Posts made in September, 2011

The elusive truffle

Posted by on Sep 30, 2011 | 0 comments

The elusive truffle

With a pungent earthy and garlicky flavor and aroma, the white truffle, also known as the alba madonna, is so celebrated in haute cuisine kitchens worldwide that chefs are willing to shell out as much as $10,000 dollars per pound–making it the second most expensive food in the world, only surpassed by edible gold leaf. While attempts to cultivate French black truffles have been successful (although difficult), efforts to cultivate Italian white truffles–which are found primarily in the Langhe region of Piedmont, Italy–have failed, making them truly unique to the soil of this...

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Cheese lovers of the world, unite!

Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 | 0 comments

Cheese lovers of the world, unite!

Last weekend I attended the Slow Food movement’s biannual Cheese! festival–which for three days unites dairy devotees, be they farmers, cheese makers, distributers, or passionate consumers–from around the world. The festival takes place every two years in the picturesque town of Bra, hometown of the founder of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini, situated in the hills of the Northern Italian region of Piedmont, about an hour’s drive from Turin. The festival abounds with hundreds of stalls worked by passionate and animated vendors, ready to give tastes and detailed explanations of...

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Tuscany tour

Posted by on Sep 20, 2011 | 0 comments

Tuscany tour

  We will be traveling to Tuscany from November 12th to 20th with a group of 6-7 dedicated food and wine lovers to tour vineyards and explore artisanal local foods. The tour will begin and end in Florence and travel south to Montepulciano and Montalcino, which have produced some of Italy’s greatest wines for eight centuries. We will spend several days exploring Siena and the Chianti district and will visit to the stunning medieval sites of Monte San Savino and Monte Oliveto Maggiore. This trip is for serious food lovers, including first-time visitors and those those who already know...

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Prosciutto Party

Posted by on Sep 19, 2011 | 0 comments

Prosciutto Party

Every September, the city of Parma sets aside an entire week and a half to celebrate one of its most cherished products, the world-renowned Prosciutto di Parma. During the festival, prosciuttifici–the factories in which the Italian ham legs are aged–open their doors to the public and offer guided tours followed by refreshments and a sampling of their delectable cured meats. Most prosciuttifici are situated in the hilly town of Langhirano, about a forty-minute drive from downtown Parma. Before the advent of air conditioning, Langhirano had an ideal climate for curing meat...

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Balsamic bliss

Posted by on Sep 13, 2011 | 0 comments

Balsamic bliss

I should have known by the length of the name that the Office of the Consortium of Producers of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena that I should not take them lightly. The northern Italian town of Modena is pleasantly relaxed and not usually prone to take itself too seriously–boasting, after all, one of the highest rates of bicycle use in Europe–but I came to discover that around here, balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico) is a very serious enterprise. Some vinegries have been operating in Modena for half a millennium, producing syrupy vinegars as deep as mahogany and sweet as...

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In vino veritas

Posted by on Sep 8, 2011 | 0 comments

In vino veritas

This time of year, the air becomes sweet and sticky in the countryside of the Chianti district, the part of Tuscany fortunately situated between Florence and Siena. The grapes, already fermenting on the vines, make their presence felt with every intake of breath. These same little fruits, plucked and squeezed, will ferment and mature in wood and then glass until that magical moment when it is decanted, then swirled, sniffed, and sipped. Tuscany has been producing wine since it was Etruria, home to the ancient Etruscans. They almost certainly picked up their knowledge and love of wine from the...

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Mulled wine (vino cotto)

Posted by on Sep 8, 2011 | 0 comments

Mulled wine (vino cotto)

Serves 1-6 1 bottle dry red wine Peels of 1 orange and 1 lemon 1 stick cinnamon (2-3 inches) 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg 6 whole cloves 1/4 cup sugar Slowly heat all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a very gentle simmer for ten minutes. Carefully strain out the spices and serve the wine hot. In ancient Greece and Etruria, wine was regularly served sweetened and heavily spiced. Today, you can still see some element of this tradition in Greece’s retsina wines. Many other wine-drinking cultures have continued to spice up their wines in wintertime, when mulled wines like this...

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Ribollita

Posted by on Sep 8, 2011 | 0 comments

Ribollita

Serves 4 8 oz dried white beans (preferably cannellini) 1 lb. Tuscan black cabbage (or Swiss chard, if you can’t find black cabbage) 2 tbs olive oil 1 medium onion 1 leek 1 small carrot 1 stalk celery 2 small branches thyme 1 small branch rosemary 1/2 bay leaf 1 beef bouillon cube (or Better than Bouillon, which really is better) 1 clove garlic 1 tsb. tomato paste Stale bread or toasted slices of crusty bread Salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste Ribollita is at its best when prepared a day or two in advance. Soak the beans overnight, then drain and rinse. In a large saucepan, cover...

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