07 March 2011
There is certain arrogance to being a foodie, a sort of lifted-up, unspoken status that of course means absolutely nothing other than the fact that you've survived being raised on Big Agri and have since reinvented your relationship with food. Indeed it is cool to embark on a life of tasting and pairing, spreading and dipping, and of course, adding cheese to anything and everything you can sample it with. And it’s fun to work the gastronome angle, show off your cheese exposure to your pedestrian-palate friends, dropping names and saying it properly as well. Admit it, it’s equally as fun to whip out the arbitrary seasoned or wine-crusted piece in gorgeous wrap and pass it off as just some little nothing lying around in your humble Sub Z. Admit it, knowing what’s out there is a constant source of amusement. Which brings me to my latest game: introducing myself as a blogger for an American cheese magazine, while befriending the Lunigianese artisan cheese producers and sampling everything in sight. Well it’s true, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you do it?
Saturday, 26 February 2011
Desperate times call for desperate measures, one of the few clichés I can actually tolerate, applies tonight. And I do mean desperate. It has been a completely manic week at the farm, with Spring showing up early and agriturismo guests following the season. Needless to say, tonight is una Notte di Blockbuster, accompanied by a local syrah (purchased Monday by my friend Teri Love of Gioia Wines in Santa Barbara, but sadly left behind for ME!) and some cheeses I bought this week and (gasp!) haven’t found the opportunity to open slowly, bleeding out the process of pairing and sampling at a snail’s pace. Anything less deliberate is a wasted opportunity fraught with the tastelessness of simply snacking and the oblivion of a half-cocked palate, and was thus omitted from this past week’s agenda.
26 January 2010
Saturday night is either date night or family night, across the globe, and is no exception at Antica Pieve, a roadside pizzeria in Filattiera. Since I have neither a family nor a date at this juncture, I thought I would circumvent the two and have pizza with Luca, the eldest of the Conti boys at the olive farm. I have recently been insured to drive, so why not take advantage of my newfound freedom and see what town has to offer on a bitterly cold yet hoppin’ Saturday night.
19 January 2011
The BOOM of the hunters on the property never fails to send me straight up. I just can’t get used to the sound of them stalking the wild boar that roam freely through these hills. I can’t say I am dead against this way of life, as it is far more humane than raising them in crowded quarters with no land to run on. But the shock of the gun always catches me by surprise nonetheless. A gun never sounds less than a hard reality about our carnivorous ways, the lethal blast that ends one life to sustain another. The issue can inspire endless debate for another blog. But his one embraces food, glorious sustainable food. And today’s topic includes wild boar.
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?
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.