Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cheese and old friends and Eataly

25 settembre
Ciao tutti! I have just returned to Nascondiglio di Bacco from "Cheese" at Bra, where Slow Food headquarters is located. I took off from Offida Friday and drove about 2.5 hours to Siena in Tuscany to see the puppy. Stupido io! I forgot to take pictures, but he is quite cute although he may need to go on a bit of a diet or exercise a bit more with me when he arrives here in 2 weeks! Be patient! I am sure you will tire of "Bacco" pictures before the end. Anyway, after a half hour of meeting his family, I headed north to Bra along the coast from Firenze (Florence) to Pisa, Carrada where the marble mines are located, Genova where my indicator for miles of gasoline in the tank read ----- or zero. I filled up for 95 dollars, 51 liters or about 6.40 a gallon US. Feeling much more secure after adding the benzina, I then took off a bit north for Bra finishing the autostrada which cost another 30 dollars. This big festival called Cheese is a must-do for anyone with a passion for coagulated milk products! I sampled cheese from all over the world for 3 days and now am on a strict 3X/day All Bran diet! Thank goodness for Kellogs.
Friday night, I met up with a bunch of my classmate, but 1st received some VERY IMPORTANT news "importantissimo" from Michele, my old roommate from Parma. He and Teresa are getting married next September!!! You will remember them as the 2 classmates I brought to America last August for vacation, so I will take all the credit or blame, hopefully the former!
We went to a concert Friday night in one of the Piazza with a group called the Blue Beaters and you can take that name anyway you want but they were definitely "CHEESY"! There were mates from the English master's program from the last 2 years and all 3 years of the Italian master's students were there as well, along with many of the tutors and University folks, so it was a fun party notwithstanding the terrible music.
Saturday, I got up early to find where my car was parked because Bra is disorienting at night and found a better parking space near the railroad station. Being in the neighborhood, I then hopped a bus and connected with a train for Torino where I visited the gastronomic paradise called Eataly. This is the italian version of Whole Foods, only bigger and with the special European products we can't get in the US. What a beautiful store and if you come to Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto next year, it is right across the street. It also is similar to Whole Foods in that all the products are picture perfect, (the fish don't stink as an example) and everything is marked up 50% over normal price or at least 30%! I do hear the meat is priced justly and of the highest quality, though. They have Jamon Iberica which costs about 30 dollars for 100 grams. That may finally arrive in the states soon and is better than prosciutto.
I also saw many products we studied the year of my Masters like Acquarello rice, gragnarola pasta etc. I then made the mistake of going into their candy store, I mean wine store, and had to pick up 6 bottles to lug back on the city bus, train and on foot back to Bra, but I found some really interesting stuff like sparkling wine from the north of Italy which is left with yeast in the bottle and you open it upside down under water to eject the yeast before drinking it. I will report back on that one. Enough for this post and check out the next one which will be more CHEESE. dds

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