04 February 2011
Macerie di Filattiera, Toscana, Italy
Red kidney beans were pouting in a plastic container on the counter tonight, a half-pipe carved out where a sausage one laid. I was on leftover duty again, having proven my chops at the helm of late. Frozen ground beef, puree of tomato, loads of thyme, chili powder, cumin, garlic, and oregano... Lauren’s almost-authentic-except-for-the-cumin-Texas-Chili. I plunked a whole onion in the pot as well, creating a completely stewed and flavorful item to grill when the chili is gone.
Podere Conti Olive Farm
Tuscany, Macerie/Filattiera di Lunigiana/Pontremoli, Italy
03 February 2011
Sick kids and friend-in-residence at home with a cold all week + Regardless of weather, Spring is coming and so are guests + Newborn baby and four other boys keep Mom and Dad on high alert = Lauren digging through leftover ingredients and getting creative to use everything I pull out from deep within the restaurant’s fridge here at the Agriturismo.
I left the main house, sweeping past my room to grab the upside-down, nearly dry salvia (sage) from the knob on my kitchen cupboard and stuffing it under my arm. I grabbed a few other herbs from the side garden along the way: loads of thyme, rosemary, and oregano. In the restaurant’s kitchen there was an abundance of eggs, too many to use before expiry, and plates of miscellaneous well-grazed cheeses. Yep. Frittata.
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.
17 January 2011
Podere Conti, Pontremoli, Italy
Tonight I really gained insight into the birth of opera. The depth of tradition and honor in this country is something you can feel deeply in your cells, and with a little research one can integrate quite smoothly. I recommend starting in the kitchen, since it is the most sacred of spaces, second only to the centuries-old churches perched high on mountaintops and nestled into villages. The birth of an opera in this century, one might think, is highly unlikely, but I can assure you that an American in the kitchen of a traditional Italian home is a think tank for operatic composition.
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?