Monday, September 28, 2009

Treasures of the Table Series: THE ART OF THE SALUMI

Last night was the first in the "TREASURES OF THE TABLE" series hosted by SPEAK LANGUAGE CENTER.  We had the extraordinary talent  of Mr. Chris Mattera, of Belmont Street Butchery, Richmond presenting the total lowdown on salumi.  We're voting that Chris needs his own Food Network show! Bello!! Not only were we able to taste Coppa, lardo (Lardo di Colonnata), Mortadella, Prosciutto, Rigatino (a cousin of Pancetta), Salame and Spalla, but he told us passionate tales of how he would produce these products, both in a small town in Tuscany, as well as in his shop in Richmond.

We started with a  small appetizer of Rigatino over Chicken Liver Crostini. Paired with di Leonardo "Toh!" da UVE ($11.99) from the town of Manzano in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, one of the most north-eastern regions of Italy. This "Toh" is 100% Friulano, a fuller bodied grape than the Pinot Grigios.   A crostino is a small piece of dried toast with a topping, that can range to a small dab of pesto, fish and herbs, or in this case Rigatino (similar to our bacon) on a chicken liver pate.  In my cooking school in Florence, we made beautiful crostini (plural) each day with crusts from the day before, added fresh herbs with a little protein, and that usually got our day off to a powerful start!

Mortadella was my favorite.  It is very finely textured cooked sausage, almost fragile to taste, but spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and mace and studded with cubes of creamy white pork backfat (Lardo), finished with peppercorns and pistachios.  Typically it was made in a mortar....Mortadella, sometimes known as the great-grandfather of Bologna (or Baloney).
The Bresaola was gentle tasting, but firm consistency, and paired well with the Colsanto (Rosso Umbria 2004 @ $10.99!!  For many of us, the Lardo was a bit hard to 'swallow', literally.  Salt-cured pork fatback...not to be taken in large quantities...but apparently quite often served on toast in the morning....Okay...probably not on my toast...but.the Italian Lardo is cured in caves up in Northern Tuscany, near a very good friends' home in the small farming  village of Luscignano - right in view of the Carraras.

  A visit in itself, to see the humongous caves with the huge slabs of marble, brought down by massive trucks on a small winding road...not for the faint of heart, but just the same an incredible area to explore, hike, ski.  If you're interested, a great website for home rentals in a very unspoiled area of Toscana is listed below. The first time I sat on their terrace drinking prosecco, I thought the marble was snow - it is quite a majestic sight.

We also enjoyed tasting an amazing value Lambrusco.  Emilia Romagna is home, of course to Parma and Modena (you figure this out..), so their rich frizzante Lambrusco can hold up to a variety of fairly serious salumi, prosciutti and cheeses. At $6.99, Canina Social di Gonzaga Lambrusco - very nicely priced.

One of my favorites wines for the evening, rivalling Patricia Kluges' SP Rose @ $28.00 was the Rocche Costamagna Rosao Ose Vino da Tavola 2008 @ 9.99,  perfectly paired with the sweet (La Chinata) Paprika Coppa (a smaller capicola).

  Christina Ball, the owner/director of SPEAK Language Center  has moved into roomy quarters in the Glass Building in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia to provide her language students a beautiful setting  - which definitely doesn't hurt the learning!  Attendance has flourished!  But, what makes SPEAK so exceptional is Christina.  More about Ms. Ball in another post! But in the sharing,  she also invites her students and guests to attend cultural  venues -usually on the weekends. This allows students  of all languages to come together, for a bit of a social, a bit of a chat, (in the language of your choice since almost all of the instructors attend) and always a bit of an innovative wine-pairing with Robert Harlee of MARKET STREET WINESHOP & GROCERY, also in Charlottesville.  Cannot wait for the next Treasure from Christina, pictured far left....I hear it goes with the La Chinata Paprika from Spain....Manchego? Spero di si!

Contact Robert, the owner of the Market Street Wineshop to order any of the wines at  Other links from this article:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Orca doing Backstroke in the Gulf Islands, British Columbia, Canada

Photo and video credit  of HT.

Who says you must go to Alaska or South America to whalewatch.  Just off the beautiful terraces of my friend's home in Pender Island, the Orcas come to play. Not just once in a while - often.  This becomes the favorite 'happy hour' of each day very quickly, in fact, no matter what the day holds - hiking, Victoria, going to the market, you must get home by dusk to watch for the friends that Helen has.  For those of you not familiar with Pender Island - it can be reached by seaplane in a short 45 minutes from Vancouver, and is located very close to the (more) famous Salt Spring Island.  This is somewhere to live for your soul. It is breathtaking, quiet, simple and surprisingly, very Mediterranean in climate. Pack your bags! September is one of the finest months! And I hear the Canadian dollar is not too shabby.
See the backstroke here on youtube

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fiona Sails the Northwest Passage in 2009: Back from the Ice

This just in from none other than Russ, sometime Team Member of jetset WISDOM, back from  his sail. Incredible experience, and jetset ting up and around the top of our continent on the FIONA. Bravo Russ and welcome home!
Fiona Sails the Northwest Passage in 2009: Back from the Ice

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ken Paves & j e t s e t WISDOM in 30 minutes on our Rio flight

Last week I loved shooting the spectacular scenery flying into Rio. But, life only gets better - especially with this jetset moment.  Well today, with thanks to Ken Pav├ęs,  I had the absolute thrill of a lifetime .... getting my bangs trimmed a la Ken (also left-handed) but god, my scissors left an awful lot to be desired...he suggested we do a 'waiver' on the quality. I'm not sure Oprah would approve.... Nonetheless, if this isn't the epitomy of  what Jetset Wisdom is all about..seizing the moment!....Ken is one of the loveliest men I've met - charming, funny, very handsome, and then...he  just ran with what started out to be a bit of a joke, considering he cannot 'carry' his magic (scissors) with him on board.   My scissors, well, that's another story! Here is an article that I found on It just shows how elegant this man from Michigan really is:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Eating in a Farmers' Field

Today is the day.  The "Italian Girls" are off to dine in a farmers' field - with Outstanding in the Field....more later - very excited! 

Espressioni Idiomatiche Italiane/ Italian Idiom

Ok - this is a good one:
What do you think this means?

(Avere) Ho ben altro da fare.

Answer tomorrow - Italophiles, let's hear what you think this may mean???
Great tries!
Avere ben' altro da fare - technically means 'to have better/other things of doing
But the idiom is  

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Flying over Brazil - God's Country!

To start off the Labor Day Weekend right, I flew from Sao Paulo to Rio! Dying for shots of the Atlantic Forest, I was able to take in some great sites.  Albeit with an aircraft window between me and the subject matters, I did enhance and play with most of the photos, but I think you will agree - this is GOD's Country -how beautiful and sacred! Hope you enjoy!
And, please, when you have a moment here is the link

Simplifying CURRY!

In celebration of being at Ca'del Bosco for 5 days, I tested out a very basic CURRY Recipe, and continued to make a delicious Vegetable Curry from my vegetables from assorted neighborly gardens. My favorite book, right now, is from the owners of MASALA ZONE  in London. This is one of my favorite Indian restaurants, so I was thrilled to receive this from one of my best foodie friends, Adam.  It's called "50 Great Curries of India", and, I must admit, a bit daunting, in a wonderful, creative way. However, that's why it's important to start simple. And get the basics down. Camilla Panjabi offers lots of great direction  in her book. Key is to carmelize the onions properly because once you start adding in the cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek (my addition) and curry powder, with of course, garam masala and paprika (I used my Spanish La Chinata Pimenta versio), it becomes almost a 'paste of onions' See my photo,  it looks incredible: Add a cup of water to the 'paste' and cook for 10 mintues. After that you can add in a couple of fresh diced tomatoes or a  can of Muir Diced and let it simmer and mix in for about 5 minutes.  Then the fun begins.  Add in your choice of vegetables:  I chose fresh potatoes from the garden (quartered and parboiled), squash, corn,and chick peas.  All diced to a bite-size.  I also added 2 cups of vegetable broth (from cooking the potatoes for about 15 minutes).  I brought this all to a boil, then let this simmer for about 1/2 an hour. At the same time, I made Jasmine rice.  Serve this beautifully seasoned curry over the rice and garnish with lots of fresh cilantro!  You've made your own first, healthy curry! I made enough to freeze 3 servings to bring to work!

4 T. OIL
1 LARGE Onion sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 sq of fresh Ginger (I only had the the l&Perrins root ginger)
3/4 t Coriander powder
a pinch of Turmeric
1/4 t. cumin powder
2 t. garam masala
1 t. paprika
2 tomatoes
chopped Cilantro leaves for Garnish
Mixed diced fresh vegetables: Squash, corn, potatoes, carrots
1 can of Chick peas
---------***** ENJOY!!!