Pappardelle with funghi porcini

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Pappardelle with funghi porcini: they lend themselves well to a long, and wider, pasta shape like this. Fettuccine work well too, but also a shorter pasta like rigatoni, penne and my current favorite
The sauce is prepared simply, with olive oil, garlic and a hint of peperoncino. Add a few fresh tomatoes and then funghi porcini.
If your sauce is too dry once you toss in the pasta add a bit of pasta water…the universal way to render a sauce creamier. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and parsley. Scrumptious!
Funghi porcini are best fresh but they also freeze well for future use.

Pappardelle with funghi porcini (four people):

Ingredients:
Pasta, 400 grams (14 ounces)
Funghi porcini, sliced thickly or quartered, 1/2 kilogram (1.1 pounds)
Olive oil, 60 milliliters (4 tablespoons)
Fresh tomatoes, 5 medium
Peperoncino, to taste (I generally use one medium hot pepper)
Garlic cloves, two peeled and crushed
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated 50 grams (1 3/4 ounces)
Parsley, one bunch chopped yielding about 1/4 cup

Procedure:
Sauté the garlic and peperoncino in olive oil until sizzling.
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Cleaning mushrooms: never wash them as they absorb water. Instead, use a mushroom brush. You should use one with bristles that are firm enough to remove the dirt, but soft enough that you don’t tear or scratch the mushrooms. Here’s one that works well:

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Old becomes new…

Recycled bicycle

An old rusty bicycle becomes a perfect prop for baskets of flowers. I saw this at a restaurant in Ponte Milvio, in north Rome and was charmed by it. Often what is old and rusty and no longer of utilitarian value takes on a new function of beauty. Old wheelbarrows, old shutters and doors, and now an old bicycle.

Old window shutter

This old window shutter is used in Italy on the inside of the window to close at night to block out light, and during the day to keep the room cooler. A coffee bar in the Monti area of Rome has recycled the shutter, hinge and all, to use as a table. It’s narrow and so it doesn’t take up much space; perfect for a crowded coffee bar.

Wine bottle display

I love collecting wine bottle corks and display them throughout Flavor of Italy in recycled glass containers. Each cork is different and brings back to memory a pleasant wine drinking experience. So I’m always fascinated when I see what others do with their recycled corks. A restaurant in Todi, Umbria started with the metal band previously used to hold a wooden wine vat together. They then hung it on the wall as a frame and meticulously filled it up halfway with old corks, then placed a strip of metal on top of the corks and used it as a display for wine bottles.
Have you recycled something and turned it into a thing of beauty or given it a brand new function? Leave a comment and share your innovation!

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Calvi, Umbria – the Festa di San Pancrazio

Calvi Countryside

Calvi in Umbria lies just barely north of the Lazio region, along the Via Flaminia. If you happen by the area it’s well worth making a stop to take a look at this medieval borgo. From the hill town you can look down upon the rolling Umbrian countryside, as pictured above.

Calvi Festa di San PancrazioCalvi Festa di San Pancrazio

The town’s major festival, the Festa di San Pancrazio, takes place once a year in May and is a week long of festivities, food and fireworks. The major ceremony takes place on a Sunday night and many of the citizens participate, dressed up in full regalia for the occasion.

Calvi, a local renowned artist

 And Calvi has no shortage of fascinating characters. Giorgio is a renowned painter, full of life and exuberance, who wouldn’t miss the Festa di San Pancrazio for the world!

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Saturday outdoor market in Sperlonga

Saturday morning is the big outdoor market day in Sperlonga. One of my favorite vendors has an assortment of olives cured by his family owned azienda agricola, including local Gaeta olives. He also prepares whole red peppers in an agrodolce bath. Most of the peppers go by the wayside as the process is lengthy and…

One Response to Saturday outdoor market in Sperlonga
  1. patti kaplan
    February 23, 2014 | 7:42 pm

    I am interested in your cooking trip to Sicily. I am a solo traveler so I need to know what the supplement is and the name of the hotel, etc, Thanks very much.

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Homemade bread with home-ground flours

Yesterday I had friends for lunch and prepared what has now become my go-to homemade bread. It’s a recipe I’ve been working on for over a year now, adding and subtracting ingredients, and working with different flours and grains. My friend Dagmar got me started on grinding my own flours and it really does make…

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The Arrotino or Knife Sharpener

This special bicycle was used by the arrotino to sharpen knives, throughout neighborhoods in Rome. The box on the front carries the tools of the trade, and the stone disk (center of the bike) is the sharpening device, powered by the arrotino’s bicycle pedals. I used to love seeing the arrotino in our neighborhood, but…

One Response to The Arrotino or Knife Sharpener
  1. Gary Growe
    August 21, 2013 | 7:48 pm

    I loved the picture/story of the arrotino.
    It is these passing slices of life that keep drawing
    me back to Italy.

    Thanks.

    Gary Growe

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Peaches…an artist’s handiwork

I’m making a peach tarte tatin…more about that later…but for now I wanted to share this picture of the sliced peaches, mounded in the tart pan, just waiting for the crust to go on top, then into the oven. Nature creates the most beautiful edibles and peaches are certainly one of these spectacles. The delicate…

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Mentuccia Romana

The other day we showed my future son-in-law a piece of the ancient Via Flaminia, dating back over a thousand years, and all along the remnants was an explosion of calamint. I love calamint, with its delicate perfume of mint touched with marjoram, and find it everywhere that there’s an untended field or piece of…

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