Thursday, December 31, 2015
A happy New Year's toast to all and a recipe for my favorite holiday cookies----cardamom-walnut crescents. They are a snap to make and the result is a tender, exotically spiced delicacy. The special ingredients are ground cardamom and vanilla sugar for the topping. I used Patricia Rain's prepared vanilla sugar that we carried at Scharffen Berger Chocolate when I worked there. Make sure the ground cardamom is fresh since it loses it's potent aroma after a year or so, and the cardamom is the whole point!
|Vanilla Sugar and Cardamom for cookies|
This year I baked the crescents on my new silicone baking sheet by Chef'n, a present from my niece's husband BJ, who works for the company. He revealed that it takes at least two years to develop and introduce a new product. The sheet worked especially well since I could bake on it and use it for cooling as the recipe requires.
|Freshly baked cookies cooling on the silicone baking sheet|
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
|Fresco in the Monastery in Amantea|
We saw more peppers drying in the charming resort town of Diamante
The next day we headed for Amantea. an ancient town built on rocky precipices. We trekked up to the restored 16th century monastery, which once housed an order of Nuns called Le Clarisse and has now been converted into a first class restaurant and Inn.
We had a memorable midday meal at the restaurant, which began with fresh anchovies.
|Potato cakes covered with fresh anchovies- a stunning first course at Le Clarisse|
After lunch and another bus ride, we checked into our final resort, Porto Pirgos. Our room had a terrace with another stunning view of the Medeterranian. Again we could walk down to a private beach or swim in the beautiful pool.
In the evening we tore ourselves away from our water sports and headed for the picturesque town of Tropea for sightseeing, shopping and dinner.
|A breathtaking view in Tropea|
|Tropea was beautiful at nightfall|
On our final day we headed for the fishing village of Pizzo, known for its gorgeous beaches and its gelaterie which line the town square.
|A view of the beach in Pizzo from above|
Enjoying the spouts of cool water at the fountain on another hot day
|I loved this old fountain|
The seafood we had for lunch at Ristorante San Domenico was freshly caught by local fishermen and was unsurpassed in flavor and ingenuity of preparation.
|The octopus served over a puree of chickpeas was one of my favorite dishes of the trip|
Then on to the main piazza with its plethora of competing gelaterie, all serving the town's specialty- Tartufo di Pizzo. This is a molded ice cream dessert resembling a giant black truffle, with a cocoa coating concealing two layers of ice cream: a chocolate layer on the outside and hazelnut within. But the surprise is in the center -- a molten fudge sauce that oozes like lava when you cut into it.
|Tartufo di Pizzo|
|Serious gelato consumption in Pizzo|
Our journey begins and ends with red peppers drying in the hot sun. We saw these when we visited Agriturismo Manitta, high in the hills above Tropea. We arrived Saturday evening for a tour of the gardens and a final cooking class. Then as the sun set and the locals arrived to have a romantic dinner al fresco, we too sat down at a long table set for our group and began to eat the feast the staff prepared just for us.
|Peppers hung to dry at Agriturismo Manitta|
|Here we are mid-meal on our last night at Agriturismo Manitta, high in the hills above Tropea|
Now that our trip is over and well documented in these last two blog posts, I must thank our tour guide and indefatigable leader Rosetta Costentino (and her husband Lino) for creating such an unforgettable experience. We ate and drank exceptionally well, we stayed in lovely lodgings, we saw places of unimaginable beauty and we experienced Calabria, the "toe" of the Italian peninsula, through her eyes. Seeing the countryside in this manner was a rare opportunity and I'm fortunate to have enjoyed it with my sister Lucia, another Italophile and a good sport. We can't wait to return!
|Rosetta teaching a class with the chef at San Michele before lunch|
Rosetta Costentino's book about her native Calabria
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Hot and sweet peppers hanging to dry- a common sight in Calabria in September
Posing in front of the church in the medieval town of Altomonte on our first full day in Calabria
|piles of recently gathered licorice root|
Licorice root grows wild throughout Calabria. Here at the famous Amarelli factory they produce and sell the finished product.
|Ruggged mountains form a backdrop to the town of Civita|
Here is an example of the antipasto sampler which began almost all of our meals. The ricotta and mozzarella were fresh and often made from the milk of cows living at our agritourism lodgings, and the salumi came from their pigs. We learned to eat conservatively and save room for the following courses.
|Goats at Il Mulino- they also had rabbits and cows for milk to make ricotta and other fresh cheeses|
In Civita we ate wild boar with beans, one of many courses in the Arbaresh restaurant La Kamastra
One day after lunch we toured and tasted liqueurs (including licorice) at a quaint shop
Outside we spotted figs drying and a compost bin. Fresh figs were in season and they were magnificent
In Rossano the guy on the far right asked me to take a photo, so here he is with his three friends
Here our group ate one of many fabulous multi-course lunches on the lawn of the charming estate Casa Solara. Then we roamed around and saw the chapel and the grounds and the citrus groves, trying to boost our appetite for another multi course, three hour dinner.
After a short bus ride through the country side, we checked into our second agriturismo called San Michele which also grew all its own products and had an elevator built in the rocks down to its own private beach. The main sitting room was filled with paintings and antiques, and light streamed in through large windows rimmed with bouganvilla that opened out onto the Mediterranean Sea.
|Lucia wading in Tyrannean Sea|
On our first eveing at San Michele we took the long elevator ride down through the rocks and went wading in the warm and tranquil Tyrannean Sea. The next day the elevator was broken so we bussed down to the beach and helped prepare ultra-fresh anchovies for a delicious pasta course for lunch.
|Fresh Anchovy and Tomato Pasta|
After lunch we all went for a dip in the ocean. The weather continued to be hot and sunny throughout our stay.
One beautiful, hot morning we toured the extensive vegetable gardens and vinyards.
|Grapes ready for the harvest. We drank great local wines throughout our stay|
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Sister Ricki did it again with an international Fourth of July theme. She set the table with a Pierre Deux Provencal cloth, Umbrian place settings from Deruta and American flags. That woman has flair!
The guests pose in front of the mirror festooned in red, white and blue
Monday, June 22, 2015
|photo by Jill Miller c. 1973|
Who's that bad boy--- A work in progress.
|photo by John Anthony, still dear friend|
Young Dean with Rags in Alaska in the late '70s
Sister Ricki & Brother Dean celebrate their 42nd & 43rd birthdays at Acquerello
Picnicking with Ricki, Leah, Taya and Mimi in Marin
The famous soft ball pants. Dean wows his Looney Tunes fans with his amazing athleticism and his flashy pants!
Happy times at Lake Tahoe on that first magical trip (for a softball tournament)
Working on the beloved gray Astro van on another trip to Tahoe. Say what you want about those shorts!
Cheers! Dean smiles sheepishly after our waiter brought an unexpectedly LARGE beer at a cafe in Florence in the early '90s
The Pollycove string quartet featuring Dean on cello, Ricki on viola, Leah on violin and Taya on flute
The cosmopolitan couple shows up again in Firenze for Dean's 50th birthday! The temperature peaked around 100
Side by side head stands at a yoga retreat in Maya Tulum
Ros poses with Dean on one of our many trips to Washington D. C. How styles have changed!
Myron, Dean and Taya at Cousin Mike's in Anacortes
Ros, Myron, Taya and Dean in Assisi when Dean turned 50
Biking the flume trail high above Lake Tahoe
Hard at Work
The grill master preparing his favorite chicken drumsticks, before he built the deck
Fun times with elderly Rags
More fun times cuddling Allie. I'm so grateful he likes cats as well as dogs.
Dean's a hoot on Halloween
In the vineyards in Sonoma County at the annual Winter Wineland event. Hey, when did all that gray hair appear?