We went to Torino last night to participate in the Gusto del Territorio – an iniziative to promote typical products from various regions of Italy and unite chefs young an old for an exchange of innovative ideas. In short, we ate and drank for four hours. The event (part of a series) was hosted by the restaurant L’Birichin with guest chef Walter Miori from Trentino. It was an awesome night. Here’s what we had (I’ll let you use your imagination):
Aperitivo Welcome – Isac Le Baladin e Super Baladin – Birrificio Le Baladin
Spuma di seirass (see below) ed agro di mosto San Giacomo
Polentina di Storo con sarda in saor
Tartare di “carne salada” con verdurine e bavarese agli asparagi
Canederlotti alla verza e puzzone di Moena su burro e tartufo del Baldo
Pancia di maiale con polenta di patate porri alla crema con tartufo nero, salsa al miele Valdivia
Guayaba, frutto della passione ed Olio Terre Rosse
La torta sbriciolina con zabaione al Maso Grill
Bicchierino alla cioccolata modicana Quetzal, grappa Solera Selezione e gelatina al tabacco
Lunelli Maso Grill
Cow’s, Goat’s & Ewe’s Milk Whey
The name Seirass, Seras derives from the Latin Seracium and is the local name for Ricotta in Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta. The product has many different forms in the region, ranging from rounded cones to cylinders or an upturned basketshape. When dried and salted, it may have a roundish shape and varies in weight. The cheesemaking technique is the classic Ricotta method – the whey is heated to 90°C – with the difference that Seirass del Fen whey comes from mountain dairy milk used to make Toma cheese. As is well-known, the whey of soft cheeses produces soft Ricottas while whey from cooked cheeses gives a more solid product. It is also difficult to obtain ricotta from pasteurised milk naturally. After 12-36 hours, the Seirass is taken out of its moulds or cloths and kneaded by hand with white salt. It is then exposed to the atmosphere. This operation is repeated several times. The cheeses are then placed in a dry, well-ventilated room to dry, after which they are wrapped in freshly cut hay (fieno or fen). In some cases, the Seirass is also lightly smoked.
Body: the fresh cheese has a delicate, lumpy body while the mature version has a firm, translucent, brownish-white or straw-white body.
Height/weight: varying from 2-5 kg
Territory of origin: Seirass is made almost everywhere in Piedmont, but hay maturing is typical of the valleys around Pinerolo.
Here are our pictures of Venice (and Padua)! We went for a quick weekend trip with our friends Claudia & Fabrizio from Torino at the end of January. Warning: they’re mostly pictures of buildings/landscapes. Not too many people pics, but if you’ve never been to Venice, it’ll give you a good idea of what the city looks like. I have to say, it wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought there would be more…water. I suppose when you dream about going to a certain important destination for so long, you can’t help but feel a little let down when you actually see it in person. Though this isn’t always the case. I remember when I got to Las Vegas I was like, “Holy crap! This is SO not what I expected!!” Venice is certainly beautiful, with gondolas and striped poles and live musicians like you would expect, but I always thought it would have a romantic feeling about it, and instead it just felt touristy.
We also visited Padova on this trip. The highlight of the city for me was the Basilica di San Antonio, which is this huge basilica dedicated to Saint Anthony. I’ve never seen a church like this, and I at least peek my head into all the churches I go to in the area. Every single inch was covered with some sort of painting or sculpture or marble decoration. I think they’re overdoing it a little on the whole Saint-Anthony-worshiping thing though. There was a line of about 20 women waiting to throw themselves on his marble tomb and wail their miseries, and two walls dedicated to pictures and notes from people asking for his help. Containers asking for donations abound, though I found it odd that they don’t let you light candles like they do in most churches. You can donate money for candles or donate candles, but you can’t actually light one yourself. There was also a chapel inside of the basilica that was filled with Saint Anthony’s embalmed body parts (cheerfully on display in golden canisters). Umm, eww. Besides, isn’t that like illegal in this religion?
In the four years I’ve lived in Italy, I’ve noticed a LARGE abyss between my way of keeping house and the Italian way. I’ve given considerable thought as to why my feelings on housekeeping are SO different than Italian women’s feelings and think the difference is a result of the American Industrial Revolution.
This revolution caused young women to take responsability for their futures: while supporting themselves in mill towns, they achieved a measure of economic and social independence not possible while living under the parental roof. It created an ambitious drive in American women that I find lacking in my experience with Italian women in Italy. And, if you consider the fact that most Italian men and women live with their parents until at least age 30 and rarely move out of their hometown, this lack of ambition makes sense. Why should “young” Italians try to make more money or give more effort when their lives are perfectly fine living at home having their parents take care of them?
Perhaps the ambition and drive the young women don’t spend on making a career for themselves is redirected into housekeeping. Luca’s mom and female friends are always trying to give me tips on being a better housekeeper – keeping delicate clothing in plastic bags, ironing everything from underwear to towels, using only delicate wash cycles and air drying everything, dusting once a day, separating winter socks from summer socks…the list goes on and on.
I’ve received several email forwards that illustrate my response to these “helpful” housekeeping hints:
Remember…a layer of dust protects the wood beneath it.
I used to spend at least 4 hours every weekend making sure things were just perfect – “in case someone came over.” Finally I realized one day that no one came over; they were all out living life and having fun!
NOW, when people visit, I don’t have to explain the ‘condition’ of my home. They are more interested in hearing about the things I’ve been doing while I was away living life and having fun….
We had a very exciting weekend exploring North Eastern Italy. Our friends (the architects) Clauda & Fabrizio gave us a gift certificate for a night in a fancy hotel of our choice last year for Christmas. (Luckily they had also received the same gift certificate, so all four of us piled onto a train from Torino to Padova on Saturday morning and stayed at the B4 in Padova on Saturday night.
I’d love to tell you what else we did, but I drank three glasses of wine at dinner tonight and can barely keep my eyes open…pictures and more details tomorrow!
Christmas decorations went up this week around town. I enjoy Italian public Christmas decorations – they’re simple and to-the-point. In Verduno they put a big Christmas tree in the middle of the piazza and decorate it with plain white lights. There’s an electric light sign that says “Buone Feste” (happy holidays) at the main town entrance, and big bulb white light fringe scattered from one side of the street to the other at rooftop level. Festive, but not overdone.
Here at the Crane/Badellino household, we haven’t quite gotten around to decorating for Christmas yet, but I did move the Halloween pumpkins from the front of the house to the back of the house tonight. So we’re making progress.
Last year during after-Christmas-sales I bought the kind of Christmas cards that you have to put a picture in. I was inspired at the moment. But I’ve decided I find photo Christmas cards kind of arrogant, so I’m trying to decide what to do with them… I’ve never seriously sent Christmas cards before, this was to be the first year. Maybe I’ll cut out pictures of random people from magazines and use those instead of a picture of me. Yeah.
I’ve been trying to convince Luca that we NEED to get a Christmas tree. Last week at the supermarket they had trees a little taller than me bound up in netting so that you couldn’t exactly tell if they were Charlie Brown trees or not. But they were only €10! So I picked one out and put it in our shopping cart. And in the meantime, about half of the needles on the damn tree fell off on me. Needless to say, I put that sucker back in a snap. (And am still finding pine needles in my pockets!) So I’ve been scowering the streets for random large branches that may have broken off of pine trees in attempt to bring holiday cheer into the house. Wish me luck…