Reposted from our files ~ from March 28, 2010. The story may not be new, but the love affair continues. Eventually we developed a trip with Zingerman’s and we now do a joint Culinary Adventure in Tuscany every October, which evolved from this encounter with a perfect sandwich. Join us and read on!
For years I have heard about this oasis of all things delicious in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A Deli, no less, in the historic district on the north end of downtown on Detroit Street. It’s an old Victorian brick, with a neon sign in the window and lots of crazy sign writing, with a line out the door wrapped around the side of the building, especially on Saturdays. It’s bumper to bumper inside, not just with people, but with cheese cases, stuffed with some of the most delectable and rare cheeses one can find this side of Europe. There’s a bread station filled to the gills with maybe 10 types of fresh bread or more with someone there to slice a taste for you. A swinging deli with proper pumpernickel to sandwich one’s pastrami, offers and suggests of the best drinks to go with, such as true cream soda and ginger ale. Walls of truly hand-picked extra virgin olive oil labels, fabulous balsamic vinegars, and someone there to help you decide what to taste and what to choose. There are spices, marmalades, crackers, cookies, coffee cakes, etc. etc. Knowing what I know, it was like visiting a museum of the best food products in the world and I was hungry. I was told by people in the know to call my order in, in order to get it faster. I did just that and within minutes I was paying for my sandwich, while someone not only recommended what I should drink with it, but went and got it and popped the top for me with an old fashioned bottle opener. Zingerman’s Deli. The only deli in the world that has as much interest in its customer as the customer has in it.
L’abc 2013. 100% Sangiovese made by wine lovers Adriano Zago, Bernardo Conticelli and Ciro Beligni from vines grown 600 meters high in Lamole, in Chianti Classico. Vinified first in stainless steel, then terracotta amphora, then wood. It’s a very pretty wine with high cherry notes which were gorgeous on the palate with some organic, free-range Iberico ham from Finca Montefrio that I brought back from Seville and a savory pate that I made with capers and dried pachino cherry tomatoes from my recent trip to Sicily. It was fun to share with Bernardo who was sweet to bring me his wine to taste.
From Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BGXE0cZn_x9/
Italy, in many ways, has taught me to love. In Tuscany, I think of chefs like Fabio Picchi, who radiates an eccentricity and passion for everything he touches. Or Giorgio, my favorite farmer at the Sant’Ambrogio Market, cupping a fresh artichoke in his dirt-covered hands, bundling up a bouquet of fresh herbs for me to take home along with my vegetables. I think of laundry strung above the alleyways and the texture of old stone and crumbling plaster as I walk through the narrow streets of Florence, which open up to wide piazzas filled with swooping swallows.
We all have places like this, and discover new ones each time we travel. Places that remind us to fall in love with our own lives.
What brings you alive?
What brings me alive is the active participation of being
in a culture different from my own,
relating with a heightened sense of awareness and an open heart looking for a way in.
I feel we have found a way through food to build a bridge for meaningful conversation. In doing so, we are creating a more peaceful world. After 24 years, I have gained significant confidence and trust to move between cultures. We need an antidote to this somewhat crazy world and what better way than making and breaking bread with the light of our own smiles?
The soil has been turned over and our seedlings of Culinary Adventures have been planted with you in mind. May the sun’s light bring fruition when the time is right for you to join us on one of these significant journeys. [Read more…]
“Cucina e amore…” says Piero. Cooking is love.
The wood-fired ovens are burning here at La Cucina al Focolare – Cooking by the Fireside, the original crown in Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures. We are in the Florentine hills of the Arno valley, outside of Florence surrounded by olive gardens and a stone’s throw from the heart of Chianti Classico. Many have honed their skills and warmed their hearts next to our fires. After 23 years, its taken on quite the soulful patina.
Behind the bar on any given day or evening, are a pair of clever wine lovers, better known as foxes. Le volpi e l’uva (The Fox and the Grape) is tucked on a back side street in Florence, across the Arno river not far from the Ponte Vecchio. It’s is my “uscio e bottega” (home away from home) wine bar. It’s off the beaten path, and that’s one of the reasons why I like it. The marble bar curves through the small space with stools that peer over the counter at chest level. It frames the blackboard with daily wines by the glass, and covers the handy work going on behind the scenes. Various bruschette, hand-cut prosciutto, crostini, savory salads, French and Italian cheese plates, keep the belly occupied while sipping carefully selected wines from lesser known producers in Italy and beyond. Conversations are hot topics, expressed freely and broken down to a manageable common denominator, as Florentines usually have philosophical opinions that pair well with the subtle nuances of what’s in the glass. This must be why The World of Fine Wine just voted them Best Short Wine List Europe-2015. It’s casual, yet serious business on a local and international level. [Read more…]
“Sour Cherries, After GG”, 2011 by Paulette Tavormina ~ Courtesy of Beetles+Huxley, London
June encapsulates the end of spring and beginning of summer. Here in Florence, it’s the time of the swallows dancing euphorically in the sky, the weather is warm enough to bare shoulders and sit in outdoor cafés at night. [Read more…]
We can learn the ways of the old ones by going back to how they ate before the Industrial Revolution, back when there was integrity, family and story involved in producing an artisan product by hand. With the help of Slow Food and other movements, there is a global resurgence to grow locally and create the artisan story as well. It’s nothing new and yet, it is. We have not been taught to eat what grows around us in season and preserve for the cooler months. Or if we have, we choose not too. We don’t have time perhaps, but worse still, is that we have little relationship to what grows in season or the absolute heightened taste that comes with it. We are used to picking anything up at the grocery store that we need. Acidic pineapple. Tomatoes that taste like mush. Puckering mangos. We (most Americans) feel entitled to have what we want at all times, without thinking of the implications. We may be spoiled, but if you think about, we are not. We are just missing out.
Cooking in Tuscany for poet David Whyte’s group. Today we made a feast at my friend Lori Di Mori’s house, for the “pelligrini” after their walk and talk through the woods. Wouldn’t be a bad sight to come upon this.