We went to our first food festival the other night - and perfectly, it was a pig fest! We were invited to the feste by our friend Giulia to celebrate the slaughter of a piglet in the town of Barchi near the Adriatic coast. There were over 150 guests all there to literally pig out!
We feasted on sausages, bistecca di maiale (pork chops), grilled polenta, soup with beans & pig skin (the white beans were great but we picked round the skin), coppa di testa (you boil the whole pig's head and you put in all the meat-there's a lot, the ears, tongue & skin. Season it with salt, pepper and in other parts of Le Marche lots of spices, citrus peel, almonds or pistachio.) Thanks to Giulia for explaining this in detail, we first thought it was just the brain, oh nooo-so much more!! Coppa di testa was not fav at our table, grilled pig heart, liver with bay leaves and tons of torts! Needless to say we were stuffed by the end of the night! We dined inside with everyone & then headed out back to meet the chef & various other cooks and to share wine & stories of the honored maialino. And how many pigs were used for 150 guests with tons & tons of extra sausages leftover?? Uno!
Speaking of pigs - we were given a gift from Fusciani - pig cheek guancica del maiale! It may sound weird but is incredibly delicious and delicate!! The pig cheeks are cured like prosciutto and then thinly sliced and sauteed in olive oil, a clove of garlic & sage leaves! The cheek is huge (check out the pic below-that's it!) and hanging in our piccolo cantina!! We can’t wait to start slicing into ours.
Wednesday, February 20
Food here is not sold in styrofoam packaging and nondescript with an inch of ingredients you can't pronounce. You know what you're buying not only the obvious fruits & veg (frutta e vedura) but cheese and meat especially. For example, the other day Jason bough a chicken (the one in the pic), told the butcher "No problem, I can clean it at home" but didn't realize til we got home that it was complete - with all the intestines & inside bits! At the travelling market you can meet face to face the farmers & artisan producers. It's fantastic to chat with them, taste their specialties & feel their pride when they suggest how you cook what you're buying. (Read The Omnivore's Dilemma! Great book that makes you rethink your relationship to the food you eat & will make you forever buy organic milk at the very least. )
"The farm" is all around us! We recently visited our neighbors along via Candigliano to say "boun giorno," and to introduce ourselves & presented them fresh baked pear torte that Meg made. In exchange we were given a bounty of gifts - homemade honey from the beekeepers (who just so happen to have the biggest prosciuttos curring in their cantina that we've ever seen, just hanging off hooks-major prosciutto envy!), fresh eggs from another neighbor an elderly couple with hens (as she ran to the barn, she reminded us of the little old lady from Wedding Singer who paid Adam Sandler in meatballs - we got paid in eggs!) and then off to Fusciani's cousin - we were told to wait right here & he returned with a huge deer leg - incredible!! (He already gave us tons of fresh lettuces & carrots on our first visit) We have yet to cook the 8lbs of capriolo but plan on roasting it after it marinates in chianti with rosemary overnight - deliscious, from the farm to our table!
Only in Italy!! When we moved into the house we found over 100 bottles of wine in the cantina! Seriously, and thats not counting the homemade vino we are afraid to open or the tons of empty bottles ready to be filled. From cases & cases of '98 Chianti (that we give away to everyone who comes over) to Frizzante Chardonnay and many other local varieties even grappa!
It's incredible to move into a house & have a stocked wine cellar. A couple bottles we've opened have been bad, really bad with sediment on the bottom & a vinegar smell but other than one or two of those bad apples ( or grapes) its awesome!
Just head into the cantina anytime your thirsty & you're bound to find something good to drink. We asked Fusciani (our landlord) about the wine & the homemade demijohns and he classically answered so simply "If its good drink it, if its bad drain it." I don't know about you, but in Brooklyn we never found cases of wine in our apartment. Jason calls it medicine & in that case, the pharmacy is always open! Fusciani brings over his homemade wine & Proscesso all the time (the Prosecco is very particular & can only be bottled on a full moon.) This is why I love Italy!
Tuesday, February 12
We have broken ground on our organic garden! Our first step was to build from scratch a compost. Oh we're compostn' baby! We have ambitious goals -especially since our last garden was all potted plants on our rooftop in Brooklyn. Why not start your own?! Composting is easy & an environmentally beneficial way to turn yard & kitchen waste into a dark, crumbly soil enhancement/fertilizer that will help increase garden production & take care of a ton of kitchen waste.
Here are 2 great links to help you get started, the first is super simple & the second goes much more in-depth.
Friday, February 8
How about 1500km!
I never thought the day would come, but we live in a land without Mexican food! Seriously, I love the food here but the only other ethnic food there is is Chinese. After cleaning many rooms, scrubbing stone walls & building a compost (a new blog will follow on that...) we got a little stir crazy and on a rainy morning decided that we'd pack a bag, jump in the car & see a bit more of Europe, while we're at it find a plate of 'chos.
We drove up through the dolomites, Austria, Germany and finally when we hit the Netherlands we hit jackpot- Nachos Grande! (Shout out to cousin Spencer right about now!) We enjoyed a pitcher of margaritas, tons of chips & salsa and then delicious 'chos. It's crazy I know-but what the hell!
Driving through Germany, every km we saw signs for "ausfahrt" we think it must mean exit- but it never got old, always good for a laugh!
Our drive home took us into France & Switzerland, with snow capped mountains & the Italian Alps. Incredible! We were just in time for Carnival festivities & came upon a marching band signing in a bar in Switzerland and confetti littered streets. When we drove through the Alps coming home we hit tons of tunnels-some up to 19km long, Jason was just pissed to
half to pay 30 Euro for a pass to drive through Switzerland, but Meg & I loved the view and all the snow!!
Sound of Music soundtrack playing, seriously it was - those hills were alive!
It took only a few days, a wedge of cheese & sausage necklace, 5 tanks of gas, massive mountains & hungry stomachs to get us through.
I'd do it all over again!
This is going to sound really weird- but not only are porcupines istrice edible- they are considered "sweat meat." We have "porcs" all over in our area & last night alone we saw 3! Their quils are massive- over 2 feet long! We have yet to taste these funny looking creatures, but we love searching for them on our drive home at night down via Candigliano. Some nights we see deer, lots of rabbits & of course the ever sought after "porcs."
We've been told by many hunters in our area that it is a sweat, delicious meat. They suggest you wrap it in prosciutto -don't mind if I do! So ask your local grocer next time they expect a delivery!