October 25, 2009

Falling Back

my room with a view, where I write

Today we fall back one hour- sleeping in a little extra and waking to an incredible fall day.
When I am working at my computer upstairs in our tiny 1/3 of a old stone farmhouse in the hills outside of Certaldo, the songbirds are soundtrack during the day. Sometimes in the morning I am awakened by the sounds of hunters, hopefully shooting something larger than the songbirds, like pheasant or wild boar.

We arrived home from Torino last night too late to shop, too early to eat out. Thank goodness for the freezer. I heated up a bag of minestrone and we had our tray of miniature pastries from the fabulous pastry shop in Torino near our hotel, Querio. There is never a problem to find a wonderful pastry shop nearby! They are more like jewelry shops with tiny precious sweets and chocolates.
How can one refuse?

a tiny sampling of the incredible mini-pastries from Querio Pastry shop in Via Cernaia, Torino

Today woke up well rested with that extra hour of sleep, we changed our clocks here in Europe last night and with an empty fridge called for reservations at our local town favorite, La Casalinga. Mamma is still in the kitchen, not polite to ask her age, but probably 70 or 80?

Here is a typical lunch array- We ate light- no sliced meats or crostini to start-

penne pasta with broccoli and sausage sauce

lasagna with ragu and bechamel sauce a Sunday lunch classic

the spit-roasted pork: sausage, filet, liver wrapped in caul-fat and bread

oven-roasted potatoes cooked in the pan drippings- Patate alla ghiottona

Sunday is time for pastry- Ciambella con crema chantilly- cream puff ring with pastry cream/whipped cream

Andrea's cookie plate with empty Vin Santo glass

finishing your meal with fruit is a true Italian way to end a meal

If you want to really be Italian- you can add-on to this menu

Buon appetito

Italians have a saying: A Tavola non si invecchia- One doesn't age at the table.

Pull up a chair and join us!!!

Trattoria Casalinga
Via Roma, 44, 
Tel: 0571 668198

Closed Sat

October 18, 2009

Domenica da Dario

Just another Sunday lunch with friends
but at the Officina della Bistecca-
you leave with more friends than you came with!

Domenica da Dario from divina cucina on Vimeo.

I feel really blessed to have worked for several years with Dario- before he became such a media star, when only a few journalists like Faith Willinger were writing about artisans in Tuscany.

Thanks to meeting Burton Anderson and Faith Willinger early in my stay in Florence, I had a great starting point- 25 years ago. Feeling like you belong in Florence is not easy, but was easier than Paris for me. I had gone on 4 different trips to France trying to stay and study but didn't feel at home. Now, 25 years later, I can feel at home in many places in Italy and adore it!

Part of being Italian is Sunday lunch,il pranzo Domenicale-is the time when Italians get together and spend hours at the table over huge meals but more- spending time talking and catching up.

There is a saying: A tavola non si invecchia- One does not age at the table. As you can see in the video, this is no normal restaurant. The Officina della Bistecca, is where Dario presents three versions of the steak- Tuscany's 2 pound T-bone, Fiorentina as well as his own creation, the Panzanese and the Costata.

We started with raw vegetables, pinzimonio, followed by Dario's sushi- a sort of tartare- served raw and cooked. Cooked beans are passed around the table an then the steak orgy starts.
Luckily they pass a platter and serve small pieces, re-passing often to be sure you have had enough. Three different steaks are served at the officina. Second round also brings on the oven-roasted potatoes served with the "burro del Chianti" an herb infused lard- lucious!
The last steak is served with a baked yellow onion.

Save room for the incredible olive oil cake, topped with a crisp sugar pinenut crust along with coffee and some military issued liquors- hold on- they are 40- 60 proof!

We started lunch around 1pm and ended around 4pm- allow enough time to be Italian.
Come hungry and don't be shy- join in the joy of celebrating food and life.

Officina della Bistecca
50 euro per person Macelleria Cecchini
click above for website

Panzano in Chianti
Reservations a must!

October 11, 2009

Fall has arrived

Not living near the beach- summer does nothing for me.

Living in Tuscany in the middle of olive groves and vineyards- Fall is when the countryside springs to life. Crisp cool evenings make me crave stews and vegetables roasted with herbs.

Pumpkins and squashes are filling the markets for ravioli and soups, roasting and gnocchi.

My village, Certaldo has a wonderful flat red onion, which we use in all of our recipes.

The sounds of hunters in the fields below my house, may irritate me early in the morning, but it is nice to know that tradition lives on.

At the local bar where my husband and I have a midday snack, we love to eavesdrop- this time of year all the local truffle hunters are sharing their tales- so far no truffles in sight except at the wine shop!

I am off this week for my yearly chocolate masters program in Tuscany where another kind of truffle is on our minds- the Chocolate kind! Who knows what new delight we will discover.
At the end of the program the students can head down to Perugia for Eurochocolate and really drown themselves in chocolate from all over the world.

Fall is filled with reasons to come to Italy- most of them are to eat! I adore cooking when the temps drop down. Looking forward to more time in the kitchen starting next week!

I will need a salt fix after all this chocolate.