Truffles: Why You Love Them…or Despise Them

Today I would like to talk about truffles. No, not the chocolate kind . . . though they are ever so delicious and so-named because they do indeed resemble a real truffle.

Truffle

I am speaking of the diamond of the culinary world, a truffle, or tartufo in Italian . . . a rare, edible mushroom that is considered to be a delicacy due to its intense aroma and characteristic flavor. They have a firm texture and are most often shaven on top of food before serving, although they can also be used to infuse flavor into dishes. Though there are hundreds of different species, only some — mostly those found in the genus Tuber — are considered delicacies. Truffles grow underground in symbiotic relationships with trees and are difficult to find; as a result, they are usually harvested in the wild by hogs and trained dogs.

Among the most popular of the different types of mushrooms that are used in foods are white mushrooms, morels, truffles and portabella mushrooms. I personally LOVE morel mushrooms! I’d really like to try some truffles to see how they compare.

Types

Truffles are usually classified mainly based on their appearance, smell, and taste. Found in a variety of regions around the world, many are commonly known by their location rather than their technical name. Their value varies depending on their rarity and specific aromatic qualities; the rarest are the most expensive food in the world.

The French black or Périgord truffle, Tuber melanosporum, is prized for its aromatic and fruity qualities. When fresh, it has a brown-black exterior with white veins on the inside. It ranges in size from a pea to an orange, and weighs up to 2.2 pounds (1 kg). These truffles are found in the Périgord region of southwestern France.

The very rare Italian white or Piedmont truffle, Tuber magnatum, has the strongest smell of all truffles. At its freshest, it has a smooth, dirty beige surface that ages to a brown. It ranges from walnut-to apple-size, weighing up to 1 pound (0.45 kg). Found in primarily in the Piedmont region in north-west Italy, its aroma and flavor decrease approximately one to two weeks after harvest.

Other notable varieties include the Oregon White truffle, the Chinese truffle, and the Summer truffle. The two varieties of the Oregon White — Tuber oregonese and Tuber gibbosum — are white when immature and develop into an orange-brown and a pale olive-brown, respectively, at maturity. The brown Chinese varieties — Tuber sinense and Tuber indicum — are found in South China and are often harvested before they have fully matured, making them less expensive and more readily available. Found in France, Italy, and Spain, the summer truffle — Tuber aestivum — is the most common truffle, and exhibits a more delicate aroma.

Harvesting and Hunting

Found approximately one foot (30 cm) under the ground, the vegetative part of the fungi — the mycelia — forms a symbiotic relationship with the roots of a variety of species of trees. Since they grow underground, truffles rely on animals to eat them and scatter their spores in order to reproduce. The strong odor of the mature truffle is what allows animals to locate them.

Truffle hunting is a lucrative business when they are in season, from fall through spring. In North America, raking back the soil and searching by sight is the usual method for harvesting. In Europe, hunters use truffle hogs and specially-trained dogs to sniff them out. The female truffle hogs become alert to the scent of the mature truffle because it is similar to the pheromones of the male hog’s saliva. The sow is difficult to hold back, however, and will readily eat the expensive delicacy if allowed to do so. In Italy, the use of the pig to hunt truffles has been prohibited since 1985 because of damage caused by animals to truffle’s mycelia during the digging that dropped the production rate of the area for some years.

For this reason, many hunters have begun to use truffle dogs, with the Lagotto Romagnolo being the only breed specifically recognized for this trait as of 2009. If you’re thinking Italian sports car, think again. This curly-coated dog is an Italian truffle hunter who is generally smart, energetic and fun-loving. Though they lack the innate ability of the hog to detect the scent, dogs can be specially trained to do so. The advantage comes when the truffle is located, as the dog is much less likely to eat it.

Truffle Dogs

Lagotto-Romagnolo – Truffle Dogs

Click on the photo above to learn more about these amazing dogs!

Culinary Use

Truffles must be carefully handled to preserve their aroma and flavor. They should be cleaned of any dirt or debris, washed with water, and dried with a paper towel. To develop their aroma after being harvested, they should be placed in an airtight container lined with paper towels and stored in the refrigerator for approximately three days. They can be stored in a glass jar for several months, but should never be dried as this will cause them to lose their pungency.

As cooking dissipates their flavor, truffles are most often served raw. They can be sliced, scraped, or grated on top of ready-to-serve dishes, sauces, or soups. They also pair well with fattier foods, such as cheeses, butters, oils, and eggs.

Infusing flavor into foods creates another use for the truffle. Thin slices of the fungus inserted just under the skin allows meats to readily absorb the flavor. Only small amounts are needed to make truffle butter, as the aroma will flavor the entire batch. It should be noted that, while they can be added to olive oil to infuse their flavor, most “truffle oil” doesn’t actually contain any truffles.

If you’d like to read more about truffles check out this great website – L’Italo-Americano:

http://www.italoamericano.org/story/2017-7-27/tartufo

Grazie to Gina Hanna for this post idea and information!

Credit also to all owners of photos and websites.

 

Jana & Lorna, the Adventure Continues (about a year later!) The Road to Silvi, July 5, 2016

 

 

Let’s recap a bit, shall we? I know it’s been a while. I can’t believe it’s been over a year now.  I guess I’ve just been a bit busy?

We started in Florence, then Venice, and Verona. We are now on our way from Verona to Rome….

We caught our train from Verona to Rome, a 3-hour trip, and were looking forward to the long ride to get a little shut eye, as our train LEFT at 7am. We safely arrived in Rome; again, enjoying a little prosecco on the way. We had reserved a car at the train station and it was in Lorna’s name, since she was driving. I could not drive a manual transmission. We managed to find our way to the main street and waited in line for the taxi. I had the address, but could not figure out where it was from the train station. We 20160705_141159did not see any signs for auto anywhere. After the nearly 30 minute wait for the taxi, in the hot sun, we we finally get in and show the driver the address. He says, “that is around the block!” Ok, then take us around the block. He still charged us 10 euros to go around the block. He dropped us off and I still did not see any signs for cars.  I walked inside. There were tons of crowds. I figured we had to take a number and there were different ones for each rental company. I told Lorna to go in, since the car was in her name and I’d watch the bags. By now it was nearly 11am. Our train got there on time at 10am.

After about an hour, it was finally her turn. There were only 2 or 3 people ahead of us, but it took forever! About 20 minutes later, we had our paperwork and out the door we went. Lorna said it was out the door, a few turns down the block and the garage was on our right and the car on the 6th level. We walked in circles and could not find it. I went back to the car place and asked again where it was. The address was on the back of the paperwork – duh! Ok, Google maps, once again, to our rescue! As we were walking, we ran into a Swedish couple, also looking for this same garage. We finally found it and the elevator and rode to the 6th floor. We finally make it! By now, it’s about 12:30p or so. I had reserved the car for 10:30a. We were tired and hungry. We go get the car and all they had left was a Peugeot SUV! Not the size car you want to drive around in Rome! When we finally got on the road, it was about 1:00pm – nearly 3 hours later!

Getting out of Rome was a little harrowing, but we made it to the highway and we were on our way. I texted Dani to let her know we had finally left Rome. Silvi was about 2.5 hours due east of Rome. I told her if we weren’t there by 4:00pm to send out the guard!

The road to Silvi was gorgeous.  I had brought our solos/duets CDs to give to Dani and we played them on our way.  Ah, what could be better than being serenaded by our guys on our way to the sea?  It was a sunny day with blue skies and big, puffy clouds and the 20160707_090845.jpgmountains – oh so bella!! About 3:30p, Dani texted back and asked us if we were there yet. We took a slight detour, but got back on the main road again. We were getting pretty close and started seeing signs for Pescara. By about 4p, we finally made it to our hotel. We saw glimpses of the Adriatic Sea – it was breathtaking!

Our hotel was on a high hill! Lorna put it in gear and up we went. Good thing she was driving. It was probably about 4:30pm or so by the time we got settled into our room. I 20160707_065720.jpgtexted Dani and told her we had finally arrived. We decided to meet at Murphy’s Irish Pub, on the beach, at 6pm. Ok, here we were in Italy and we were eating at an Irish Pub – the irony!! We had a short nap and then made our way down to the beach and restaurant.

Down the hill we went, and down the street, down another, hang a left and then a right, and there we were! I had seen pictures of Dani, so I had an idea of what she looked like and she, me. I think she spotted us first.

We decided to stroll the beach, first, while it was still light outside and I took a few pictures. I took my shoes off and was walking in the sea. The water was warm, just like bathwater. We sat down for a little bit, taking in the sights. The beach was pretty20160705_195855 deserted by that time in the evening. I picked up a few shells for souvenirs. We were getting really hungry by then, so we went back to the restaurant.

We looked at the menu and it was full of various pizzas and calzones and appetizers. We decided on the famous arrosticini to try. I couldn’t resist passing up a calzone called “Boschetto,” which consisted of spinach, mushrooms, cheese, and sausage. Italians don’t seem to be as much into tomato sauce as Americans.  Lorna opted for a hamburger and fries. Dani had a pizza with just cherry tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. We all loved the arrosticini, as you can see from our picture! 😊

Of course, everything was delicious and the conversation lovely. Dani speaks very good English, so it was easy for us to understand her. Before the evening was over, we decided 20160705_212047to meet the next morning and go into Montepagano to see if we could find where Gianluca and his family were…

We went back to our hotel, completely exhausted and fell into bed. We slept so long, we literally slept through our breakfast time, but it was the first time in 4 days that we didn’t have to get up before the crack of dawn! However, I did get up at the crack of dawn, so I could take a few pictures of the sunrise. Very similar to many 20160707_054121-1 - Copythat Leonora posts! After I took my pictures, I promptly went back to sleep!

We called Dani when we finally woke up and agreed to meet at the bottom of the hill where our hotel was. Dani did not drive, so her sister dropped her off. We then went to lunch at one of the restaurants on the beach. On the way, we went down this fairly narrow, one-way street. The street dipped and there was this really low overpass. We had no choice, we had to get to the road that ran with the sea, and we couldn’t really turn around. So, we forged ahead and as we went under20160706_131635 the overpass, all we heard was this frightful rumbling sound as we drove, very slowly, ahead. Lorna and I were fearful of what we might find when we got out, imagining the whole roof of the car being scraped! Cautiously, we got out and held our breath and looked.   Nothing! We realized it was just the antenna that was hitting the top of the overpass. Whew! Escaped that one!!

Dani asked us what we wanted and she ordered for us. I had some penne with tomato sauce and some prosciutto with melon. Dani had some kind of pasta with clams or some type of seafood with these little shells and I think Lorna just had prosciutto and melon. The wine and pop were so cheap. I think I drank a whole bottle of frizzante though! After lunch, our adventure to Montepagano awaited. When we left that morning and were getting closer to the restaurant, the skies looked a bit 20160706_140229threatening, but it was pretty far off. As we left the restaurant, it was getting closer and closer, as we drove toward the little mountainous town. As soon as we hit the street that went uphill, these big splats of rain, bombed our windshield…. TO BE CONTINUED….. Next – A stroll through L’Amore Si Muove!  🙂

Dandelion Wishes, Dreams, and Il Volo?

 

 

 

Several months ago now, our group at work did a painting event for charity. The painting that was chosen was entitled “Dandelion Dreams.” You are probably wondering how this relates to Il Volo, but wait and see!!


I canvassed the internet, looking for things related to dandelions – wishes and dreams. There is a plethora of notations! Many references were about weeds vs. wishes, nice little sayings, a few poems here and there, even a song or two, and of course if you blow on the seeds of the dandelion flower, you are granted a wish and it comes true. How many of us, as children, found such joy in blowing the seeds into the wind and watching them float away? How many dandelions were wished upon and how many came true? I found several nice sites, which I will reference throughout…

There is one saying in particular I found, through Google Images…..it said, “we made a wish and you came true…” How many of us were possibly wishing for something like Il Volo, but just didn’t know it when we were younger? Maybe some of us wished for imageshappiness, love, friends, joy, or maybe even just some beautiful harmony, in a world filled with discord. Maybe we thought our wishes never came true; that they were just whimsies of childhood, and quickly forgotten as we matured into adulthood, as swiftly as the wind carried the seeds toward the skies.

 

But, unbeknown to us, the Universe was listening. It took a while, maybe 20, 30, or 40 years or more even, for some, however, far off in the land of Italy and Sicily, our wishes were heard. In the cities of Montepagano, Bologna, and Naro; our little seeds and wishes were planted – and they grew. They grew into Il Volo! Our precious Gianluca, Ignazio, and Piero. A culmination of all of our wishes. Our wishes may have seemed selfish at the time, but the Universe was wise and knew that the purity of the heart of a child, was truly selfless. It knew, when these three voices were joined together, the dreams, hopes, and desires of not just those who wished for them, but for those all over the world would share in this miracle.

 

Each breath they take and each note they sing, carries the sweet seeds of sound to ourimages0AR4AT1F ears. As the notes enter our spirit, we feel joy and happiness. We also find the love and the harmony of new friendships. All of this, from one little dandelion wish!

 

From http://www.flowermeaning.com/dandelion-flower-meaning/ I thought the meaning of the dandelion flower below was very fitting to Il Volo and the many difficulties they have faced already in their career.

What Does the Dandelion Flower Mean?

The common and humble Dandelion has a surprising amount of different meanings. The Dandelion means:

  • Healing from emotional pain and physical injury alike (how many of us have said they have healed us?)
  • Intelligence, especially in an emotional and spiritual sense (all 3 are very wise, even at their young ages)
  • The warmth and power of the rising sun (O Sole Mio!)
  • Surviving through all challenges and difficulties (each one of them have had to overcome some personal challenge)
  • Long lasting happiness and youthful joy (even when they are 70, they will still be Il Volo, like at the end of L’amore Si Muove video!)
  • Getting your wish fulfilled (they still wish for the US Grammy, could that still be in their future?)

Since the Dandelion can thrive in difficult conditions, it is no wonder that people say the flower symbolizes the ability to rise above life’s challenges. (remember, in the beginning, even their own country did not recognize them and some critics still despise them! And yet, they continue to sing to sold-out concerts, world-wide!)

 

There is also a song, whose words reflect their essence….

From a song by John Adams, called Dandelion Wishes… (select phrases from the song) https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/John-Adams-11/Dandelion-Wishes


“How would it be if I never found you

Would I be me? Would you be you? Everybody’s searching for the one, Oh but darling you found me Everybody’s searching for the one Oh but maybe there’s two or even three?

Dandelion wishes Blow in different ways If the wind should change directions If my wishes were to fall would you love me anyway?

How would it be if I never found you Thankfully, we’ll never know!”


Oh, how some of those words just ring so true with our guys, don’t they?

So, the next time you see a dandelion, make a wish – you never know when or how it may come true!

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I think Cynthia asked me about my other little  piece of art – below is a little triptych of my painted wine glass…my Tuscan sunset from just a little over a year ago!  🙂  (yes, this was a first, never before attempted, free-hand – very impressionistic!)

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Ciao!

Jana

(musical notes photo found on Google Images…)

 

~Notte Magica~ July 8 and 9, 2017, Palmanova and Padova Concerts Review

 

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After a relaxing week off the guys are back in Italy for the next segment of their Notte Magica World Tour!  They look well rested and are having fun on and off the stage.  I know it’s very warm where they are currently performing as is evidenced by them foregoing wearing their suit jackets on stage.  Comfort is the name of the game in  warm summer temps.

I hope you enjoy the collage of the two concerts in Palmanova and Padova.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Piero gets a marriage proposal from a young Il Volo lover.

 

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They sing a beautiful rendition of Tanti Auguri to an Il Volo team member, Eliana.

 

 

Ignazio doing his Happy Dance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These Meet and Greets are getting more fun by the minute!  Ladies, remember to request a pose like this at YOUR next M&G!

 

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And now it’s on to the southern most area of the “boot” of Italy, Catanzaro, for the next concert!

Credit to all owners of videos and photos.

~~Jane~~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Grand Adventure ~ by Jeannette Giglio

 

We called ourselves, “Il Volo’s Fabulous Five…”

 

We landed in Rome on May 10th. The Rome Concert was our first, on May 12. It was better than any I had seen in the states. Il Volo is more comfortable on stage in Italy and the audience responds with singing along, as well as clapping. When we went to the 19113905_1977407632503664_7370121447132028124_nmeet and greet they were happy to see us. We had badges on with Il Volo’s fabulous five, our name, and the state we come from. We wanted them to know who we were and not forget us. We told them we were going to several of their concerts in Italy and they were happy to hear that.

We left Rome on Saturday 5/13 with two cars to Montepagano in Abruzzo. That is the little village where Gianluca lives. We spent the night at a B&B and the woman who ran it spoke no English, and us five together speak about 10 words of Italian. She was delightful and through hand gestures and Google Translate on our phones we got along just fine. The next day we went to the tiny church where Gianluca and his family attend. He was not there of course because they were on tour. We walked the streets of the little village and the people in the square treated us like super stars. They came out of the woodwork to greet us. It was just an amazing day. And the beauty of the tiny village was more than we could have even expected. It sits on top of the mountain looking down at the City of Roseto and the Adriatic Sea. The next day we went to Roseto and stayed three days in a beautiful hotel on the beach. It was just amazing. During that time, we went to our second concert in Ancona. Again, they were terrific. We met up with friends and it made our days there so very special. We also went to Marco Cardelli’s Dad’s Pizzeria, Don Franchino’s which was fabulous. Joanie, Suzana and their friend joined us and it was a great time had by all. Please forgive me for forgetting your beautiful friend’s name Suzana. I just met so many people and sometimes the names just do not stay with this old mind.

We left Roseto and went on to Assisi to the beautiful Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, well almost. We did go to one Cathedral which was beautiful, but was not able to go to the Basilica where Il Volo sang on Christmas a few years ago. There was no parking and we just had to move on down the road. The beauty and history were great. From there, to Bologna, which was a short overnight stay, and then on to Verona.

OMG! Verona was just a magical place. I could go on for hours talking about all that happened there. We spent three days in Verona and went to two concerts in the Arena. The Arena was a sell-out crowd which was loud and fun, they made the boys come alive and they were even better than in Rome or Ancona. They just get better with each concert.  At the meet and greet Gianluca shouted “here come the Americans” and then all three sang our National Anthem. We sang along with them and so did the Italians. It was so special that we had tears in our eyes. We watched a Soccer game in the square with about three thousand people. Wow, when their team won the crowd went crazy and in a good way. They sang, and they marched up and down the square. It was just amazing to watch. Then in the middle of all this happening we ran into Gianluca and his family. He was quick to give hugs and kisses and so did his mother. So much going on in Verona that I just cannot put it all in. We met so many friends, there was even an antique Race Car exhibit going on the first day we were there.

From Verona, we flew to London for three days and attended the concert at the Royal Albert Hall. This is like Radio City Music Hall in NYC. You know you have arrived when you play the Royal Albert Hall. They again were happy to see us and gave us lots of hugs and kisses and thanked us for coming to London to support them. Gianluca gave me a hug and cheek kisses and thanked me for having the fan convention in Las Vegas which was last year, I was so surprised when he thanked me. It truly was very special that he remembered me from the Fan Faire. We toured London on the big double decker bus and toured the entire city. Another beautiful concert and Il Volo shined at the Royal Albert Hall.

From London, we flew to Palermo, with a short lay over in Rome. There we had a driver for the rest of our tour of Italy. He picked us up at the airport and we spent part of the day in Palermo and saw the sights and ate at an outdoor restaurant on the beach. Just beautiful. He surprised me. I had told him my father was born in Villabate just a few miles from Palermo center. He took us to Villabate and I was able to walk the streets and saw where my dad grew up before coming to America. In the square, there was a plaque with my father’s Great Grandfather and his Grandfather’s name. Wow that made me cry. We went by the meat market that is owned by the Giglio’s and they are my cousins. They would be the grandchildren and great grandchildren of my Grandfather’s brother Tommaso, who stayed in Villabate. I did not go in and introduce myself because I was with the other ladies and I knew if my cousins knew I was a Giglio from the States, they would want to spend time with them. We had a schedule to keep.

It was then on to Marsala, where we spent two day in a beautiful B&B right on the Square of the city. Oh, so beautiful. This is the home town of Ignazio. We went to the beach which was just beautiful. Met up with some friends we know from Facebook which was delightful. Two days did not seem enough time to enjoy the sights. We did a lot and then it was time to leave and on to our next destination.

Naro was the next stop – home town of Piero. Tiny little town with narrow streets. Amazing how our driver would drive without a care in the world as we kept our hands over our eyes. We went to the top of the hill and there was the Castle where Piero has his Museum. We spent a lot of time there and the two young ladies that showed us around were just so cute. They spoke no English but our driver did all the translating for us. They then wanted us to go back to town and meet their dad. They took us to a little restaurant and the dad treated us like we were long lost relatives. We had a great time, food and drinks. We had a B&B in a vineyard there in Naro. OMG, was it beautiful. It was probably the most beautiful B&B we had stayed in. It was hundreds of years old and the view was amazing. High on the hill overlooking the town of Naro. We had only stayed there overnight, but wished we had planned one more day at least.

Next was Siracusa. We stayed in a beautiful hotel there and it had a Romeo and Juliet balcony overlooking the square. It was just wonderful to be able to hear the music and sound of the city from our balcony. We spent a lot of time taking pictures and enjoying a restaurant by the sea. We were outside and we planned to only order drinks. They 18582570_10202831851873245_413411820531021061_nbrought the drinks along with enough food to feed an army. We never did bother to go to dinner because what they brought us for happy hour was a full meal. I was sorry to leave Siracusa so soon, again I could have spent a few more days enjoying the different areas around the city.

Next on our grand adventure was a flight to Malta. What I beautiful island it is. Our first day was pretty much taken up with the flight there, getting our hotel room, dinner and taking in the view of the area. We met up with Madeline and her friend Tanya on our second day there and they showed us the beautiful areas of Malta and a lot of history. It was a beautiful day. On the third day we took a boat cruise that was very enjoyable along with a bus tour. The bus tour was not quite what we expected and we were tired after that long tour on the bus and was ready to relax. Madeline came back that evening and we had a wonderful visit . She is delightful and we enjoyed spending time with her and her friend. It was a whirlwind adventure but a fun filled three days. Back to the airport and on to Taormina.

We are now leaving for Taormina, the true gem of our entire trip. Again, the narrow streets, but our driver had no problems with them. We were dropped off at our B&B which was in the center of all the action. Our apartment was just a few steps from the Bambar and the restaurant where the Il Volo group family, friends, and management team hangs out. We met up with Piero at the Bambar, and he chatted with us for quite a while before leaving for his apartment. We later ate dinner at the same restaurant as the Il Volo group and after dinner they put on a mini concert. Singing and laughing and just having so much fun entertaining everyone there. It’s hard to believe that they are superstars and yet the next night here they are at the Greek Theater and you know that they are superstars and powerhouse entertainers. We went to three concerts and each one better than the last. They were energized by the crowd and gave their best performances because of it. Taormina was my favorite place in all of Italy. So beautiful and five days was not enough. I could stay there for a week and just enjoy all the beauty Taormina has to offer. But I will again make sure there is an Il Volo concert in Taormina after all they make the vacation worthwhile.

Our grand adventure came to an end, but all five of us have left our hearts in Italy. It is, after all, Il Volo-land. It was wonderful going to see their towns in which they live. It brought us closer to them in our hearts. It was great to meet so many of our Facebook friends throughout our travels and most of all it was so exciting to see Il Volo in concert in the grand halls and arenas, and the smiles on their faces when they recognized us. It truly was, “THE GRAND ADVENTURE for IL VOLO’S FABULOUS FIVE!”

Ciao!

Jeannette…

JEAN MG TAORMINA 1

 

 

 

Summer Is Here! Choose Your Brew!

Ann (Anncruise) sent in a photo of a delicious looking cup of Italian iced coffee.  I love iced coffee year round, which got me wondering about how many other types of  summer Italian coffee drinks there may be out there.  Here is but a few of the many tempting delights I found!  Thank you Ann, for the wonderful idea to research yet one more thing we love about Italians…their specialty coffee drinks!

As the temperatures begin to rise, bars all over Italy start serving iced coffee, a beloved summer tradition many Italians enjoy. How do you like yours?

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Italy’s Answer to Iced Coffee

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It makes sense that the Italians would invent a most exquisite coffee drink for the summer. It’s a shaken-over-ice, slightly sweetened espresso called shakerato, served in a stemmed glass, prepared in bars all over the county.

The shaking process yields a thick crema that floats on the espresso. In Italy, ice is viewed with suspicion, and you’d never be served a tall glass of coffee over lots of ice, the way iced coffee is in the U.S. Too dangerous!

(From The Atlantic.)

 

Coffee granita

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You have surely heard of granita, the Italian dessert consisting of sugar, ice and flavorings. The original recipe comes from the town of Messina, in the region of Sicily – that’s why it is also called “granita siciliana” – and it derives from sherbet, an Arabic dessert. Today we teach you how to make a real granita siciliana al caffè (Sicilian coffee granita).

The original granita siciliana is made from three simple ingredients: coffee, sugar and ice.

Prepare 10 ounces coffee using a good Italian blend. A strong Arabica blend is the best choice. In a small pot, pour 16 ounces water, 9 ounces sugar and one vanilla bean. Cook over low heat until the sugar has completely melted and has turned into syrup. Take out the vanilla bean. In a steel pan combine coffee and syrup and stir using a wooden spoon. Let chill, then put the pan in the freezer.

Now comes the most important part. After one hour, take the pan out of the freezer and use a whisk to scrape the ice. Put the pan back in the freezer and do this every 30 minutes for three or four times. Serve the coffee granita in small glass cups and add some fresh whipped cream on top. Garnish with coffee beans or a dust of cinnamon powder.

Fun fact: granita siciliana was historically eaten along with fresh crisp bread. In today’s cafes it comes served with “brioscia”, a typical Sicilian pastry.
Enjoy your granita al caffè!

 

Coffee frappe

coffee-milkshake-recipe-coffee-frappe-smoothie

In Italian it’s called “frappè al caffè” and it’s usually consumed during an afternoon break rather than as a dessert. A coffee frappè is a milkshake made with Italian espresso, milk, sugar, ice cubes and chocolate powder. Some recipes also feature two scoops of coffee gelato

 

Coffee soda

coffee-soda-recipe

This coffee drink can’t be found everywhere in Italy: it’s a recipe from the southern region of Calabria, where it’s known by the name of Brasilena. It’s a sweet, cold drink made of Italian espresso, sparkly water, sugar, caramel and lemon juice

 

Coffee cocktail

coffee-cocktail

How about an alcoholic drink with your favorite Italian beverage, to enjoy with your friends after a nice dinner? To make a high-quality coffee cocktail you will need an Italian coffee blend, vodka, coffee liquor and some ice cubes

 

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I do not know what Piero and Max  are drinking, but it sure looks like it could be some sort of coffee cocktail!!  Looks good what ever it is!

(Credits to Filicori Zecchinis Usa…one of the most ancient coffee roasters in Italy, founded in Bologna in 1919.)

 

mottagrossa-11

 

Well I don’t know about you,

but I am ready to settle down in a comfy lawn chair on the beach

gazing out over the Adriatic Sea,

while sipping on my coffee cocktail listening to Il Volo.

(Oh yes, and it would be perfectly alright with me if that nice young man in the blue shirt and glasses wanted to sit right next to me.)

  Anyone want to join me?

~~Jane~~ 

 

 

 

VERONA Concert, May 19/20, 2017 ~ Personal Review by Patrizia Ciava

arena di verona - leonora

 

A MAGIC NIGHT AT THE VERONA ARENA

On the 19th and 20th  of May, the pop-lyric trio Il Volo held two concerts, both sold out, at the Verona Arena, as part of their world tour “Notte Magica: Tribute to the Three Tenors”.

The Verona Arena, a temple of opera for excellence, offered an ideal setting for Il Volo’s concert “Notte Magica: Tribute to the Three Tenors”, an event where the magnificence of the location, the charm of the music and the extraordinary voices of the three performers blended in a perfect combination, stirring enthrallment and marvel.

Since afternoon, it seemed that every element wanted to help create an ideal atmosphere, starting with the abundant rainfall during the day, which abruptly ceased, against every forecast, shortly before the concert began, giving a starry mantle to the public who had traveled from all over Italy and the world to acclaim the three young artists.

Anyone walking around without knowing which show was going to be on stage, might have thought it was an international gathering. Groups of people of different ages and nationalities talked to each other in a jumble of English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and even Japanese

What was above all so striking was the diversity of the audience; entire families with young children and elderly parents, young and not so young couples, adults in evening dresses and festive teenagers showing off t-shirts and bandanas with “Il Volo” written on them.

The newly arrived looked around eagerly, searching a familiar face met at a previous concert or on social network; some American fans proudly showed bunches of concert tickets, stating that they had followed their idols, first in the United States, and now in Italy.

Looking at the mixed multitude who crowded the Arena stalls area and terraces, whose only unifying element is the common passion for Il Volo, it is only natural to wonder what these artists have that is so special. How many singers are able to move fans from one continent to another? Nowadays, virtually no-one. 

The orchestra goes first on stage and intones the notes of Verdi’s “The Power of Destiny”, almost as if to emphasize the mysterious power of fate that has brought three teenagers with prodigious vocal talent to meet in the same television program, with the same unusual passion for classical music, overturning their lives, those of their families and the thousands of people who would otherwise never have met each other or be there in that moment.

Finally in they come, Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio, welcomed by the roar of the crowd. To see them on that stage, so young, fresh and relaxed, it seems impossible that they are the stars of that magical evening. The feeling that pervades those who attend their live concert for the first time is to finally understand the mystery of those voices that have bewitched millions of people around the world.

Gianluca sings “Nessun Dorma” and it’s as if a spell is cast on the Arena. His deep, warm, velvety voice seems to creep into the folds of the soul, wrapping each of those present in a poignant embrace. The giant screen projects his intense, almost painful expression; Prince Calaf seems to have emerged from Puccini’s opera to seduce the beautiful Turandot. Ignazio takes over, whose vigorous and clear tones are reminiscent of the flow of a rushing river, evoking the figure of the bold knight who wins the princess thanks to his boldness and his passion. Then it’s Piero’s turn and the millennial stones of the Arena seem to flinch and vibrate under the power and intensity of his voice; you can imagine the princess Turandot who surrenders to the strength and security that emanates.. . Three different interpretations of the same aria, up to the climactic moment in which the three voices join in sublime harmony, each remaining distinct yet, at the same time merging with each other to create a perfect chemistry The audience who had listened in sacred silence erupts into a loud and heartfelt choral ovation, the first of a long series.

For more than two hours, the songs continue uninterrupted, with three voices, duets, solos, with no faltering in the performances of the three young artists, simply impeccable in interpretations, tones, and vocals. The expressions of the spectators denote a bewildered admiration mixed with disbelief, as if they were really watching a magical show and couldn’t find a rational explanation for what they were witnessing. The question that seems to float in the air is: “is this really possible”?

Gianluca’s voice reveals surprising qualities, possessing a sweet and caressing tone but at the same time, profound and sensual, that can suddenly explode with unexpected strength reaching tenor notes without ever losing its sweetness. His passionate performances leave the audience almost overwhelmed, unable to contain the intense emotion he is able to arouse and, when in the finale of “Aranjuez” he maintains the last note and increases its volume and intensity without taking a breath,  the stunned spectators hold their breath too and then explode into an endless and liberating applause.

Ignazio has the ability to transform himself, in a fraction of a second, from a funny joker into a masterful interpreter of very demanding pieces where he and the music become one. His surprising vocal extension, its versatility, its ability to reach high-level notes while at the same time maintaining a clear and light weave of pop singer, make his performances incomparable.

When he sings, the audience seems to be caught by a temporary estrangement, as if the music and his voice fills up every corner of the mind and leaves no room for anything other than emotions.

As for Piero, his extraordinarily full-bodied and mighty voice seems to come out of his mouth as breath comes out of other common mortals’, without any apparent effort. Sometimes, watching him on the screen, he surprises you as he is following what is happening in the audience, smiling or nodding to those who he recognizes in the crowd, while continuing to sing without skipping a beat or missing a note. In his solo songs, his virtuosity reaches its highest expressiveness. His passionate interpretations of “No Puede Ser” and “E lucevan le stelle” make chills run down your spine, the screen enlarging the sparkle of emotion shining in his eyes and reflecting in those of the spectators in an ideal bond, and when his mighty and boisterous “E muoio disperato!” (I die in desperation) resounds in the Arena, it seems that even the walls are aggrieved  with emotion and sadness.

The concert ends with the triumphant final of a “Grande Amore” sung with the audience and the Arena lights up with thousands of lights that seem to compete with the stars in heaven. Finally, the audience moves reluctantly to the exit, while the echoes of the concert still seem to linger in the air, as if wanting to hold on, a little longer, to the charm of that night where the ineffable beauty of a timeless music combined with that of three extraordinary voices have been able to recreate the magic once again.

Translation by Susan J. Ambrosini and published on All About Il Volo on June 10, 2017.

 

 

~~Jane~~