Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cinnamon Sugar Gnocchi

For a change of pace, try these classic gnocchi from the mountain regions of Veneto. Best wine to accompany these would be a Colle Berici Sauvignon.

This takes a while to make if you plan on making them true to nature from your own potato mix. The gnocchi recipe will be given below following the cinnamon recipe.

For 6
180 g (6 oz) butter
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar (baker’s sugar or caster sugar suggested)
Grana Padano or Parmigiano freshly grated, (not over aged you do not want the cheese to over power the condiments)


Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of salted water and when they float to the top, let them cook for a few more seconds then drain with a slotted spoon. Mix them piping hot with the softened butter sprinkling them with the premixed cinnamon, sugar and cheese. Serve in hot bowls.

Potato Gnocchi

1 kg of potatoes (boiling potatoes)
3 egg yolks

300 g flour
(10.5 oz)
50 g (2oz) Grana Padano or Parmigiano freshly grated

Salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes with their skins on in salted water. Peel and mash them with a masher by hand (Do not use a Cuisinart) or use a potato squeezer (schiacciapatate in Italy) while potatoes are STILL hot, let cool.

Place the cooled purée on a working surface. With your hands, work in to this the egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg as well as the cheese. Work the dough until it is creamy and smooth, then add the flour all at once and quickly work it into the dough. This must happen quickly in order to prevent the potatoes from releasing more moisture into the dough. To form the gnocchi hand roll pieces of the mixture into fat bread sticks and cut them into half inch or smaller gnocchi. Always cook these in lots of boiling salted water (a large pot).
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Palladio Card…Stunning Veneto…again!!!

Damn, this summer has escaped her and in this heat and humidity, she is just pinning away to get back to Veneto and get her PalladioCard and see the Festa della Ceramica in Nove, near Marostica and Bassano del Grappa. If anyone is planning on being near Venice, Verona or Trieste, you must go get your PalladioCard and visit the villas in this area.

Having passed Palazzo Barbaran in early April or was that late March…anyway the bug was planted from that day on. Every time she traipses through Veneto, she has eyes only for those fabulous (not just the big villas) Palladian agricultural magnate’s homes…the working “farms” per se. The richness of those homes, landowners, working ranches; just the crumbled site of these places makes her go insane. She craves a fabulous Palladian home…the simplicity of the windows, the elegance on the exterior and balance.

Have you ever really “looked” at a window in the Veneto? The fact the storm doors or shutters are inset from the line of the house meaning, the window opening is at least a foot and a half in depth so the glass portion of the window is nearest the interior followed by the shutters but still within the frame of the window opening of the building (in the photo left, there is an example of inside the window opening and outside, the lower windows). Then on the outside of the opening is the decoration and thus, you have an ultra refined system of closing off the glass portion to keep out the elements out without destroying or detracting from the finesse of Palladian elements on the exterior. God, it is stupendous! She has got to find a house with these hinged (4 panels) shutters allowing one to open them in quarters and to fold them back so elegantly against the window opening without disturbing the “eye candy,” if you will.

Here are a few links just to whet your appetites and while looking and planning, you must find a way to catch a show at the Teatro Olimipico, what a sight!! VILLA_BADOER

Villa Contarini, Villa Emo, Villa Godi, Villa Poiana, , Villa di Maser, Villa Pisani, Teatro Olimpico

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Milan, Grand Milan – summer in the big city.

If you have never experienced Milan in August, it is one of the rare treats of this world! Parking is a “non problem” even though many stores are closed as well as, coffee houses nonetheless the thrill of driving smack-dab center city is insane! We parked the car in the square right in front of the stock exchange; imagine that (OK, yes it was Saturday)! Nonetheless, driving roads prohibited to normal traffic unless you have a special permit is always ultra cool in these European cities and Milano defies any other city to attempt this feeling. The latest noise polls have placed Milano over New York City and certainly, during the regular months of the year, this is true but what peace and tranquility there was this day.

From where the car was parked, we walked a short distance to the main intersection and violà; the cathedral in its superlative splendor greeted us at one end of the vista, crowing the opposite end was, the majestic Castello Sforzesco. Ah yes, “Milàn, lè un grand Milàn” is a truism this time of year as it occurs again during the winter vacation (after Christmas)…the two best times of the year to experience and relish the treasures the city hoards.

Off to Fnac one of the most well stocked book stores with music, video, electronics, café, food and wine…what more can anyone wish for? Yes, a stop at La Rinascente would be just one more little dab of whipped cream for the day. ;-)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Roma, Bellissima!

It has been way too long since going back to Roma, such an amazing city, so full of history and architecture. The Roman women are very unique in their style; American guys looking for a hot woman, you need to check these out, so different from the Milanese lady. Rome is not far from Napoli so it has quite a strong southern influence; the driving is insane but not quite as bad as Napoli (although not far from matching it if not surpassing Napoletan drivers). Taxi drivers are still arguing in the streets at the taxi stand at Roma Termini (the pirates vs the legal taxi drivers), and waiters and owners are still hawking business from the sidewalks in front of their activity or on the plaza square. Prices are horrendous in all the cafes and pizzerias (terrible food in the tourist zones...I mean how can you screw up a pizza???). There is trash alongside the curbs, not just cigarette butts, even though trash cans are frequent and visible; again I realize man is the only creature who shits where it eats and sleeps.

Nonetheless, Rome breathes a different air, the sidewalks are wide and easily walkable compared to Milano, the architectural eye candy is astonishing, the spirit of the Romans transports you to another time. They are packed with pride about their city as well as, packed with fire and personality (watch your pockets however) ready to talk, to argue, to actively engage in just about anything; Rome truly bustles with life. I can see why Alessia (swimmer representing Italy in the World's these last weeks, but from Rome) loves her city and why she is proud; and my love/hate affair with this crazy country continues. How can one not love this world of history and wonders?