually be a carton of milk in front of it, (God forbid) or worse yet, her tub of yogurt!

So here is the test: You ask him what he would do if you were deserted on an island (the kitchen) togethe
r with a fixed amount of food supplies, limited to a small wooden crate (the refrigerator). You tell him what types of food are in this box and tell him you will divvy out the portions equally each day/meal. Then you tell him that you only have one Twinkie or cookie and you assume this will be split equally or, you as a female, being givers of life, will probably let him have your half…right? Well, maybe. Two days go by and you are both starving, looking at that last Twinkie; you both go to bed and pray for a miracle the next day. The next day you get up and it is gone! What is his response? You want to hear the ones I received? These are real my friends and I mean it.

One of my “lovely” suitors told me in all sincerity that he would and
should always get more than I because he was bigger and needed more energy to function and, he would have been sneaking into the box every night eating everything. With a deadpan face, he told me if there was one left, he would take it and fight for it.

Male number two: This is not even a discussion because he takes the last of everything and leaves the empty box, bucket or wrapper! So being deserted together would be sheer hell and so it was. The refrigerator was always full of empty wrappers and I would come home thinking I could make a sandwich with the turkey….what turkey? There isn’t any bread either….!!!! Getting my drift???????

Male number three: No that is OK, you take this, really. I want you to have this and eat it…as his fork comes over to take a bite…then another bigger and bigger and
as he eats, he truly believes he is being the bigger “man.”

So, how do you think this bad girl solved some of these issues? Well, when the fork came over to have a “taste,” her fork tines went into his hand! When number two thought it so funny to leave empty containers, this innocent creature emptied the kitchen and refrigerator of all food filled boxes, dry or otherwise and filled them all up with empty boxes. The refrigerator was full of empty wrappers, Tupperware with nothing in them, empty sandwich meat bags and for the bread, she filled it with sawdust mixed with mashed potatoes, made it into a form looking like bread and left that as well. For the first male, he was an easy fix; Ex-lax brownies did a number on him. ;-))))) So, the moral of the story is; don’t mess with the kitchen help!!!!!! Now, try this out on your men and see just how magnanimous they really are. ;-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Ecstasy of Italy Part II

After leaving way too much money in Germany, the two food hounds headed to the Dolomites in Trentino, Alto Adige or Sud Tirol. Even though it was still August and full-on Italian vacation time, it was nice to be back in Italy where the food is always good even when it is bad, and the wine, oh God the wine; finally back to real heavenly wine! Menus were in three languages although we did not need it, it was nice to see that Italy was catering to travelers and making life a little easier by offering other languages on the menu without having to fight to find out what you were ordering from people who did not care to even try to speak English or another language for that matter (and I am talking about two towns where the tourism is heavily Italian, Madonna di Campiglio and Pinzolo).

Once again food and wine was a joy and the days were filled with stupendous hikes at 2500 meters, mushroom photography, grappa tasting and of course, the can’t-live-without, spritz-campiglio-style!

One of the greatest tragedies of Campiglio, especially for one who has grown up with the place over 40 years is to see how the ultra rich manage to destroy the simplicity and true nature or personality of a place; just look at Cortina and what is has become! Campiglio should be left as a place for skiing and summer trekking, hiking and nature, a place for casual dress, simple genuine food to fill the huge appetites fueled from the vigorous outdoor activity the area has to offer.

Unfortunately, the “locals” who are not willing to pay massive prices for a slice of carrot cake, are outnumbered by the twits who could care less about how much they spend, all they want to do is be seen never really looking at the price, paying and leaving the locales with the idea that it is OK to charge high prices. Kid you not, two glasses of Prosecco and ONE slice of carrot cake was 18 Euros!!! This translates into 4 Euros for the cake and 7 Euros a glass for the bubbles, insane and offensive to those who work hard for their money. With this come the changes from rustic mountain, simple and real, to false refined BS, shops selling Rolex, furs and lots of useless things for people with nothing better to do with their money than buy more “stuff” and fuel a false atmosphere.

The outdoor sporting goods stores abound with prices to match. With a bit of preplanning regarding clothing (buying it for much,
much less in Milan), Campiglio can be sojourned without spending a fortune although, the “ovini” (gondolas) to the mountain locations are not cheap but hey, that is one fee we are happy to pay to have the opportunity to see vistas worth millions and to listen to the sounds of silence. Pinzolo is a good option for lodging for those who wish to save some money with Campiglio only 15 minutes away and not to ignore and brush aside is Pinzolo’s Dos del Sabbion.

Some exceptional meals, superb lodgings with breathtaking views from one’s hotel room may be had at the Hermitage chalet hermitage in Campiglio. Their (stube-hermitage) Stube Restaurant is expensive but memorable and half pensione affords one a glimpse of the talented chefs and pastry chef (beware, bottled water is 7 Euros a liter).

Ah Italy, alive, sexy, passionate, and expressive how else should one end a vacation except in ecstasy?


Monday, October 20, 2008

Family Recipe

Golden Piglet is going to share with all of us his secret family dessert recipe shortly. I will do my best to translate it and convert the measurements...most of them not precise but a spoonfull of this and one of that. ;-)

The Agony of Germany Part I

Gosh, where to begin…? Snow White had made a trip through Germany in 1977 with a female athletic group for two months. She remembered the German people to be at that time, very warm and friendly, open and hospitable. The towns were all clean and people seemed happy and made the effort to communicate in English or other languages. Upon returning after 30 years, Germany for her, was filled with frustration, gouging parking costs, horribly expensive everything and finding places to eat where the menu was in something besides German was not a happening event except Baden-Baden and Munich. One would think that a big city such as Dusseldorf would be full of fun restaurants and places serving dinner past 7:30pm; not! Getting dinner in “on time” or better said, German-time was a serious issue, had it not been for the gallery-type malls with food courts, starvation was the name of the game. Yes, there were numerous street cafes but not for a serious meal and if you tried for one of those it was always Italian food. Around 5 pm one could always find people stuffing down large ice cream dishes and after taking in the scenery, one realizes there is a love affair extraordinaire with Italian food but German style of course (so do not expect exceptional Italian fare).

One of the worst meals was a steak house, American style (a franchise) serving the worst wine on the planet and steaks to boot. Good Lord, they do not have a clue about wine and should not even serve it in that country. Parking was another depressing issue; at most of the hotels it was € 17/day! Internet was 8-12 Euros/hour and, bottled water was 4 Euros for half liter. Not even in Italy does one pay that much for water unless you are in some of the ritzier spots.

Probably the worst offense in a way, was the lack of any other spoken language besides German; the unwillingness to show they might speak another language as well. All menus posted outside restaurants were in German of course, but not even a note in another language saying ask for international menus or have a second language underneath the German of the dishes offered. Even in smaller towns in Italy there is, at the very least, a second language on menus. OK, she understands the German pride thingy but in Europe all the countries are similar in that aspect and let’s face it folks, German is a very difficult language to master even for a German. Hum, interesting how few countries speak the language versus French for example. So is this a pride thing or is this part of the opening of the borders or is this a burnout on tourism?

There is no question that Germany has suffered greatly since the borders and walls went down and truly no other country except Germany could have absorbed the financial blow of taking on that extra weight. The country does not have that clean feel anymore of 30 years ago and the cities are dirty with trash and graffiti around, the attitude is distant and cold from those who serve you in eateries or hotels making one feel truly unwanted. The prices for a cruise on the Rhine were terribly expensive and the timetables impossible to figure out. An espresso anywhere was 4 Euros and a simple breakfast was 8 Euros! The fun portion of the trip was Munich and Monschau one being a nice city and the other being a quaint tourist town as well as, a short stay in Augsburg.

Spending the night in Augsburg was out of necessity and turned out to be a reasonable stop; the first good meal they had of German fare. Munich was still the easy and friendly town that she remembered except there were five times more the number of tourists than 30 years ago. The shopping is much better than in Dusseldorf, the food is fabulous and the eateries are fun, busy and friendly. Hum, go figure Munich is considered by many as that “southern town” full of “southerners!”

Monschau is an amazing jewel on the northwest edge of the country in Belgium. This town is nice in the summer, green and full of quaint stores, hotels and cafes but even better in the winter becoming very cozy with idyllic scenery and a Christmas market; a pretty winter wonderland. A day trip here to pick up the infamous mustards senfmuehle ground and created at the mustard mill in Monschau as well as a stop in the artisans barn where a multitude of shops are combined under one roof was on their plan that day. Here one can find great crystal and glass and fabulous carved winter scenes for Christmas. I hope we can make a trip back to this spot during the winter.

Another day trip took us to the outlets outside of Amsterdam where some of the better shopping can be found. Next door to the outlet center is a town where we ducked into a typical Dutch bar serving unbelievable weisbier. For true beer lovers hand job alley and weisbier, this is the way to go! Here at this tiny little bar in heavy Dutch style, we drank WeisBlanche, unfiltered almost white beer, which was ultra refreshing leaving on the tongue a hint of lemon. If you have never heard of this beer trust me it is time to try it anywhere in Germany although I found this Dutch version outstanding. In fact, all through Germany, we opted for weisbier unfortunately for those used to wine only, beer is not only filling at meals and outside of meal time, but the liquid continues to ferment in the stomach making life difficult when you need to fit back into your clothes. In fact, I was interested to learn what a “beer belly” is; those big pregnant men you see all over the country. Beer once it is ingested goes into the stomach and continues to ferment and if you tend to drink lots of the stuff, you are in constant fermentation and thus, the big belly (or in other words, full of gas)!! LOL
A few comments on the “autobahn,” which she had always heard was so exceptional…let me tell you after driving the autostrada in Italy in a downpour and being able to see, she can only say the Germans and their technology missed on this one; the Italians have patented an phenomenal asphalt for rain. The road in Italy may not be super flat as they are in Germany but when it rains you can see and the noise of the tires on the road is much less as well as, the fact they pour the road in squares so there is a constant, “thunk, thunk.” Since the Germans love to drive their monster machines fast, when it rains they continue with that same love affair and since you cannot see a damn thing while raining on the autobahn, “me thinks” that Italy has a lot more pregi than we give it credit for. Of course, the Germans drive mostly German cars and all big and mostly Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes. Granted they have a hell of a lot more space than Italy as a country but folks, what are the Germans and Americans going to do without petrol for their monster cars and fast driving?????

Sunday, October 12, 2008


After having a slow leisurely day in the city, soaking up Spritz’s, colors and architecture we floated to our restaurant outside of town, at the top of a small hill overlooking the undulating lush green river valley of Vicenza. Musing over what it was that was making her feel so comfortable in this city and why she felt she could live in this historic city center, acknowledging with respect such Venetian grandeur, she finally cries; “Ah hah,” having realized what it was about the place. This city is compact for a city yet elegant, wealthy and clean and, very well maintained, almost a miniature of the best parts of a city packed into one compact parcel.

There is a s
ense of welcome, the feeling one might have in their own living room and an ease with which one may move in the city. The streets are direct yet every angle, every corner has something to be uncovered and discovered. The history is multilayered with remnants from Roman, Gothic, Baroque Renaissance and Neoclassical eras all within comfortable reach of the ordinary person.

Back to the trattoria they discovered while spending a few days in this neat city.
Al cavallino is a lovely restaurant situated at the very top of Creazzo overlooking the river valley of Vicenza. The ambient is warm and welcoming, the owners proud of what they do and what they offer and how it is presented. Sipping Venegazzù they pondered the flavors of the wine along with bites of sformato di polenta and melted asiago and funghi, little morsels of Puzzone di Moena with green apples all meant to dip into a tiny dish of limpid fragrant honey from the altopiano of Asiago and drank up the view of the surrounding areas.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Between Courses...

Three women friends, one in a casual relationship, one engaged to be married and one a longtime wife, met for drinks after work. The conversation eventually drifted towards how best to spice up their sex lives. After much discussion, they decided to surprise their men by engaging in some S&M role-playing.
The following week they met up again to compare notes.
Sipping her drink, the single girl leered and said,
"Last Friday at the end of the workday I went to my boyfriend's office wearing a leather coat, when all the other people had left, I slipped out of it and all I had on was a leather bodice, black stockings and stiletto heels. He was so aroused that we made mad passionate love on his desk right then and there!"
The engaged woman giggled and said, "That is pretty much my story! When my fiancé got home last Friday, he found me waiting for him in a black mask, leather bodice, black hose and stiletto pumps. He was so turned on that we not only made love all night, he wants to move up our wedding date!"
The married woman put her glass down and said, "I did a lot of planning. I arranged for the kids to stay over at Grandma's. I took a long scented-oil bath and then put on my best perfume. I slipped into a tight leather bodice, a black garter belt, black stockings and six-inch stilettos. I finished it off with a black mask. When my husband got home from work, he grabbed a beer and the remote, sat down and yelled, 'Hey, Batwoman, what's for dinner?''
Guess it is time to go make dinner, eh?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fritelle & Friends

While traipsing around with my girlfriend we stumbled on a wonderful bar/pasticcieria. They make superlative frittelle and cornetti/brioche/croissants and best of all, is that they do not care if you sit at the tables all day. Now for two gum-flapping gals, that is a gift from the gods (giggle).
Between espressos and chatting and a frittelle here and there, we managed to burn up a good hour and a half! She just called and wanted me to join her and family for pizza tonight…god what a difficult decision because I am a total lush when it comes to pizza. The problem was, they were not going to leave until 8pm and it is colder than you-know-what right now with a strong north wind blowing (been blowing for the last three days), which has dropped the temp 4 more degrees Celsius. So we are hovering around 1 at night and 3-4 during the day. The thought of getting dressed and having to drive to meet her and gang in the cold, at night, overpowered my pizza desire. So, I made a few trips to the wood pile and have the stufa roaring and made an extra trip to the gas station for diesel and decided to hole up for the rest of the day and evening.
Since I have to leave at “O-dark-thirty” in the morning for my flight, I decided I would be getting up at that un-godly hour to a warm room on my last day (burn that diesel baby)! Tomorrow if it is not as wicked cold as today, which from the weather predictions does not look like a great possibility, then we may go out for lunch to a town where all the “whoop-dee-doos” have little places. You know, the Valentino’s of Italy, the Camilla Parker Bowles…
Ciao, ciao

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pienza & Pecorino

If you have never been to Pienza, a town near Siena in Tuscany, I insist you make an effort to go. This warm, small and hospitable town is a true gem, a place to go when you want to “experience” the life around you versus flying through.

The beautiful, no, the stunning view from behind the cathedral at the bar overlooking the Val D’Orcia is enough to keep one spellbound for days. The warm sexy, soft yellow of the stone and yellow sand used in the masonry bestows this sense of “home.” There are quite a few places in town between those soft walls where one may rent a room and actually “live” the idyllic life. I can hardly wait until Spring arrives to go back and savor that life; spend a night or two there, eat at Il Latte della Luna for fabulous fresh pici al tartufo nero (loaded with truffles not just a sprinkle of them) or roasted duck or young roasted pig. Of course, La Buca delle Fate is another wonderful spot to feast close to that great ice cream and coffee bar.

There is a wonderful wrought iron shop in which to spend some time dreaming, imagining the house wi
th pieces similar and best of all is to wander the cheese shops. The pecorino cheese abounds in these cheese havens as well as, goat cheese specialties and they are stocked with salami, wines and culinary treasures. I can hardly wait to go back and wine taste, cheese sample and soak up the scenery, sign me up! ;-) I can see this town is going to be a monthly escape for me (giggle).

Unfortunately with this beauty and passion one has to take the red-tape-Italian-“sauce,” which covers everything here however it is worth it most of the time. Actually, time will be split half here and half in the states so the negatives will be supplanted by moving frequently between “zones.” :-))) I guess the hard part now of my daily decisions will be, “gosh, do we want to get that red for the cellar or, just for dinner?” Or, “shall we drive to Pienza or Norcia for cheese today?” Or, maybe take a few more days and go to Northern Italy for a cheese and wine run or even Milan for shopping depending on how desperately we need to see some city life. ;-)) You know, those “hard kinds” of decisions (giggle).

OK, back to Pienza and tour guide mode. If you do not have time to savor the town it is an injus
tice. The Piccolomini palace/museum is a stop worth doing and I suggest (strongly), the museum store! The store has books in various languages and has a lovely refined presentation and ambiance as well as fabulous gifts in the offerings. The store is quite unlike Italy; in that it is so nicely presented and lighted…hum maybe foreigners are behind it. ;-)) I could imagine how great it would be to cycle Pienza and the surrounding area, stopping to taste cheese at the numerous farms alongside the roads, to picnic and wine taste (hum, on bikes)? Then again, a driver would be great too so the wine tasting could occur in full force…giggle ;-)) A dopo!

Monday, September 29, 2008

An Original Menu...

Ok you have to hold on to your pants for this one. While perusing a menu the other night I stumbled upon a few entries that made me chuckle then one that really made me insane with laughter, luckily I was not stone drunk otherwise I would have laughed my head off and made a fool of myself. So I am sure you all remember the great Antonio Salieri and his musical skills as well as his portrayal in Amadeus and the life of Mozart, well somehow he was paired with one of these fish dishes and it made me laugh to think they were being tongue-and-cheek with it all until I saw what was listed underneath! I began to think, they are using movies to list some of these dishes, thinking they are being cute... So, with a load of mirth inside of me I had to order a plate of grilled Octopussy! Yep folks you read this one right and it took another load of wine for me to actually eat the stuff; scrumptious it was and all I could do was laugh the whole way home!!!! I did not have the heart to tell them the translation of that word in this Italian restaurant needed to be...well changed to simple octopus...but then again, maybe they were thinking about the James Bond flick... sexy, sensuous, naughty, sex and cooking, sensuous kitchen, escort dinning, jet set, classy, Mozart balls, octopussy,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spritz Campiglio Style

A few months ago while in Vicenza these two piglets reintroduced themselves to an aperitif Vicentina, the now infamous Spritz. Although good, Snow White felt her favorite had to give her allegiance to Italian bollicini finding the Spritz to be good but not exceptional. Now, she has changed her tune after having these in Campiglio style, in fact she now talks about them non-stop. The difference is in the type of white wine used; at Vicenza these are made haphazardly as far as measuring is concerned with. They contain white wine, Aperol and bright orange bitter and water and a little bit of ice.

While visiting Campiglio, they stumbled on a fantastic “watering hole” for their preferred bar. Not only because the prices were fair but also the Spritz was out of this world always accompanied with small cutting boards of Spec or cheese. The first time ordering these Campiglio Spritz, these two were amazed at how good they were and ended up doing a second round. After that little sosta, this drink became their all time favorite particularly after coming down off the mountains in the afternoons from their hikes. Until Golden Piglet told her what went into them, Ms White had no clue as to the “why” of her preference and here is the secret: instead of any old white wine, they use Prosecco (no wonder)!

The glasses are well stocked with ice Aperol, Prosecco and some water although we do not know the right proportions of each ingredient except the ice. ;-) After about the fourth time at the watering hole, they talked to their "tender" and he told them the Spritz is not only the “in” drink (he serves gazillions of them) but has become the preferred cocktail of the “in” places and of that area. Curiously, while strolling the main square in front of the Swiss Chalet Bar/Café they noted there was nothing but the orange drinks on almost every table. Looking at each other and thinking the same thing, they decided to test one out at “the Swiss” suisse and compare it to their favorite bar tender’s special. The drink was good, served in smaller wine glasses but it just did not have the flavor of the other; must be the type of Prosecco used. So, on their last day before reentry, they had their farewell Spritz and will not have another until they return to that area (would hate to ruin a great memory)! Looks like they will be making plans to had back there real soon, the withdrawals are terrible.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Family Emergency

Sorry for the silence but there has been a little family emergency and the writers have been just a tad overwhelmed with junk to take care of. Have no fear, one of us will be posting because the itch to write is larger than life.

All big things in this world are done by people who are naive and
have an idea that is obviously impossible.

-- Dr. Frank Richards (1875-1961) English Writer

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gathering Great Things for Future Posts

We have been remiss with posts but we are on a “technical” journey gathering oodles of fun information and tidbits as well as a few insightful observations and ideas. Drifting around Germany and Trento has provided us with some marvelous material for upcoming posts so, stay tuned and hold your knickers on because we have lots to say! Now Snow White must run off to the woods to gather mughi to flavor a small bottle of Grappa Moscato. ;-)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

La Meridiana a Domodossola, What a Gem!!

Oh my god, yesterday’s stumble into this unbelievable restaurant restored my faith in off-the-beaten-path places to eat. This was a find of monumental proportions and anyone who can or is able, head to Domodossola for a fabulous meal. They specialize in fish courses but also propose perfect Spanish fare. This is of course family-owned and operated, which means the clan of ultra dedicated and proud owners will serve you. Situated close to the Swiss border this town boasts a lively atmosphere. There is a fun Jazz Club hidden off of the main street, nicely frescoed palazzini all framed with the majestic mountains of the Val Dossola. The family recently restored an old building from the very early 1700’s into a casa-vacanza in the locale of Cadarese, the Valley of Antigorio. The area will soon host thermal baths as well as sport complexes and recreational activities summer and winter.

For in
formation regarding the vacation lodging, contact or follow the link latter in this post.

The restaurant is one of a kind serving courses that would cost upwards 20€ per plate. Many of the risotto fish dishes or paella must be ordered for a minimum of two bodies, which would tell any food fanatic your dishes are prepared to order! They do not have precooked this or that. Saturday is their busiest day at lunch and trust me, the tables turned not twice but three times during the lunching hour. The place is small; the tables are barren, wooden and simple. As a restaurant classification one might expect tablecloths or linen napkins; probably for dinner they set up in that manner as in the photos on the website, but for lunch it was nice and bare and simple. They put out paper placemats, a knife and fork serving the wine in big generous glasses and that is it folks. A very simple but stunningly divine repast. La Meridiana

The courses are presented without too much fanfare (lord with that crowd how can they do anything else but get the food to the tables) and the food was piping hot. They offer Spanish prosciutto hand cut per order rivalin
g any Italian prosciutto to date. Tending to lean towards Speck, this female became a convert since stopping in at this locale, ordering pearls or melon balls in a tortilla cup served with ultra thin slices of Spanish prosciutto and large shredded Parmigiano (not shaved). The bread was ultra fresh in nice thick generous slices and upon requesting a refill, they were more than happy to fulfill, which makes any Italian very happy. ;-)

It was hideously hot outside and the desire to eat a heavy meal was not on Snow White's planner but luckily she did order three courses, all of them small amounts of perfectly prepared dishes. She had tortelloni of Astice with julienned zucchini in a sauce neither she or Golden Piglet could figure out; utterly di
vine and only four of these things on the plate, a perfect, perfect amount of food! While taking this meal in a very slow manner (due to the number of patrons in the place), she was able to spy other dishes whizzing by the table and most of them made her realize, this is going to have to be a regular watering hole for them and begin their exploration of the fabulous fish fare proffered.

Granted, living in the area would help but a trip from Milan to this restaurant is worth it and if you really want to soak up the scenery, get a room so you can not only eat a great meal but explore their wonderful cellar as well. Beware of the desserts or she should say, save room for at least one. Difficult not to overhear the table next to her as the Italian/Swiss/French creature expounded on the delights of a semifreddo with amaretti of course all made by the chefs. If a meal is not in your budget, then go in for a glass of wine at the bar and a slice or two of prosciutto, this is truly a hidden gem and with a little bit of time to spare, Snow White will translate the story of the cooks and family from their brochure, another impressive story (they boast fantastic chef training).

Ciao for now!

Burnt by the Sun of Napoli

Yes, yes I know we were to keep this to food wine and such but you must mosey over to Burnt by the Tuscan Sun and read this post inshallah.

Despite Italy's seemingly unorganized world and way of doing things, the country does manage to limp along however the times of frustration, chaos and inability to plan things do tend to outweigh the rest of it's beauty. Take a peek at the link and have a good laugh.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pasticceria Biffi of Milano

A step down memory lane to Biffi's of Milano is definitely a treat. This coffee and pastry house is as much a part of the foundations of the city as the Castello Sforzesco. The prices may kill you but the experience is one of a kind.

Taking a little morning refreshment here is something your eyes and taste buds will remember and if you do this seated, which is really the only way to go to get the “full” Biffi experience, the weight of your wallet will be quickly lightened. ;-) The waiters are impeccably dressed; the service is flawless with tables done in the typical Milanese fancy cloths with upholstered chairs and matching cushions and back upholstery on the benches. The colors are relaxing, happy, cozy, and the din from the bar helps add to the ambiance. Upon entering besides the magnificent bar in polished brass and dark wood and Murano chandeliers, there is a nice little freestanding croissant case to grab your attention full of mini croissants filled with jam, cream, chocolate and other wicked things.

Once seated, she could explore the room and delight in the little flat ceramic sugar tray at the table (ceramic fanatic here) as well as, take in the sounds of the patrons; many regulars chatting with the waiters and the bartenders. We ordered cappuccino and two of the little brioche as well as 250ml of water. The cappuccinos were liquid cream on the tongue, the kind you want to take your spoon and scrape the sides! The croissant/brioche were morsels of divinity, fresh and flavorful. The water was brought to the table in the bottle, opened and poured for us into the glasses, such a luxury.

Unfortunately, we had to worry about the car since we did it Italian style by parking in pay for park area but you know how it is, we are just stopping for coffee so why pay? ;-) That meant, we could not spend a nice amount of time seated and
at the prices they charge, you really should camp in for a while. When we asked for the bill she thought his face was going to fall off; 14,50 Euros for all that fanfare! We laughed while walking to the car and talked about how things have changed over the years (like the prices) knowing that a trip back there would have to be standing at the bar and even then, maybe not for a little while (gotta save up our pennies).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Food Frolic Adventures - La Speranza - Tieni Forte il Portafoglio!

English translation below
Ci eravamo proposti di parlare solamente di ristoranti dove fare delle vere e proprie esperienze eno-gastronomiche, quindi di parlare solamente di esperienze positive; bene, è il momento di contraddirci subito! :-)
Ricordandomi di un ottimo pranzo presso il ristorante Hostaria La Speranza di Solcio in provincia di Novara sul Lago Maggiore cui partecipai una decina di anni fa, e visto che il nostro peregrinare per il nord Italia ci ha portato nei pressi di detto ristorante, approfittai dell'ora di cena ormai superata da un po, per proporre a Snow White una sosta "tecnica" presso l'Hostaria. Questo ristorante qualche anno fa, godeva di una discreta fama per gli antipasti alla piemontese che serviva e per una discreta cantina.
Vi confesso che non ho faticato molto a convincere Snow White a rifocillarsi con un po di antipasti misti e con del buon vino... ma ahimè, temo di avere perso qualche punto nei suoi confronti quella sera!
Dunque, il locale è molto ben arredato, finemente e in maniera ricercata. Bene, si trattava di vedere se oltre alla forma, la "sostanza" era migliorata o almeno era rimasta quella di qualche anno fa. Le cameriere sono giovani e cortesi, ma assolutamente non professionali; danno proprio l'impressione di avere imparato a memoria tutto quello che dicono, ma senza sapere di cosa stanno parlando. Gli antipasti sono solo discreti, nulla di eccezionale e per di più in numero assolutamente inadeguato: una volta da loro si mangiavano solo quelli, ora invece ci si alza da tavola con più fame di prima.
La sorpresa però non è il cibo. Appena ordinata la cena, la padrona del locale, si avvicina al tavolo e butta li la frase innocente: "Vi porto un po' di vino?" Ma come, sarò anche un Piglet, ma non del tipo che ha pensato la ristoratrice! Alla mia richiesta di poter guardare la Carta dei Vini, la signora in questione, è sparita ed ha mandato una camerierina a presentarci detta carta. Ad una prima occhiata ho pensato si trattasse della versione con i prezzi espressi in Rupie e non in Euro, ma ad un più attento esame, il simbolo dell'Euro era riportato in molte parti, e della valuta indiana non c'era traccia... I vini avevano prezzi assolutamente demenziali: quello che costava meno era proposto a 120 Euro la bottiglia (roba che si paga 25 Euro massimo in qualunque altro ristorante, quello che costava di più era un Franciacorta Brut per il quale chiedevano 1,290 Euro!!! Dopo avere rifiutato di farmi depredare, la camerierina arrossendo ha annuito accennando a voce bassa un: "già, capisco..."
Mentre con Snow White mi stavo ancora chiedendo in che razza di posto eravamo capitati, la padrona si avvicina e con la faccia di chi vuole fare la generosa con dei poveracci, ci dice: "Se volete posso offrirvi un bicchiere di vino". E' stato solo un piccolo calcio ricevuto da Snow White sotto il tavolo per fermarmi ed evitare di dicessi alla tizia cosa poteva farsene del suo vino e dove poteva metterselo! (Grazie Snow White!)
Morale: pagato il conto salato, cenato male e senza vino, presi in giro ed insultati.

La Speranza - Hold on Tight to your Wallet!

I know we had promised to only discuss good wine and dinning experiences, speaking only of positive experiences at that but the time has quickly come to veer away from that promise if only briefly.

Remembering a superb lunch at a place called Hostaria La Speranza situated in Solcio on Lago Maggiore about ten years ago, and seeing as how our pilgrimage in northern Italy took us near to this still-functioning “joint,” I decided to take advantage of the fact that we were late with our dinner decision so I proposed a little “technical” stop to Snow White. The restaurant a few years ago carried a discrete fame for its antipasti alla Piemontese, which they served along with a robust cellar to accompany the feast. I must admit, I had no difficulty whatsoever convincing Snow White to take refreshment (with the promise of some mixed antipasti and good wine…) but alas, I fear I lost a few points in her eyes that evening!

Let’s see, the locale was very nicely decorated, done with taste and maintaining a certain time period for style with well-chosen pieces and accessories. “Great” I thought to myself, besides excellent presentation and ambiance it was time to see if the substance had improved or at least, remained that of a few years ago. The waitresses were all dressed in uniforms of an era gone-by, all were very young, courteous but completely unprofessional; they gave the impression they were speaking from a script not having a clue what they were really saying.

The antipasti were only discrete, nothing exceptional and furthermore, the number of different types of these minuscule tastes was totally out of line; it was almost like a Sunday Brunch smorgasbord, lots of stuff but nothing great or too much and unable to appreciate any of it. Once upon a time in this “joint,” one could eat just those now, one leaves the table hungrier than prior to being seated.

The surprise however was not the food. As soon as dinner was ordered the owner of the “joint” (big female chowhound herself) approaches the table in her apron and in a little innocent voice, tosses the wine question: “Shall I bring you some wine?” “What, are you kidding?” I say to myself. I may be a chowhound too but not the kind she thought I was. Upon my request to bring me the wine list, this questionable female disappeared and sent one of the girls with the list to the table. At first glance, I thought to myself this must be the version with prices in Rupees and not Euros, but upon closer examination, I saw the Euro symbol here and there finding not a trace of the Indian currency.

The wine prices were insane!!!! The least expensive wine was a bottle for 120 Euros (stuff one would pay 25 Euros max in any other restaurant) and then there was a bottle of Franciacorta Brut (mind you just Brut, not a bottle of non dosato) to the tune of 1,290 Euro!! After refusing to be pillaged, the waitress blushed and knowingly acknowledged in a low voice “ah yes, of course…” While Snow White was still asking me what kind of racket for a restaurant I had brought her to, the big female chowhound approached us and had the brazen nuts to play Ms. Generous and offer us wine by the glass. It was only a tiny whack in the ankle that Snow White launched in my direction to help prevent me from telling that creature what and where she could put that glass of wine (Thank you Snow White)! Then after paying the horrendous bill for not eating, the little waitress comes back and sheepishly offers us a glass of grappa, on the house. Good God, I refused that as well; was not going to put myself at her mercy, no way!

Moral: paid the sticky bill, ate poorly without wine, was insulted and had my leg pulled from here to Timbuktu…you do the math.

Dinning at Grinzane Cavour Castle

Dinning at the Castello Grinzane is a must for anyone who would like to re-live a little bit of history in modern elegance. Reservations are a smart thing and required to even get near the place in October and part of November (white truffle season). The auction for the largest of these beauties usually occurs at the castle annually and hosts a multitude of VIPs who populate the town of Alba as well. There is a quaint and convenient hotel, Casa Pavesi just meters from the castle offering unique room décor, breakfast on the terrace, bar and cozy reading rooms.

The dinning room at Grinzane Castello is not only an elegant atmosphere but the service is professional and discrete. High heels beware walking up to the castle, if one parks below it can be a wicked challenge on the rounded rock road as well as, taking the path towards the entrance and the uneven floors and steps once inside. This place was meant for climbing and sensible shoes plus, getting to the bathroom or better said, navigating the steps to the bathroom after a few glasses of wine can be an issue, especially when you really need to go. ;-)

While gazing up and through the windows from inside, over the expanse of the vineyard-clad hills beyond, she could not help but breathe a little bit of the history within these walls.

Dinner consisted of tagliolini with sausage ragù (sausage from the Roero region) a bottle of lively Barbera, hand-rolled bread sticks and a main course of Brasato al Barolo. Brasato is one of the ultra famous dishes from this area and is truly a must-try. The meat is soaked in Barolo wine, cloves, juniper berries and garlic for 12-24 hours then removed from that marinade and slow baked for 1½ in fresh Barolo but not before performing a sauté of carrot, celery and onions, browning the meat and then bathing it in Barolo.

After all that food no one needed dessert but they insisted with a few complimentary cookies and of course we did have to imbibe in an outstanding grappa! The waiter brought the bottle to the table after we told him a little bit about our taste preferences; he suggested this one and poured two generous glasses offering us, on his wallet, a second. God, a second glass would have done this little lady in, she would have needed a stretcher to get down the stairs.

While seated outside on the benches in the gardens encircling the castle, the night air was cool (blissfully) and the night birds extremely busy. Something came whizzing by her head at a speed so fast her hair flew up and her ears were buzzing from the speed with which this creature flew. Who knows what it was, certainly not an owl of any sort and not a bat. The lights across the valley to the
other hill town were mesmerizing and suggestive, music floated up from the tent party near the hotel, laughter and the clink of glasses while toasting; all elements adding to the ambience rendering the experience even more suggestive for a creative mind. The past oozed around us with the pride of the people of the town for the place they live and for the traditions they protect. Romance, romantic dinning, sensuous, warm, sexy, suggestive, hot, steamy, languid, escorts, red roses, venetian mask, antiquity

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Food Frolicking & Travel at Singing Nella's - Wine Country Barolo

La Cantinella (Canti – Nella i.e., singing Nella) was the Osteria just across the way from the old café behind and below the Barolo castle. This fun little place allowed the option of eating inside with AC or outside in the heat but in the shade of the buildings above the restaurant as well as their huge umbrellas.

Seated outside her eyes roamed from the bright yellow-orange of the Marchesi di Barolo cellars to the wine-covered hills above, the Barolo Castle and the barren parking lot in front. Melting in the heat but reveling in the scenery her mind floated from the suggestions of modern times to visions of the past. In some ways things have changed so much yet when immersed in these towns, one sees how little life really has changed, at least here drifting between the vineyards.

Lunch offered typical Piedmont dishes such as, raw hand cut and pounded Piemontese beef as an appetizer (do not shy away from this, raw meat is excellent for the body). A plate of mixed appetizers displayed Russian salad, raw meat, zucchini frittata with fondue alla Piemontese (the original fondue from Val D’Osta) and, bagna cauda, which was a big slice of blanched red pepper with green garlic sauce floating inside. Bagna cauda is famous in this region and the sauce is something you want to be sure to eat together if you are going home with your dinner partner because the garlic breath could kill a horse! (laughing, think I killed the Piglet)

The sauce is made from mashed garlic, lots of it, anchovies and olive oil (of course); the whole mix heated over a double boiler or at times served over a candle with raw veggies or served as it was that day on the pepper slices although not raw but just blanched. The fondue is another thing in and of itself!
This original fondue is prepared with Fontina, eggs, butter and milk and is a dense liquid (the cheese soaks in the milk for at least 8 hours if not longer). The milk is then tossed and the cheese is melted with fresh milk and a ton of butter and once it begins to thicken, an egg yolk or two is tossed in. Of course, this is best consumed with white truffles but hey, eating it by the spoonfuls is still a thrill and in the winter, this is a dish that outshines any cold day! So, while you all are putting kirsch in your fondues, just know that until you have tried the original here in northern Italy, you are missing out. ;-)

The rest of the meal consisted of agnolotti in butter and sage and risotto al Barolo, which is truly a local dish (just onions and wine)! They also served fresh homemade, hot bread infused with tons of oregano in a bread loaf form as well as a focaccia so her goal of limiting the bread intake that day went to the dogs! In that heat, no wine was ordered with lunch but then again, with all the little wine tasting who needed it (giggling)? To finish off the meal, a stop at the Antico Panettiere furnished a bag of local cookies or little fragile flat hazelnut “pancakes.” These contain the locally grown Piemontese hazelnuts and nice soft Amaretti cookies as well. ;-)

How can she emphasize enough the extent of excitement and depth of smiles this area can produce? To breathe-in this wine country one realizes this is not just about wine but about the substantial amount of history surrounding these great wines through the centuries. The vast amount of neat, well-cured vineyards will tantalize the dreams and emotions of any countryside lover; an unadulterated lullaby for all the senses. These hills undulate with history and passion at every turn and everywhere the eye might rest; one cannot help but get caught up in the spell. Speaking of spells, dinner at the Grinzane Cavour Castle is worth a separate post. To be continued…. ;-)

Alba & La Piola - Food & Wine Adventure

Wandering the infamous town of white truffles and fabulous wines, she realized she had a one-way ticket to paradise, Alba in the province of Cuneo. In the historic center, exists a great eatery called la Piola.

Across from the Chiesa di S. Giovanni or, il Duomo there is this simple and el
egant little place to eat under the old portico. They have also placed a permanent “greenhouse” for dinning right on the piazza; this little glass house is fully enclosed with air conditioning and in the summer heat, it is a blessing to sit there and enjoy the view, eat and stay cool. The tables are set up with huge, fun and colorful charger plates with ultra comfortable chairs to rest in (such a rarity in Italy, and a change from the classic Osteria chair).

The menu offers excellent dishes typical to the region with nice, courteous waitresses and waite
rs serving everything very promptly. For starters, an assorted cheese plate was a must just to sample the local cheese creations as well as a fabulous insalata russa. Tagliolini with an oil and garlic or “white” sauce of ground rabbit dressed this homemade pasta, which was out of this world! There were also agnolotti made with a mix from a roast of various meats and these were dressed in the sauce of the roast, something Snow White had never tasted before in all her days in Italy. The sauce was limpid gravy per se, light in weight and exquisite in flavor. The agnolotti are a type of tortellini except the ends are brought together at the center of the “cushion” and pressed together. Some other versions of these wonderful homemade agnolotti are with the ends pulled together similar to a sack as if tied with string at the top. All this fare was accompanied by a nice chilled white Roero Arneis another great white wine produced in the Roero hills above the river Tanaro; and since this was gastronomic play-time, dessert was a must, which was accompanied with a wonderful Moscato d’Asti by, none other than the Piglet’s favorite, I Vignaioli di S. Stefano. Dessert was the classic Bunet; a type of chocolate pudding with crushed amaretti.

Now these little pigs will be off for some other adventure shortly so stay tuned...