Sunday, 23 November 2008


Its the weeknend. Friday morning is market day, conveniently enough set in the Piazza outside school. I bought some local Italian green beans which proved useful later on in the day. As seven of us girls are local I had invited them all to have dinner at our place,and in the spirit of the recent days' lectures, it was a meat free event. If you want to know more check 'The Meatrix'. Remember those green beans? well, they were blanched in salted water for a minute, maintaining their bite. I threw some scallions to a pan with olive oil, added parsley (Corriander is nowhere to be seen and still no cucumbers!), salt, pepper, and of course LEMON. We also had a Fritata, and a broccoly cabbage soup, all made from local ingredients bought that same morning from the market. It doesnt get more local and fresh than this.
For desserts (in plural), we had a bananas, Nutella, bread pudding, and a Panettone layered with Nutella and Mascarpone topped with toasted alomonds. Yum.
Following dinner we all headed to the local pub that consisted of young boys that looked as if they had to make a choice early in life: its either jail, or ALMA cooking school. The pub owner welcomed us with lots of free drinks and was himself on the tipsy side of things. Its all so very small and local. And Italian. The Maginificent seven, the Colorno possey, we are French, Irish, korean, Spanish, American, Italian and myself.
On Saturday,my birthday, I decided to take an early train to Parma, and do some sightseeing. New lesson in Italy, a survival guide: if a bus is on time, or a minute early- Its the wrong bus. You might think to yourself, '' its a small village, what are the chances 2 buses are scheduled to stop at the same time, in the same place.." Its the wrong bus. It took me abut 10 minutes to realise the people on the bus did not look like city people. And, looking out along the way, it seemed every time there was a sign to Parma, the bus was taking the OTHER way. OK. stay calm. what should I do? I obviously cant get off. its the middle of nowhere. No one speaks English and you cant actually see anyone. I am not getting off. Than there were no more stops. The driver told me to step out and wait 20 minutes. I did. He than picked me up and we were on the way back. So I ended up taking a little trip to the outskirts of the village. It was a venture to the outskirts of outskirts...
I was back on track. I made it to Parma train station, got on a train to Faenza, where Enologica was taking place. On the way there, the train stops in Modena and Bologna. Its still surreal. Once we arrived, and it was a long walk through a freezing wind chill (I thought my ears fell off and I know my nose did), you are handed a wine glass, that is constantly topped up strolling around wine stalls; all local, slow food wines.
Lets talk cantine. No fast food. No junk. One stands in line, an Italian Pitah bread is than baked on a stove, served with a cheese that resembles a mix between cottage cheese and clotted cream. Plain, simple and delicious. Hand made Cappelletti prepared on the spot are thrown into boiling water, served coated in butter and Parmesan.
We attended a wine tasting workshop, covering 5 types of lambrusco. It was very educational and I would have benefitted more from the experience had I understood any Italian. Still, they tasted good...and I'm absorbing.

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