25 December 2010
So, it’s 9:45 on Christmas night, and I can honestly say that I am fed up with eating, at last. Seriously. Camembert, Smoked Gouda, Iberico, Manchego, Quince Paste, crudite, crackers, sourdough rolls, ginger and walnut loaf, Menage a Trois, ham, turkey, cabbage salad, herb salad, tart cranberries, farfalla primavera… and then the desserts. Four cakes, a gingerbread loaf, homemade fudge, snowballs, shortbread, a molasses cookie with cracked black pepper in it, oatmeal cookies, white chocolate covered pretzels… My mom went all-out for days and is now nestled in her bed with the beginning of a winter flu, the poor love. As I am writing this, the last stirring creature, my Dad, has just crept by, fingers gesturing “goodnight,” after having wrapped white bundt cake with peppermint drizzle and cinnamon coffee cakes in plastic to the stylings of the Vince Guaraldi Trio on repeat.
12 December 2010
Still in California.
Tonight I “dined” at a cheesy (not the kind we usually discuss here) little kitsch spot that shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. I say innocent because no one could ever possibly, in all earnest, display the item I am about to describe to you, without having only recently emerged from a cultureless exile, like a cliché town where Kraft Singles microwaved on top of freezer-section pie is considered normal.
I have been yard-saling all day, a giant step in the ascension of the inner gypsy's takeover. "Priced to sell... everything must go." Sadly, I am surrendering my beloved fondue set, but the possibility of my coming back from Italy and other European sites, after three months, without something very special to replace it with is slim to none. Ok, none.
The fondue set sparked a really fun memory of a cheese fetish gone awry, a New Years' Day celebration with 14 guests and no recipe... no resource for shopping... and no idea how to handle the ill-conceived fondue for 14. Since my life has become about packing, storing, moving, hauling, tossing, and Craigslisting, there has been little time for cheese. After the yard sale today, allison and I bolted for Pizza Shack for a mozzarella fix. That's how desperate I'm getting. But again, the payoff is Tuscany, a mere four weeks from this moment.
02 December 2010
Amtrak Surfliner from Los Angeles to Goleta, CA
I have survived the Thanksgiving carbohydrate overdose, followed by the airline’s flight cancellation due to (inperceptable) weather conditions and the subsequent overnight at Syracuse Airport’s Holiday Inn Express, as well as the perk of making the most of it by indulging in Dinosaur BBQ, a 40-some-odd smokehouse and watering hole. The pulled pork at Dinosaur was actually recommended to me by Culture’s own David Newhoff, a man whose taste in food I would trust in even the worst of times. Believe me, being stranded in Syracuse qualified as such, but the AMAZING pulled pork at Dinosaur was definitely a big reward for my not having throttled the rude and flat-affective staff at the Hancock Airport (except you, Denise, Ms. Fabulous at US Airways!)
16 Novembre 2010
I’m getting my Italian on, as is evidenced by the very authentic manner I have written the date above. But I am also experiencing something a little deeper, a sort of “marriage of two cultures” going on here, and I’m feeling it deep in my soul. Perhaps it is all the testaroli here in Luigiana that have me all a-flurry. A familiar texture with holes throughout the surface, an excellent range of uses, a history of accelerated migration fueling its creation… The most authentic and micro-specific product from Luigiano/Pontremoli, Testarolo is actually unleavened bread!
Testarolo (the fresh flatbread-like form) or Testaroli (plural, or when cut into pasta squares and served with sauce) is indeed the original unleavened bread, cooked in a Testi, aka, wrought iron fry pan. The shepherds would carry the heavy pans on their backs and use them to cook while crossing the mountains and having no time for yeast to rise. Sound familiar?
12 November 2010
I am sitting here in my apartment at the most gorgeous Agriturismo in a very underdeveloped part of Tuscany, wondering how I got here. What exactly have I done right? On the coffee table in front of me is an array of chocolate bars from the Stainer factory, just minutes from here, all mine for the tasting. I have officially been a food writer for three days, and there are enough top-tier chocolates on this table to impress even the most discerning of tastes for the finer things. And I mean FINE. In case you are wondering…Yes, it’s good to be Queen.
11 November 2010
I bounced out of bed this morning, completely primed for some serious fun in town: a visit to the local cheese farmer. Trying to fight the urge to pre-write my fantasy visit to the enchanted, I followed Cornelia to La Tavolata, the restaurant at Podere Conti, the agriturismo I will call home for the coming week. I trotted along behind her like a happy puppy at her heels. Of course, morning coffee will never be the same after this morning’s doppio espresso. Add that to the list of “I never want to leave because of…”s.
Paradise Found at European Big-Box Store
09 November 2010, Massa, Tuscany, Italy Carrefour Marketplace
Big-Box stores make me ill, basically. Even the (sic) finest ones in the great U.S. of A. are either a conglomeration of the cheapest overproduced substitutes for nutrients, socially irresponsible acquisition or production, or politically-opportunistic disappointments for me... of course, I would assume that if you are reading Culture, you are privy to all of the above information, and more.
I am currently traveling in Italy, residing for the time being at an Agriturismo, or Agricultural Tourism farm. In this case, it is olive production, and I am here in the peak of the harvest. should the rain cease, I will be a part of said harvest, with my own hands and spirit. What a joy!