Monday, October 5, 2015

A Day in the Country

Picking herbs for me to take home to use
When our pal Anne Robichaud, a certified Umbrian guide invited us to join her small group for lunch at her friend Giuseppa's house outside Deruta, the town famous for ceramics, we jumped at the chance.  Giuseppa and Paolo raise everything themselves,  with the exception of sugar, coffee and flour, all the dishes came from their farm. 

Sharing the bounty of her garden with me

Discussing how to use the onions and garlic--using different colored onions for different purposes
Aging their prosciutto

Outdoor oven for baking bread
After showing us around the farm, as well as their bread oven, and the prosciutto that has been aging, we were invited inside to partake of a delicious meal.  She had baked traditional Umbrian cheese bread known as crescia (traditionally served at Easter and festivals) for us to try with the home cured cappocolo.  (no photo since I scarfed it down in no time!)
Pasta for lunch

Wild boar ragu

No one goes hungry in Italy!
Giuseppa served us a delicious pasta dish made with wild boar ragu.  It was the best I've had in a very long time, and reminded me of my grandmothers' home made pasta. 
Paolo told us that he was going to hunt wild boar in the next few days, and was scouting locations
Fresh shelled bean salad, deliciozo!

Not only was the food incredible, the company was awesome as well, 2 Americani, one from the UK, and 2 from Canada
Our friend Anne with Giuseppa, helping with dessert:  traditional crostata with cherry jam, and chocolate chip pound cake
My bouquet of herbs which I used yesterday to make Dr. C. some soup
The recipe for Crostata is here, and I'm sharing the recipe for the Umbrian cheese bread that was given to me by my mother's cousin many years ago.  It is delicious and should be eaten within a few days after baking.  Giuseppa uses a little Parmigiano in hers, and I would recommend that you split the cheese, 1/2 Pecorino and 1/2 Parmigiano, since the Pecorino that you will find in the US is pretty strong, or shake things up and use the Pecorino studded with peppercorns.

 Crescia---Traditional Umbrian Cheese Bread

1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm whole milk (105°F)
8 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable shortening (I prefer Crisco--the Italiani use lard)
6 shakes of Tabasco sauce
1 1/3 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • Coat a 10-cup tube pan with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.  
  • In a 4 cup measure, stir together the yeast, sugar, salt, and milk. Set aside until the mixture begins to bubble, about 10 minutes.
  • With an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, shortening, and Tabasco in a large bowl until light and fluffy and the shortening is incorporated into the eggs. Stir in the yeast mixture and continue to beat until thoroughly combined.  
  • Gradually add the flour and beat for 4 minutes.  The dough will be sticky and loose. 
  • Transfer to the prepared pan, cover, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. 
  • 4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. At the end of the rising, bake the bread until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely and remove from the pan.   
  • Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 6 weeks.
 I've been invited back to learn how to make pizza in her outdoor oven, and cannot wait!  Grazie Annie, Giuseppa, and Paolo for an unforgettable afternoon. 

It began to rain when we left Deruta, but as we came home to Spello, we were greeted by a rainbow; a perfect ending to an amazing day!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy Birthday To Me

On Tuesday, I walked into the Enoteca and found these gorgeous flowers, gifts from our kids in NYC, and the family that we have here in Spello.Feeling thoroughly loved by those that sent them, and then my Facebook page filled up with well wishes,  I was overwhelmed.  Little did I know that more was in store.
Roberto Angelini pouring champagne for our son Ryan
Our adopted family here, the Angelini's, owners of Enoteca Properzio had arranged for a special dinner prepared by Chef Jurgin Kulli.
Having worked with Chef Jurgin before, it was such a treat to have him prepare this special dinner

First course, olive oil mashed potatoes, with sous vide poached egg with truffles
Secondo:  Egg pasta in the style of Spoleto, with pumpkin and truffles----oh my
Primi:  Pork Tenderloin on a bed of fennel salad, with sous vide pork, wine reduction and plum jam
And someone knew that I LOVE birthday cake!  
When people ask what we do when we come over here, they can't imagine just staying in one place, and enjoying the moment, but every moment is different.  From the cappucino and cornetto in the morning, throughout the day, we are constantly surprised by joy, with how full our days are meeting new people, and reuniting with old friends.  I'm grateful for this time, and the ability to enjoy every moment with Dr. C. and our family. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ciao Roma!

The Eternal city has a certain magic that not all the cities in Europe have. Although it is loud, chaotic, filled with art, churches, and more souvenir stands per square foot than any other place on earth, there is something about Rome that lures me back each year. It may be the beauty of St. Peter’s where I have to go each time I am here, or the boys at Noi Salon who cut my hair and fill me in on the latest news, or it could just be that my city cred it coming back.  Whatever it is, Dr. C., our son Ryan and I spent 5 days there before heading to Umbria and our home away from home here in Spello. 

Eating in Rome is a great joy, it’s hard to find a bad restaurant if you stay away from the tourist sites.  We had an apartment in the Prati area, near St. Peter’s but just far enough away to be in a Roman neighborhood, where all the restaurants were frequented by the locals.  
Pasta alla carbonara

Pasta with porcini

Carcioffi alla Giudia

Pasta Bolognese


Since we have visited so often, and toured all the sites, this really was a time to relax and enjoy Rome without all the “have-to’s”.  St. Peter’s is a must every time we come, and this time we had gotten tickets to the “Scavi” underneath St. Peter’s where St. Peter is actually buried.  This was a once in a life time tour; it was hot/humid/and overwhelming because of where we were, and what it represented.  To walk where all those pilgrims had walked since St. Peter’s death, it took me a long time to process.  If you are interested in doing this, go to this website, and apply.  They only let 250 people tour per day, and it took us 10 years to get tickets.  Persistence pays off. (no photos)

We also went to the Borghese Gallery, the second most important art museum in Rome after the Vatican.  It was spectacular, filled with Bernini sculptures, and 6 Caravaggio masterpieces (the most in the world).  We finally got to St. John Lateran, and it was magnificent. 
Any church with doors this huge, has got to be important
even the ceiling is magnificent


I loved catching these two nuns on their cell phones

Dr. C. and I said goodbye to our son Ryan on Wednesday and we are now in our apartment in Spello for the month.  We will say goodbye to Spello on Halloween and join our grandchildren in NYC for trick or treating.  Frankly, that may be the only reason I'd leave here.  Wishing you a lovely weekend from Spello.