I thought it would be a great idea to suggest some of the coolest, classiest and tastiest gift ideas for the Christmas Season... and you don't have to travel to Italy to get them. It's as easy as logging on to your Amazon account.
Every Italophile on your list would appreciate this 3 pound iGourmet Parmigiano Reggiano. $42 on AMAZON. If they are really into the King of Cheeses (and if you can afford it), treat them to this 86 pound wheel! A deal at just under a thousand bucks, plus shipping. Also on On AMAZON.
Ok, so I like cheese--especially caciocavallo. Here's a great deal on a 5 pound ball. Tie it to your donkey's back and you're ready for a long winter in the north pasture with your sheep! $70 on AMAZON.
This beautiful Consigli carving set with olivewood handles is what every Tuscan would love to carve his porchetta or wild boar roast. $66 on AMAZON.
Who doesn't love Nutella? Well, if your loved one is a real Nutella Nut, how about not one, but two 105 ounce buckets of the stuff? $62 on Amazon.
My wife Lisa loves her red Moka pot so much since I gave it to her last Christmas, that she's still using her old, stained silver one, with the red one displayed proudly above our cooktop. It's a 6 cup size and makes the best espresso ever. $30 Amazon.
To go with the Moka pot, perhaps the object of your affection would love this hand made, ceramic espresso cup set from Deruta. $97 AMAZON.
When we visited the Solimene Ceramica factory in Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast, we fell in love with their ceramics. Here's a great pasta bowl in their olive design. $130 0n AMAZON.
Aged, imported Balsamic is hard to find... at a decent price. Most are in the $100-200 range for 3-4 ounces. Here's a good compromise, a Modena Balsamico in a 8.45 ounce bottle. It's not 20 year... but 12 years is pretty decent, especially at only $31. On AMAZON.
Every uomo when traveling in Italy needs to have a scarf to keep away those 3 mph breezes that Italians fear so much. (Mama to Giuseppe, "Tighten your scarf or you'll get sick!") A beautiful, supple wooly from Biella, Italy. $89 on AMAZON.
Ok, I'll admit that when I was in Italy, I did enjoy the occasional street musicians playing tourist style accordian music as we had dinner in a ristorante, but there is more to authentic regional Italian music other than mandolins and Oh Solo Mio. This album gives you the feel of the small villages and remote cultures in Italia. If you're into folk or world music, you'll love it. Digital download ($10) or CD ($13). On Amazon.
For the chef on your list, a great olive wood cutting board made from large diameter olive trees. These are imported from Italy. Under $25 on AMAZON.
If you have a friend who loves Italian wines, then they should love this Italian made, carbon fiber sommalier's corkscrew. I have one I bought in Italy and wouldn't open a bottle of Primativo or Barolo without it. Under $170 on AMAZON.
If you are into ancient Roman history, then this series is for you. It's one of the most historically accurate series about the lifestyle, politics, sexuality and culture of the Roman Empire. Not for the faint-hearted, this is a very blunt look at the vulgarity (as we now see it) and violent lives experienced by Roman elites, plebeans and slaves. My wife and I have binged watched this series... as addictive as the I Claudius series from years ago. Available streaming or as a boxed DVD set for $39 on AMAZON.
If you love making your own pasta, try this imported ravioli maker. I Inherited my mother's ravioli pin and still remmeber her making ravioli for special occasions. $23 on AMAZON.
This "chitarra" (guitar) isn't musical, you make tonnarelli pasta with it--a sort of square profiled spaghetti. Under $40 on AMAZON.
When it's time to take your next Grand Voyage to Italy, keep a record of your travels in this 6x8" Florentine leather journal. Keep photos, notes, sketches and tickets from museums and monuments you've visited. Think of it as an 18th century, analog way to blog. $84 on AMAZON.
While La Bafana, the good Christmas Witch is something only found in Italy, Santa is really the same all over the world, but in Italy, his name is Babbo Natale--Daddy Christmas. Babbo Natale is who we call Santa Claus in the States, or Saint Nick or more formally, Saint Nicholas, but his roots are in many European countries' traditional folklore. To the French, he is Pere Noël (Father Christmas), Father Christmas in England, Julenisse (Christmas Elf) in Scandanavia , Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, and Sankt Nikolaus or Weihnachtsmann in Germany.
All children know that Santa Claus comes from the North Pole, is bearded and overweight and that on Christmas Eve brings presents to children around the world traveling on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. They also know that he is magic--the reason why he can pull off this time-stopping feat, somehow getting into each and every house, whether or not it has a chimney. But the idea of Santa Claus was really born on the shores of the Mediterranean, evolves later on in Northern Europe and assumes its final form (Santa Claus) in the New World as an advertising gimmick.
Santa Claus, as we know him today in American, was made popular throughout the world by Coca Cola ads and Clement Moore's story "A Visit from St. Nicholas" ('Twas the Night Before Christmas) so there are many similarities. They all are kind and give presents. Most wear red. Some are fat and short, others are thinner and taller.
Santa has a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, and so does Babbo Natale. Their names are a bit different, though: Cometa, Ballerina, Fulmine, Donnola, Freccia, Saltarello, Donato, Cupido (in place of our Comet, Dancer, Dasher, Prancer, Vixen, Donder, Blitzen, Cupid).
In reality, in the beginning there was St. Nicholas, a greek born around 280 AD who became bishop of Myra, a Roman town in the south of Asia Minor in mored day Turkey. Nicholas earned a reputation as a fierce defender of the Christian faith in the years of persecution and spent many years in prison. None of the early representations of St. Nicholas look fat and jolly. As recently proven by forensic anthropological studies of the saint's actual remains resting in a cathedral in Bari, Puglia, Nicholas was an thin, old man, with olive skin, a broken nose with a beard and gray hair. So much for that jolly, red nose and rosely cheeks.
Still, the legend lives on all around the world, with Santa Claus and Babbo Natale representing the Christmas Spirit--Spirito di Natale. His jolly, kind, all-knowing face is a sign of love to children... a reminder than in fact, they are loved... by God, by Santa and by their parents and siblings. He is a symbol of what Christmas is all about--the Good Life that God gave us.
If you enjoyed this post, please tell your friends about Grand Voyage Italy. Buon Natale!
Even in Italy, Santas have been scaring kids for over a hundred years. Sleep well, kiddies.
When we visited Sorrento, our impression was a place for the Oh-so-Chic, with expensive shops, gourmet ristoranti, over-priced hotels and perfectly tailored gardens. Little did we know that right in the heart of this tourist Mecca with amazing views of Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius was an example of nature taking over what Man had built before...
The Valli dei Mulini (Vallone dei Mulini, singular) are actually two deep gorges where abandoned mill buildings from centuries past have been taken over by Madre Natura and turned into a nature preserves, often looking like they deserve to be in one of the Lord of the Rings stories.
The abandoned mills in Sorrento are in an ancient gorge formed 35,000 years ago during an explosive volcanic eruption. You can easily find the valley adjacent to Via Fuorimura, just behind Piazza Tasso, and can be visited on foot. One of the hiden gems of Sorrento, this site is known for the variety of unique plants and ferns, growing in their own microclimate--a shady, moist evironment clinging to both the abandoned mill buildings and structures and the native tufa rock.
Further east, as the road comes upward from Naples toward the Amalfi Coast (just east of the town of Gragnano), there are abandoned mills alongside the Via del Presepe, winding through its millstream gorge. The Via del Presepe is a very narrow, cobblestone paved road, so don't drive it with an overly wide vehicle.
One of the old Gragnano mills
The view from Sorrento's Parco Ibsen
For more than 700 years the mills in these unique valleys produced flour, reaching a peak in the 18th century when producing over a million bushels of wheat flour each year. They utilized water from the Vernotico River for power. During times of drought, they filled tall towers with water for use by the people living in the surrounding Naples region. In the 10th century, a sawmill was also in operation. Inevitably, they became unprofitable and in the 1940’s the mills became overgrown and abandoned.
Today, there are walking tours of the Vallone in Sorrento and you can easily drive streamside to see the mills near Gragnano. Bring your cameras, water colors and leaf folios...
Each year at Christmastime, inside the church of St. Isidore Agricola in Palermo, an ancient brotherhood of bakers creates a Presepe di Pane (Christmas Nativity of Bread) made entirely of bread, and they've been doing so since 1991.
The Presepe of artistic bread is baked and displayed in the beautiful ChiesaSt. Isidoro Agricola (...of the Bakers). St. Isidore was built in 1643, belonged from the beginning to the Society of Bakers.
The Presepe is made completely out of bread, a representation of the importance and symbolism of bread to Catholics... Bread is the Christ. All the characters are made painstakingly by the skilled hands of the bakers.
The Presepe di Pane is on display from December 9 to January 6 hours 9: 30-12: 00 16: 00-19: 00
Here is a video (in Italian) that profiles the Presepe di Pane....
In the next video, a baker-artisan works his magic and creates a detailed human figure. If you bake, this is well worth watching!
If you enjoyed this article, please SHARE it and LIKE it on your favorite social media site. Buon Natale!
In the centuries before the iconic Bialetti Mokka pot, people drank the new beverage in coffeehouses, an idea that started in Constantinople around 1550, but also spread to Mecca, Damascus and Cairo. Although David ibn Abi Zimra (a Cairo rabbi) ruled in 1553 that Jews could drink coffee prepared by a non-Jew, he also warned against patronizing public coffeehouses and suggested that instead, they have their coffee deliver to their homes--especially due to its medicinal use.
Initially, in the 15th century, the drink quickly spread throughout the Ottoman Empire, enjoyed with large amounts of sugar. Jews and Muslims alike found that it helped them stay awake and alert for nightly prayer services. For Muslims, it took the place of forbidden alcoholic beverages. For the Jews, its adoption was tentative with rabbis debating whether it was Kosher, what blessing it required or whether it was actually a medicinal drug.
Coffee in Italy had a slow start, partly due to it being declared a Drink of the Devil by the Catholic church, and because it was a very expensive drink for the elite. It wouldn't be until 1603 when Pope Clement VIII tasted--and liked--coffee and gave the drink full absolution from its sins. This helped open the floodgates for coffee in Italy and the rest of Europe.
In 1632, the Jews of Livorno--a port city that was given over to the Italian Jewish population which became a center of Mediterranean trade--imported the first coffee into Italy and then opened the first coffeehouses (Bottega del Caffè). By 1624 and 1650, large shipments were shipped to Venice and by 1683, the first coffeehouse in Venice opened.
In researching this article, I actually discovered that in 1766, an ancestor with my family name, Beniamino Finzi (an Italian Jew) was given management of a coffeehouse in Livorno. He managed to get the Jewish leaders to rescind a law forbidding games of chance in coffeehouses frequented by Jews. He was the first Jew to be granted a permit to allow gambling with card and board games in a coffeehouse. From this time on, a Jew could only run an "entertainment room" for gambling only if they also served coffee!
Coffee was becoming mainstream.... within 200 years of the first sip being tasted in Italy, the craving for coffee had spread throughout Europe and even into the New World.
As an advertising photographer, at times in my career I had to create art using food--fresh food, cooked food--often using strange food stylist techniques to make the food look its best (brushing steak sauce on a near-raw turkey and torching it), to last longer (using mashed potatoes in place of a scoop of melting ice cream), or making soups more appealing (marbles under the ingredients so they show). In drinks we used non-melting, hand sculpted acrylic ice cubes and silver cards behind to reflect the color. But for my more artistic work, I loved using food in surrealistic ways... huge tomatoes sitting atop a lamp table in a miniature set, or a "gigantic" wine bottle and glass with a tag saying "drink me" in another miniature room.
But the absolute king of using food in surrealistic ways was the 16th century Italian artist, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, born in Milan in 1527. Coming from artistic stock (his father was Biagio, a painter during the Renaissance), Arcimboldo at first had more traditional commissions: stained glass window designs in the Duomo; frescoes for the Cathedral of Monza; the design of a large tapestry for the Como Cathedral; and he was a court portraitist to Ferdinand I in Vienna, and to Maximilian II and his son Rudolf II in Prague where he also took on duties of court decorator and costume designer. His work took a turn toward surrealism and food themes when King Augustus of Saxony commissioned a copy of his "The Four Seasons" which incorporates his own monarchic symbols.
Arcimboldo's traditional religious works have mostly fallen into oblivion, but his portraits of human heads made up of vegetables, fruit and tree roots, were surprisingly admired by his contemporaries and remain unique examples of surrealism today. Debates continue as to whether his paintings were purposeful by design or the product of a deranged mind. Many art scholars argue that given the Renaissance fascination with riddles, puzzles, bizarre subject and even metamorphic art (an image of one thing also being seen as a second thing) that he was simply following his own interpretations of poplar trends.
The bizarre works of Arcimboldo, especially his multiple images, were rediscovered in the early 20th century by Surrealist artists like Salvador Dali. The "The Arcimboldo Effect" exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice (1987) included numerous 'double meaning' paintings.
His works can be found in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Habsburg Schloss Ambras in Innsbruck, the Louvre in Paris, as well as numerous museums in Sweden. In Italy, his work is in Cremona, Brescia, and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado, the Menil Foundation in Houston, Texas, and the Candie Museum in Guernsey also own paintings by Archimboldo.
So, take a good look at his works... and buon appetite!
We Three... that's what we call our little family. Traditionally, we keep our Thanksgiving feast for our little family unit. We are thankful for each other, for our health and happiness, and for keeping us safe in our home in the country which we've dubbed "Buddleside".
When we were young, both Lisa's family and mine used to go all out, serving essentially two meals--the Italian and the American Thanksgiving spread. When arriving at the family home, we'd dig into antipasto. Then after a couple of hours of food prep, teasing each other and watching the parade on TV, we'd sit down for the Italian meal: Lasagna or home made ravioli served with meatballs, brasciole, and sausage. After this, we'd all need couch time to digest--a couple of hours.
Then would come Turkey Time. Turkey, stuffing, gravy (the brown American kind, not the Sunday Gravy red type), sweet potatoes and marshmallows, cranberries--the jellied, canned type for my family. Then later on, my Dad would roast the chestnuts in the oven, Mom would pour the coffee and tea and we'd head back to the table to dig into the spread of Italian pastries: Cannoli, Babà alRhum, Eclairs, Napoleone, Sfogliatelle, Tricolori (Rainbow cookies), Amaretti (macaroons) and my favorite, Pasticiotti (we called them "Passa-Chutt"... little custard filled pies).
The chestnuts, pumpkin seeds, tangerines and pomegranates would finish off the day of feasting with sips of almond flavored Amaretto (almond) or Sambuca (anise) liquors.
I have no idea how we ate so much damned food back then.
For We Three nowadays, the meal is still abundant, but trimmed back a lot--yet still we have tons of leftovers for other meals). We start with an antipasto to honor our Italian roots, but we really have that as our lunch around 1pm. Provolone, salami, imported olives, pepperoni and slices of crusty bread are more than enough to hold us over while the turkey roasts in the oven in the afternoon.
Some of the sides we prepared the day before just so we could have time to relax with each other, play a board game, watch the Macy's Parade, the Dog Show and March of the Wooden Soldiers on TV (we love Laurel and Hardy). In the last few years, due to the odd marathon programming of cable channels, tuning in for our favorite parts of the Godfather trilogy is also something that Lisa and I enjoy, though I must admit, watching guys getting whacked on Thanksgiving Day strikes me as very odd.
As for the leftovers: Perhaps a second turkey dinner, turkey panini, turkey pasta, turkey barley soup, and our special, once-a-year pizza, which I call Thanksgiving Day Pizza. The turkey gravy (the brown stuff, not Sunday Gravy red) becomes the pizza sauce, the turkey and all the trimmings (cheese potatoes, cranberries, stuffing, etc.) become the toppings, all topped off with grated fontina cheese. Hey... I just looked at the time as I'm writing this on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I've got to get my dough started for the pizza tonight! I've been waiting all year for this...
Happy Thanksgiving to all our Grand Voyage Italy friends!
--Jerry, Lisa and Lucas
Our antipasto - Not bad for the son of a Deli Man, no?
Lisa, Lucas and I are thankful for each other, our health, our home, our friends, the good food and wine God graced us with, the beauty of nature... and we're also thankful for the visits of our Grand Voyage Italy friends. We are blessed with the fruits of our garden, the wide variety of trees growing around us, the sightings of turkeys, racoons, eagles, hawks, frogs and deer. We are blessed also with the warmth of our new fireplace, the music that surrounds us, the coziness of our beds, and the creations from our cucina that grace our table.
We treasure memories from our lives past and look forward to our future adventures together, hopefully in visiting La Bel Paese once again, perhaps visiting the many Finzi cugini we have met on our Garden of the Finzi Famiglia page on Facebook. Most of all, we are thankful for the Creator and all the wonders he has given to us all on this beautiful, big blue marble of a planet...
We all hope you are having the very best Thanksgiving ever.
Matteo Stucchi (@idolcidigulliver) is a 23 year-old pastry chef from Monza, Italy, who builds surrealistic scenes using food and scale railroading vehicles and people. A modern day Gulliver might be pleased with the people of Lilliput creating such tasty sweets for him to indulge in. Enjoy the slideshow...
Although there might still be a few homes in rural Italy where the fràscere or braciere (brazier) might be found, this tool for heating and cooking is more than likely a memory for older Italians. Typically an ancient-looking copper pan set into a wider wooden base, many recall their mothers placing the braciere full of hot coals from the home's fireplace into the middle of the room so all members of the family could sit around warming their feet on a cold winter's evening.
Some have shared memories with me: Mama putting large black olives in to heat them up, and then squeezing them onto pieces of toasted bread... or melting pieces of cheese on forks. They also remember how their fathers warmed up some zuppa for an evening snack before heading off to bed. A second braciere might have been placed in their bedroom to take the chill off as they drifted off to sleep.
And their mothers may well have covered the braciere with a scaldapanni (or sciuttapanni)--a dome cover made from bent strips of wood--and then draped a damp washcloth, panties, socks or a cloth diaper to dry overnight. In school the next day, there might have been a braciere--perhaps more than one--sitting on the floor between desks to help warm their scholastic endeavors, even if just to toss a crumpled mistake into the coals when their maestra was dissatisfied with their work.
A beautifully decorated braciere from a more ancient time
The "conca" (basin), as it was casually referred to, was an ancient household invention thousands of years old that could be perceived as a sure sign of poverty in Italy, but there were riches in its use, too... family members--young and old, children through grandparents-- gathered around, telling stories, sharing gossip, knitting or repairing garments, toasting bread, laughing together, the children always being the closest to the warm, glowing circle. Occasionally, a lemon or orange peel was tossed onto the coals to send a simple but glorious scent into the air and if you were a good child, your father might let you use the little shovel to perk up the glow of the coals.
The family hearth might have been small, but the memories were warmer than that pile of coals could ever be...
Braciere a Tavola... very portable
Traditional all-copper construction
Beautiful example from the 1700s
Copyright 2016, Jerry Finzi/Grand Voyage Italy - All Rights Reserved
Waffles are something we enjoy almost every Sunday for colazione (breakfast). Lisa has a great recipe which includes egg whites that makes that light and crispy. Lucas' favorite breakfast is waffles with Nutella and banana. But the ancestor of our favorite waffle is something much more delicate... more like a waffle ice cream cone... the pizzelle. (We'll use the name "pizzelle" in this article for both singular and plural--singular is actually pizzella). "Pizze" is from the Italian word for "round" and "flat" (pizze)--yes, just like the word pizza. The "elle" ending means small. Pizzelle are indeed small, flat and round. They are light and crispy Italian waffle cookies made from flour, eggs, sugar, butter or oil, flavored with vanilla, anise, anisette, lemon or even chocolate. Depending on how they are made, pizzelle might be soft or crisp.
Pizzelle are made by cooking batter in between two iron plates that have decorative patterns on them--usually in a sort of snowflake design. There are electric versions that are used just like waffle irons, and there are cast metal ones that you hold over a flame to cook the pizzelle, turning to cook each side. The interesting thing about pizzelle is that when they first come off the iron, they are soft and pliable. You can actually mold them around a tube to form a cylinder used in making cannoli, a cone shape for gelato cones or mold them into bowls or cups to be used as containers for sweet treats and desserts. Once cooled they become hard and brittle.
They can be colored (like the Italian flag, for instance) with food coloring, or dipped into chocolate or icing and sprinkles. The simplest way to serve them is dusted with powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar. Tuck them into a scoop or two of ice cream in a bowl. Two can be filled (Nutella!) like a little sandwich. Around the holidays, packaged pizzelle can also be found in many varied flavors and designs.
Jewelled pizzelle from lovely-living.com
7th Century bread stamp
Pizzelle--at least, the Italian version we know today--were originally made in Ortona, in the Abruzzo region. Centuries ago, the families would have pizzelle irons specially made with family crests, special dates, or other celebratory designs. Although once enjoyed at annual festivals, these cookies can now be found at nearly every holiday celebration, in Italy and beyond.
Other countries have their own pizzelle type of cookie, too... like the Norwegian Krumkake. This is perhaps because it is one of the world's oldest cookies--it's ancestor most likely was the Roman crustulum, a flat bread treat cooked in a Roman pancake pan and on top of a craticula (a sort of Roman BBQ grate cooker). Pizzelle are known as ferratelle in the Lazio region and in Molise they may be called ferratelle or cancelle.
The history of pizzelle might go back even further in history, however. There are ancient examples of bread stamps--some being a similar size to modern pizzelle--in both ancient Rome and Greece. Flat breads throughout the Middle East and the Greek and Roman areas of the Mediterranean were often stamped in geometric patterns. Some stamps were small but used in a repeating manner to create a large pattern on the face of a flatbread. The larger ones in the early days of Christianity were used to impress flat breads with a cross or religious pattern, the bread being used as the Holy Eucharist during early masses. St. John Chrysostom (a Greek, 347-407AD), noted in his writings that all bread was “sealed”, most likely with a cross.
Forming cannoli tubes
Pizzelle Recipes Pizzelle - made with olive oil Makes 2-3 dozen
Ingredients 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup light olive 3 eggs 1/2 tsp Salt 1 tbsp Grated orange zest 1-1/2 tsp Flavoring extract (lemon, rum, almond, vanilla, or anise) 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Directions In a large bowl, beat together sugar and olive oil. Add the eggs, salt, zest, and extract then beat well. Gradually stir in the flour until the mixture is smooth, soft and sticky.
Heat the pizzelle maker. Using a spoon, scoop some dough and place the dough on each cookie pattern of the pizzelle maker. It might help to wet your hands and roll a tablespoon sized dollop into a ball and then center it on the pizzelle iron. Close and clamp the lid and cook until about 30 seconds until light golden color. I have found that many pizzelle irons/griddles tend to squeeze too much batter forward (due to the rear hinge design)... compensate by positioning your batter slightly to the rear of center. Use a thin wooden spatula to remove the pizzelle from the griddle.
Transfer pizzelles onto a cool counter-top or cookie cooling rack to dry and harden. Repeat until all the batter is used up. If you need to mold them into a shape, do it immediately as they come off the griddle. Do not leave pizzelle out on damp, humid days. After drying, they keep well in Zip-loc bags.
Pizzelle - with butter Makes 2-3 dozen. Butter will add flavor but they will be less crisp.
Ingredients 3 eggs 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon Cointreau or Triple Sec (or Liquor of your choice) 1-3/4 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder
Directions In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar. Add the butter, vanilla, and Cointreau. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until combined. The batter should be thick.
Chocolate Pizzelle (Makes 30 pizzelle)
Ingredients 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled 1 cup sugar 3 eggs, room temperature 1/2 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Directions Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder in a small bowl. In a second bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and whisk. Add the cocoa/flour mixture and mix until smooth. Make pizzelle the same way as previous recipes..
Pizzelle with Hazelnuts
Ingredients 4 eggs 1 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled 2 cups flour 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon baking powder 3/4 cup ground hazelnuts
Directions In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt, then add the butter and blend well.Sift together all the remaining ingredients, except the hazelnuts. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Next, fold in the ground hazelnuts. Make pizzelles as previously.
Follow the recipe for the Butter Pizzelles above. Leave out the vanilla and Liquor flavorings. Add 1 tablespoon of almond extract or 2 tablespoons of amaretto. Add 3/4 cup of ground almonds to the batter.
Follow the recipe for Pizzelles made with butter. Omit the vanilla and Cointreau. Then add: 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder 2 teaspoons cinnamon 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur Serve with a dollop of whipped cream shaved chocolate top top it off.
Black and White Pizzelle
Follow the Butter Pizzelle recipe. Make one batch of the Chocolate Pizzelle recipe. Place 1/2 tablespoon of each batter, side to side in the middle of the pizzelle baker's pattern and bake as usual.
Vintage Holy Eucharist Pizzelle maker
If you enjoyed this article, please SHARE it and LIKE it on your favorite social media site. Buon Natale!
Italy is much more interesting than just going there to check off "must see" tourist sites from a list. And there's more than one way to take a Voyage around the country. In a country shaped like a boot, surrounded by crystal clear seas on three sides, filled with volcanic activity in both the people and geology, and with architecture that goes back hundreds if not thousands of years... and being the birthplace of the world's most favorite foods--pasta and pizza--well, this place makes for one hell of a visit... from space on Google Earth.
First, take a look at this straight looking shape jutting out over half a mile into the Adriatic Sea at Trave, Italy? It looks like a man made jetty with boats anchored on the leeward side. Well, it's not man made. It's a natural geological formation--a angled uplift of layers of ancient seabed that you can see in the second photo going straight op the mountain. The effects of vulcanism in Italy are amazing to see.
What do you think these strange arrow shapes are that I came across on Google Earth while trolling around Trevignano, Viturbo on Lago di Bracciano? They are an interesting type of fish trap called an arrowhead trap. Fish swim toward shore, then when they swim out to deeper water again, they get trapped in the arrowhead. They look very cool when seen from above.
How about these circular shapes I found just off the southern coast of the Gargano Peninsula in Puglia? Yep... floating fish farms.
This wasn't planned.... or was it? Looks like a bull dog puppy staring into the eyes of his master.
I wish we were seeing more of this next one in the States. This is one of the largest solar power plants in Italy. It's almost a mile long and produces 70 megawatts, enough to power over 16,500 Italian homes. Why aren't we doing this here?
Everyone knows what this shows... snow on mountaintops, right? Wrong. This image shows mountains entirely made of white marble, just outside of Carerra where Michelangelo found David hidden in a huge hunk of the stuff.
Another jetty? No... it's actually a shipwreck, left there to rust. Italy has a decent number of these wrecks making their coastline much more than just a place to lay out in your Speedo.
This is the Italian Space Agency's radio telescope field in Ortuccio in Abruzzo, but Google Earth shows the importance of this complex. Built in 1963, the Fucino Telespazio Center contains over 100 working dish antenna radio telescopes.
I was checking Google Earth for the location of a museum in the town of Mantova (also, Mantua) in northern Italy when I saw this sight. Mantova is a town with three man made lakes surrounding it (built as protection in the 12th century). In one of the lakes is this mile long leaf shape. It's the Isola del Fior (Flower Island), not an island at all, but a one mile long bed of water lilies.
This one is a shocker. I knew where it should be, but I didn't know Google Earth actually had an image of it.... Here's the Costa Concordia laying on it's side, as view from space. AMAZING!
And now, how about a little salt on your steak? Sea salt, that is. Yes, these are salt drying marsh pens in Trapani, Sicily. They flood the fields with seawater and let the sun do its work.
Now this one is one of the oddest things I've found on Google Earth. Believe it or now, this huge pattern is concrete--covering the ruins of an entire town that was destroyed in an earthquake. The artist entombed household items--dolls, beds, chairs, tables--in this web of concrete. The really strange thing is, the pattern are actually the old streets where people can visit and wander through this oddity. Read more about Cretto do Gibellina HERE.
In the end, this one gets my vote as the absolute strangest sighting found on Google Earth: The giant white rabbit in the Italian Alps. An art installation on a mountaintop, it has suffered the ravages of the Alpine extreme weather--along with and hikers and skiers climbing all over it. The current Google Earth image shows a mere road-kill outline of the bunny's former self.
I hoped you enjoyed this bird's-eye view of la Bel Paese...
I've always loved coconut and chocolate. Mounds candy bars were a favorite when sitting in the dark, echoing movie palace during Saturday matinees in my youth. In Italy, one of my favorite, two-scoop gelato treats was coco and cioccolato. So when my wife, Lisa made these Coconut Chocolate Squares for me last week, I was in heaven!
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (pulsed a bit in a food processor to soften the texture)
3/4 cup coconut oil at room temperature
1/3 cup honey
1 cup dark bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons milk
Your coconut oil should be at room temperature and have the consistency of soft butter. (If not, you can warm it very gently in a small saucepan until just melted). Mix in the honey, then add the coconut. Stir until thick and evenly incorporated. Press the whole mixture into a 9 x 5 inch baking pan (8 x 8 inch works well too though the bars will be a bit thinner) lined with parchment paper with an overhang for easy removal and slicing. Smooth and press down the top with the back of a spoon. Place the pan in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the chocolate topping.
Melt the chocolate chips over the lowest heat setting or ideally in a double boiler. Add 2 Tbsp milk (this is optional but it softens the chocolate layer a bit and makes it easier to slice). Stir gently to incorporate milk and ensure the chocolate melts evenly and does not burn on the bottom. Heat until just melted and then remove from heat. Let the chocolate cool down if it is hot, it should be lukewarm (almost cold) before spreading on top of the cold and hardened coconut base.
Place the pan in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate. Remove from the fridge, pull out the whole block by tugging on the parchment paper edges. Slice with a sharp knife and serve. These slice better if they’re fully hardened and running the knife through hot water first also helps to get a clean slice. Store the squares in the refrigerator. They will keep for 2 weeks.
Our family of three traveled to Italy to discover our roots. We write about our Voyage, Italian lifestyle, cuisine, language, and talk about how the Voyage affected our lives back at home. Andiamo, take a Grand Voyage with us!