Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Salone del Gusto 2012 -- Come and Gone Again

Delectable cured meats and cheeses 
What happens when you gather approximately 1, 000 vendors together in one place to show off their distinctively exceptional culinary wares for all the world to see and sample? Well, I'd say there would be a whole lot of sampling and chatting going on, and, I would be right.
This past October 25 -29, 2012, brought together an extraordinary gathering of people to present, sample, and discuss what has come to be known as "Slow Food".   Every two years "Slow Food International" puts on a food extravaganza they call "Salone del Gusto", which roughly translates to halls of taste, or an exhibition of flavor.  We live in the mountains of Italy's Piedmont region, in the heart of the Slow Food Movement which was born 1986 in Bra, Italy, just slightly over an hours drive from our mountain perch. 
Tomini cheese with a slice of black truffle
That is one of the reasons this movement is so near and dear to our hearts. The other reason is its lofty goals of promoting genuine food that is produced in a way that does minimal damage to the earth, encourages, biodiversity, strives for fair wages for the producers and food that still tastes phenomenal. Pretty easy for us to get behind this movement. I have written about this movement and biennial event on numerous occasions, but it's just too festive an occasion to let it pass without sharing a few photos and some stories about this years ninth event. If you want to read some of my other posts about this event, you can read about it here, here here and here.  If you want to know more about about the organization do go to their website, "Slow Food," as it is a wealth of information about many wide reaching projects around the world. Consider becoming a member in a local chapter where you live or adopt one of their myriad projects, like supporting a vegetable garden in Africa, in their latest project, A Thousand Gardens in Africa. I guarantee you'll find it an interesting read, and it just might even change someones life, possibly your own. 
Bernard Elxirs, featuring Genepy
The event for us is an opportunity to see old friends and make new ones.  One lovely Canadian chef I met one year, kindly brought me a bag of dried cranberries two years later as he remembered me mentioning my longing for cranberries that are not available here. It was a wonderful surprise that we enjoyed for quite some time!
Gabriele Bonci , famoux for his Roman style pizza made from Marino Mulino flour from nearby Cuneo
This year I was especially delighted to get to taste some of Gabrielle Bonci's famous pizza. It lived up to the hype and I was honestly impressed how hard he and his coworkers worked during this event. There was nearly always a line to taste his focaccia style pizza made famous at his "Pizzarium" restaurant in the Trastevere area of Rome. I try to catch his television segments on our local "La Prova del Cuoco" cooking show, as I love his style. He uses Mulino Marino organic flour, that is a local brand that I have loved for many years. The Marino family have been committed to stone ground organic flours from their family milling business for at least 3 generations.  
Gabrielle Bonci and me, Marla
Another thing that really impressed me about Gabrielle, was the fact that he shopped every morning in the exhibition hall from his fellow exhibitors, supporting their businesses right on the spot, and giving the  hungry pizza eaters a taste of the possibilities of the food being presented there. And lastly, at the end, of what had to be at the very least, a 12-14 hour, day, when he had been on his feet all day, selling his pizza, and, chatting to the masses; he cheerfully indulged me with a photo together and a little "bread making shop talk." Thanks to my Fabrizio's outgoing nature, I got to meet this icon of modern pizza. What a charming experience for me all round. Grazie mille, Fabman.

Fabbrica della Pasta always has a unique display for their unique pasta
I never tire of going to this event as it is just so fascinating with people from all over the world bringing along not only their food but their culture as well.  Also, running simultaneously at this event is "Terre Madre" (Mother Earth), an international network for food communities. This brings many diverse food communities from all over the world to discuss and look for solutions to common challenges as well as network for getting their foods out to a larger market.  Many people wear their local traditional clothing and some times perform their music as well, making for plenty to see and do.  I hope you enjoy these collages I have made. Perhaps we'll see you here in 2014.
Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, in the center of the collage 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Autumn Thankfulness

Today in America, people have  probably already sat down with friends and family and eaten more than their fill of roast turkey and all the fixings.  It's usually a relaxing day with time to reflect on what one is grateful for. I always like the holiday even if the meal was just a tad on the side of overkill, vu I like the reflective nature of the day. Here in Italy it's not a day to indulge oneself with turkey and such, but I do find myself counting my blessings. I'm grateful for a warm home and food on the table with family and friends, old and new, to share with. I live in a beautiful part of the world and grateful to be able to enjoy the daily dose of mountain splendor. I am grateful to be able to share it with you.
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Thanks for stopping by and coming back. I still have things I look forward to sharing. The collage I put together above is just a sampling of autumn colors as this season comes to a close and early winter is just around the corner. Stay tuned for more food and fun and whatever else comes along, coming up shortly.
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