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Herein lie the reasons she gained two pounds on vacation

  • March 4, 2009

It’s not my fault the food is so good in Italy.
I mean, mamma mia, who can you resist all these delectable dishes?
A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Consequently, this girl gained two pounds on her trip. It’s back to the gym in a big way this month.
Here are some random photos from my many food adventures during my recent trip to Italy. I’ve got many others, but I’m saving a few for later posts, with recipes.

Ortisei – Pappardelle with a creamy porcini sauce. It’s not the season for porcini so where did they get these delicious morsels of fresh mushrooms? Of course the pasta was homemade and sensational.

Ortisei – Filet of beef with green and red peppercorns, served with potato galettes.

Val di Siusi – Apple strudel – our mid-afternoon slope-side break. They serve two different kinds – one is the traditional kind that you probably know, made with paper-thin pastry. The other kind, pictured here – and my favorite – is made with a more cakey-dough. I am planning to hunt down a recipe and post it later.

Venice – Lots of great cheeses to savor – including a new one for me called Casatella, made in the Veneto region. It’s very white, creamy and mild like a triple-creme brie, but runnier.

Padova – No sanitized, unidentifiable chicken pieces for sale here. You know what you’re getting when you buy poultry here, complete with head and feet.


Padova – Polenta reigns supreme here, and in this case it’s served with a veal stew.

Padova – Gratineed crepes filled with squash and porcini mushrooms.

Padova – Fried chiacchiere for Carnevale, all wrapped up from the pasticcieria.


Padova – Both the white and long red variety of radicchio are specialties of the area, and are grown commercially in nearby Treviso.


Padova – Baked custard topped with caramel as rich and thick as a chocolate sauce.

Soragna – Parmigiano Reggiano – The king of cheeses. I’ll be writing a separate post about this later.

Castell’Arquato – Sbrisolona – a crunchy tart that resembles a rich, almondy shortbread.

Vigolo Marchese – Tortelli, a specialty of the area around Piacenza. They’re filled with spinach, ricotta and parmesan cheese, and are sealed shut in the shape of a little tail. Sometimes they’re twisted at both ends like a salt-water taffy candy. Traditionally served with butter and cheese.

Milan – Our friend Valerio, who is a BIG Nutella lover. We’ll have to get him to participate in World Nutella Day next year.

Padova – Whole menus of nothing but hot chocolate – Page after page of hot chocolate with chestnuts, with cinnamon, with berries, with pistachio, etc. etc.

Carnevale and Chiacchiere

  • February 10, 2009

These fried treats – also called frappe, cenci, crostoli, galani or other names depending on the region – are typically made at Carnevale time in Italy.
Carnevale is celebrated all over Italy, with parties and costume parades leading up to the solemn 40-day lenten period that starts on Ash Wednesday. While the word Carnevale means a farewell to meat, similarly “Mardi Gras” which is celebrated most famously in New Orleans, translates to “Fat Tuesday.” It’s a time when anything goes, including decadent desserts and bawdy behavior. It’s amazing how raucous some people behave when they don a mask!

Chiacchiere or other fried sweets such as castagnole, are available in bakery shops all over Italy during the Carnevale period. This recipe comes to you via my friend Titty, who made them recently for a meeting of my Italian chit-chat group called “Le Matte” (the crazy ladies). Since the word chiacchiere literally means “chit-chat,” it was most apropos.

Chiacchiere

1 cup flour, or more if needed
1 T. softened butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 shotglass of either grappa or dry white wine
pinch of salt
powdered sugar or honey

Put the flour on a board and make a well – or put the flour in a bowl. Add the eggs, butter, grappa or wine, and salt and start mixing with a fork or by hand. Knead until you get a soft and smooth dough. Let it rest for at least 1/2 hour and stretch out with a rolling pin to the thickness of a coin. Cut into strips or desired shape and deep fry in vegetable oil. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle when cool with powdered sugar or honey.

Scroll down the photos below to get a glimpse of Carnevale in Venice, where I shot these pictures two years ago. They’ll give you some idea of why it’s the most well-known Carnevale in Europe.

Poster Announcing “Carnevale IS Venice”

 

Amazing Peacock Lady

Even the Little Ones Join in the Merriment


A Poignant Couple in Piazza San Marco

A Jester and Tetrarchs near the Doge’s Palace

Visions in Purple and Red

A Tranquil Tableau

Peachy 17th C. couple

Golden Duo

Klimt wannabe

Ciaochowlinda and husband (l’ingeniere) and friends Ellen and Albert in Venice

(I’m laughing to myself just thinking of the fun time we had together that year with our crazy husbands and their fifty-cent makeshift masks)