Mushroom and chevre frittata and scenes from a Saturday

April 15, 2012 § 16 Comments

Yesterday we traveled up along Massachusetts’ North Shore brimming with purpose.  Brimming also with coffee because that is a central element of a Saturday morning in this household.  We were on our way to visit Turkey Shore Distillery, to learn more about the distilling process and to pick the owner’s brain of everything he knows.

But first came a requisite stop along the beach for a walk and a picnic.  We wiggled our toes in the sand, waded brashly into the water (followed by an expeditious exit back onto the shore), and enthusiastically dug holes.  Well, some of us dug holes.  Some of us stayed on the sidelines and cheered.

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Hospitality and soapstone

December 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m slightly green.  And not, unfortunately, the trendy, socially desirable, eco-conscious kind (though I do try to be that).  I’m afraid I’m the unpleasant green of jealous envy, though I think it is at least a pastel, non-menacing sort of a shade.

It’s a friendly jealousy, you know, like teasing can be friendly.

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Florence, and welcome home chili

October 18, 2011 § 13 Comments

We’re ensconced back in Boston now, back amidst the crowded three-home Victorian buildings, the fall leaves grown burnished golden and sparse, and a distinct lack of cappuccinos everywhere you turn.  All it took was a 30 hour day, the heavily-accented services of AirFrance (who, by the way, offer Champagne as an aperitif, for free, in coach.  I think I need to fly with them more often, though Charles DeGaule is a catastrophe of an airport), and a wonderful and generous friend to pick us up at the airport.  Air travel still amazes me.

We slept hard and woke up early yesterday morning with piles of work and places to be already tapping us persistently on the shoulders.  But, it’s nice to be home.

However, I feel as if I would be remiss in my duty of being that random person who overshares about her life, and what she eats, if I didn’t at least tell you a little bit about our visit to Florence.  Florence, is a wondrous and inspiring place to visit because it has the best gelato in all of Italy.  Oh, and a little thing called the Renaissance started there.

Like many of the great old cities, Florence has an energetic, and slightly incongruous feeling, way of weaving together ancient history with hustley bustley, cell phone pervaded modern living.  People don’t necessarily live differently there because there are still buildings that are from the middle ages or statues and paintings that were the first to, oh say, rediscover perspective (I’m in awe every time I think about that.  Have been since European history with Mr. Jensen in the 11th grade).

And yet, having some of the very deepest foundations of the way we live now visible to you on every street corner must make some difference.

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The Italy for me, plus an amazing hazelnut cake

October 14, 2011 § 13 Comments


I have found my Italy!  The Italy that looms large and glorious, sun and wine drenched, vignetted in my dreams.  It’s real!  And it’s in the Langhe part of Piemonte, the region of Italy around Alba, Barolo, Barbaresco…names that may sound awfully familiar to you if you take any interest in wine.

It’s the part of Italy where Nutella was originally invented.  For real.  Just think about that for a moment.

It is the food and wine lovers region of Italy, I think, even more so than Tuscany.  Though it is gorgeous and extraordinary, with sweeping vistas of rolling hills covered with a patchwork of vineyards and hazelnut trees, the bulk of tourists don’t go there, I believe because it’s not really near or on the way to anything else.  So, if you go, it is your chosen pilgrimage, in search of food and wine, and the ridiculously quaint stone villages – complete with a castle and church – perched on every hilltop.  Villages built in the 12th century, and still so tied to their pasts that the day the tower was destroyed in 1275 is embedded in the collective memory and still seems to evoke feelings of pain.

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The Cinque Terre and lots of focaccia

October 9, 2011 § 8 Comments

This has turned into quite a hiking vacation!  Which makes me happy (Joel’s knee is somewhat less happy, but it’s being a trooper).  This is partly due to some of the main paths being closed forcing us to either take the train or the back routes  to get some places, and choosing the back routes.  And partly due to a desire to get away from the throngiest throngs of tourists (I can’t even imagine what this place is like during peak tourist season!).

We’ve been exploring the Cinque Terre area, and though each day we’ve been hiking only 7-10 or so kilometers, the nature of the trails still makes it pretty strenuous.  The builders of the paths seem not to have believed in horizontal traveling, only vertical.  So, going for a walk is like going on a Stairmaster, except with scenery that’s about 571 million times more spectacular.

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Snapshots from Italy

October 5, 2011 § 14 Comments

 

Ciao from Santa Margherita Ligure my dears!  I thought I’d pop in to say a quick hello, but don’t put on the coffee because I can’t stay long!

Last Saturday we had our (slightly belated) wedding, and words cannot describe the strength of emotions that accompanied it.  It was gorgeous, perfect, amazing, and wonderful in every way, from the day, to the toasts, to the food, to the decor, but most importantly the people.  Simply indescribable to be surrounded by and supported by so many people we love, adore actually, as we declared our love and commitment to one another.  And, what a party!  When I have processed it a little more, I’ll share more with you.

But for now, let’s focus on, well, now.  We are so lucky as to be getting to borrow a friend’s apartment on the Italian Riviera for our honeymoon. Seriously.  Somebody pinch me.

We’ve been here a sum total of a day and a half and already I’ve taken in more beauty than my eyes can handle.  But, I’m coming back for seconds tomorrow!   « Read the rest of this entry »

Will Hike for Waffles

August 10, 2010 § 1 Comment

We took Joel for a mountain hike up in Telemark to make sure he had both the seaside and mountain experience of Norway.  This wasn’t a piddly little walk, it was a legit hike up the upper part of the ridge of one of Norway’s higher mountains, Gaustatoppen.  If there were a description of the hike in a guidebook (actually there probably is one somewhere, but I don’t have it so I’ll make it up), I’d guess it would say something like:  ‘On this hike you will be gratified by amazing views of mountains and valleys.  In fact on a clear day a hiker can see 1/6th of the entire country from the top of Gaustatoppen.  Cherish these views, for you will have earned them.  The climb to the top will take a fairly swift group of adults about 2 hours of scrambling over loose scree, exposed above the tree line.  You will be going up, up, up, up.  An intelligent foreign hiker will take advantage of the excuse of a view to stop for occasional breaks.  Once you have reached the top and enjoyed your triumph, you will be faced with the hike back down, on which you will encounter the self same scrubby loose rocks you clambered over on the way up.  In the downward direction these rocks are liable to cause spills and the odd twisted ankle.  Have fun!’

It was a picture perfect day for a hike, but had we been hiking something equivalent in the U.S. I’d guess we would have run into at most 5 or so other people, and there would have been a book at the top, in which we would have signed our names and been able to read proud accounts from other intrepid hikers.  In Norway, as we pulled up to the hut at the base of the hike, we saw an impressive line of parked carves, snaking along the side of the narrow road.  Most of them were mini vans.  And, as we began climbing it was easy to see why.  In Norway, Gaustatoppen is considered a perfectly family friendly hike.  It wouldn’t occur to many Norwegians even to wonder if their 3, or 5, or 7 year old would be able to climb up a mountain.  Of course they can!  What else would a person in their right mind wish to do on a gorgeous day (if you aren’t by the ocean, that is)?!  Certainly a hike takes longer if you’re carrying a 2 year old and leading a 6 year old, but parents seem to be perfectly fine with taking the time they need.  It’s an opportunity to hunt trolls, chase sheep, and contemplate which types of rocks are best for sitting or throwing or what have you.  And if you’re bringing your 82-year-old grandmother with you, well you don’t even need to slow down a bit for her!  She’s likely to leave you eating her dust as she jets up the mountainside. « Read the rest of this entry »

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