Friday, July 22, 2011

Not by Bread Alone

Here is a  display at a large supermarket. The sign says you can find over 20 styles of bread here
Our American friend Aleris and her husband built a wood-fired bread oven at their home in Oregon (forno legno). Before moving to Italy, we had discussions with her and others about little bakery shops in Europe. Then, I told them that in our area there are no quaint little shops selling baked goods – just quaint little shops selling a variety of groceries and sundries.
I know more now. Almost every small town in the area has a bakery (panificio) --but they wholesale their products to the small stores and the larger supermercati. A few still bake with wood, but most have modernized with electric ovens for more control and increased outputs for the sake of making some money. A local guy I met (Stefano) started with wood. 
These are images of Stefano’s new, state-of-the-art bakery here in Santa Domenica Talao. He makes some traditional hard crust breads you see in the photos. The other bakery in the village specializes in softer French breads, panini and rolls. I also buy a ciabatta type bread made in nearby Orsomarso that is between a hard Italian and a soft French.
Owner Stefano works on a focaccia bread. He employees three other guys. These shots were after midnight. They work all night to make dough, bake it then wrap it in plastic. It gets delivered to the local small and large stores early the next morning 6 days a week. 

Cravings for Cheese and Other Foods – It’s funny that the only material things I have missed from the US so far are things to put in my stomach! We are lucky to have friends in the US and the UK who are willing to bring me goodies when they come to their holiday homes. 
Last spring an Irish friend brought excellent Irish cheddar. In June, our friends from New Jersey – in addition to all kinds of clothes, pills and “things” – actually brought us a kilo of Kosher corned beef and pastrami, and even some Jewish rye bread. Guess what I had for breakfast and snacks for the next week! Next, my Welsh “brother” Mike Jones showed up with 4 types of English cheddar to try. Di and I both liked the Vintage Reserve West Country cheddar and Mike thinks he can bring a couple kilos when he returns in a few weeks. I love the cheddar for its flavour and because it cooks nicely without turning rubbery.
A typical deli stand in the Mercatissimo in S. Nicola Arcella with plenty of cheese to choose from 
I have found an Italian cheese that cooks well. Few Italian cheeses cook well for me. So far I have found Valgrana to be tasty and a good cooker – an Italian cheddar. Of course, fresh ricotta is good for cooking, as-is mozzerella, but they are both very mild. Eborianato is a very nice blue-type cheese that is firm and dry vs. the Gorgonzola that tends to be too soft and gooey for my liking – nice to snack on or for salads. Another tasty formaggio just for eating is Grana Padano. If you like French Brie, you would like Italian Camoscio d’Oro – a soft, creamy, flavourful cheese that’s a bit more expensive at €14,90/kg. There are only a few Italian cheeses that I avoid.
Good eating to you, Guido

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