26 October 2008

Porcini Pin up for today October 08

Ok, so I told a recent guest that the coming of the Chuidino mushrooms meant that is was the end of Porcino(boletus edulis) season. Strictly based on anecdotal information given to me by my in laws, sources of most conventional mountain wisdom. I did say that there might be a few random ones here and there but for the most part the season was done and dusted. But then Dante, my father-in-law came home with these beauties, Friday. after a little hike up to one of his favorite places where the mushrooms grow big and are not easily found unless you know.
Obviously, he knows.
So here are a few photos of what are called "Nero and Bianca" porcini. The red ones being the Nero and the little one the Bianca one. My mother-in -law said these are about 15 days old as you can tell by the look of the "sponge' underneath the cap. Just a little something to tide you over till I get my Slow food photos up and some recipes that are still in progress together.

22 October 2008

Slow Food's "Salone del Gusto" and "Terra Madre" 08 has arrived!

It's a very exciting time in Torino at the moment that only rolls around every 2 years.
Yes, it's the Slow Food 's Salone del Gusto extravaganza. For those of you not familiar with this movement, it was born here Piedmont in the town of Bra, also famous for it's Cheese festival.
The 62 founding members met in Bra in 1986 to establish the Slow Food organization with the philosophy that sates.
"We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our movement is founded upon this concept of eco-gastronomy – a recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet".........read more
"Terra Madre"
opened it's third edition today with Prince Charles making the opening statements along with many other dignitaries from around the globe.
Terra Madre..
" brings together food producers and workers from around the world, giving them the opportunity to discuss the major themes of food production. Together they share and compare the diverse and complex issues that underlie what “high-quality food” means to them: issues of environmental resources and planetary equilibrium, and aspects of taste, worker dignity, and consumer safety."

Click here, here and here for a couple of posts from the 2006 edition.

The event opened today and always make national news here.
Fabrizio and I will be heading over on Saturday. Fabrizio will be helping out our friends the Bernards with their booth,(Pavillion 2 booth#B246) where you will be able to sample and buy their famous "elixirs", most notably "Genepy des Alpes" and the family's well kept secret recipe, "Barathier". Stop by and say hello and naturally, sample the wares!
While Fabrizio will be working hard at the booth, me? Well, I'll be working the pavilions checking out what's on and what's new or not. Sampling whatever strikes my fancy or what I can get close to. Hopefully, I'll have my timing down this year and to not get squeezed out during the afternoon crush and enjoy a bit more of the evening mildly cruising crowds. I'll be adding some updates later on.

See you there!

15 October 2008

"Maschera di Ferro", identity revealed......again.

The annual Pinerolo, "Maschera di Ferro" festival has come and gone for another year. More commonly known to many of us as "the Man in the Iron Mask"is a celebration of one of the best kept secrets in history. That secret I am referring to is from the 17th century about a mysterious prisoner who wore the clothes of a noble man, ate apart from the other prisoners, whose face was covered with an iron mask or sometimes reported as a leather mask when transported or seen in public. This person has never been firmly identified, but whom was documented by letters and eye witness accounts, leading to all sorts of speculation and naturally conspiracy theories. The most popular put forward about him being the twin brother of Louis XIV, and on which several popular movies The Man in the Iron Mask were based upon.

According to local prison records, he was delivered to the Pignerol (the French spelling back then) prison on 24 August 1669. He spent 11 years there before being transferred to several prisons along the way until he ended up at the Bastille, where he lived until his death. In all he was held around 34 years. It is amazing that there has never really been a definitive answer to whom he was or even why he was held in such a manner. There has even been speculation that it was a woman.

Our local festival is a weekend featuring a reenactment of his arrival to Pinerolo escorted by the now famous musketeers on the first Saturday evening in October every year. There are plenty of people in period costumes and much to sample and experience. This year featured a display of falconry and some incredibly beautiful owls, adding to the general festivities .

We sampled the mulled wine and some roasted chestnuts, but the line for the porchetta, was much too long and we wanted to get back over to the main piazza in the old part of the city as they had a variety of entertainment on offer. The whole of the entertainment is offered again on Sunday afternoon for those who choose not to be up too late on Saturday night.
The grand finale comes with the unveiling of this years mystery "Iron Mask" celebrity. A gasp from the audience always goes up through the crowd every year!

Photo by Dario Costantino

This year's masked man was Pippo Franco, an Italian actor and popular television comedian.

If you wan t a feel for the festival I put together a little footage from my not too high tech camera and skills. The prisoner appears about 1 1/2 minute into the clip (3 minutes total). It starts also with out much sound and then the music and drums come in with the announcement of the prisoner's arrival.
Hope you enjoy it.
Maybe you'll come and check it out for yourself next year.

09 October 2008

Autumn Pear, Parmesan and Walnut Salad

Autumn brings along with it the golds and yellows that are just starting to brush the hillside in front of us. It's also a time of fruitful bounty. There are so many different varieties of apples and pears in the market these days. I am especially enjoying the pears as they normally disappear mid winter as they don't hold out as long as the apples, leaving me waiting for them to come back into season. I place them in the category of favorites and love all the man places the can find their way onto the menu through out the day. One simple dish is a composed salad of thinly sliced ripe pear wedges paired with fresh slivered Parmigiano, sprinkled with toasted walnuts and all drizzled with honey. What could be simpler or tastier?

Insalata di Noci, Pere e Parmigiano

Choose ripe semi soft pears
1/2 pear per person
Parmigiano, sliced from a wedge
walnuts halves, toasted
flavorful honey, I like chestnut for it's distinct flavor, but any local variety will do

Gather all of your ingredients beforehand and just before serving.
  • Peel your pears, halve
You could so this ahead and put them in a bath of lemon jusice and water to have them ready before hand ready to pull together just before serving.
  • Slice pears on an angle, thinly and fan out on your individual salad plate
  • Shave big slices of Parmigiano or Romano, what ever you have on hand
  • Toast your walnut halves lightly in a pan on top of the stove or in the oven
  • I crumble some of the walnuts over the top and garnish with a few whole halves
  • Drizzle honey over all and serve. You can refrigerate for a little while, but your pear might turn brown if you prepare them too far in advance.
Autumn celebration on a plate!
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