I came back from the lovely 3-week long holiday, though my mind is still wondering in Jura, and certainly my Jura report is still continuing as you can see. What welcomed my return was delicious surprises gifted from several like-mind people who loves cooking and appreciate good food. I see is as a perk for being a foodie and for having a blog to show to prove it.
The generous guests from Italy and Canada each brought such precious gifts for me and Mr.O. The gifts include home-smoked Canadian red salmon, 5 huge pieces of Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, each about 1kg, and some other local cheeses, real Italian pasta, and a white wine from their hometown, Friuli-Venezia Giulia. There was also a bottle of Dhara wild olive oil, a gift from Larissa. I’m grinning ear to ear, looking at all these goodies.
Even while in France, I was sent a packet by Pulltex, whose corkscrew I’d been using – I love the chic design. The corscrew is special to me because it was a gift from my mentor. Anyway, she, who sent me the packet, also loved my signature, “I dream, therefore I live” so much that she sent me all these little gadets and gave me sincere words of encouragement and compliments about my blog. Why does the word, “DREAM” touch many people’s hearts? I’m blogging, not in order to show off, but in order to push myself to study and improve more and more. Writing a post requires a lot of research, which all adds to my personal knowledge and satisfaction, and when someone really appreciates my work and leaves a comment, it feels great.
When I travelled in Italy, though, I didn’t have the privilege of being invited to cook in other people’s kitchen because I was too young, however, I ate a lot and met a chef, who, charmed by my beauty and passion for food, kidnapped me on his huge BMW motorbike and treated me with a three course meal in a restaurant in a big piazza; he cooked all himself only for me. What a treat it was!
In my memory of culinary book, I have standards for best pasta and risotto, from the food I ate in Napoli and my experience with Italian cuisine, which goes back to my early years in Sydney where there is a big Italian town and I frequented the neighbourhood to eat good Italian food. So I thought I knew quite a bit of Italian cuisine and especially I’d been lecturing people about the proper way of making carbornara sauce for some years as I hated pastas that include cream; don’t get me wrong. I love cream and my body gets overloaded with it while in France. But please NOT in my pasta and risotto. If I spot the word “cream” on the past menu in an Italian restaurant, I stop reading and quickly turn away.
So I was so happy to learn how to make carbonara in an authentic way by the Italian travellers who came to my kitchen. To reciprocate the honour, I dedicated one evening to showing my appreciation by making a lovely chacuterie platter with the wine the Italian guests brought and I was very curious to taste; new wines always interests me. But this wine left me puzzled with the 4 foreign grapes written on the back of the bottle, which I’d never heard of and that boiled up my curiosity.
I wanted to show them how much I appreciated their gifts, which I thought deserved to be served nicely, considering their effort to bring them miles across the continent. The cheese with chili peppers went well with the duck sausage I brought from France and I’ve been eating it grilled on toast almost everyday. So…good. Also, the pecorino, hard sheep cheese, was excellent company for red wine on its own, unlike pecorino romano, which is quite salty.
Oh, how missed olives and olive oil!
In France, it’s all about butter, cream and cheese. They even eat fromage blanc (similar to yogurt) with cream. Almost every dish includes butter and cheese. But I don’t miss olive oil while I’m there because it suits the surroundings; cows and sheep around, not olive groves.
On my next trip, I will take some bottles of Dhara olive oil to France as gifts as I think her olive oil is of high quality – at least I can trust her products. It burns the throat and the acidity level of her extra virgin is 0.3-0.5%, which is the lowest you can find in the market. Even the normal olive oil is superior than most of oil sold in Turkey under an “extra-virgin” label.
Tonight I’m not cooking. It’s Mr.O showcasing his carbonara skills he had mastered in my absence. While the Italian guests who taught him were standing by on “whatsup” for updates on his progress and the final verdict by me, Mr.O was cooking, with beads of sweat on his temples, trying to refresh his memories.
I already told you in this post (Salmon Leek Carbonara) that the original carbonara doesn’t contain cream or milk, however, what was really interesting was that the sauce was made only with the foam from the boiling water in which that pasta was cooked. But why foam? Good question, though I forgot to ask.
All you have to do is to grate the Parmesan cheese or half Parmesan and half Pecorino finely and mix it with egg yolks, one for one portion, and briskly whisk with the foam until you achieve the right consistency.
Wow, excellent work. He quickly sent photos through to get an approval from the Italian guests on standby on whatsapp and they gave his pasta “Pass with distinction”. I don’t know how it would compare with my salmon leek carbonara I cooked in the BIG era (Before Italian Guests). Tastewise, I didn’t find a huge difference – at least I’m among a very few people outside Italy who don’t use cream for carbonara!
It was really delicious and I couldn’t think a better wine than Friuli-Venezia Giulia 2008. I guess they brought this bottle already knowing what I will be eating with. Speaking of the wine, it’s made with 50% Ribolla gialla, 27% Malvasia, 20% Bianco Storico and 3% Picolit. Before tasting it, I could only assume that it would resemble the wines in the bordering region, Veneto, famous for Pinot Gris and Prosecco. It was crisp dry with high acidity and have five words to describe its flavours: honeydew melon, floral, apricot, butter and nuts, let’s say…almond. Of the five, two flavours that lingered the most in the mouth were honeydew and floral.
I got a bit annoyed with the heavy oily sensation on the tongue with the first sip and a glue-like smell after the first sip. Half an hour later on I appreciated it more and I even liked the long finish with a slight bitterness and continuing undertone of floral aromas, which made me want to sip more and more. It’s a food wine, not a wine to sip on its own.
I will leave you with some links for the recipe and to feed your curiosity before disappearing into my day-dreaming. I hope you don’t mind that. For the recipe, I will refer you to a page, Spaghetti with Carbonara sauce on a great website for Italian recipes. You can also check Dhara Olive Oil on Facebook and an article about wines in the same region and winery reviews on Best Wine Routes.