To start, an announcement:
Jamie Oliver, a chef with a couple shows on Food Network (who happens to be very attractive and has an adorable British accent), has started a campaign to bring healthy, nutritious foods to schools in the U.S. and to revive cooking within our communities. I think it's hugely important - now is the time to start making changes in the way our country handles food! Read more about it here and sign the petition! Every single person gets it one step closer to reality - and I'm thinking the Obamas would dig it, too!
What have I been up to after this wonderful weekend? School, food, the usual. Although there is not much that is "usual" about taking a Food & Culture class or eating fresh pasta and gelato...oh, how my idea of what is 'normal' has shifted. Won't make going home easy, that's for sure.
Monday means sandwich day! To Casa del Vino I went, and today I took the plunge and tried a new one:
I promise, looks are deceiving - this was t-a-s-t-Y!
It was sausage (salsiccia) mixed with stracchino, a very soft creamy cheese that has the consistency of a kind of cottage cheese or yogurt. It was a really interesting combination - the sausage had a kind of cinnamony, spice-y sweetness that played off the slightly sour (not in a bad way) taste of the cheese. I likened this to the Italian take on a lox & cream cheese on a bagel - salsiccia e stracchino on schiacciata (the bread)! I did enjoy it, but it was by no means my favorite I've had there. What can I say, no cheese can compare to the all-mighty pecorino in my book.
In my last post I mentioned the Bacio ('kiss' in Italian), a chocolate made by the Italian company Perugina from the city of Perugia I visited on Sunday. Well, here it is, up close and personal:
All wrapped up!
Notice the whole hazelnut lump...
And there you have it. I hope my first kiss is as good as this one!
Although it's not my favorite combo in the world, the Italian obsession with chocolate + hazelnut is pretty amazing. I think mint still wins my heart, but this is nothing to shrug at. Good chocolate never is.
I tried another type of Perugina, called a perla (pearl):
It's basically a Lindt Lindor truffle twin, but this was dark chocolate outside and had a strong hazelnutty hint to it that just led me to truffle heaven!
Chocolate = medicine.
Actually, that it was my presentation on Monday was all about - the ancient medicinal uses of cacao! It was really interesting and a lot of fun to learn about. It was only a beverage until the 1800s and believed to do everything from aiding digestion to curing infections. In fact, for a while it wasn't even considered a "food" - there was a text from 1645 that said it was permissible to drink chocolate during a Christian fast, as long as it wasn't mixed with "foods" like eggs or milk. Cool, right? I'm a chocolate fountain (ha!) of inspiration!
In other food news, tell me this isn't some of the prettiest lettuce you've ever seen:
It's called sorghino. I can't make it to the market on Mondays because of classes and the grocery store was clean out of arugula, so I went for this kind because...well, it's awfully perty. More or less tasteless, but makes for some photogenic salads:
Mmmmm....veggies = love!
Unfortunately, I ended up going to bed very late on Sunday and the same happened Monday night, and all that plus the mild scratchy throat/cough led to my executive decision to sleep in today and skip class. It was really frustrating because I actually wanted to go to class - we're starting a part of Italian that I learned but still find a little confusing - but somehow I was able to silence the perfectionist who wants perfect attendance and stay where I was. I may or may not regret, but I can't help feeling a teeny bit proud that I listened to my body and put it's health in front of class because when it's all said and done, I won't ever regret taking precautions against sickness. I feel SO much less worn down!
Yoga today was good - I got closer to headstand and was up for about a nanosecond before tumbling straight down. I will get there, slowly and surely. I did do a successful crow for a solid second and a half:
I was pretty excited!
[Just a disclaimer, I am by no means trying to brag or show off "what I can do" - I just thought if you don't know yoga well, you probably want to know what the heck I am talking about!]
I've been working on it for several weeks and isn't it just a fun feeling to accomplish something you've been inching towards?
For Ethnic Tuesday, we went for an old classic - Italian! My roommate found this jazz club-restaurant, Caruso, when another restaurant was too busy and raved about it, so we had to go!
Tagliatelle (fresh pasta) with zucchini and tiny shrimp
It was delicious!!! A little too salty, but otherwise wonderful. The pasta was well-cooked - I can't stand overcooked pasta - and the shrimp added a fishy taste that was not at all overwhelming but was juuuust the right touch. Plus, they were fun to eat - they're so cute and little! They definitely pack a flavor punch, though. My roommate Alaina got a pizza and I may or may not have helped her out with the last large slice...it was thin crust and gooooood tomato sauce...just how I like my pizzas. I will be honest, pizza here is not a big thing, and I haven't had any that I would say are better than what I can get at home. Bertucci's has some of the best ever [New Englanders, take note!]! The jazz music playing on the stereo added a really nice atmosphere, and paired with a little wine, it was a very successful dinner.
But let's be real, no dinner can be truly successful without...
The ubiquitous gelato.
I passed a place near our school that we've been to before, and this week I noticed they were offering GREEN TEA!!! I adore green tea ice cream (and the tea itself - I usually drink a cup a day!). The best I have ever had is at a place in Greenville, South Carolina (next city over from my college) called The Blueberry Frog. My cousin is good friends with the owner, who created the recipes all by himself! It is one of those "tart" frozen yogurt places a la pinkberry or Red Mango that are popping up right and left, but his place definitely takes a place above the rest. It is a non-negotiable stop when I am in Greenville. ANYway, clearly I had to try the gelato version of it! So I talked my roommates into going for dessert. [And by talked into, I mean I talked them into going to this particular place for gelato - gelato after dinner is pretty much a given with us!]
I got the green tea and a kind that was flavored with a brand of juice that is really popular here [my roommate drinks it all the time] called YOGA juice!!! I know, too perfect, right? The flavor is a mix of blueberry, apple, pomegranate, and a variety of other fruits. I loved it - it was very sherbet-y and mixed SO well with the green tea! The green tea itself was a little underwhelming - a little too creamy and didn't have a strong enough tea flavor. I am not a tea-with-milk type of girl - I drink it straight up, pure and unadulterated! But the combo of the two was perfect!
So, I have a massive research paper due next Monday for my Food & Culture class, and we got to choose the topic. What could I possibly have picked? Food blogs, of course! That said, I am hoping to use Gillianasana as one of my research tools, so I hope you as a reader don't mind if I ask some questions in the next few days? I don't have the paper as well outlined as I'd like, so I have to get that down first. I'm excited to write it though, because I think it's such a fascinating and novel entity in the gastronomic world!
Alrighty, bed time for this yogini. I may or may not be doing something incredibly exciting tomorrow and I may or may not be able to discuss it on here for a while...vague? Who, me?