Friday, October 27, 2006

Tastes that are as big as Texas

After eating myself silly for the past few days, I’ve decided to take a break and just sit still in front of the computer for a while, until it’s time for dinner. Yes, I’m in Italy, and dinner is served quite late here—an 8 o’clock reservation is the equivalent of the old-timer’s early bird special. There’s still a lot for me to process, but I will just say this: if you’re the kind of person who gets excited when they have free samples at the grocery store, I highly recommend you make the trip to Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto, a biannual fair held in Turin that showcases artisanal food from around the world. I couldn’t tell you how many booths there were (I’m a bad attendee as I haven’t fully read all my pamphlets), but let’s just say after five hours of wandering the halls of the Lingotto, I felt like I still hadn’t tasted everything. And yes I had a full belly, a light head and a pocket stuffed with toothpicks. Some of the foods I sampled: algas marinas from Chile; kanihua, a grain flour from Peru; chaam chicken, an endangered species from the Netherlands; asiago with honey; more stinky cheeses than I can count; uncooked and uncured sausage from Bra; smoky mezcal from Mexico (hence the light head); enough varieties of olive oil to fill a library; bitter chocolate, milk chocolate and hazelnut chocolate; purple grapes as big as plums; fois gras and various other pates; some strange hard ball of cheese with a tangy oozing center; my first whiff of a fresh, white truffle as big as a baseball—and that’s just the beginning.

I hadn’t had this much fun with food since, well, last Saturday when Danielle at Habeas Brulee hosted a NYC food bloggers potluck. Danielle set the scene with French soup dumplings, a novel twist on the soup dumpling complete with melted cheese and a crouton. Julie from A Finger in Every Pie brought parma wrapped goat-cheese-stuffed dates (a delectable appetizer I couldn’t stop eating), a wonderful salad with fresh avocado, and Korova cookies aka world peace cookies, so named because if world peace can be reached, I reckon chocolate is the most likely mediator. Stephanie from Adventures of Pie Queen brought her mother’s carrot cake (yes, it was made by her mother!). Stephanie of Scrumptious Street made a butternut squash soup that rose to the sublime with the inclusion of a roasted banana. Vanessa of Vanessipes shared her Southwestern sweet potato/black bean casserole rich with smoky chipotles and topped with masa (I’m making dish this at Thanksgiving). Jessica at Su Good Eats brought delicate chocolate macaroon sandwiches, another can’t-stop-eating dish. Tse Wei from Off the Bone channeled his inner baker and crafted exquisite artisan bread loaves that left the crowd stunned at their beauty and deliciousness. Danielle’s partner Dave also played baker with a crunchy, garlicy focaccia—its texture and flavor so perfect, I haven't had anything here in Italy that tops it—and a Queen of Sheba chocolate cake. Nicole who blogs on Live Journal under the name Nex0s took the prize for most unique with her pumpkin puree with pomegranate juice wrapped in steamed leaks—a unique and tasty combination I’d never tried before. But beyond the food, the fellowship was equally fulfilling—these NYC bloggers are an intelligent and lively bunch. And making a special guest appearance was Danielle’s 12-year-old brother Jordan, later summoned by her delightful parents.

Wow! So much good eating the past week. I’m on a roll that I hope never stops!

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Danielle said...

Your comment on the focaccia made Dave's day (week?) when I read it aloud to him last night. It was so wonderful to meet you and everyone else, and everything was so good - your chili is stunning. Thank you so much for coming, and I hope we can do this again soon!

Yvo said...

On a nice big soft sticky sweet roll... I am drooling at work. This is no good. And I have found some great new links to other food blogs that I am going to browse around. Thanks and glad to hear you're having a blast in Italy :)

The County Clerk said...

please tell me more about the photo

nicole said...

I'm so jealous! It's funny that you're in Italy while I'm in the states :-) Happy Halloween!

Homesick Texan said...

Danielle--I'm glad to have made Dave's day. I can't wait to see y'all again--the potluck was a blast. So much great food and people.

Yvo--The sound of nice big soft sweet sticky roll makes me drool!

County Clerk--This photo was taken at the Salone del Gusto. It was a pavillion for Prosciutto di San Danielle and it's a wall of hanging hams. Quite impressive.

Nicole--I'd never been to Italy before, but I'll be back soon. The food there was incredible.

The County Clerk said...

A wall of Prosciutto huh? I had no idea what Prociutto looked like. I would have guessed fowl. Amazing. Thanks for posting.

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