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.
15 Janurary 2011
Podere Conti/Pontremoli, Italy
Relishing at all the differences while traveling is, no doubt, a full-time job, and loads of fun. But it’s even more amusing to see the universal similarities in people. Italian children are no exception. Watching these four Conti boys has me in stitches, since I am the American guest who brought such wonderful gifts as four whoopee cushions and a bag of punch balls from across the pond. Yesterday at breakfast, I was singled out for a well-rehearsed concert, featuring “The Adams Family Started When Uncle Fester Farted…” complete with a fart-tone baseline using the new “instruments.” A lack of enthusiasm for vegetables is another universal trait, as is that of their parents’ endless mealtime negotiation.
Enter cheese, the miracle nanny.
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!)
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!
Alright, after a week's worth of consideration, and a number of worthy entries, I've made my biased and arbitrary decision: Alyssa Dyane's seafood risotto has won her a kilo of Vialone Nano risotto rice.
Besides including the tasty scallop, there were two decisive elements to Alyssa's win...