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Posts Tagged ‘Olive oil’

OMG if you’ve never traveled trying to use an Italian GPS, you have NOT experienced the real frustration of being totally lost in a foreign country, or finding  yourself in the middle of an olive grove because the voice said turn left!

We set out on the simplest of journeys and in one day had enough close calls to bring my blood pressure up and enough cortisol running through my nervous system to unnerve a Buddhist monk.

Maybe you remember from last year or maybe not because I don’t think I even mentioned the incident.  At some point last year I noticed a huge scrape on the right rear side of the rental car!  I nearly had a heart attack right then and there.  I was with Joel at the time and we wondered if this happened when we were led into some field with NO road, just a rutted path that we kept shifting the car from left to right.  Joel said no.  He insisted Peter did it backing out of the insane driveway which is actually not a driveway but an old public road.  Of course Peter was gone and could not defend himself.  Regardless of who did it, I was hysterical – I did not take insurance out on the car 🚗 and I could only imagine the scene and the cost at the drop off location. My last week was ruined.  I called Peter crying and he calmly said, talk to Pasquale. 

I did, and Pasquale says, “No worry, you meet me at the bar at 5:00, I take you to my friend, he fix your car.” Pasquale is like The Godfather in Guardia and in two days the car was “perfetto”. 

OK that’s the back story, with that in mind AND the fact that this damn FIAT 500L is bigger than I had hoped, I am ever vigilant of any scrape or scratch.  Therefore we are not long on the road when true to reputation, the GPS has directed us  onto a road/path that actually ended in clump of trees!

To make matters worse yet better, the car is equipped with a warning system for backing up. That is beeping and flashing yellow then red as Peter carefully attempts a K turn by inches. If he goes back, there is a drop off into water, if he goes forward there are trees and two rusty iron poles (God only knows why they are there).  I am out of the car trying to guide him with my frantic pounds on the back of the car yelling STOP!

We made it out unscathed that time, hoping this isn’t a percentage game.  Onward and this particular day we seem to be driving in all the wrong directions.  There’s nothing so uncomforting as driving on a narrow twisting road and having the GPS voice repeatedly say, “when possible turn around”!

Our next mishap was somehow we ended up in an olive grove. How you ask? Well the GPS satellite doesn’t recognize the difference between a path in an olive grove or vineyard and an actual road.  So here we go again traversing a narrow path completely surrounded by olive trees with no end in sight. We don’t know if there is an end and you cannot turn around.  Onward down a hill and there is an old man on the side of the road working.  We stop…He looks at us in utter amazement.  I don’t know the Italian word for lost so I throw up my hands and shrug my shoulders, and I think he understands.  He points down the road where there are two men and a woman and a truck and a tractor.  OK it’s worth a try.  We pull up and in between hand gestures and some Italian, I make it known we want to go to Guardia Sanframondi.  Thank God I know the Italian words for left, right, and straight.

After a while on the road, I can see Guardia’s medieval castle looming in the distance.  At least we know we can get home, but we have yet to get to our destination, which is this great vino and olive oil place called Forresta in Castlevenere.  I am determined to get there to see Assunta, the owner, and buy some of her tasty olive oil.

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The Tasting Table

Destination reached, hugs, kisses and smiles.  It is so amazing to be in another country and return a year later to be greeted like old friends.  After we bought some olive oil, I promised Assunta that prossimo mesi  io ritorno con Joel, le actor.  They loved Joel who ate all their bread dipping it in olive oil.

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

 

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Everybody knows that Robert De Niro is a great Oscar-winning actor and he doesn’t like DT, BUT did you know that his great-grandparents emigrated to the United States from the town of Ferrazzano in the region of Molise?  Yes, Molise, same region that my grandfather was from, and where I visited twice this past May.

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As you approach Mirrabello in Molise, you can’t help but notice an imposing village in the distance high up on a mountain.  That would be Ferrazzano.

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So when Joel and I went to Molise, we also went to see this pretty town.  We didn’t realize it would be so windy up there, boy did it howl! Tina Di Giglio, a friend we made in Molise last year, led us up there.  We were to follow her, lol, who knew it was going to be a motocross race!  Tina, like every other Italian driver races to wherever they are going at breakneck speed.  We stopped in some parking area with a great view, but not before she led us through a street (I use that term loosely because it was an alley), so narrow,I pulled the side mirror in!

The almost 360 degree panorama was breathtaking. My photos don’t do justice. Joel walked down to another level, but the cobble stones and the stairs were too much for me and my boot.

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From our perch, we could look out and see Campobasso which I believe is like the county seat of that province of Molise.

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i saw this gate and doorway, thought it was interesting, so…

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If you ever thought recycling in the United States was a pain, you just haven’t experienced Guardia Sanframondi’s system.  It is so complex and confusing that every month you can pick up a calendar at the Municipal and every night you take the garbage out and hang it on a hook that is attached somewhere on your building or a wall in your driveway.  IMG-20180503-WA0000.jpg

And the garbage bags have faces 🤓😳🤢!!

Jumping back to Florence for a moment, while on the hunt for the perfect birthday gift for myself on the Ponte Vecchio (naturally), we came across a very Italian street entertainment;  A Punch and Judy puppet show!

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It was such a treat to see the little kids sitting down and watching in awe as the hustle and bustle of the Ponte Vecchio area surrounded them.

As much as I loved being in Guardia and Italy in general, there were two disturbing national and cultural issues;  Way too many people in Italy smoke! Really, I was shocked by the prevalence of smokers everywhere.

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AND the diesel automobiles 🚗  🚙 hold your nose! Sometimes in traffic we would be caught in the midst of a bunch of diesel powered vehicles.

,VINO and OIL, well that’s what the sign said… I’ve already told you about this place The Forresta Cooperative where both the olive oil and the wine are local  and in great supply!  Remember I said the wine was in huge silver tanks, there for your own pumping so to speak.  Seeing is believing…

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And the olive oils

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😋

Ciao for now!

To be continued…

 

 

 

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The beauty of being here is being here! I want Joel to experience the people and the place, so we are going to buy some olive oil and some concoction of 🍅 spices and I don’t know what else is in it but it makes one hell of a sauce for pasta with some chopped olives. 20180507_205132I want to buy a jar to take home and the olive oil.  We went  out of town towards Telese to the Forreste cooperative.  What a place!  Like gas pumps, there are huge silver tanks with indications as to what wine is in them.  You literally pump your own wine in multi-liter jugs.  This is definitely better than a wine club!

We go in and are drawn to the olive oil tasting table, where Joel proceeds to eat most of the bread while Assunta liberally pours rich olive oil on the bread for him to mangia.  Between the two of us we decided the robusto was the one for us.  As it turns out, I bought the robusto oil last week with Peter and have been cooking with it all week. Assunta realizes. I am taking this home this home on the airplane so she she conveys to me that she will put it in a tin. This idea leads to lots of running around by her daughter and frustration in trying reseal a can.  So come back domani. Fine tomorrow sounds good, meantime we will take the sauce and the spicy mixture and maybe Joel will stop putting honey on the bread and eating it.

Assunta wants to know what Joel does, so I say cinema, thinking that was the closest word I could come up with. She says, “Actor”?and immediately calls out to her daughter that he is an actor.  Ahhhh… selfies all around with lots of blushing.  It was really so cute! IMG-20180522-WA0001.jpg

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Aglio e Olio - Photo by Shutterstock.com

Aglio e Olio – Photo by Shutterstock.com

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that on Fridays when I was growing up, we had one of three standard dinners;  Pasta Fagiole, Spaghetti Marinara or Spaghetti Aglio e Olio – that’s the way it was in an Italian Catholic household.   We had meatless meals every Friday until the mid-1960’s when the no-meat-on-Friday ban was lifted.  Of course Lenten Fridays still require this abstinence.  So it’s fitting that on this Friday during Lent, that I share this tried and trued and extremely simple recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb spaghetti

5 TBS olive oil

10 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano

1 1/2 cup pasta water

DIRECTIONS:

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water till al dente according to package directions.

Meanwhile heat 3 TBS of oil in a large skillet or braising pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, shaking the skillet and stirring, until pale golden, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.

Ladle about 1 1/2 cups of pasta water into the sauce.  Add the parsley, the remaining 2 TBS of olive oil and salt to taste.

Using a pasta spoon,* scoop out the spaghetti and add it to the braising pan.  Toss to coat pasta and cook for about one minute.  Add the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper and add more red pepper flakes if desired.

Recipe adapted from Lydia’s Italy

*

Spaghetti spoon - Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond $6.99

spaghetti spoon – Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond $6.99

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You’re going to want to “catch” this fresh green sauce, so I’m suggesting you use fusilli because the sauce will cling to the ridges in the spiral cut pasta.  This is a quick and easy weeknight dinner, the whole process should take about 35 minutes!  Orrechiette or penne rigate would also work well.

Photo from Martha Stewart EveryDay Food

Photo from Martha Stewart EveryDay Food

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch spinach (about 1 lb) trimmed and washed

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted

3 TBS EV olive oil

1 TBS finely grated lemon zest

coarse salt and ground pepper

1 lb fusilli

1/4 cup shaved pecorino cheese (1 oz) for serving

DIRECTIONS:

Add spinach and 1 TBS water to a large skillet set over medium-high.  Cook, stirring constantly, until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.  In a food processor, combine spinach, walnuts, oil and lemon zest.  Process until mixture forms a smooth paste, scraping down bowl as needed.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Reserve 2 cups pasta water; drain pasta.  Return pasta to pot and add pesto, tossing to combine and adding enough pasta water to create a sauce that coats pasta.  Transfer to a serving plate, top with pecorino, and serve immediately.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s EveryDay Food March 2011

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Penne with Zucchini and Ricotta photo from http://www.bootleg.net

This is a quick, no fuss dish but definitely refined, think flavorful fare.  The recipe is adapted from the cookbook,  The Cafe Cook Book by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.  Their recipes reflect the unpretentious country Italian fare they serve in their popular restaurant in London, The River Cafe.  Most of their dishes center around two or three  main ingredients and usually require a few short steps to realize the flavor potential of each.

INGREDIENTS:

Sea salt

2 lb small young zucchini, trimmed

2 TBS olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 lb penne

12 oz fresh ricotta cheese

Freshly ground pepper

1 bunch basil, shredded

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS:

1. Bring large pot of water, seasoned with sea salt to a boil.  Add the zucchini whole and boil for 2 minutes.  Drain, cool and slice at an angle in 1/2″ thick slices.

2. Bring a large pot of water, seasoned with sea salt, to a boil.  In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, and cook until softened but not brown, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low, and add the zucchini slices.  Cook, tossing gently 4-5 minutes, until zucchini is lightly browned on the edges.  Remove from heat.

3. Add the penne to the boiling water, and cook till tender but still firm.  Drain well.  Return zucchini to low heat and add penne.  Crumble in ricotta.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add basil and Parmesan, and toss to mix.  Serve.

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Pasta alla Genovese

Pasta alla Genovese

The temperature at 8:00 am this morning was 8 degrees in Manhattan and baby that’s cold outside when you’re walking to work!  I’ve been posting a lot of vegetarian pasta recipes lately but today calls for a heartier dish.  It would make a delicious  meal this evening BUT only if you’re home from work early or are lucky enough to be home all day.  If that’s the case, this is more of weekend dish because of the amount of time required.  This recipe is decidedly different from some other versions I’ve come across.  Perhaps I’ll post another incarnation tomorrow.

INGREDIENTS:

4 1/4 lb. red onions

1/3 cup EV olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 celery rib, trimmed and roughly chopped

1/4 lb bacon or pancetta

2 1/4 lb beef chuck, cut into 2 inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup dry white wine, plus more if desired

1 lb pasta like ziti, rigatoni or tortiglioni

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Place the onions in the boiling water, and cook, covered, 15 minutes.  Drain the onions, and let cool a bit, then slice very thinly.

Heat half the oil in a large heavy pot (braising pan) over medium heat; stir in the carrots, celery and bacon, and cook 4 minutes.  Add the beef, then cover with the onions.  Pour the remaining oil over the onions, then sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp pepper.  cover, bring to a simmer and cook gently until the beef is tender, about 2 hours;  the onions will release a good deal of liquid.

Uncover the pot and bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring more frequently as the liquid reduces and lowering the heat as necessary to prevent scorching, until the meat has fallen apart and the sauce is creamy, about 45 minutes.  Stir in the white wine and taste, adding more wine if desired.  Reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook stirring frequently, until the sauce is glossy and quite thick, about 15 minutes more.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain and toss with the sauce.  Stir in Parmesan to taste, then serve.

Recipe by Mark Bittman NY Times

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