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eG Foodblog: hathor - Carpe Diem


hathor
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This morning we went to the piazza and had a coffee at the bar.

Simple sentence, right? This is what it means...the piazza is the heart of the town, a live beating heart. If you want to know what's going on...you head to the piazza. You meet your neighbors, catch up on gossip, etc. Its a damn shame that US cities don't have piazzas, all through Europe piazzas are meeting places, and there is no more comforting thing than heading to the piazza. The flip side of this: if you need to get somewhere quick, if you aren't looking your best, don't have time to chat....don't go thru the piazza.

A bar is not just a place for drinking, its critical to the life in the piazza. Bars sell coffee and pastries, sandwiches at lunch time, cigarettes, water, gelato. Everybody has their favorite bar that is their personal hang. We hang at Erbe Luna.

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This is Martina, she owns the bar and restaurant with Claudio...and they have the 2 kids that I'm in love with. Martina doesn't talk with her hands, she talks with her entire body. She said she was going porcini hunting this afternoon, and I asked if I could come along, "Come` non?" So, I went.

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This is a porcini. Beautiful, isn't it? Well, I didn't find that one...I didn't find any at all, but I had a great time crawling around in the woods. I wish I could explain just how steep the woods are here...it was a lot of hand over hand, hauling yourself up by tree trunks. I love getting muddy!

There were 5 of us: Claudio, Martina, Martina's mother Eva, the beautiful Gina and myself. Gina is a white haired nona, without a line on her beautiful face. I didn't get a good picture of her, I'm sorry. That is her lovely hand holding the procini. Eva is pretty beautiful too...

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We weren't very successful at finding porcini, but we found lots of other mushrooms. Gina and Claudio were the final authority on what was good, sort of ok, and deadly. There was a long discussion about one type of mushroom, with Claudio declaring that he was Roman, I was a New Yorker and we should leave that mushroom to the Montonese.

The routine was I would bring my basket to someone, and they would declare it "non buoni", and I would throw it out. I did get some yellow, coral like mushrooms, and the group split down the middle on whether or not you could eat them.

Here is Claudio coming out of the woods, holding a puny porcini. He's a maestro at finding porcini, so he was making fun of his little bitty mushroom

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There was an interesting 'meeting' between us and some caccitore (hunters). Its cinghiale (wild boar) hunting season now. The method for hunting cinghiale is called 'battuto', as in beating. Some hunters beat the woods to flush the animal, others stand around on a ridge with rifles waiting, they all have wire less radios connecting each other. Its a huge past time here and the woods are full of hunters right now. Claudio and the hunters exchanged a few words about who has the right to the woods, porcini or cinghiale hunters. It was a little tense, but nothing serious. Land use issues crop up all over the place, don't they? Whether its snow mobilers and tele mark skiers...or porcini and cinghiale hunters.

And here is how Montone looked as we were heading home.

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Sigh. I don't know which I find more beautiful: the close-ups of porcini, black truffles mixed in strands of pasta or the distant views of the town and Roman making his way out of the woods in geeky rubber boots. Thanks for the pictures of the market, too.

You said there are around 800 people in your town, right? Just how many bars can a town of that size support?

Are you and your husband the only adopted foreigners?

Finally, if others in your community are not shy, now that we've seen the piazza in the morning, might we have a picture of the evening passegiata?

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Please please tell me there is something "bad" about living in Umbria! This blog is just too perfect, and I am looking out of my office window at the drab, slightly hazy Houston, TX skyline. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us this week.

Two things among many caught my attention:

1- There is really no smoking? in a bar/cafe? in Europe? The only bad thing about our visit to Spain was the haze of smoke in every little restaurant. Is it a new law in your neck of the woods?

2- I love the market photos and the Porchetta. What kind of bread is used for the sandwich? Is it the same as the saltless Umbrian bread, but in roll form? I want to make some for the Umbria month in the Italy forum.

Back to living my dream vicariously through you......

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Judith, these photos are so incredibly evocative. I feel as if I'm right there, especially as there is much about the medieval streets and houses that reminds me of Safed, one of Israel's ancient holy cities, where I lived for several years. Even the fog. Really looking at the photos sort of squeezed my heart. These very old places are full of a certain energy, and you are aware that the air you're breathing has a different feel from the atmosphere anywhere else. It's not only the unique smells and colors, it's the feeling on the skin, in the lungs, and eventually in the heart. And although living, thriving people tread the streets, the presence of the dead, those who played out their live's dramas on the same streets, is almost palpable.

The molino's big wine bottles (demijohns) and the stainless-steel fermentation tank where you filled up your jerrycans, well, they really made me turn green - with envy. The best winemaking equipment comes from Italy! Not easy to get that kind of equipment here, and all very expensive. I can't imagine driving up to a winery and filling up a jerrycan with a good house wine: wish I could, and what's more, wish I ran such a winery myself...

Can you buy pepitas already shelled? They are very good sauteed in plain soy sauce till they have absorbed the liquid and have puffed up and popped.

Fascinating marketplace photos, lovely food...cool blog!

Miriam

Miriam Kresh

blog:[blog=www.israelikitchen.com][/blog]

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Judith, these photos are so beautiful. The one of the porchetta stand brought back fond memories. And those tomatoes!!

What type of stock is used in the Tortellini in brodo? It has such a lovely color.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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This is Jeff with Mary. Oh. Just in case, Jeff is my partner and husband....

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hathor, your husband looks mighty familiar.  That's a great photo, too.

So, FabulousFoodBabe...what do you mean my husband looks familiar?? Are you one of his girlfriends too??  :laugh:  :laugh:
:laugh: No, hathor! "My" boyfriends are the Yankees ... as in Mr. Fabby calls to say he's taking an earlier flight/train home, so I can clear the Yanks out. (for him, it's the Lakers Girls.) Your husband looks famous/familiar in a 'haven't I seen you before" way.

I gotta confess that the "gee, he looks familiar" thought was niggling at the back of my mind, too ... until I went Googling and found this photo.

Okay, the resemblance isn't anywhere near as strong as my memory was insisting it was ... but I still got a grin out of it. Your husband's secret alternate existence as a rock star? :biggrin:

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This is Jeff with Mary. Oh. Just in case, Jeff is my partner and husband....

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hathor, your husband looks mighty familiar.  That's a great photo, too.

So, FabulousFoodBabe...what do you mean my husband looks familiar?? Are you one of his girlfriends too??  :laugh:  :laugh:
:laugh: No, hathor! "My" boyfriends are the Yankees ... as in Mr. Fabby calls to say he's taking an earlier flight/train home, so I can clear the Yanks out. (for him, it's the Lakers Girls.) Your husband looks famous/familiar in a 'haven't I seen you before" way.

I gotta confess that the "gee, he looks familiar" thought was niggling at the back of my mind, too ... until I went Googling and found this photo.

Mizducky--you are so right!!

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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This is Jeff with Mary. Oh. Just in case, Jeff is my partner and husband....

gallery_14010_3612_1408912.jpg

hathor, your husband looks mighty familiar.  That's a great photo, too.

So, FabulousFoodBabe...what do you mean my husband looks familiar?? Are you one of his girlfriends too??  :laugh:  :laugh:
:laugh: No, hathor! "My" boyfriends are the Yankees ... as in Mr. Fabby calls to say he's taking an earlier flight/train home, so I can clear the Yanks out. (for him, it's the Lakers Girls.) Your husband looks famous/familiar in a 'haven't I seen you before" way.

I gotta confess that the "gee, he looks familiar" thought was niggling at the back of my mind, too ... until I went Googling and found this photo.

Mizducky--you are so right!!

Err.. Howard Nessman? (Johnny Fever) WKRP in Cincinnati?

Great blog Hathor. Thanks.

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You blog is spellbinding. the pic's are really worth a thousands words, because it would be next to impossible to put into words the beautiful sights and people. I'm very enveious of you and you husband. What is the weather like there during the winter months? What state in the USA would you compare the climate to, and also how hot does the summer get and is it a dry or humid heat? The fact that your husband has a jacket on and it still so warm here makes me wonder. If its possible could you get pics of the inside of a bar & restaruant. I sometimes think it would be great to retire and visit all the places that people have done food blogs from.

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I'm glued to your blog too.  It's what we all say we'll do when we retire, but so few do.  It was a good question, why you come back at all.  Care to take a stab at it?

thanks to the pps for asking the question i was dying to

ask but was hesitant.....

corollary: what line of work do you and / or husband

have, that you can have this wonderful italian life too?

(retired maybe?)

milagai (=hot chili pepper in tamil)

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Err.. Howard Nessman? (Johnny Fever) WKRP in Cincinnati?

Great blog Hathor. Thanks.

ChefCrash AND Mizducky-- you are both right! (It's Hesseman, Chef -- which I know because I'm a Cincinnatian ..)

hathor, this is glorious, educational, fun. I always thought Pepitas were Latin-American!

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Fab: Hathor and other eG members such as Ore, Divina or Franci know a lot more than I do.  However, I hope it's okay for me to pipe up and say that you'll find a lot of those nonne are respected, nay reverred culinary professionals, some of mythic stature, who run their own kitchens.

Pontormo -- I didn't say this before, but thank you. From what you and hathor are showing me and saying, the whole attitude is just so different from what I've been used to here. And I feel really relaxed just thinking about it.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Buongiorno!

Lots of questions! :biggrin::biggrin:

Pontormo: We have 2 bars and 4 churches! Seems to be about the right ratio, don't you think?

No, we're not the only foreigners. There are 4 or 5 other American households, and I think some Australians within the walls, but we spend the most time here. The painter, Daniel Lang, was the first foreigner to move into Montone, about 30 years ago. He tells a great story of when he first moved in, he was puttering around in his kitchen, when he heard very heavy, raspy, asthmatic breathing. He looked up, and it was an enormous, ancient eagle perched on one of the ceiling beams. They both screamed in fright, and the eagle flew away, never to be seen again.

I'm hoping for some passagiata tonight..the weather has not been cooperating, but so far, today is spectacular.

Foodman: No smoking in public places in Italy, not in all of Europe. Ireland was the first to go this route, then Italy. The French are dithering about it, not sure who else will follow.

Is there anything bad about living in Umbria? Let me invite over some neighbors, open some wine and they would be happy to tell you all the things that are wrong. :biggrin::laugh: There are a lot of socio/political issues, but that's a discussion for another time and place. Preferably over that bottle of wine.

Miriam: You've captured what its like to live in a medieval town perfectly. We are just passing through, adding our little bit, but the town remains. It puts many aspects of your life in perspective when you live somewhere with a long history, even something as venial as personal aging.

Doc Slaughter: the winter months here can be lonely and long. There is lots of rain, some snow, fog, bone chilling cold and wind. Most of the fair weather people (summer residents, those who come and go from Rome/Milan) aren't around. It gets very, very quiet. Dina, from the trattoria, had already begun complaining about the lack of people and the quietness.

I love the snow, the quiet, the fog, but for me, its a personal choice. Christmas time in Montone is pure magic, secondo me. This photo is from Feb. '05 when we had a ton of snow.

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That is part of the walls that keep us Montonese protected.

What state in the US has a similar climate? Boy, I'm not sure. We've got some palm trees around town, it snows, lots of fog, can be brutally hot and dry in the summer.... I would say the Berkshire region except for the palm trees.

MizDucky, you made me spit water all over my computer screen!! :laugh::laugh::laugh: Wait till Jeff comes home and sees that!! :wacko::shock::laugh::laugh::laugh:

As far as going back to NY....if it weren't for our son, family and dear friends, oh, and some work obligations, we wouldn't go back.

I feel a need to make a little disclaimer to many of you who have not been to Italy: I'm living in a very small, postage stamp size part of Italy. What happens in my little corner of Umbria, may not be what happens in all of Italy. Regionality is a very strong influence here and should be taken into account. Its like saying you've been to Sante Fe and that represents all of the U.S. Disclaimer over. Visit with us over on the Italian Forum to get a feeling for the different cuisines of each region.

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Well, we were going to go to San Guistino last night, to this great pizza place, but then we remembered they are closed on Thursday, so we went to Umbertide for pizza.

What I was really hungry for was one of those calzones that everyone has been making on the Campania thread.

The restaurant is subterranean and it was either a convent or an abbey, with a tunnel that lead directly into the church that is across the piazza. The restaurant is really pretty...it would be a great place for a Halloween party....but the pizza is just ok. And the calzones on the Campania thread are still calling me.

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As a bonus, as we were leaving the restaurant, the church across the way was celebrating the Feast of St. Francis, and inaugurating their new organ. We went across to listen to a soprano singing her heart out, wearing a slithery, sexy, red, one shoulder gown, while standing in front of the altar. You don't see that in Kansas.

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Friday mornings we have Italian lessons, so breakfast was 'ciambelle' and cappucino. We all know its a dougnut! The guys who run the bar know we are students, so until we pronounce the name of the pastry correctly, they won't give us our breakfast! What torture.

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Our teacher had told us about an art exhibit in Citta di Castello, so we thought we'd take a quick run in and see what it was about. The artist is Milo Manara, he's probably best known as a comic book artist, of an erotic bent, but he also does political satire, and caricature work. The exhibition is being held in a large, community palazzo that we've always meant to visit.

This will be a very short cultural interlude...because you cannot visit Italy without seeing some art.

The palazzo just blew us away! It is incredible, every ceiling was either completely frescoed, or coffered and painted.

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Those are missing panels, and about 20 feet above that, you could glimpse the actual beamed roof. The place is in dire need of restoration, but, "Ma Dai!", what a job that would be!

This is the view from the window, I'm assuming these are Roman ruin remnants. These ruins are within the town walls, and we never had any idea they existed until today. There is also this sort of stone grotto over on the side. Its all stalactites and niches and statues; from the exterior, on the street side, its just a curved brick wall. There is no signage of any sort to explain what it is.

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And just to bring us back on to the topic of food...here is an example of Milo Marano's work. The attendant at the exhibition didn't mind me taking photos, so I don't think I've stepped on any copyright toes.

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Come to think of it, I do need an avatar.... :laugh::laugh:

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I didn't give Milo permission to use that picture! :raz:

That sole you served looks amazing. I am so jealous. Whenever I go to Holland I make my cousins take me to a fish restaurant for sole. If you can find fresh sole, it is too expensive to buy. I have only had it at a restaurant in Acco.

You have sold me on a trip to Umbria. I am already planning our vacation for next year. The truth is, I wanted to stay at a place near Umbertide a couple of years ago, called This Old Convent during Passover, but we had to change our plans.

Israel has expert pepito eaters; I still haven't figured out how to open the damn things with my teeth, but I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue. :rolleyes:

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I've been wanting to take you to Francesco Monei's house. He's a Sardinian sheep farmer, who also makes excellent cheeses. When we went on Tues, no one was home, which was unusual. Normally, we can pick up our fresh ricotta around 11:30- 12:00, its still steaming hot, but at least you can get it home. We came back this morning, and their son explained that they weren't making any ricotta this time of year because all the little lambs were being born and needed to be nursed.

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You can just make out 2 of them nursing on the right had side of the photo. Some of the really young ones are below the grass line. Toooo cute for words, on their little wobbly legs.

Thats all fine and dandy, until he told me they wouldn't start ricotta production until this coming January!! :wacko::shock::shock: What! I'm all about eating in season...but to lose my ricotta connection?? That's a disaster......

There is some consolation: frue. Those of us on the Italian forum, when we were studying Sardina might remember me carrying on about frue. Essentially is a ricotta salata, an aged ricotta, with a very low melting temperature. Its absolutely delicious, with a good, strong, 'sheep-y' taste. Here is the frue, drying in the sun.

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Oh yes....and here is Jeff, saing hello to everyone! :laugh::biggrin:

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Now! Before you get any ideas...that is MY car, and I let him drive it. Yes, those are NY plates, and yes, we shipped the car over. And, YES, it is a blast to have this car over here. It's my baby, he has a motorcycle. We also have an old rusty pick up truck for when we really need to haul stuff around.

On the way home, Jeff asked me to make him "domat con quesu" for lunch. That is a rough, phonetic spelling of a Sephardic dish that was commonly eaten in his family. It is a humble origin, peasant dish of stewed tomatoes, onions, a poached egg and some cheese, in this case: frue.

So here's lunch, 'domat', cucumber salad and some sauteed broccoli.

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Now, I'm thinking, uh-oh, this looks like it belongs in the Regrettable Dinner thread...so, I'm trying to make it look....presentable.

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*note the large peppercorn on the egg yoke. My pepper mill broke in June, so I've been crushing the peppercorns by hand, with a mortar and pestle...gives new meaning to coarse ground pepper!

Jeff insisted that I take a 'proper' picture of this dish, covered in the frue.

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I swear it tasted really good...honest!!

We had a nice ciabatta bread to soak up the juice, and along with lunch, we sipped a Sicilian rose, Corvo, that I especially like. Rose wines have been maligned and I'm on a small personal crusade to give them the credit that is due. Are you with me on this, Katie Loeb? :cool:

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I_call_the_duck: I'm sorry, I missed your question. Simple chicken brodo for the tortellini, nothing the least bit aggressive.

I think we all need a moment to aknowledge the accomplishment of our friend, Michelle Swisskaese..!! :biggrin::biggrin: She has us pepita crack-and-droppers beat by a mile!

edit for a p.s. Let's meet in the piazza later for an aperitivio, ok?

Edited by hathor (log)
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Judith.. just caught up with your blog.. me next!!!

Love it... glad to see your corner of Italy..

I'll have a negroni in my piazza at about 5pm.. we can make it virtual and raise our glasses at the same time!

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Jeff insisted that I take a 'proper' picture of this dish, covered in the frue. 

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I swear it tasted really good...honest!!

We had a nice ciabatta bread to soak up the juice, and along with lunch, we sipped a Sicilian rose, Corvo, that I especially like. Rose wines have been maligned and I'm on a small personal crusade to give them the credit that is due. Are you with me on this, Katie Loeb?  :cool:

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My husband is always calling me a camposina when it comes to (some of) my food tastes. That looks gorgeous to me!

And count me in on the rose-philes. I don't mind them being underrated though -- more for me. :wink:

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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Judith.. just caught up with your blog.. me next!!!

Love it... glad to see your corner of Italy..

I'll have a negroni in my piazza at about 5pm.. we can make it virtual and raise our glasses at the same time!

You know I'm a sucker for a good negroni! :laugh::laugh:

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