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Everything posted by SWISS_CHEF

  1. Thanks for posting this, I have been thinking of taking some courses at ICIF in Costigliole but my schedule won't allow the time (not to mention my budget) and since I am not looking for a career in the restaurant business (been there done that) and I am at that funny old age where I would probably feel a little uncomfortable in a class full of 20 year olds.... "Oh look a dinosaur with a toque!" or "Aren't you a little old to be trusted with sharp objects grandpa?" So, I have been spending time in the kitchens of my Italian friends and their mothers. It is surprising what you can learn from them. Not exactly something one could put on a CV but I would have to say it is almost as interesting as a cooking school. Still, those diaries look so inviting!
  2. Okay...perhaps you can help me with this one; so far as I know Piedmont is the english name for the region, and Piemonte is the Italian town smack in the middle of it. That's my version...please correct me if they are different; I am thinking of the region, on the south end of the border with France. ← Piemonte is a region. It means "foot of the mountains", Piemonte is the second largest region in Italy, but only the 6th most populated. Both spellings are correct; Piemonte is Italian and Piedmont is English. There is no town in Piemonte region called Piemonte or Piedmont. By the way Turin and Torino are the same town.
  3. Until I get Bianca's recipe this recipe in Italian seems to be very close but does not have any Parmesan in it like Bianca's. You can try substituting spinach and or basil. I won't, of course, be the same but it will get you started in the right direction. Regular wine vinegar is much stronger than the vinegar Bianca used so I tried a mixture of 1/3rd red wine vinegar and 2/3rds white wine and it came pretty close.
  4. I could send you some. We live part time between Turin and Asti. Would be happy to help and at least you will know they are fresh. Ed
  5. Went to a friend's house in Cossombrato and his dear old mother made a fritata with Erba di San Pietro or Costmary in English. Served warm, we were told to drizzle a tiny bit of very mild locally made vinegar over it. It was the best dish I have had this year, hands down. I had three helpings and made her promise to take me into the kitchen and show me how to make it when I go back. I will report back and take photos.
  6. NOOOO! What a drag! I am so sorry to read this! Next time in Alba try Piola Piazza Duomo Gibigianna is good, but even better is Roma in Costigliole d'Asti. There is always next time.
  7. Very interesting, I have not heard of this before... my quote is my own creation, from start to finish. I suppose things like this happen from time to time.
  8. Wow, that is a beautiful coppa. I hope you will share your preparation method! Are you using nitrates or only salt? Below is a mass-produced coppa I use in my wine tastings because it is cheap, sliced and it is packed in nitrogen and keeps for a long time. It is as cheap as presliced coppa gets in Italy at about $7.20 a pound. You can easily pay 3 or 4 times that for really fine coppa. The taste...salty and rather boring as compared to a good coppa. You just don't get that intense pork aroma and nutty flavor.
  9. Yes the home cured meats are usually just cured with salt, herbs and garlic, no nitrates. Most (maybe all) factories use nitrates. What I mean is, even though I have a professional quality meat slicer I don't use it. I slice by hand, in front of my guests, at the table. It is just more personal. It is like the difference between cut Parmesan and broken Parmesan.
  10. Haven't lived in the States for 7 years so I can't comment on the brands you mentioned. When I was there last the big news was Boar's Head (just one of the reasons I left) Now, I travel to Italy a lot and I know a little about good salumi and I can say one thing with a lot of confidence..... there are three quality levels of Italian salumi: 1. Factory made salumi which is probably still much better than most of the salumi you get in the States. 2. Artiganale made salumi, usually DOC or DOP, organisations like Slow Food and Paolo Massobrio are going through great lengths to bring these to our attention. 3. Homemade. Here is the best kept secret of Italian salumi. Here you taste what love can make. Everyone passionate about food makes some sort of house salumi and that includes a lot of people. You can not compare this salumi with anything else. It is simply the best. A couple of tips: - It is better to buy a large piece and cut what you need by hand with a razor sharp knife than to have it sliced for you at the deli counter. All salumi deteriorates when it comes in contact with air, so unless you plan to eat it in the next couple of hours don't cut it. If you go to an Italian's home he will cut it off a little at a time...especially if it is a home made one. I have stopped using my electric slicer all together for this and it is ok if the pieces are just little chips and uneven.... you are with friends. - Let the slices come to room temperature before eating them. - If it is a greasy salumi, look for a wine that is high in acid like a young Barbera or better yet a Grignolino. - Italians do not serve bread or crackers with fine salumi. - Really great salumi should taste like pork...avoid salumi with seasonings other than salt and pepper and maybe a little garlic.
  11. I just bought a large shallow La Creuset roasting pan at my local thrift store for the equivalent of 2 dollars. I have found several Wüsthof and Sabatier knives, loads of La Creuset as well as countless old copper pots. You would be surprised what you can find at a thrift store! I suppose garage sales would yield equal treasures.
  12. Glad to hear you will go to Sessant! Please tell Alicia and Mario I sent you, it should be good for a free grappa at least! By the way they only make pizza in the evenings and don't go too early 8-9 pm is about right. Ed
  13. Huh? Could you be talking about coppa.?? Look for Coppa di Parma (salt, pepper garlic and wine), Coppa di testa (from the head), Coppa mantovana (salt and pepper only) and Coppa piacentina Dop (salt, pepper and nitrates). As far as I can tell...the hot and sweet versions seem to be an American thing.
  14. I'm a bit of a knife buff : My first suggestion is to look on e-bay for used knives. I have also found lots of good knives at estate sales. Usually they are dirt cheap because everyone is there for the antiques. The best cheap new knives I have seen came from Ikea. Full-forged, solid and well balanced and finished better than my Wüsthofs. I have had these two for five of six years now. The version you get today is slightly different but they look to be just as solid. I can't remember what I paid but they were very cheap. A 20 cm chef's knife is something like $20.
  15. This is true and good advice. I live in Switzerland where the Miele and Jura machines are in every office and most homes. Other than the one-touch feature I can't say the coffee is that great. I use the $3 plastic cone too and spend the balance on really fine quality coffee. For expresso, I have a Jura N50 and the use the "Ristretto" capsule and in my opinion it is much better than the automatic machines. Having said all that, there is still no comparison to the coffee I get in Italy at the coffee bars for .80 cents a shot. They have ruined coffee at home for me. By the way, is Nespresso widely available in the US?
  16. You will not see white truffles anywhere. You may see some black truffles in the shops in Alba but don't bother. Eat the agnolotti plin and the tajarin because they are always good, with or without truffles. In Alba I really like: La Piola. Piazza Duomo, 4 12051 Alba (CN) Tel. +39 0173 442800 Fax +39 0173 296003. Although it has a limited menu the food was well executed and the staff was caring. In Bra go to Osteria del Boccondivino and in Sinio you will find La Luna one of our all time favorites


    About 1988 I bought a half of a case of '73 Latour and drank it from '88 through about 93. It was surprising for me because I had strong prejudices about off-vintages but the '73 Latour cured me of that! I also remember something similar happening with a half case of '73 Gruaud Larose that we drank about 1982-84.... Not sure how these wines would drink today but it's worth a try.
  18. Hey, maybe this will bring the price of steak down!
  19. Everyone I have spoken to in Monferrato calls it Turin... but they use many French words in the Piemonte, and they certainly do not consider themselves to be Italian.
  20. Writing it off? Perhaps but only from a culinary standpoint as compared to the Monferrato and the Langhe, but Turin is a fantastic city for many things besides food. I was warned by several locals that the food is expensive and of average quality in Turin and my (admittedly) first trip seemed to confirmed it. It wasn't just the 15 euro bottle of Chianti (read it again, please). I will go back, to be sure.... but I will choose my restaurants more carefully. All that having been said, I am quite sure most people would be thrilled with the restaurants of Turin as long as they haven't been to Monferrato or the Langhe first.
  21. Actually it wasn't "my" opinion, it was the "heads-up" I got from several true Piemontese friends. I had never been to Turin before this. When we were there we popped into a little wine bar on a main square and had one plate of dried meats and 3 glasses of cheap Barbera and the bill was nearly 30 euros we could have done it for half that much in the Monferrato. Afterwords, we went to a pizza place and with our order we asked for a carafe of house red and he brought a 15 euro bottle of Chianti and got mad when we turned him back....the Pizza was lame too. But I have to say the farinata was out of this world Having said that, the gelati were fantastic...especially the gelati torrone semi-freddo!!! Oh Ma God! Sorry, give me the Monferrato or Langhe any day over Turin... with the possible exception of the sweets! Edit: I should say.....architecturally speaking, Turin was very interesting and remarkably beautiful!
  22. Ciao Alberto, Good question! Honestly I don't know, we were just wandering around and all the receipts are back at our place in Italy. When I get back next week I will see if I can figure it out.
  23. Here are a few pictures I took in Turin during the olympics... I realised that I didn't take a single picture that had anything to do with the olympics...mostly just food!
  24. A chef whom I respect and consider wise, told me he uses Roma because the grains are smaller and cook more evenly. Interestingly though, the other chef that insisted on Carnaroli hardly stirred her rice at all. She first fried shallots and some tomatos, then added the rice and fried it some more.... added water and let it cook, covered, without stirring. Then in the end she added a mixture of Parmesan and goat's cheese, basil and olive oil which she blitzed in the blender... (edit) and she let it sit, covered for about 4 minutes ....and I must say it was fantastic, perhaps even the best risotto I have ever had!
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