March 20, 2008

Chocolate on my mind

Sometimes life is tough!

Happy Easter!!!

Since I attended Taste the other day
I have had chocolate on my mind.
Not that it isn't anyway,
at Easter time Florence reeks of chocolate.

The stores are filled with chocolate eggs-
bittersweet, milk chocolate and white chocolate
all with small gifts inside
and all sizes!

The Easter Bunny is busy in Italy!

local artist Jamaica Salvata
and her
Ego Chocolate
and her gold leafed chocolate jewels!

One of my favorite chocolate boys from Torino
Guido Gobino

has created a new egg shape in honor of
Torino being the capital of design this year.


the N'ew Ouvo ( egg)

Barbara Golini

has come out with a new chocolate
in honor of the Medici's love of oranges and her love of gardening.
Her first chocolate, was the IRIS, symbol of florence.

March 10, 2008

Slow Mondays

As part of my new program
I am taking advantage of many of the museums being closed
to offer
Monday's at the Market.

Part of what I am doing, is living out a fantasy I had when I started travelling.
That I would have a friend in every town.
I am that friend.

I can offer an insider's view and answer questions.

Help solve problems.

Get you discounts shopping.

What could be better?

Life has changed so much since I moved to Italy in 1984.
I have a zillion Virtual Friends.

I don't have a lot of time to read websites or blogs or forums,
as I am on a slow dialup, and it is expensive and SLOW.

But I do read and participate in Slow Talk.
It was started as a hobby, by Pauline Kenny and has grown into a huge
community of virtual friends.
I have met many members while on their trips in Italy.
Some have come to my classes others for drinks!

It is always fun, but there is nothing like shopping with friends!

Today we were really lucky as my friend Grazie at Conti
took us on a incredible tasting of balsamics starting with
a 12 year old, 15, 20 , 30 and ending with a 50 year old.
Liquid Gold!

Today we toured the market, went by the discount candy store, the kitchen shop,
a fabulous ceramic store which sells pieces which look like they came from the collection on the Medici family, in fact they are still made in the same town!

Lunch was at Sergio's one of my favorites,
with what else..Bistecca alla Fiorentina!

Totally Tuscan.

and for my virtual friend ( but we have really met ) Palma
from Slow Talk and the others that are now doing March Madness and blogging daily!!!

here is my version of

Cibreo's Ricotta Sformata!

500 grams / 1 pound ricotta
3 large eggs
150 grams / 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
150 grams/ 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

( in cibreo’s cookbook it is made with additional 2 kg of spinach, washed cooked down and finely minced) Now it is made with mashed potatoes. I have made it like the appetizer version which is with chopped herbs

Butter a pan, the batter makes either the flatter appetizer one or the higher “flan” first course.
Either an 8x8 or a rectangular loaf pan.
Bake uncovered at 350 to let form a film on top about 5 minutes.
Cover with foil and finish baking for 40 minutes for the higher one.
It is like a quiche,when the knife comes out clean it is done!

Silk in your mouth!

Fabio Picchi serves the high slice with ragu in the winter and pesto in summer, both with generous portions of grated parmesan on the plate.

I am having memory problems.. in life and on my laptop!
so will catch up on more foto's later!

March 9, 2008

Diva's Kitchen- online

March is the first month of my column,

Diva's Kitchen

for The American Magazine,
an Italian English language publication.

Stop by!

I am really excited as they will also use my fotographs.

The magazine is sold at newstands all over Italy
and is online at the end of the month.

My new career as a journalist!
Viva 2008

March 7, 2008

I'm Lovin' It!

small bites at Casa del Vino, while shopping

great sandwiches at Casa del Vino

I am loving my new life!
Just as I am ready to close my space in Florence,
my landlord comes back and offers to cut my rent in half!
Unheard of !
But I have been looking forward to the new programs in Chianti and Sicily.
Next year will add Le Marche and Puglia.
Taking people where I have friends to share my Italy!
This year I will get my cookbook out,
my dining guide and planning services website are almost ready.
I have my walking tours with lunch set up
Diva for a Day where I can still do my day programs
for those who have rented a villa or apartment!

Just finishing up the last Florence classes.
This week had a blast with return students who wanted to
be here for the last sessions.
The came prepared,
large empty suitcases for wine!

First stop
Gianni's Casa del Vino.
It is a shop for locals great prices and an incredible selection.

filling up the suitcases

Bringing back food and wine from Italy
are the best presents for friends.

Ok, your sister probably does want a fabulous leather bag,
but sharing a meal when you get home helps re-live the vacation
and is sure better than looking at a slide show.

Then back to the studio for our hands-on class.

The first fava beans of the season in a salad with fresh pecorino cheese.

Handmade orecchiete

with Roman cauliflower

( light green on the outside with an incredible structure.)
Sauteed with garlic, olive oil and chili
one of my favorite easy sauces.
A recipe from Puglia!

Duck breast with truffle honey
the apple cake on the website!

another perfect day!

Casa del Vino
via del Ariento, 16/r
Closed Sunday