I've been a fan of Lidia Bastianich's ever since I first started watching her cook on PBS years ago. When my husband was gifted her "Lidia's Italy in America" cookbook, my admiration only grew (try the Chicken Scarpariello recipe, and thank me later!). Whether in her cookbooks or on her TV series, Bastianich has always presented Italy and Italian cuisine in a realistic light, and I really appreciate that. Italian fare is more than just pizza, pasta, and gelato (though those ARE important and delicious components); Bastianich knows that and embraces Italy's culinary diversity. Needless to say, I was excited to have the chance to interview her for our Autumn 2013 Voicings.
Every 2 years, Slow Food organizes “Cheese,” a festival dedicated to and named in honor of the preserved preserved milk product. Tucked away in mountains of Piedmont, Bra is a small medieval town that is transformed into a sea of white tents with cheesemongers, cheese-lovers, cheese makers, farmers, food tourists, townspeople all jostling to taste, learn and talk about cheese.
Wondering why northern Italy got hit twice in short order with earthquakes? I asked Jeffrey Park, coauthor of Dynamic Earth (Read it. It's about the earth you live on. The one we return to, call mother, mine, fight over, and, sadly, the one that puts the terror in terroir). He's a Yale seismologist who works on the seismology of northern Italy. Here’s what he had to say. A warning, there’s strong earth science language in this report, a suggestion that plates are getting stuffed in the mantle, plus a reference to a quake in the 1500s. Reader access to a geological dictionary is advised. ~ Steph
The earthquakes both hit very close to Bologna, where I spent a year's sabbatical while collecting seismic data. I once spent a night in Carpi, where the cathedral roof fell in.
Well, it finally happened. Perhaps the most infamous cheese in the world has arrived in the US: Ornella Trattoria in New York has apparently imported the cheese, and Bradley Hawks has the story at his blog, Amuse Bouche.
Update: Original tipster Matt Spiegler notes: "I called the restaurant, and the person on the phone (I think it was the owner) was very clear about the fact that they DO NOT sell it, but rather offer it as a tasting treat for customers."
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.
In this particular case, though, the weapon was butter:
A Sicilian couple thought they had the perfect weapon to get rid of her ex-husband -- a slab of butter which would melt after they asphyxiated him, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported Saturday.
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.
28 January 2011
This week at Podere Conti has been a vegetarian one, although thankfully not vegan, meaning that cheese was around in abundance. A group of Tibetan Lamas has been here blessing the farm with pujas and chants, teaching mindfulness meditation and sharing rituals. Naturally, it is an all-hands-on-deck scenario, an ego-free opportunity to offer one’s self to food preparation, serving, cleaning, and dishwashing.