Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 and Moving Ahead

     2010 has been an interesting year.  So much has happened this year in my personal life, in my Animal Rights Activism, and in the world.  I think the biggest lesson for me this year is that I have finally learned to trust my heart and intuition when it comes to fellow human beings.  If my heart tells me someone is scum, fake, and not worth it, I now listen.  If my husband backs up this opinion, than I don't want to waste my time on people.  Often we can tell if a person is a backstabber by the company they keep, or what they value in life. I value nature, the simple life, amazing food, great wine, my family and friends and I don't value boob jobs, vanity, name dropping or social climbing.  I want my life to be guided by good deeds and good people with true hearts.  I guess it just takes awhile.  I jump into my 7th year of life in Italy with better prospectives, better language, and better friends...out with the old, in with the new.    This year has taught me I can be a gourmand without exploiting animals.  When people ask, "What do you eat?"  I have to laugh. 

In Rome, the Animal Rights community lost a true Angel, Miss Maya.  She was a colleague of mine, and whenever we saw each other we only spoke about animals.  She would always talk about her dogs and cats and we would complain about how violent humans are as corpse eaters.  She always said, "They are better than us."  She gave her life for a fellow sentient being, trying to save a cat from a train.  She taught me a lot about how to care for a feral cat community, and I will really miss our random meetings at the pizza spot near the Vatican.  Her death is a true loss, because we need more veg people and people who respect the lives of other sentient beings.  It is sad for those she leaves behind and a real loss for non human animals.  Maya was a glittery eyed firework.  I remember the first time I saw her at the Vatican she was putting her clients in a Taxi at a Taxi stand where there was a long line, and some priests just cut the line and got into the Taxi.  She had none of it.  She practically pulled them out of the Taxi so her clients could have it, after all why shouldn't they wait in line like the rest of us?  Maya lived her life to the fullest, and I want to as well.  I can no longer waste my energies where they are not needed, and I need to have a louder voice for all sentient beings.  I am dedicating my year of animal rights activism in 2011 to Maya.  I hope she works through me.

To honor her, I am going to do more for animals this year.  My activism is going to be peaceful.  I know that the only way to have peace on earth is to go vegan.  Veganism is the only way to love yourself, fellow sentient beings, and the earth.  If you love animals, and you still consume their bodies and products, please stop.  Get informed on why animal agriculture is violent, polluting and unhealthy.  Animal products are killing us and the earth.  If you support meat and dairy you support exploitation of both animals and humans.  The workers in these industries are exploited.  The industry is the most polluting of any on earth and produces more pollution than all transportation(cars, trucks, trains, boats and planes) worldwide.  Do it for the animals, the planet, and for fellow human beings.  If you believe in peace and a non violent future, GO VEGAN in 2011!!!!!!

Please do not buy pets, adopt at a shelter.

Here are some links:

The Vegan Society

Abolitionist Approach

Why don't  I eat meat, eat animal products, wear animals or exploit them?  They feel, have complex social lives, and deserve LIFE.   All Sentient beings deserve to live out their natural life in a way that is natural to them.  Not as our property, food, labor,  entertainment or clothes.  I don't eat meat, animal productss, buy animal skins like leather or fur, wear wool, go to Sea World (one of the most evil places on earth).  You are what you eat, so don't eat dead animals!!  GO VEGAN!  It's the compassionate choice. 

Which image is more peaceful?  Animals alive or animals killed so you can chew on them?

Gary L. Francione: The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights Make the world a more just and less violent place in 2011: go vegan and talk with your family and friends about veganism.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bucatini al (non)Cacio e Pepe

Bucatini al (non)Cacio e Pepe
     One of the things I love about the Roman-Laziale kitchen is the use of simple ingredients that make amazing food that is full of flavor.  I could say the same thing about my own personal vegan kitchen.   I spend most of my kitchen time bringing out the best flavors of fruits and vegetables.    I don’t really do a lot of substitution cooking because I like to eat a mostly whole foods diet.  I do eat tofu, but that is because I really love the taste, texture and flavor of tofu, not because I am trying to substitute meat. 
     Most of my non-vegan friends in Italy tell me that the reason they are not vegan is because they love all the cheeses of Italy.  In fact there is an abundance of cheese made from the milk of sheep, goats, cows and even water buffalo.  Not for me, thanks.  In Rome, the cheese that is sprinkled on top of pasta is not parmigiano but pecorino and one of the most simple and tasty dishes is called Cacio e Pepe, cheese and pepper.  It is best with a long pasta like spaghetti, but if you want it to be really Roman, get some bucatini.  It is like tube spaghetti.  The word cacao is referring to cheese, even though in Italian, the word formaggio, is closer to the French.  Cacio is derived from the Latin word casio, which means cheese.  Cacio e Pepe is a very poor Roman dish, and it is VERY easily veganized.  All it consists of is olive oil,  pecorino romano,  and fresh black pepper. 
Ingredients for 4 people
For the( Un) Pecorino Romano
   200 g of blanched almonds
1 1/2 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
1 teaspoon agar agar POWDER
1/2 tablespoon Celtic sea salt (NEVER table salt, not even cheap sea salt from the grocer)
3 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper to crush
One package of Bucatini or Spaghetti
     In a food processor almonds, nutritional yeast, agar agar, and salt until blended very well with no chunks of almonds or salt.  In a large pot, boil water, add salt when water is boiled and add the pasta.  When the pasta is al dente, drain and place back into the pot.  Add the contents of the food processor, about 2 tbsp of crush black pepper and the olive oil, also about 2TBSP of the starchy water saved from boiling the pasta.  Stir all of the ingredients together until the pasta is covered in the sauce.  serve in small pasta bowls and add more crushed black pepper as desired. 
    Enjoy with a bottle of Lazio Malvasia. 
Buon Appetito!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Food of Goths

I have not had much time to blog lately.  My house was struck by lightning and my internet and phone line were burnt out for about 10 days.  I have been busy with work, Thanksgiving, and planning Chanukah this year.  
     This blog is dedicated to three people, first of all,  Leilani Clark who  is a great friend and amazing writer of culture and literature.  She is also editor and co founder of a group of people who host writing workshops and publish a zine with a theme each issue.  This past issue, the theme was Dark, to celebrate the coming of Autumn and Winter.  Many different types of people collaborate including writers, artists, and photographers, so my contribution was dark and gothic foods.  The creativity workshops are run by Petals and Bones.  Thanks Leilani for having a place for creatives and helping me with my grammar.  She's also a college English teacher.  
     Secondly, Ms. Heather Hanson who was kind enough to come all the up to the boonies to share Totally Truffled Thanksgiving with us.  My favorite California girl in Rome and fellow wine lover.  She is also a wine educator at a University in Rome and leads wine tours.  Check out her great blog Italy Decanted and read her wine notes!
   And finally, to my favorite vegan food blog , Veganize it...Don't Just Criticize it by Ms. Jenn Shagrin.  A funny, beautiful and delicious vegan blog that inspires me everytime I read it.  I am now much more iinspired to take non vegan recipes and make wonderful veganized versions of them.  

The Food of Goths
By Sarah May Grunwald

    My partner and I suffer from “opposites attract syndrome.”  He is the dark to my light, appearance-wise, but his skin is about as deep as his darkness goes.  He is the sun to my moon, he is Cat Stevens where I am Diamanda Galas, his cup is half full to my cup is half empty, but he laments the passage of summer as if he is mourning a lost friend or relative.  As soon as the light turns to dark, he becomes embittered, whereas I welcome the short days and rainy weather.  Fall is the season of darkness. The days get shorter; we want to stay inside by the warm fire. It is perfect for gothic tunes about darkness. Tanorexics lament the passing of sunny days.
 For my own part, I celebrate the coming of fall.  Fall gives birth to the darkest of Mother Earth’s gifts, the elusive truffle. They grow under oak trees deep in the soil. In fact, light is not their friend. For a gourmand like me, dark days mean delicious days. What is darker and more gothic in the world of food than a black or white truffle? Once you’ve had the occasion to have the perfume of one linger in your nasal cavity or palate, an addiction will be born. They are sweet-smelling, like old roses; hormonal, barnyardy (a word often used in the wine community), and a known aphrodisiac. They are humble and ugly--a fungus, nothing more.  But they are the most coveted of the fungi family. During the White Truffle festival in Alba, Piedmont, people who own these darlings must have a body guard. In divorce proceedings between couples who are perhaps in the food industry, when the proceedings turn to custody, they aren’t speaking of children. 
Yes, a simple fungus has driven many a woman or man insane.  I know I have my own anxieties the few weeks before I am to go to a truffle festival. I squander money, hide it around the house, plan elaborate menus around the truffles I am to buy, close my eyes and imagine that sweet aphrodisiac perfume. It is the food of the goddess. Surely the milk of mother earth is a white truffle.  I cannot imagine anything else as divine.
One of my favorite recipes that I have veganized includes the friend of the truffle, the porcini mushroom. I took the recipe from a favorite book on the Umbrian kitchen in Italy and adjusted it to make it vegan and still delicious:
Sformatini di Ricotta con Funghi Porcini e Tartufo Nero
Baked Ricotta with Porcini Mushrooms and Black Truffle
200g of raw cashews
300g of firm tofu (about one small/medium package)
2tsp of course Celtic Sea Salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 large cloves are garlic (go by your love of garlic)
Equivalent of 2 eggs Egg Replacer (Ener G works best)
Juice of half a lemon
1 large handful of dried porcini mushrooms(make sure they are well rinsed so as not sandy)
1 bay leaf
One sprig of fresh rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
Black or white truffle, or, if not available truffle paste or truffle oil (make sure no dairy is added)
Day old rustic Italian bread, cut into soldiers (like lady finger size) and toasted
Preheat the oven to 180° C.  Soak the mushrooms in warm water for at least half an hour. Mix the cashews, tofu, sea salt, nutritional yeast, garlic, egg replacer, 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until totally smooth, with absolutely no nutty chunks. If you need to add a tbsp or so of warm water, if you have problems blending.  Keep aside until ready for use. 
Drain the mushrooms and keep the dark water on the side for later use.  If the pieces are large, cut them into about ¼ to ½ inch pieces with scissors.  In a small pan drizzle about 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, a splash of white wine (I would use whatever wine you are serving this with), salt to taste, one spring of rosemary, the bay leaf and mushrooms.  Sautee with medium heat and slowly add 2-3 tbsp of mushroom water.  Sautee until it has dried out and the mushrooms are done. 
Now, in aluminum panna cotta cups/molds(which are similar to cupcake cups, or in a cupcake cup if you can’t find panna cotta cups), scoop up a large spoonful of mushroom mix, making sure there are no sticks from the rosemary and the bay leaf has been removed, and put it at the bottom of the cup.  Fill the rest of the cup up to the top with the cashew ricotta mix.  This mix should make 4-6 depending on the size of the cup.
Put each cup on a cookie pan, and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are toasted and golden brown.  Make sure not to let them go dark.  Once cooked, reverse the molds onto a small plate, grate the toasted bread over it, and serve with toasted bread that has been brushed with olive oil.  Grate black or white truffle over the mushrooms and dish.  Or, if using truffle oil, drizzle the truffle over the mushrooms, letting it drizzle slightly over the sides. 
If you are serving with black truffle I suggest a light bodied Riesling from Germany, or Alto Adige in Italy.  With white truffle, bring out the more aromatic whites like a Gewürztraminer from Alsace, or, strangely enough, a buttery California Chardonnay
Buon Appetito!!
Play the Black Celebration album by Depeche Mode

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Towns of Lazio: Alatri

      Last weekend, we had one of the last days of warm sunshine until March or April, I fear.  We took full advantage and headed straight down to the Hernico mountains, stopping by the city of the popes, Anagni, along the way.  Anagni is a gorgeous town in Lazio that is not to be missed, but, when it came to choosing a place to eat for lunch, Alatri has one of my favorite osteria in Lazio.  Being about a 30 minute drive from Anagni, we booked the last two places available at the Osteria Bacco e Ciacco, and had ourselves a wonderful day out.
     Alatri is a wonderful town nestled in the heart of the Hernico hills.  The Hernico Hills are to be found in the south of Lazio, in the region of Frosinone, and border with Abruzzo.  They are both cultural and natural treasure in Lazio with their picturesque mountains which are perfect for hiking, and birdwatching, skiing.  Then, the 16 historical towns that make up the mountain  community.  They are named after a pre-Roman culture that once resided in the area, the Hernico, who were eventually assimilated and swallowed into the Roman empire. 

View from the acropolis of Alatri
Alatri is the best preserved town of the province, the town walls and acropolis date back to the 6th century B.C. and are still intact.  The walls of the town best show the the technology of the Hernico people.  They are huge and will impress even the most cynical of people. 

The large size of the massive stones brings to mind the legendary Cyclops, after whom they are named.  Cyclopic stones.
The outside wall of the 6th B.C. acropolis
«Ye citizens were wont to call me Ciacco;
For the pernicious sin of gluttony,
I, as thou seest, am battered by this rain.»
(Inferno, VI, 52-54)
     The name, according to Buti, one of the oldest scholars of Dante,  suggests a derogatory nature of this name: "Ciacco is said to be a pig's name, hence he was called this way for his gluttony"  Bacco, or, Bacchus, of course is referring to the roman god of wine.  With a name that refers to the sin of gluttony and the pagan god of pleasure and wine, one may expect delicious treats inside.  And they definately to be had. 
     This was our third visit to the osteria, and we were a bit skeptical when we entered into its new location.  Our first two visits had been darling.  The osteria was a hole in the wall with the capacity to seat about 15 people, max.  The new location is to levels and has the capacity to seat at least 50 people.  With the change, would the quality of the food change?  Would the service be less friendly and personal?  It only took us about 5 minutes to realize there was nothing to worry about.  They were able to move to a bigger location based on the quality of the food.  The place was packed, the service excellent and friendly with the addition of ONE waitress, and the food, in a word, excellent. 

We started with a bottle of local Cesanese del Piglio, which you can read about HERE

Mixed grilled vegetable and crostini antipasto

 We started with the mixed grilled/roasted vegetables and mixed crostini. This included grilled marinated eggplant, grilled marinated zucchini, roasted red peppers, grilled radicchio, and roasted fennel.  Everything was prepared perfectly.  The vegetables were the most flavorful I have ever eaten.  The marinated eggplant was incredible, perfectly grilled with delicate flavors of olive oil, garlic, and Italian parsley.  I could tell each vegetable was individually prepared because they all retained wonderful aromas, texture, and flavor balance.
 Crostini with black truffle sauce

The main event for me were the mixed crostini, which are small toasts.  They came with a small amount of oil dribbled over them, and with tiny serving bowls and spoons for self service.  The sauces were all homemade, fresh and lovely.  They included black truffle sauce, hot peppers, and an olive paste.  Of course my favorite was the black truffle, which paired excellently with the Cesanese del Piglio. 

Close up of roasted fennel and grilled vegetables.  

Primo: Strozzapreti with a walnut and pumpkin sauce

     For my first course, I ordered the strozzapretti with a walnut and pumpkin sauce.  Strozzapreti are a simple handmade pasta made from water and flour, which which are then manipulated into a sort of corkscrew shape.  Their name means, "strangled priests."  Even though the name is historical, it is a bit relevant in today's Church atmosphere.  I have also seen they called "Strangled Husbands."  
    My dish was outstanding.  The walnuts gave it a bite while the pumpkin gave it a velvety smooth texture.  It was creamy, rich, and hard not to stuff the entire plate in my mouth at once.  The pasta was perfectly cooked as well, and each corkscrew held the sauce well, ensuring that each bite was a luxury of pasta and sauce.  I am sure this would not be difficult to make at home.  While I was eating them, I couldn't help but imagine thinly sliced white truffles on top.  Maybe next time I should bring one of my Tuscan truffles with me and secretly slice the truffles over it while nobody is looking. ;)

Cime di rape in padella

     For my second course I ordered a side dish of cime di rape in padella, which are sauteed field greens from the area.  Man,  it was a delicious plate and a great way to finish off my meal.  I love cime di rape because it is both slightly sweet, when cooked with garlic, and slightly bitter.  It is healthy as well.  One cup of this vegetable will provide more iron than a beef hamburger patty, which I would never eat because beef is disgusting and comes from a murdered cow.  I'll take the field greens, thanks!

I actually finished off with a few slices of pineapple.  I like to end my meals with a piece of fruit to aid digestion.  Pineapple is fill of enzymes that are perfect for this.  

Osteria Bacco e Ciacco
Via Duomo 11
Alatri, FR
0775 447090
reservations recommended, closed Mondays

For a fun day trip from Rome to Anagni and Alatri contact Antiqua Tours

Friday, November 5, 2010

Truffled Roasted Pumpkin Risotto

Truffled Roast Pumpkin Risotto

There are few things in life that are both as delicious and aromatic as pumpkins and truffle.  It is my pleasure to offer you a fragrant and mouth-watering recipe of truffled roasted pumpkin risotto.  In a previous post, I  presented some photos of the vegetable treasures I bought from the nuns down the road and some photos of the truffles I bought at the White Truffle Festival in Volterra.  I also mentioned that my house had been robbed and that the thieves made off with my computer, so I was unable to write a blog.  Since then the police in Guidonia called us to tell us they caught the thieves and had our fur covered computer waiting for us to pick it up.  So, I now have my computer, I can upload my photos, and continue to offer you delicious and scrumptious vegan meals that will conquer even the most hardcore meat eater.  

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

1 kilo of fresh pumpkin, do not use canned
One large yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 Bouillon cube
1-2 tbsp of truffle salt (easy to make at home)
Truffle paste(optional)
5 cups of Arborio rice
One small black or white truffle to slice over risotto


First, you'll want to slice up half of a large pumpkin into quarters of thirds, put it in a pan and roast it until the pumpkin "meat" becomes soft and you can scoop it out of the skin.  While the pumpkin is roasting, put the garlic and onion in a food processor to finely chop, remove the onion and garlic and rinse out the processor because you will need to use it again.

Put the pumpkin into the blender, without the skins, of course, add a tablespoon of truffle sauce or paste(make sure it does not have cheese added to it) also add one tablespoon of truffle salt and blend into a puree.  Set aside.  

Since I was making for a larger amount of people, I used a large pot instead of my deep pan to make the risotto.  In a large pot add olive oil (not the truffle oil, as most of it is disgusting and chemical laden), about a teaspoon of truffle salt, splash of white wine, bouillon cube, the finely chopped onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is almost clear and translucent.  

Stir in the rice without water and allow the rice to simmer with the onion and garlic while stirring for 2-3 minutes, or until the rice starts to slightly toast.  Then, slowly add in a a cup of water at a time, add one cup, always stirring, and then allow the rice to absorb the liquid.  After about 3 cups of water...

...stir in  the pumpkin puree, add more water while always stirring the rice slowly until the rice is al dente and has a creamy texture.  About a minute before serving, add another tablespoon of truffle sauce/paste

With a ladle, put about 3 scoops of the risotto in each bowl and shave the fresh truffles over each bowl, and serve.  Buon Appetito!!

This meal was incredibly rich and decadent.  Everyone was begging for seconds, and we thoroughly enjoyed the risotto with a bottle of Gewurztraminer from Alto Adige, which paired perfectly with the aromatic pumpkin and truffle dish.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Making the Connection

This is a film is a great film on the link between us, our diet, and our impact on the planet as well as non human animals. A great short film that I think all should watch!  A film by Environment Films for The Vegan Society.

Gary L. Francione: The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights Say "no" to animal slavery. Say "no" elitism. Say "no" to hierarchy. Say "no" to animals as property. Say "no" to violence. Say "yes" to veganism. It's so very easy. It really just takes your willingness to say "yes."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why I love Italy in the Fall....

I just spent the weekend in Tuscany with Ettore and his mom, and it was fantastic!  I was able to attend the White Truffle Festival in Volterra, which I am soon going to write a blog on.  Unfortunately my house was robbed last week, and my computer stolen, so I don't have a proper computer with WORD, so it may bit awhile until I can write about anything with substance.  In  any case I felt compelled to leave you, my readers, with a few photos of what I bought at the market today, and also some photos of the black and white truffles I bought.  I love Italy in the fall because mother nature is really showing off her gifts.  As a vegan it is my favorite time of year, there are chestnuts to gather and roast, truffles, pumpkins and all sorts of lovely veggies available.  I usually go down the road to buy my produce.  I buy it from a local convent of nuns and friars who have dedicated themselves to cultivating organic produce that is in season and in harmony with the land.  It is less than a kilometer away from my house and they also sell whole grain pasta.  Right now they are swimming in pumpkins, so I decided to ease their burden, and plan to make some pumpkin soup this week.  Enjoy the photos!

 Black and White Truffles, the Food of the Goddess
 If I could only smell one thing for the rest of my life, I'd be happy with the aroma of a white truffle!
Lovely veggies from the organic market down the road.  I'm thinking pumpkin soup, pumpkin risotto, roasted veggies, and I am going to can melanzane sott'aceto this year

Happy Harvest Everyone!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wines of Lazio: Cesanese del Piglio

Wines of Lazio:  Cesanese del Piglio
Casale Della Ioria
Cesanese del Piglio
Tenute della Ioria
     It would be nearly impossible to have any sort of discussion on the wines of Lazio without discussing Cesanese del Piglio, Lazio’s first wine to acquire the D.O.C.G appellation.  We frequently take day trips to the region of Frosinone, which is south of Rome, we go for the fabulously underrated food and wine that we find in the many nearly abandoned towns in the mountains.  Piglio is a town in the ernico Apennines which is built on the foundations of a pre-roman town.  Piglio is near the medieval papal town of Anagni, and a day drip to a winery and a cultural visit to Anagni and lunch at Piglio make for the perfect day trip from Rome.  I  have already written about it HERE.  Piglio is now home to Lazio’s first DOCG wine(in 2008), a heartwarming red wine made from the Cesanese grape. 

     One of my favorite producers is Casale Della Ioria owned by the Perinelli family.  They make two Cesanese del Piglio, both from the Cesanese di Affile grape.  I am quite fond of the 2007 Tenuta della Ioria.  When we tasted it, when were in the amazing medieval town of Alatri which I think has Lazio’s best olive oil.  It is an intense ruby red wine, with gorgeous legs and great consistency.  It is suggestive of cherries under alcohol, blackberry jam, fennel, tobacco, earth tones, mushrooms, and sweet red peppers.  After w few minutes the dried red roses start rolling over everything, evocative of a very sensual perfume commercial from the 90’s.  It had balsamic notes.  In a nutshell,  a very complex and intense nose, but still developing.   Towards the end of our evaluation we started to smell coffee, but then we realized the waiter was making espresso!  This wine is dry, full bodied, with nice freshness.  I thoroughly enjoyed its rich but well balanced tannins that were harmonious with the weight and silky structure with slightly bitter finish.  It has a long finish that kept reminding me of fruits and dark earthy minerals.   I think this Cesanese has a great potential to age and soften but to remain complex.   A great wine in the winter to serve with complex and bitter foods, or roasted veggies with rosemary.

Wines of Lazio: Frascati Superiore

Wines of Lazio: Frascati Superiore
Casale Mattia
Frascati Superiore
Terre del Casale
     Frascati is the white wine most often consumed by the Romans, and most of its production makes its way down the hills of the Castelli Romani to be consumed in the trattoria and osteria of Rome.  Typically in Lazio winemakers make wines for quantity over quality, so there are many mediocre Frascati bottles out there, but there is hope.  There are a number of producers that are making great Frascati wines that evoke both the fertility of the land and the aromas of the grapes used.  Frascati does not need to be a boring and tasteless wine at all.  Casale Mattia is making great wines from organic grapes and a combination of modern and traditional winemaking.  They use all natural methods in their wine making process including natural yeasts instead of GMO yeasts.  

     I tasted a 2008 Casale Mattia Frascati Superiore called “Terre Del Casale.”  I quite enjoyed it, thug I feel that most Frascati are best when consumed in their first year.  Visually, I could tell it had a bit if age(for a Frascati), as it was darkening.  It was a very crystalline hay yellow with moderate consistency with average arches.  The hay color had a bit of golden hue in it as well.  It had very intense aromas that were clean and crisp which were suggestive of citrus such as grapefruit, lemons, and limoncello.  Underneath all that was the aroma I most associate with a Frascati, apricot.  It also had undertones of citrus flowers, fresh cut grass, shell like minerals, and fragrant bread.  On the palate it was medium bodied, dry to off dry, very fresh, silky, and with a long mineral finish which came directly from the volcanic soil the vines are planted in.  I enjoyed every sip, and think it is a perfect white wine for the spring and summer, but even in the cooler months when we start to make soups.  The aromatic qualities would pair perfectly with a warm minestrone or vegetable risotto.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Urgent Adoption after 14 year in a Shelter...Alberto deserves a family!!

 UPDATE:  ALBERT HAS FOUND A HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 He is Alberto, a small and invisible dog who has spent his entire life in a small box. Alberto unfortunately did not have anything in life as he was locked up in the kennel when  still young and with great desire to live, but his exuberance , his vivacity, year after year have faded due to a prison term that has been for too long.  He has known only a life with gravel and loneliness, no cuddling, no walks, no grass .... Now, at age 14 Alberto year is pretty wary of people, but is he wrong? Who would not be against a hand that he long ago considered friends forever, for life, and instead was just locked up forever in a prison? Perhaps Albert has lost hope of finally finding a bit of love, but not us, we would like for him a true adoption of the heart that can make him understand that not all hands are bad, some can give a lot of pampering, we would like for him to find a real home with a nice soft and warm bed and a bit of serenity .... now he is very old and time is running out !!!!!! He should get along with both male and female dogs.  14 years is a long time but Alberto deserves his ransom !!!!!!  Daniela 348 1013553  Rossella  339 1233445
  in English Ettore 349 719 7590

Lui è Alberto, un cagnolino piccolo e invisibile che ha praticamente passato la sua vita chiuso in un box.Alberto purtroppo dalla vita non ha avuto proprio niente visto che è stato rinchiuso in canile ancora giovane e con tanta voglia di vivere, ma la sua esuberanza, la sua vivacità, anno dopo anno sono sfiorite a causa di una prigionia durata troppo a lungo, che gli ha permesso di conoscere solo ghiaia e solitudine, niente coccole, niente passeggiate, niente erba....Ora, all'età di 14 anni Alberto è piuttosto diffidente nei confronti delle persone, ma come dargli torto? Chi non lo sarebbe nei confronti di una mano che lui, tanto tempo fa considerava amica per sempre, amica per la vita, e invece proprio per sempre lo ha rinchiuso in una prigione? Forse Alberto ha perso la speranza di trovare finalmente un pò di Amore, ma noi no, noi vorremmo per lui una vera adozione del cuore che gli possa far capire che non tutte le mani sono cattive, alcune sanno dare tante coccole; vorremmo per lui una vera casa con una bella cuccia morbida e calda e un pò di serenità.... ormai è molto anziano e il tempo stringe davvero tanto!!!!!!Va tranquillamente d'accordo sia con maschi che femmine.14 anni sono tanti ma Alberto merita il suo riscatto!!!!!!  Parma, info e adozioni Daniela 348 1013553  Rossella  339 1233445

Thursday, September 9, 2010

B.Alive in Rome

     Two nights ago in Rome, on the rooftop terrace of my friends Sienna and Yves, I was fortunate enough to be a guest at a raw gourmet meal prepared by Boris Lauser of B.Alive.  Boris Lauser is a Gourmet raw food chef from Berlin, who prepared a Balinese themed gourmet meal for 22 guests.  The theme was, "Tropical Inspirations from Bali."  It truly was inspired.  The food was delicious, the presentation beyond anything I expected, and the love and attention to detail absolutely superb.  It was a splendid evening full of love, life and epiphany on my behalf.  
     I brought Ettore, who was a rather reluctant participant, expecting celery and carrots, and the need for food afterwards.  To be fair, his only experience in the world of raw food has been through me and my obsession with green super food smoothies.  Not exactly the epitome of flavors and diversity!  He was blown away by the explosion of flavors we tasted, as was I. 
     My experience was rather, a spiritual one.  I loved all the food and luckily a much better and talented writer than I has written a glowing review of the food and the evening which you can readHERE. 
     My experience reaffirmed for me the philosophy that, “You are what you eat.”  I made a decision in my adult life that I no longer what to be a part of the cycle of violence and sorrow in the food chain.  There is nothing natural about slaughter and animal agriculture, and the inspired evening reiterated for me what I hold close to my heart.  I do not want to consume pain.  When we eat animals and their bodily secretions we consume their energy of pain and sorrow.  One thing I am certain of is that energy never dies, the world is a cycle of energy, and we are stardust.  When I eat live food I feel clearer, level headed, and my solar plexus feels aligned.  I feel balanced.  If we are what we eat, then eating a gourmet raw food meal made with integrity and love means we are a part of this energy cycle.  We become alive, hence, B.Alive.   Boris Lauser radiates life and positive energy.  Everything we need to live is in the plant world, and we can do it with variety, flavors, and creativity. 
     So I thank Boris for this evening of love, creativity, and color.  I thank Sienna and Yves for providing such a suitable terrace for everyone to enjoy, and most of all I thank Mother Nature for providing such an explosion of color and flavors.  It was beyond a doubt an inspired evening.  

Ettore enjoying a glass of local and organic Bellone before the dinner started

Cucumber with balinese flavor infused cashew cheese

Chinese Style Dumplings with sweet and sour dipping sauce

Guests enjoying their delicious dumplings

Preparing the Gado-Gado, a rainbow of raw food
Such amazing colors...full of life and love
The purple beans were to DIE for.   So good!
Cardamom Coconut Halva

B.Alive Blog


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Burton Anderson: Mi fa depressa

I am reading the 1980 edition of this book:  Vino:  The Wines and Winemakers of Italy and I feel I have been cheated.  Born in the wrong era!  This book is one of the most beautifully and poetically written books on wine I have ever read, and there are many stories about wine legends, now departed and the sensual, unforgetable but also not replicable wine they made.  This is a time before the phrase Super Tuscan, a time when there were no terms like biodynamic, sustainable, or natural wines.  Those catch phrases now used more as a marketing tool rather than an adjective describing the passion of a wine maker.    The men and women who made their wine in the traditional way, with organic and natural procecsses did it out of love, not for marketing.  This was right on the cusp, the time of the greats was peaking and Coca Cola just spent $36 million investing in Montalcino to produce more industrial crap. I am on the hunt for one of the last great bottles ever made by a Prince who spent his time tending his vineyard like it was his special, and who, to prevent his vineyard being molested by the wrong people, tore out all the vines and never looked back.  This all happened before I got out of high school.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rocca Massima: Locanda dell'Arcangelo

Narrow streets of Rocca Massima

     Yesterday I barely moved from the sofa because it was so hot and humid here.  Poor Ettore had to work under the hot Roman sun, and when he came home it was much cooler than what the Romans feel in the summer, but still deathly hot for me.   We live in the hills outside Rome, the Castelli Romani.  The air is cleaner, fresher, and cooler during the summer, which is why on weekends, loads of Romans come up here to eat, cool off, and take a swim at the Lake near Castel Gandolfo.   We Castelli residents need to cool off as well, and we need to escape the loads of nasty porchetta eaters in Ariccia.  Last night,  Ettore and I headed up to the hills to a small little town called Rocca Massima.  It was a lovely evening.  We could see the Castelli from a bird’s eye view, and gaze from the top of the town that overlooks the sea.  Rocca Massima is very close to Cori, and has pre-roman roots.  Like many towns in Lazio, it is a small medieval hilltop town built on the foundations of a previous culture.  Rocca Massima belonged to the Volsci, which is also the same people of the town of Velletri, and many argue that the greatest emperors of Rome had Volsci roots, as they came from these towns. 

Tuscany's new rival?

     We hoped into our car and drove through fields that could easily compete with anything I have seen in Tuscany.  I went a bit wild with my new camera’s panorama setting! 

     We escaped the heat of Genzano, and of course ran into a bunch of Genzanese people with the same idea.    The difference for us and a Roman meeting another Roman in the Castelli is that we all actually know each other.    There was a local food and wine festival going on which had an itinerary that led visitors all around the town.  We didn’t come for the festival, though.  We came to have a relaxing dinner with a nice view.  

Locanda dell’Arcangelo

     We decided on a cute little B&B at the very top of the town called Locanda dell’Arcangelo.  They had a wonderfully descriptive menu filled with local treats and a wine menu that had a fantastic selection of wines from Lazio.  Everything was very inexpensive.   Ettore and I love going to these old towns outside the Castelli and outside Rome.  Latina is a province in Lazio that I think is the place to watch.  We eat fresh and seasonal vegetables, we try new wines by winemakers that have a passion for the history of their land, and we learn about cultures of the region.  What I love about Lazio, besides the food and wine, is the fact that for us, a drive of about 20 minutes took us to a completely different place.  Homogeny doesn’t seem to exist between towns once you escape the province of Rome.

View from our table

     Another delightful point:  Lazio is one of the easiest regions to be a vegan.  The kitchen is loaded with incredible vegetables.  They are also extraordinarily diverse.   We always order an antipasto of vegetables, and every place we go outside the province of Rome  has their own selection of locally available goodies.  
In Rome and the provinces of Rome it is always the same plate of boring grilled vegetables.  Outside the province of Rome t
hey are sometimes what the family has growing in their garden, what was available at the market that day, and sometimes what they find in the field. 



    Locanda dell’Arcangelo  had an enticing antipasto di verdure which included grilled eggplant, stuffed eggplant, lightly roasted carrots with thyme, cipolline in agrodolce(sweet and sour pearl onions),  Gaeta olives, insalata d’orzo(Barley salad) , bruschetta, and zucchini.  The bruschette were inedible.  The bread was at least a week old and they didn’t add any salt.  Everything else was fine.  The pearl onions were especially delicious.  We ordered a bottle of Marco Carpineti  Capolemole Bianco 2009.  Carpineti is the winery I want so much to succeed, and I wrote about in an earlier blog.  The wine had a lovely hay yellow color, lovely floral and fruity aromas, with a hint of bread, but it was someone flat and lacked acidity.  

Gorgeous Pasta

     For my first dish I ordered an absolutely scrumptious pasta con zucchini, radicchio con olio, aglio e menta(pasta with zucchini, radicchio, oil, garlic and mint). It was a well balanced plate of heaven.  The radicchio and zucchini were perfectly cooked, the pasta wasn’t loaded with oil, the aromatic flavors from the garlic and mint were utter perfection in my mouth.  And despite the wine’s lack of freshness, the aromas and fruitiness paired well with my aromatic dish.  I was very happy.  And full. 

Super greasy radicchio ;(


Of course we ordered everything at the beginning of the evening when our stomachs were empty from not eating lunch earlier(too hot to cook) and we both had a case of eyes are bigger than the stomach, but we did not cancel our contorni of vegetables we ordered.  We ordered grilled radicchio, cicoria, and French fries (say what you want, they were delicious).  The radicchio was grilled and swimming in oil and Aceto Balsamico  that tasted artificially sweet.  We only took a few bites.  The cicoria was nothing special, but at least it was cooked well and not dripping in oil like I tend to see in Rome.  The French fries were homemade and perfect.  Almost as good as the perfect plate of fries I once had at the Madonna Inn many years ago. 
          Cost for two people with starter, first, sides, a bottle of wine and a fantastic view? 

I love Latina.