Â It was fitting in a way that our geneological spelunking trip to Mineral Wells coincided with yet another shuddering, ratcheting triple-digit fall of the Dow.Â My uncles are the keepers of the Luttrell flame now, the ones who know the stories, who were there when the people with the names on tombstones were laid to rest. (more…)
Archive for February, 2009
Â Â Â Â Â Semifreddo (“half-cold”, literally) is a dreamy Italian dessert that’s easy to make and involves neither rock salt nor yet another appliance that otherwise gathers dust in your cupboard.Â I tried it first in Asti, eponymous city of Spumante, and home of Barbero, maker of torrone and deep dark chocolate.Â This dessert uses three of Barbero’s “tripolino” bars (crunchy nougat covered with chocolate) and makes one casserole-pan size semifreddo, enough for 10 people or so.Â The recipe is easy, involves a lot of whipping and uses a lot of pans, but the simple joy of seeing the wisk attachment create daisy patterns as it whips the cream makes my day (not to mention the sweet treat after!)
Here’s the recipe: (more…)
Â Â Â Â Â Â In this winter, this season of our discontent, audacity springs anew.Â Every flowery hyperbole, each incanted cliche about a man’s heart, springing hope, is somehow new, real, this time of year.Â Walking in the morning, I notice fuzzy buds poking out at the tips of splintered Bradford Pear trees, and greenish wisps float in the straggly bad hair of the weeping willow.
And hope springs, anew, eternal.Â The audacity, the vibrant chartreuse of the sweet potato vine cuttingÂ I brought inside before the Thanksgiving freeze reaches out of its crystal vase towards the fluorescent kitchen light now:Â but soon, soon, it will come to life again outside. (more…)
We’re launching our new series on Italy: each week, we’ll focus on a particular region and talk about the history/culture, wine, food and travel. This month, the focus is on Friuli Venezia Giulia, in farthest northeast Italy, with its capital in Trieste. We’ll actually be there and reporting live in March for Olio Capitale, a convention of all things olive oil.So – a little history. For those of us who didn’t listen in to venerable greats such as Ms. Alma Schulkey and other High School Wold History teachers, it’s interesting to learn that Italy only became a unified country in 1866, and that parts of Friuli Venezia Giuli did not become a part of Italy until after the fall of the Austrian Hapsburg Empire in 1918. (more…)
Â Â Â Well, we had a fistfull of herbs left over from Gary’s Cassoulet last week (click here if you missed it!). Whatever to do? As one of the best ways to conserve money and the environment is not to waste what you have, we pondered the bagful, still sprightly and green.We were grilling out that night, and Gary chopped up several varieties of them, and we chose a palette full for our burgers. Well, ok, after it was all over, most likely all inhabitants of the previous week’s bouquet garni made it into the burger. But what a wonderful, interesting, and different flavor the fresh herbs gave! And how sad that we hadn’t done this before! Of course, the fact that we used Rusty’s Grass Fed Beef ($6 a pound, call us or email to order) didn’t hurt a bit! (more…)
Â In Italian, an evening walk is called a “passeggiata”, which calls to my mind the sense of a passage, of Greek figures, arms linked in eternity, dancing round a frieze on a bowl.Â But some days the figures stop, the music dies.Â And in that stillness we are re-called: to respect those little habits, those patterns, everyday and wholesome, that form the framework of our lives.
We’ve got one dog now, a “senior Border Collie,” as her friend Dagmar calls her.Â After her most-of-her-lifetime companion, competition, and supplier of stolen food, Sunny, died last spring, Bogey is somewhat changed.Â We try not to notice the parts of her that are slipping away:Â her obsession with balls and toys now a thing of the past.Â But one thing still rocks her world and turns her into the whirling, leaping puppy that she was 14 years ago:Â the WALK! (more…)
Â Starting next week, we’re putting together a little weekly series that will focus on one region per month. Each week, we will report on one of these topics: wine, food, culture/history, and travel. Before we get started, however, we thought it might be worthwhile to bring everybody up to speed about the history of the Italian republic itself, and the reasons why the regional influences are so strong there. For example, did you know that the country we know as Italy today did not exist until the late 1800′s?
Â Â Cassoulet, epic dish of the French Languedoc countryside just west of Provence, is a perfect dish to prep early, then let simmer all day long, as it fills the house with rich aromas of a variety of meats and herbs.Â Such was Gary’s choice for SuperBowl Sunday: no chicken wings here, no siree!Â
But of course, our ambient resources did not exactly fit the classic mold; we were a little short onÂ duck, duck, goose, so tweaked a bit.Â To get a good grasp of the essentials, click here to see what Epicurious has on line.Â (more…)