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SWISS_CHEF

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  1. SWISS_CHEF

    Erba Luna

    Have had no more than 33k all week. I think it is the zanzari, they bite everything! BTW Judith, I was wondering how you are going to heat this space? 35 ft ceilings are going to be hard on the wallet, no? Congrats on the uh-oh moment...I love it when that happens. I had a dream last night I opened a restaurant with a neighbor I buy wine from, he has a castle..... I wish you hadn't started all this! Suddenly, I hate my jobs and all I want to do is cook!
  2. Or on a more personal note... if any of you need something special from Piedmont, I get around to most of the more interesting gourmet shops. Let me know what you need and I will send it to you. You pay the cost of the item and the shipping... I don't want a cut. I figure I can always use more food oriented friends. Ed
  3. SWISS_CHEF

    Erba Luna

    Hi Judith, Brava, Brava, Brava!! Wow what a great experience! We will have to come down now! Let me know when you start featuring guest chefs. By the looks of things and the speed that you are getting the work done, your muratore must actually show up! I have heard rumers this can happen but I have never witnessed it! Tante auguri! Ed PS: Im sending along some wild boar recipes: http://www.britishwildboar.org.uk/Recipe.htm
  4. Not here in the heart of truffle season? You must be joking! By all means, please drop in, we love company, particularly middle aged and childless!
  5. My pleasure! I thought it would be more objective to give you the links rather than personal opinions, that way you can make up your own mind based on what interests you. If food and wine are high on your list, Piedmont is a must do. If you do come to Piedmont (more importantly the Monferrato) please look us up, we always have a bottle of wine laying around! Ed
  6. Consider the Monferrato region in Piedmont. It is far less touristy, very inexpensive and very beautiful. We liked it so much that we bought a house here. Here are some good links: B&B’s we really like: http://www.imandorli.it/ Cardona di Alfiano Natta http://canonicadicorteranzo.it/ Corteranzo/Murisengo http://www.castellodirazzano.it/ Alfiano Natta Travel sites: http://www.buongustotours.com Gastronomic tours by our friend Paolo Ferrero Some general information sites: http://www.alexala.it tourism information for Alessandria county http://www.terredasti.it tourist proposals and events calendars around Asti (multi-language) http://www.vignecastelli-piemonte.it Piemonte tourism site (multi-language) http://www.langa-astigiano.it tourism for southern Asti county http://www.albain.com tourist proposals, events calendar around Alba http://www.turismotorino.org tourism information for Turin http://www.enit.it national tourism website (multi-language) http://www.monferrini.com intended for Americans of Monferrato descent—but very informative. Comprehensive bibliography and photo gallery (in English and Piemontese) Some specific events schedules: http://www.astesana-stradadelvino.it wine tourism around Asti county, with events calendar http://www.castelliaperti.it schedule of castles which open to public visit during the year http://www.cherasco2000.com tourism information for Cherasco and the schedule for collector's markets http://www.piemondo.it includes list of regular antique and flea markets around Piemonte etc.
  7. After writing this and reading some of the other posts it has occurred to me that we may be giving an impression that Italians may in some way have culinary blinders on and that could not be further from the truth. Most of us get our sense of culinary adventure from eating Mexican one night, Chinese the next and Indian on the third. Without question, that IS diverse but the Italian kitchen is so diverse that in many ways I think it lessens the demand for exotic foreign flavors. For example at my local Essalunga (a hypermarket based in Milan) I can buy chickens, cocks, guinea hens, quails and pheasants all fresh 7 days a week. There is beef and veal and offal from Ireland and Germany and Piedmont in dozens of different cuts.There is a fish counter that could be in a magazine. Vegetables of every size and variety, including fresh Borlotti and Fava beans, a dozen different types of lettuce, half a dozen (each) different types of tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. Loads of fresh herbs, cardoons, purple and blue eggplants and on and on and on. We get fresh pasta, foccia and pizza dough everyday and scores and scores of hand-made desserts. The"deli" counter makes Zabar's in NYC look lame and there must be 150 different cheeses on offer all the time. The extensive wine aisle is stocked and fussed over by my friend Secondo who is one of only a hand-full of certified Sommeliers in Northern Italy. Imagine, a certified Sommelier in a super market! If it seems like the Italians have on culinary blinders, maybe it is just because they are waiting for something better to come along...and it hasn't yet.
  8. I live 20 minutes north of Asti in the heart of the Monferrato and there are no foreign restaurants. In Asti there are half a dozen Chinese restaurants and they thrive because they sell their food very cheap. The young people love it but it is no better the your average US strip-mall Chinese restaurant with one exception... (in true Italian style) they bring 2 or 3 bottles of Chinese grappa over to the table at the end of the meal but the stuff is so bad you can't drink it. I think it must take months for them to drain a bottle. Otherwise, there are a couple of kebab places and a Brazilian place. Not too imaginative but I don't see anyone complaining. I have tried cooking some foreign cuisines for some of my friends and the reception is courteous but rather lukewarm. French food is particularly frowned upon and spicy food seems to generate more interest. I once made tacos and the one comment was that "the ragu would be delicious over gnocchi" When you live and eat in the Piemonte, variety is not necessarily considered the spice of live.
  9. Ciao Judith, I should have it up and running in the next few days. Why don't you drop by and take it for a test drive. I'm sure I at least have an old bag of half used spaghetti and some bottled sauce!
  10. Hi Judith, I just bought a Lofra stove from Unieuro. It was 30% off because Unieuro isn't going to carry that brand anymore. I paid 800 Euros for mine. I can't give you a report yet because we don't have it hooked up but it is a heck of a lot of stove for the money. Has a glass covered radiant grill, convection oven, rotisserie, 5 burners with one super burner. There is more info here: http://www.lofra.it Here is a pic of my stove:
  11. I'm reading this over and over...content is delicious!
  12. I had a very nice lunch at the restaurant "Da Maria" in my home town of Zanco last week and as I was headed out the door, Giorgio pulled me into the kitchen to show me a 200+ gram truffle that was found in the neighboring village of Frinco. It was huge and prompted a discussion. In Giorgio's opinion...the last place he would ever buy a truffle is at a truffle fair "they are never local" is what he told me. "I only buy from local hunters and I only buy from the ones I know well...otherwise I find them myself" (his dogs are in a pen in the parking lot). Around us, Moncalvo, Muresengo and Montechiaro are all famous for their truffles. Who's is the best... I guess it depends on where you come from... Edit: Oh by the way...About the 200 gram truffle: value is over 700 euros and destined for a client driving up from Rome later that weekend.
  13. The standard recipe is 40 egg yolks to one kilo of flour and a touch of salt. Some local eggs here in Italy are unusually orange and the flour in the US is different so don't expect the same results. There are many good types of Tajarin here in Piedmont but Alfieri is very good, widely available and it is stocked in all the finest gourmet stores in Alba. I would be happy to ship some to any of you as long as you cover the expenses. The sugo is just as important as the pasta so focus on both equally. Tomatoes are usually not used. Most sugos here are very light and are made of finely chopped roasted veal and it's broth or better yet, no meat at all.
  14. I have another trick for finding good wine... When in the vineyards I look for very very old vines and if possible I knock on the door of the closest winery and start asking questions. This technique has paid some wonderful dividends for my little wine company.
  15. Paul can you tell us at which restaurants they ate or where they bought their wines? In my experience you can't just go to the grocery store and get interesting wine, even if you pay good sums of money. It always seems to be mass produced stuff. I always try to buy my wines from the producer (true in Italy too) or if I am not in a wine region I try to buy it at a small négociant. I have even had very good luck in Nicolas. The same is true for prepared food. Buy a quiche at an upscale traiteur like Fouchon and buy one from Carrefour and see which one you like better...
  16. Have never eaten there but have shopped there quite a bit. In fact we found one of our top selling wines at the Cascina Cornale. You may like to read more, we covered the CC a little in an earlier post .
  17. A pleasure to help! If they want to get a little feel of the Monferrato they can have a look at my mini-blog. If they want a tour guide I strongly suggest my good friend Paolo who runs Buon Gusto Tours.
  18. Wow, you are a good friend to give advice like that! Yes they will still be able to get good truffles in early December. If they have trouble finding them they can get in touch me. A good shaving of truffle will add about 8-12 euros to the plate. Many restaurants offer truffles on several dishes for a 15-20 euro surcharge. What kind of restaurants are they looking for? Not everyone wants the top drawer stuff. My favorites are not famous at all. In my village Zanco (north of Asti) at Da Maria you can eat 13-15 courses with very good house wines for less than 35 euros per person. The food quality is outstanding and the menu is traditional and pure Monferrato. I strongly recommend this restaurant. Same is true for La Luna in Sinio (south of Alba) In Alba try Duomo by the church. they make outstanding agnolotti. (more here) If they have more questions feel free to contact me. Ed
  19. Perhaps... but I don't think "welcome" is the right word either. It is instinctive human nature to compare and analyze. We do it every time we walk into a room, meet a new person, start a new job, or visit a foreign land. Some things will appeal to us more than others. This is why we have favorite foods, restaurants etc. If we are objective, we can offer our experiences and listen to others without taking offense. I am a big fan of many things in France and have had many good experiences there. If I disliked everything about France it would not have taken me 10 years to figure it out. But when I take a step back from the situation and ask myself "Where would I rather be?" the answer is clear to me. And when I go one step further and ask myself "Why?" I come up with "generalizations" like the one above. What I offer is simply a personal opinion based on my travels and experiences...to be considered (and challenged) by the other people in this forum. It is not an attempt to persuade readers to dismiss an entire country and its people.
  20. I strongly (yet respectfully) disagree with this gross over-generalization and perpetuation of the stereotypes of these 2 great countries... France has almost 60 million people, and they are all different. As frequent travelers through France, we have more often than not been overwhelmed with the kindness, graciousness, and friendliness of French people. We have been invited into their homes after a brief encounter on the street, at a market, or in a restaurant. We have made some lifelong trans-Atlantic friendships with "strangers" in France. We have had French people go out of their way to help us, give directions, and feed us. Sure, there are some nasty folks in France. But most of the French we meet are great. The key is showing a respect for their culture and their values, IMHO. Please don't generalize about 60 million people... ← Hi Menton, I don't think it is a generalization but rather our impression after a good deal of time in both places. Clearly, you cannot generalize with great accuracy about 60 million people but I can guarantee that there are tendencies or characteristics that differ with every culture and even if you are an open-minded and non-judgmental person you tend to notice this. Ed
  21. We have been trying to come to terms with France for the past decade. We have spent almost all of our vacation time there during that period and logged thousands and thousands of kilometers on our car. We have eaten in dirty bistros and 3 star restaurants and we feel we really have a good feel for the true France, its people and its institutions. Last year we went to Piedmont for the first time. We rented a cottage in October for a week and by February we had bought a house. Everything fit for us, the people, the food, the wine, the history (not to mention the cost)...it all felt so much more comfortable for us than France. We find the French tolerate you and the Italians welcome you into their family. Did you ever move out of a neighborhood and wonder why you ever lived there so long in the first place? THAT is the feeling!
  22. Sorry for the late reply... no reservations are not necessary but not a bad idea if you plan on going on the weekend or during a festival.
  23. Here are a few pictures of us buying at the Moncalco fest. I bought from the same guy last year. Two truffles the size of a nickle cost 50 euros.
  24. Hi David, I can fully understand that they might be better after a day or two but would a 10 day old truffle really be as good as it was a week earlier? Also, if a truffle gets too wet is just grows a black mold and develops an ammonia smell, thats why I use a dry towel, wrap it very loosly and change it if it gets wet. I saw one guy at Moncalvo storing his truffles in dirt... now there is an idea! Ed
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