February 2011

farinata italian, ligurian, flatbread

This is not the typical recipe you would find in an Italian cookbook. Too damn simple and good. Also very regional. It is something pulled out of wood fired ovens all over Liguria where it’s served take out style from massive circular pans and sold by weight. Farinata conforms to my theory that the best recipes never have more than four ingredients. Tops. What happened? Why is simple food so underrated? I hate that. But that’s why eating in Italy is such a unique experience for the North American palette accustomed to the ten ingredient mash up.

So let’s whip this beauty up. Preheat your oven to 450F/230C

You need this:

300g (2.75 cups) chickpea flour, 1 litre (4 cups) cold water, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, rosemary (optional), olive oil for cookie sheet

Measure chickpea flour, add salt. Add water and mix with a whisk . Add oil. Cut up rosemary sprigs, no woody bits,  but the rosemary is optional (I never ate it like this in Liguria but it tastes beautiful). You can let the batter rest, some say overnight, but I never have. Cause girlfriend, life is unpredictable. Mix and cook immediately cause you may not be around tomorrow.

The magic trick is pre-heating the cookie sheet. Take a rectangular sheet (30 x 45 cm, 12″ x 18″) with sides and glug some olive oil in the bottom, it should cover the bottom in a generous sheen.  Stick your oiled sheet in the preheated oven for 2-3 minutes, watch closely at this point so you don’t start smoking the oil. Now stir your batter once more and with the pan left on the oven rack inside the oven, pour your batter so it crackles and sputters a little hot oil on your jeans. Grrr. Leave in the oven for about 15-20 mins., but this could vary depending on your oven. Use a pot holder to prop open the oven door an inch so steam can escape. You could also turn the broiler on for the last few minutes of cooking to goldenly beautify the top. But our Craigslist freebie oven isn’t graced with this high tech capability. But the photo below reveals goldeness graces the top of my farinata without the upper element used.

Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Miangiamo.

I loved that while I was snapping these shots my stack of farinata was diminishing in each photo. It was hard to snap one without Alessandro’s hand in the way or my daughters face in the frame.  We could eat this everyday.

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My First Time

by Bianca Gignac

Really, my first post… could it be? Very exciting for me as I’ve been beavering away on my little site for weeks now, just test driving and learning and swearing. I so far haven’t told anyone what I’m up to cause I’d rather fall on my face in private and break my website 10 times on my own. My plan is to figure it out and then roll out my welcome mat in a while. Blog creation = way harder than it looks! Especially for someone  who still does not know who just learned how to re-size an image and doesn’t even have a personal Facebook page (what I’m trying to prove I still don’t know). So I have decided to become a part time blogger, creator, titillator and entertainer and launch my concept that I believe is CRYING OUT to be on the web. No other website bridges Italian interiors, travel, people, places, tips, talk, and good eats in a stylish manner for all my smart, creative and worldly friends and soon to be voracious new readers.

So here it is. Welcome. I have TONS of great content and practical advice and fabulous photos to share. I  lived in Italy for two years, learned Italian, imported an Italian husband to Canada (my mom asked…can’t you just find a nice boy from Duncan)? So after some thinking and writing and talking I believe the ember of an idea needed to ignite. Thanks for joining my campfire. Grab the marshmallow sticks!

In my first post I would like to tell you about my first time. In Italy – ya cheeky thing.  I was still in art school pursuing my Bachelor of Fine Art. In my third year my life as I knew it went to total shit because my boyfriend was being an ass and we broke up and my sky was falling. Yeah, I know. Big problems of a 25 year old! But I had been with him since I was a wee lass and therefore took it pretty badly;  moping around my life and being generally really pathetic and sad. Something needed to be done. Something good and big. In art school I was very good at applying for bursaries and scholarships and getting all sorts of fame and perks and cash (at least in my mind). So I applied to the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and received a summer bursary to study at Scuola Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence.

card

Things were definitely improving. I landed in Rome in a total fog after two days of travel. For the first time in months of post break up depression I actually felt a little lighter in all that July Roman humidity. My true epiphany hit the morning after my first night in Italy. From my incredibly noisy, hot room on a side street of Florence I peeked out my green wooden shutters and onto the street below. It was LIFE. Big, stinky, hot life. The dust and smell of a garbage strike and ringing of the motorbikes and children enveloped me in this perfectly beautiful moment.  I realized, “I’m gonna be OK”, and I really believed  it.

It was probably the most profound clarity of years. And I went on to have the most incredible summer of my life.

Studying Italian for the first time was awesome. I failed each weekly recap exam. italian lessons

Half my class dropped out when they realized full immersion Italian classes are brutal. I stuck it out, and took the anthropological route of learning Italian from locals while burning the midnight oil throughout the clubs of Florence.

friends

Yup.  Studying with books is good but look what it does to me:

study don't sleep

And just two days before I was to leave my best summer ever…I met my future husband. But that’s another story.

Thank you for being here.

Bianca

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