Friday, September 21, 2012

Got back into my bread baking groove this week. It felt good and since I always scale back on bread baking in the hot summer months anyway my baking hiatus was really only slightly longer this year.

 In Gravagna this summer there was a young couple who were married. In the weeks leading up to the wedding the groom restored the family outdoor oven of the bride's family. It hadn't been used in decades and what greater portent of abundance in a marriage than a forno ready for the baking of many loaves. Unfortunately we left before I had a chance to try some baking in said oven but next time you can bet that I will be bringing my starter with me and hoping for a chance.

  I did however get the chance this summer to visit a real commercial forno down in Pontremoli. Here are baked the most divine apple pastries known to man and one day I was allowed in back to watch the process.

One of the girls who bakes at Forno Tarantola is one of the buffest chicks I have ever met. The image of her beating the tar out of a bunch of men in a mob fight with a baguette has entered my head before on seeing her.

 One needs to be tough as a baker though, because on market day that little forno is one crowded joint. People yell their orders over each other to these ladies as they ring up the loaves, pastries, biscotti, torte, and testeroli. If only I could bring these fine bakers home to cook in my kitchen. . . .

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Finally . . .

We are back in the states now, land of fast internet and bad cheese. I had many things that I wanted to post overseas but for want of a fast connection made the blogging quite a challenge. We had a wonderful summer and I would like to post of few of the highlights here. The girls came home having learned lots of Italian and having a summer full of adventures. One of my outings in June took me to my sister's graduation in Florence. I had forgotten what a magical city it can be. The reception was at a beautiful old palazzo in the old city. The contessa who owned it allows the students to use it for their graduation ceremony. At the reception I sort of started just wandering around taking photos of the place. I finally wandered into a room where a couple with a baby had gathered some food from the buffet and were eating. As I had Ronia with me and they were the only other people with a small child, we inevitably struck up a conversation. It turns out that they had no association with the school but were the Contessa's son and wife and grandson. Ronia had a lesson from the little conto for free on the pianoforte. I couldn't even imagine what it must be like to have total strangers have their graduation reception at your house and just grab your dinner from the reception buffet. . . . but I guess they get to live in a palazzo so who could complain?