Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mushroom and Farro Pie

Dinner tonight.

When at Fault

This strikes me as a very Italian argument. If they do something wrong, someone will yell at them, and then they'll just yell back.

For example, while I was on a bus recently, the driver passed a stop people had requested, so they yelled to him about it, and he was like, "basta, basta!" ("enough, enough," with arm motions), and then he stopped. I've also seen something similar to the cartoon happen, where someone pulled out in front of someone else and yelling ensued from both the person who was cut off and the person at fault.

Maybe it's just a city thing. I don't know the difference.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Carnival in Viareggio

While the best-known carnival activities in Italy are surely the ones in Venice, those have also become quite touristy apparently, and very expensive. Somewhat less known outside of Italy is the carnival of Viareggio, on the Tuscan coast, where we had been in the summer to go to the beach. During the Sundays in February, there's a big celebration here, and a parade with floats, costumes, loud music, and whatever else you expect from a carnival. We went there today with some of Kristen's classmates. After walking to the seaside promenade where all the activities are held, we looked at some of the floats that were already set up (the parade basically does one big loop on the promenade), before stopping for some lunch. I got "fish & chips," which in Italy apparently means "fried frutti di mare with french fries" ("extra tentacles").
Berlusconi cooking the opposition
By now it was almost time for the parade to get started, so we waited around some while getting blasted by extremely loud Italian party/carnival music. In the parade, a lot of the floats were quite elaborate, with moving parts, smoke machines, etc. Many of them had political themes and made fun of Italian politicians or the political situation in Italy, so except for picking out Berlusconi, I wasn't able to get the humor of a lot of them. Nevertheless, the parade was fun, and we had a good time.


What's even weirder is that I saw TWO of these within a few blocks of each other in the same week.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chocolate Tarte

Just in time for Valentine's Day, here's a rich tarte filled with chocolate ganache. (from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters) I used a 70% cocoa dark chocolate, which is probably the darkest you should use. Something between 60%-70% is optimal, I think.

Sweet Tart Dough:
Beat together until creamy:
8 tablespoons (113g) butter
1/3 cup (75g) sugar
Add and mix until completely combined:
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

1 1/4 cups (140g) all-purpose flour
Mix well, stirring and folding, until there are no dry patches. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until firm.

Roll out tart dough into a 12-inch (30-cm) circle. Transfer to a tart pan (or several small tartlet pans if you have them) and cut off the excess dough. Lightly prick the dough with a fork. Leave in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Prebake the tart shell in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 15 minutes, or until it's an even light golden brown. Check halfway through baking and pat down any bubbles that may have formed. Let cool and then unmold.
For the ganache, put into a medium heat-proof bowl:
6 ounces (180g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped (the finer it's chopped, the smoother the ganache will be)
Heat until just boiling:
1 cup (250ml) cream
Pour over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate is melted (this takes quite a while). Pour into the tart shell while it is still quite warm and liquid, very gently tapping and jiggling the pastry shells to even out the filling. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour to set.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Puppy Bowl!

I love the puppy bowl. Watch puppies run around and play with each other for 3 hours. It's so great.