Tuesday, August 14, 2012

White Gold

A peek-a-boo view of the white mountains
When we come to Italy we are in the Massa-Carrara area.  Yes, the place where Carrara marble comes from.  Yet in all these years we have not visited the quarries.  I have to admit I am not a fan of heights so this has been the deterrent, but for some reason for this trip I became brave.  We drove up to the Fantiscritti valley to take a tour of the inside of a working quarry.  (The other two main valleys are called Colonnata and Ravaccione, in fact Ravaccione is where the marble of the David statue was dug.)  The setting inside was absolutely another world, "lunar" could describe it.  In fact the mine hosts photoshoots, fashion shows and concerts.  It was quite cold inside, 16 C, but apparently the temperature remains constant all year.

The mine entrance, the company was called I love Marmo, you can see more here: http://www.marmotour.com/marble-quarries.htm
Everywhere you look is marble, as you are literally inside the mountain
Because mining is taking place also outside on top of this inside mine, four pillars for stability always remain in place

A recently cut block, value approximately 60-80,000 Euro

One of the bars near the mine entrance
We walked to the nearby village of Colonnata, that is famous for lardo
Colonnata view of of the marble mountains
As we were trying to find our way to the center we spied this iconic view

You can see in the image the entrance to a "larderia"
If you have been wondering what lardo is, this is it, basically salted pig back fat sliced extremely thin for panini.  Now panini literally is any sandwich not just the toasted one we think of in the US.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lentil Love

Even though it is technically summer here in England, we have dark and cloudy days that call for a soup.  I have recently discovered this simple lentil dish that the longer you cook the better it gets.  And of course lentils are awesome for your fiber intake and I am sure other good shit too.

Here I used a shallot in addition to my regular onion, because I only had one onion
Saute in olive oil of course
I had some green chili on hand so I threw these in too, but if you have jalapeno or something else try this too
This is the secret to make the lentils taste "meaty" my husband doesn't know I add this, but he loves this dish if he knew he would say he doesn't like it because the soy sauce is not an Italian ingredient....stronzo
After you cook down your veg add a tin of diced tomatoes and broth along with the lentils and bring to a boil
You then put the pot on simmer and can leave it there for like six hours, but rule of thumb to is cook for at least two
My end result is more like a stew, so if you are after  a proper soup add more broth...simple!  But simple is always best!