Italy

Addicted to Love & Eggplant

TeenBrideWe have a plant in our orto that I call our “Teen Bride”. She keeps having babies, is totally unsupported, and when you pluck a fruit from her, she shudders as if to say, “Thank you!”. Then she stands a little straighter, brazenly sprouting even more fruit.

I like eggplant, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t LOVE eggplant, until recently. Now, we’re addicted. But this eggplant dip is the cause of our addiction.

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Never Forgotten: Locanda al Gambero Rosso

It was a bittersweet dinner at Locanda al Gambero Rosso. A restaurant we’ve loved, that we’ve called our favorite in the whole world, will shut the lights and shutter their doors at the end of August. Our hearts are broken, but we are looking forward to the next chapters in the lives of Giuliana, Moreno, Michela and Paolo.

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You call this sustainable?

Sustainable is the new organic. It’s the buzzword-du-jour. It’s soft marketing. let’s just talk about small farms and sustainable agriculture, ok? We can get to sustainable bio-dynamic gin and tonics another day. Not that I’m the least bit cynical about marketing techniques.

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Pass the Prosciutto – Just in time Holiday Potatoes

It’s holiday season. That time of year when you are either entertaining, or being entertained and you need to bring something delicious to the next party.
Here’s a simple and delicious way to make potatoes using Prosciutto di Parma. If you use little red potatoes and a chopped parsley as a garnish, it will look extra holiday perfect.

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Tomato Swan Song with Breadcrumbs

This is my end-of-the-season swan song to the tomatoes in our orto. As the vines wither at the bottom, there are yellow blossoms still sprouting at the top, and green fruit just hanging on in the middle. We spent the cold, wet spring together, you endured hail and high winds, while we worried and tried to protect you. You blossomed in the July heat and produced massive amounts of fruit in August. And now, you are closing down for the winter.
I’ve had a LOT of time to think about tomatoes, and I realized I was not paying attention. Tomatoes love bread, and bread loves them back. They were meant to be together.

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The Mediterranean Del Verziere Lifestyle Diet

Introducing our version of the Mediterranean Diet; it’s called the Del Verziere Lifestyle diet! If followed properly, it will lead to an increased level of personal satisfaction and well-being, maybe a longer life, and possible weight loss.
The Del Verziere Lifestyle Diet goes like this: eat fresh food instead of prepared food, preferably food from your garden, drink red wine, put olive oil into everything, and volunteer for anything that will keep you engaged in your community. And ladies, you should also learn how to walk in high heels on cobblestone because if you can do that, you can live to be 100…with great legs and a firm behind.

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Drums, Flags & Sausage: Festa in Montone!

It’s August, so it must be Ferragosto, and if it’s Ferragosto, then it must be festa time in Montone! We are in the midst of our annual, week long medieval festival, the Donazione della Santa Spina.

August 15 is the official Ferragosto holiday in Italy, but one can go ‘on ferie’ (fair-ee-a) or vacation, anytime during the summer. We can all thank Emperor Augustus who, back in 18 B.C., thought it was a great idea to take a little break from work during the dog days of summer.

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Water, Water Everywhere and All of It to Drink: Bring Back the Town Wells

A funny thing happened last fall, maybe even in the middle of the night. We woke up one morning and there was a “Casa dell’ Acqua” in the Montone parking lot over by the elementary school. And another one had sprung up in the nearby town of Umbertide. When you live in Umbria, you get used to certain things: horrifyingly bad roads, spotty internet, wonky electric, and now, no bells in town. The story is always the same: no money and a fatalistic shrug of the shoulders. So when something new and shiny shows up, everyone notices.

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Summer Elegant Italian Parmigiana

In the US, ‘parm’ comes in four generic flavors: chicken, veal, meatball, or eggplant. Usually heavy, goppy and greasy, it’s an overweight distant relative of the sleekly elegant Italian parmigiana. Think Jersey Shore versus the Amalfi Coast.
In Italy, a parmigiana is made from vegetables like eggplant or zucchini, or even combined with some potato. It can be a light main course, or a contorni (vegetable side dish). In the summer, a parmigiana served at room temperature, along with a chilled white wine, is pretty much the perfect hot weather meal.

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Wine Philosopher: Paolo Rodaro

According to Paolo Rodaro, there are only four kinds of wine: red, white, good, or bad. If you taste a wine and think, “Hmmm…might be off.” and you taste again, and maybe a third time, Paolo thinks you are wasting time. You were right the first time, send the wine back. He uses real corks, dismissed screw tops as an abomination, politely listened to the virtues of glass caps and then changed the subject to sex. If you do not look a person in the eye when you clink glasses you will be condemned to seven years of bad sex! And so the conversation meandered during a lovely evening at the Enoteca Wine Club in Umbertide as we ate Antonella’s delicious food and tasted the wines from the Rodaro cantina.

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