Search This Blog

Saturday, October 22, 2011

They Draw and Cook

Sorry this is not a restuarant or food discovery, but my friend Graham introduced me to a wonderful new site that I had to share with other foodies. It's called Basically, people combine art and recipes. Instead of writing out a boring old recipe, they illustrate it in some creative form. The art that comes from these cooks/artists is amazing! Submissions come from all over the world, and this stuff looks good enough to hang on a wall! I suggested compiling them and creating wall paper, because I am pretty sure if given the opportunity, I would totally wallpaper my kitchen with this stuff. Sometimes they don't even tell you what the ingredients are or how much to put in, they just illustrate it. It's beautiful. Graham is currently working on a submission with a friend, so I'm excited to see how that turns out. Check it out! Here is an example of a risotto recipe by Rosanna Gasparini from Venice.
They have a compilation book of this stuff that I really want. I'll have to write about it later if I ever get my hands on a copy. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 22: Last day of harvest - Cheese Farm

I apologize for not writing for so long. It's been a crazy week. Our hours have been wonky and by the time I finish editing my photos I am too tired to write about anything...I'll try to get some writing in tomorrow morning as it will be my last day here and all I am doing is packing and having lunch with everyone.

Had to share this great photo of Helena. We learned she is 83! This woman still kills chickens with her hands and harvests grapes faster than any of us and she is 83! Lisa and I wanted to know what her secret is...

So today was was our last day of harvest. Hillary left us on Monday after the festival and we've all been a little sad without her presence - even though it was as silent as it was. I brought my phone with me today to capture some when I get home I'll try to piece it together and I'll post it.

Today we finished gathering the red grapes from Manciano, which is my favorite vineyard. It has an incredible view and the vines are nice and tall and provide some good shade. The rows are a little shorter so they don't seem like they go on forever like they do in San Paolo. I thought I would cry because I was so sad everything was coming to a close but I didn't. I couldn't help but just be happy and appreciate what I was experiencing in that moment. Although when we shared some good laughs, I couldn't help but think about how much I am going to miss these people. I've been struggling to think of reasons to look forward to home, but the thought of going back to my normal life seemed rather dull. Don't get my wrong, I love my life. I've been blessed to have some incredible people in my life, but obviously the experience is just not the same as being out here. But I just recently found out that my amazing friend Graham is in town (Seattle) for a while and not only do I rarely get to see him, but he is going to pick me up from the airport and we are going to see one of my favorite bands, Hot Bodies in Motion (check them out if you don't know them). So I am insanely excited to see a good friend and have a mini trip to Bellingham. I think subconsciously I may be avoiding going home until I have to return to work on Monday.

I spent much of this morning's harvest talking about Graham and his dad Jim. Jim, who was an incredible father figure in my life, passed away last summer after a battle with pancreatic cancer. I always think about him when I am traveling because he was the only that really gave me the last push to start my travel experiences. He was incredibly inspirational, heart warming, and reminded me to live my life happily. I carry his memory and hope his spirit follows during my traveling because he reminds me to take everything in and have fun at the same time. At one point, I stood up to take a break and looked over my shoulder at the view. How lucky am I? Here I am, harvesting grapes in the countryside of Italy with one of the most incredible views one could ever work in. Taking everything in and savoring the memories were my main priorities this morning.

Lunch was bitter sweet. I felt pretty nostalgic. Remembering Daniela's home cooking, the laughs, the conversation, and random guests that would just walk into our kitchen. I reminded Corrado we had not gone to the cheese farm as he has promised so he said we would go if we finished early today.

We dd make it to the cheese farm but only had time to buy cheese. No tour. Still...the place was amazing. Yummy cheese. We went out for appetizers and came home for a cheese feast. What a grand way to spend my last night in Italy. Here is a great photo of Valeria and Corrado from happy hour. :) It pretty much epitomizes their relationship and personalities. I love them!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wine festival day 4

Closing day. We were all a bit tired. I slept pretty awful because I switched rooms and the music went all night and then the cleaning began and the garbage trucks and the beeping and then the band practice across the street and then the band playing in a parade...I gave up on trying to sleep. After a tasty breakfast ommlette with onions, proscuitto, mushrooms, rosemary and swiss...I took a nap. Eventually got up again just in time for the parade! What is funny about this parade is that it seemed ot me it was a parade just for 20 and 30-year-olds to build floats and party. Because that's exactly what they did. This float was pretty cool....they made a giant christmas tree out of grapes! Here are some of the others... They love to share wine. After the parade what did we do? Drink more wine. Corrado told everyone to make a serious face for this photo but apparently only Lisa followed through: This one is great. I just love the natural moment this represents. We spent so much time laughing together. This photo is just classic. Eventually hte floats came around again after they were awarded...guess who won? hahaha. I also love this photo below of Corrado cheers-ing to the floats. Overall it was a much more chill evening...followed with fireworks during the closing ceremony. But not before I had the most AMAZING tortellini of my life. I must recreate this.. Cream, sausage and peas. So simple. I think of it like the Italian's version of America's Mac and Cheese. Giovanni told me it was really easy to make. So I thought of easy mac. So simple and so tasty! :)

Wine festival day 3

Giovanni's friends from Milan came down so this day was really fun. It was nice to itneract with fresh new faces. Plus they were SO nice! They all had some understanding of english. Some spoke better english than others but they were all so sweet! Here we are on the porch in the morning. We were all hiding in the shade because it was so hot out! This photo is courtesy of Daniela (pictured in the blue top sitting on the yellow box. Then we enjoyed a little parade through the center. These girls are so cute. One of my favorites from the trip. Crazy tambourine guy! Then we waited for the grape stomping competition. Basically pro stompers come and press as many grapes as they can by feet and win! It looked like so much fun I told Giovanni I wanted to do it. But apparently you have to be super special. It looked like hard word! They mustve been pressing for 20 minutes or something. In the evening while Giovanni and Lisa went to their fancy tasting again, Giovanni's friends and I spent some good quality time together. We went to another tasting that Corrado got us tickets for. It was in a beautiful stone building. I sampled the red wine with some salami platter. The others tried the dessert wine. And if I had known it was going to be presented so fancy, I would've ordered that too! Apparently the flower inside was soaked in some sort of sweetness. I guessed simple syrup, and they were encouraged to eat the flower...apparently wasn't that bad...Our server was delightful and even brought us some extra tasty treats. Italian people are just so amazing. I love the body language and the use of hands. I've noticed I use my hands a lot more when I'm talking here. So on into the night we adventured. My new friends Roberto and Stefania had some great times laughing and teaching each other the other language. Even though we couldn't understand eachother half the time it was still hilarious. I loved their sense of humor. They kept teaching me all the slang/bad words in italian. It was hilarious. The opener, Bandabardo, go the crowd moving. This great video shows how crazy the place was. The headliner tonight (A band called Rio) was alright...some songs I liked, others I really didn't like at all. And then what was most strangely ironic is that after the concert was over, the background music was "That's amore"...I laughed so hard because that was the last song I expected to hear in Italy. It was just so stereotypical Italy! The second part that was entertaining was a very drunk girl came up to Giovanni and I singing "That's Amore!" very loudly and was pushing us together. I cracked up. Last topper of the night was what I think was a bachelorette party moving through the crowd. Note the phalic balloon near the stage: The best part of the night I didn't even photograph....blame my inability to do any night time photography. We all came back to the house around 3 a.m. and since the music was still going, we just grabbed some bottles of wine that were left over from the fancy tasting Giovanni and Lisa were at and grabbed chairs and sat on the patio. The sky was crystal clear and you could see stars forever stretching over the valley. It was quite the sight. We even managed to scrounge up some energy for random patio dancing. My favorite memory from the trip. That's all I need. Good people and beautiful scenery.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wine Festival day 2

My first morning in Daniela's house was wonderful. Being an early riser, I was up and about around 8...I grabbed the guitar I saw in the rec room and brought it onto the patio. I haven't played in weeks so it felt really good to find something to strum. I'm not very good, so it was hard for me to tune it by ear. Plus half of the strings on the classical guitar were steel which was odd. I guess Hillary heard me at some point in the morning because she snapped this great photo from her window above. It was such an incredible feeling to be sitting there in the morning sun looking at the surrounding hillsides. This is the view from Daniela's house: Simply amazing. Just waking up to this alone was breathtaking. Add in strumming the guitar, and I am in heaven. It got pretty warm though so eventually I moved inside.

Giovanni made us a tasty fresh lunch that consisted of a tomato and bell pepper salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar served with piccorino cheese, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and bread. It was tasty! We kept the day pretty chill. Just walked around a bit, came back for naps, and headed out again. Lisa and Giovanni went to a special wine tasting. We didn't go because it was all in Italian and super technical. Here is a video of the tasting, Corrado starts talking about a minute into it. SO GREAT. You can see Lisa at 5:06 and Giovanni at 5:23! While I would've loved to observe the tasting, it sounded way above my head. Got some more stuffed olives... Valeria, Hillary and I walked around and waited for Lisa and Giovanni over some wine. Eventually they finally got out, and we enjoyed some tasty dinner at the seafood stand! I got the seafood pasta. Prawns, mussels, and tastiness! Giovanni got the seafood soup. Which was amazing. It was a tomato based soup and had fish, clams, mussels, prawns, everything. Valeria got the fish salad which was not as fishy as I thought it would be. It was actually pretty tasty. Tasted more like scallops with a light vinegar sauce to me. The concert this time was a little more enjoyable. Some sort of alternative reggae sort of group. They were fun for about 2 or 3 songs. Then it got kind of old in my opinion. But they had some great energy and the crowd loved them. As you can see in this video I found taken that night. I think the highlight for me was watching the crowd. People don't raise glasses here. They raise their bottles. It was hilarious.