June 28, 2006

Hot time... summer in the city!

We have been pretty lucky this summer until this week... when it hit the 90's!

I just finished doing three weeks with an ex-client that came back, rented a villa with his friends.. for 3 weeks.
We had a blast!

We started the week in Panzano, and ate at Vescovino, which has recently been taken over by my friend Mario and his fabulous staff..

Check out this lovely Asparagus and fresh ricotta Timbale

Neither man nor woman live by food alone
this is one of Italy's best wines, made in Panzano
by Giovanni Manetti of Fontodi

Mario and Giovanni Manetti

who happened to also be dining at Vescovino and was gracious enough to come to out table.

After lunch we went to visit another Giovanni, the local shepard, where we tasted cheese, bought honey and met the sheep. Doesn't get much better than this!

We're having some fun now!

June 24, 2006

Florence is DiVino

I am one lucky woman!

Besides being able to call Florence home, having a fabulous husband and teaching cooking in one of the best food centers of the world; now my friend Stefano and his sister Patrizia have opened a Vino Sfuso shop on my street.

BYOB has a new meaning in Florence.

Bring your own bottle and fill it up with fabulous wines at a fraction of the cost of bottled bottles.

Vino Sfuso, or bulk wine, is how locals used do buy wine when I first moved to Florence over 20 years ago. One would load up the car with a 50 liter demijohn and head out on a quest. Find a wine producing farm that sells their wine in bulk. By buying in bulk, you aren't paying for the bottles, labels, cork and advertising it takes to sell wine with distributors and save all that money!

Local wine, meant to be drunk the year it is made, runs under 2 Euro a liter.

When wine is cheaper than a Coke.. I know I have found home.

an old Tuscan saying:

Bread of the day
Wine of the year
with friends of a lifetime

Stefano Poggesi was born on Via Taddea and his family has had the Civaiolo shop there in what was the stables of the Ginori family villa, forever.

Some of my favorite house treasures have come from their shop when they were cleaning out the storerooms. Old clay foot-warmers; pots where coal was put and then a wire cover was slipped over the handle to create a resting place for your feet; fabulous straw shopping baskets for the market, all my wooden spoons for the kitchen as well as dried herbs, spices and cooking pots, both in clay and in aluminum not to mention a vast assortment of dried beans and rice which are essential to the Mediterranean diet. Need seeds, he has those too!

Now he as taken over a shop across the street and opened a Vino Sfuso shop.
Now the trend is back, but no going to the countryside, lugging huge demijohns up and down the stairs to your apartment in Florence. Vino sfuso is sold by the liter or by the bottle right here downtown Florence.

The fun part of getting the wine with the demijohns was filling the bottles.
My husband Andrea and I had our rituals and we always ended up rolling on the floor, having drunk too much wine in the filling process, making sure the bottles were filled evenly.
But that is another story.

If you don’t have your own bottles Stefano sells 750ml bottles, liter bottles, 5 liter jugs to fill or even wine in the box!

He also carries some nice Chianti gadgets from my friend Oreste’s shop in Greve.

A selection of wines are available so let the party begin!

Di Vino
Via Taddea, 8

Next door to the Botticelli hotel

June 4, 2006

Che Culo!

The front of the new art piece in the Butcher Shop in Panzano

and the backside! il Culo

Che culo in Italian means how lucky!

Today was a fabulous day for Panzano in Chianti's Sunday market.
The first Sunday of the month, is also an street fair with local producers and artists brining in their stands.

My first stop is the bar LA CURVA where my friend Gianluca just finished his master bartender class at the ILLY caffe institute in Trieste.. since Gianluca and his friends took over the bar, the coffee is the BEST! Now that he has graduated, can't wait to see what he comes up with.

Gianluca of La Curva, Coffee Master

In front of Dario are the food stands, Marco of La Fornace with Goat Cheese, Giovanni's Sheep's cheese, and local farmers with homemade jams, honey, sauces and olive oils.

Cross over to the Piazza and you will find the regular market with some great finds, table cloths, roast chicken, flowers and then around the piazza are the artists with paintings, ceramics, as well as bric brack and crafts.

At the Macelleria there is also big news, what was going to be a new space in chianti for me to teach cooking... has now turned into a restaurant! For all those who can;t buy food at Dario's and take it home to cook, you will be able to sit down and enjoy it right there in Panzano!

The new space SOLOCICCIA - ONLYMEAT, will basically be a tasting menu of everything Dario has in the shop. The sign says it will open on June 20th... so if you are in the area, stop by! It will follow the same hours as the shop

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 11-3 Wednesday closed and Friday and Saturday the restaurant will be open from 11-3 and then again from 7pm to 11pm.

PS DARIO DOESN"T SING! so don't be stupid and ask!!!

let's stop this rumor now.. he has recited Dante at the drop of a hat, other poetry as well, has a fabulous sound system in the shop and plays everything from opera to beachboys, depending on his mood.

One of the great things about going to the shop for me, are the people I meet.
The day I could really speak Italian opened a new world for me. Yes people can still tell I am American when I speak...but for me it is more important to just TALK than to think about it first and then miss out on the moment.

This week I met a fabulous artist Yari at Dario's and bought one of his unique walnut cutting boards. Actually way too nice to cut on, more for serving.

Yari and some of his boards

Yari is another one that you can say, " Che Culo". He was involved in an accident and was in a coma for 2 months. He has lost the use of one arm, but that hasn't stopped this vibrant creative young man from embracing life and making the most of what he has.

His cutting boards are like little sculptures, each numbered and branded with his name. They come in custom made wool bags also with his name stitched on. I had to have one!

The boards will be available at Dario's and also at Conti's in the Central Market.
As they are one of a kind there are not a lot available.

June will also host another great art event in Panzano. I will post on it when I have the map.

June 3, 2006

Happy Birthday Slow Food

Seems like only yesterday that Slow Food began. But it was 20 years ago.
I moved here around the same time.

Slow Food began when Fast Food was first seen in Europe ( McDonald's opened in Paris, France)
The fear was that the "American Way" was going to globalize Europe and we would all be eating burgers and fries.

Well, the vision was not wrong!
Even Florence, capital of the renaissance has 4 MacDonalds..and growing.

Since then Europe has become United, which has brought the inevitable globalization of food.

They were trying to ban raw milk cheeses, pull up the "extra" table wine grapes (which were actually Super Tuscans) and other such tragedies.
But Slow Food has brought attention to preserving traditions and the foods to the public eye.

Thanks to Slow Food's political stand traditional foods are getting some protection.
IGT ( Indication of a Geographical Typicity) and DOP ( Denomination of Origin Protected) are two of the other government recognitions create a safebed for products which have given Italy it's culinary identity over the centuries.

This year is the 10th edition of Salone del Gusto being held in Torino October 26-30 2006. Come Celebrate!

At the same time is the 2 Edition of Terra Madre.
Join Slow Food and get a discount on Admission to the Salone del Gusto.

Thank God...


Carlo Petrini!

If you have never looked at what Slow Food is doing, stop by the USA site as well.
Eat Local.
Support you local producers.
Eat Seasonally.