March 14, 2006

Salumi in Seattle

Pino, my new best friend!

I left Florence... while they were closing the Central Market for cleaning...and am now in America. Always somewhat of a culture shock for me,but also insights.

I taught at Ramekins in Sonoma, four fabulous classes, all sold out, meeting old friends and students as well as some new Italophiles.

Up to Seattle for the IACPconvention where I presented a panel on artisan pork with Kate Hill and Fergus Henderson, which inspired our blog Going Whole Hog.

How could our week not begin but with a meal at Salumi with Armandino, Mario Batali's dad

Yesterday I discovered another of Seattles finest salumi makers, hidden away as all good treasures are.

Pino is my new best friend in Seattle!

Da Pino
4225 Ranier Ave So
206/356 8502

Sunday will be a wonderful ending to the food frenzy.I am dining at the Herb Farm,a four hour orchestrated meal inspired by Seattle's seasons and regional specialities.

A soothing way to end the week and then back to Florence where I can catch up!

March 9, 2006

Signs of the times.. the other side of Women's day!

Went grocery shopping yesteday..and these were the posters for March 8th.

At the Coop Grocery store, (owned by the left wing communist party) the poster celebrated woman getting the right to vote 60 years ago in Italy.

I am proud to have 60 years.... of voting!

Outside on the wall near the shops.. the disco party strip shows for the women.

CELEBRATE.. and fight for your rights and those that need defending too!

March 8, 2006

My mom sent me this. It seemed appropriate..

Below is a wonderful poem Audrey Hepburn wrote when asked to share her "beauty tips."

It was read at her funeral years later.
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed,
and redeemed; never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;
one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

March 5, 2006

8 Marzo 1908

March 8th is celebrated as Women's Day..

The Mimosa flower is given as the first blossom of spring, I will get them from all my market vendors!

Many think of it today as a celebration, giving woman a chance to break loose and get wild and crazy. Posters all over town advertise strip shows for women only, special dinners ....conveying a sense of celebration and parties.

The origins are much more serious, and often we forget!

New York, March 8th 1908.

graffiti in Sardegna

Woman working in a sweat shop in New York City held strikes, protesting the inhumane work conditions. The owners, as a protest, locked the women in the shop.
A fire broke out and 129 women lost their lives, most immigrants, many from Italy.

Contrasting the dinner celebrations, there are also many political gatherings and parades focusing on the importance of equal rights.
Until recently Divorce didn't exist in Italy, many of my friend remember.

Many things still need to be done!

In the words of the late Giorgio Gaber,
" Freedom is the right to Participate!"

Do something!

In honor of WOMEN... a simple menu
My friend Judith in Umbria asked myself and another expat Gina in Torino to put together a menu for the occassion!

In my classes in Florence, I try to teach what I learned from my mother-in-law, Tina Barchielli Francini, a woman with a real passion for life...

Spend more time shopping for food and less time preparing it.

This is my Mantra.

I adore shopping.
I am very lucky as I shop in Florence's San Lorenzo market.
Although times are changing here too, the market is till a source for the season's best.

Building a relationship with your butcher, baker and purveyors of food, be it at a weekly market or at your local chain store, is rewarding.

Ask questions.


Educate yourself

Learn to follow the seasons and learn to cook.. not follow recipes.
Be inspired by the seasons.

Here are some simple non-recipes celebrating Spring..and you!

One thing I miss from America is cocktail hour.. they do have it here now, but not the same. One of my favorite places in Panzano, Oltre il Giardino Trattoria, has Paolo, one of Florence's BEST Bartenders.

He introduced me to Stone Martini's, really on the rocks!. The black volcanic stones, from a beach in Okinawa, are soaked in Vermouth, the drained and placed in the glass.
I have a Vodka Martini, very dry... so no extra vermouth.... WOW

So sit back and relax with a nice cocktail or glass of wine and join me!
Buon Appetito!

a fresh spring salad with mixed greens, fresh shelled fava beans, lovely blue flowers from the borage plant, fresh red onions sliced thinly, all dressed with a fabulous extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

Young fava beans, raw, served with fresh pecorino cheese cubes ( any lovely fresh jack cheese with give you a similar taste) drizzled with olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper. No fava bean?Try fresh shelled peas or raw asparagus tips and thinly sliced stems.

Oven roasted Asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and oven roast for about 20 minutes. Serve with lemon juice and shaved parmesan cheese shaved on top.

Pear and Pecorino salad, with extra virgin olive oil, salt, shaved parmesan cheese, arugala and toasted walnuts.

Raw fennel thinly sliced and blood orange salad... extra virgin olive oil and salt.

Feel like really cooking?

How about Dario's Roast Beef with yukon gold potatoes with Tuscan herbs.
The potatoes take 45 minutes in a 400° oven, the meat only 30!
Start the potatoes and meat.. then remove the meat. cover it with it's infused oil and let rest. When the Potatoes are done, slice the meat and serve.

Too bad you aren't here. I would just go to Vestri on Borgo degli Albizi..and buy some of Florence's best chocolates!

Something easy and fabulous?
Caffe Shakerato, as done in Certaldo.

Make some strong coffee, here of course it would be expresso.
Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream,not too frozen, in a cocktail shaker and add the hot coffee. SHAKE.. serve in a martini glass with a drizzle of chocolate syrup as decoration.

I do a non-coffee version using Limoncello and vanilla ice cream, a take off on sgroppino from Venice which is prosecco, vodka and lemon sorbet!
I put the limoncello in a blender with softened vanilla ice cream and a splash of milk! The Venetian version is actually whisked by hand and the prosecco adds a little "lift". A fabulous way to finish off a fish dinner...or a refreshing end to any meal!

Or the Perfect Dessert....Panna Cotta!

2 cups of heavy cream
2 tbs sugar
1 package know gelatin

Put the gelatin powder in 1/4 cup of cold water, it will soften and swell up.

Heat, but do not let boil , the cream.
Dissolve sugar in cream.
Put the softened gelatin in the hot cream and stir until the gelatin is melted.

Put the cream in individual molds and let chill.

To serve, hold the mold in hot water and unmold onto the serving dish.
I love to serve Panna cotta with Strawberries that I have cut into pieces and sprinkle with sugar to create a wonderful sauce.
Then drizzle with TRADITIONAL balsamic vinegar!!!

Traditional Balsamic is reduced grape juice aged for at least 12 years.
It is sweet, almost portlike!
A tiny bit goes a long way..and you deserve it!

Spoil yourself a little everyday!