Wednesday, December 31, 2008
It's 5:30 New Year's Eve and I can hear the firecrackers starting already. At midnight they will explode in full force and what's really neat is that Peter and I can watch them from our bedroom window. It's not exactly the fireworks scene in "To Catch a Thief", but it is awfully convenient when it's freezing out.
Peter has been a kitchen wizard all week. I've been out of the kitchen since Christmas Eve because I came down with a whooping case of bronchitis and was really down for the count. I couldn't even entertain myself with any reading for the first few days but then managed to get through The New Yorker Fiction issue. It's been one of those illnesses where you have intimate knowledge of all the twists and tributaries of the tangled sheets but you're just too sick to straighten everything out. Dr. Peter and Nurse Lucy were excellent caregivers all week. Lucy keeping me warm and Dr.P keeping the fires burning. Peter is very old fashioned about what you shoudn't do when you're sick...like keeping your hands out of water. So, I didn't wash a dish all week! I really didn't have much of an appetite but that's okay. Peter's son Marco came for a visit from England and he took care of any leftovers from Christmas dinner. Peter made sure Marco had plenty of ragu with pappardelle and his favorite, the chicken liver crostini. For lunch the next day he made him polenta and sausages. Poor Marco really misses his Tuscan food in England and Peter makes sure he has plenty of everything while he's here and sends him back with jars of marmalade and tomato sauce. And Lucy especially loves having a visitor because it's a new person to sleep with.
Yesterday Peter made tortelli. His pasta is just fine but our machine is really thwarting his progress by tearing the pasta more than rolling it. He filled them with lamb and potatoes from Christmas dinner and then cooked them with butter and sage. They were delicious.
At midnight tonight he will serve quadrucci (tiny little ravioli) with cream and proscuitto and I made an apple crostata. We will toast the New Year at the bedroom window as we watch the fireworks. Tomorrow, our dinner is stinco di maile (a large ham shank for two) roast potatoes and sauteed spinach.
Don't forget to bring out the red undies tomorrow to ensure a Happy and Healthy New Year. Buon Anno a Tutti!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Piero and I had a wonderful Christmas dinner. We started with my favorite, crostini con fegatini di pollo, That's chicken liver spread on toasted bread. Following that we had the tortellini in brodo. You can see the steaming broth in the picture. Very soothing. I asked Piero why these are called tortellini when they are actually cappelletti. He said everybody calls them tortellini. Then the gorgeous leg of lamb with the roasted potatoes and tomatoes, plenty of rosemary perfuming the whole dish. (And how about the beautiful new roasting pan from Thanksgiving?) And of course, the mighty panettone as the grand finale with some bubbly and vin santo.
Piero surprised me with a book of the history of Stia in photographs. I will have hours of pleasure looking at the pictures. Some dating from 1889. What's really great is that things haven't changed too much since then.
The weather is changing as I write this on the evening of Christmas Day. I can hear the winds and Piero just came up from the cellar and said it's starting to snow.
Buon Natale, Much Love, and Buon Appetito to all!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Peter's still in the kitchen these days..fine with me! He just made a wonderful lunch, polpette and fried potatoes. Right before lunch our neighbor, Purgatorio, dropped by with a bottle of wine for us. His family makes it in Orvieto. A red wine softly "amabile" or sweet. It was wonderful with lunch and it's all gone.
Polpette are another one of those creation based on leftovers. Peter bought some meat and bones to make stock for tomorrow's tortellini in brodo. When the meat has done it's job we trim it and chop it a bit and then pulse it in the food processor until it is very fine. Then it's mixed with some mashed boiled potatoes. About 2/3 potatoes to 1/3 meat. In those times many years ago, if la mamma had some leftover meat she would mix it with the potatoes to stretch it and feed la famiglia. So Peter seasons the mix with a little chopped garlic and lots of parsley, an egg to bind it, some grated parmesan and nutmeg, some chopped rosemary, and salt and pepper, of course. He rolls it into a small ball (a little bigger that a ping pong ball but smaller than a golf ball, or any shape you want), rolls it in some flour and then fries it in hot oil. One of my favorite lunches and he doesn't mind if I dip them in a little ketchup! Not many things I can use ketchup with here. Anyway, this is a great way to use leftovers and it makes a great easy meal with french fries or a salad or a great finger food for a party.
Big treat yesterday. When P can home from buying bread and the paper he said that Maria was going to make her tortellini for tomorrow starting at 4 in the afternoon. Not to be missed. So we went over and I took some great pictures and helped out a little. Now Maria can do this blindfolded and with her hands tied behind her back. Her pasta is like silk and stretches with ease.She was up to 500 by the time we left. That was about 40 minutes including time to answer the phone and the doorbell, the arrival of her grandson Fillipo and Umberto, and talking to Peter and me.
After that Peter and I strolled through town and stopped at Bar Roma for a little warm up grappa. Filled with men at this hour, I often wonder where all the women are. One of our former neighbors was in the back playing cards. It must have been a good day for him..he was smiling.
I really wanted to get a picture of Piero, Lucy, and myself for Christmas. The only one to ask was Pasquita. You remember Pasquita, 80+years old and the go to gal in Papiano? Peter knocked on her door to ask her to take a shot. She had never used a digital camera before so that was one hurdle. Then Lucy was decidedly unhappy with the satin bow her silly owner (me) wanted her to wear. Once I got it on her she tore up and down the road trying to reach around and get the thing off. Meanwhile Peter is trying to show Pasquita how to take a picture. She got one shot of the three of us and then Lucy ran into the house and refused to come down again. That was that.
Tonight I will make eggnog. Peter's never had it before and I hope he enjoys it. I love Christmas Eve.
He will be busy preparing a traditional Christmas dinner tomorrow and I'll give you the menu with some pictures tomorrow.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
C'e' il sole oggi! It's sunny today! And yesterday,too. Lots of things to accomplish while the sun shines. Like doing wash and getting it on the line to dry. Peter has been busy fencing in the front part of the garden, the side where the beasts got in to feast. He bought the fencing in Pratovecchio last week and has been bringing the pieces home one by one. Everything can't fit in the car at once. But now with all the mud in the garden, he keeps slipping when he tries to get the pieces in line.
He's also been busy in the kitchen. He's quiet and efficient and sometimes I never know what he's up to. He makes a stunning orange marmalade and with the winter oranges available now, the kitchen was bubbling the other night with his pots of jam. Last night he made a salsa verde, a green sauce that accompanies boiled meat dishes. He's been enjoying the freezer so much that when he goes to the macelleria he brings home all kinds of interesting things. The other day it was veal tongue. Eventually, it will be boiled, skinned, and sliced. That's why he made the salsa verde. And this is how I learn what goes with what. When you have the boiled meats you serve them with salsa verde and puree di patate. Oh, and yes, there are about 6 pounds of young wild boar in the freezer now. Out neighbor Purgatorio came by and asked if we wanted some from his friend's latest shoot.
Yesterday, with the sun still shining after lunch, we took a ride and we visited a beautiful little church about 30 minutes from here in Bibbiena, Santa Maria del Sasso. I took some great shots of the altarpiece and an absolutely elegant wooden Madonna (from the 16th century) in the crypt below. Will write about that later. On the way back we stopped to food shop and picked up the last few things for the 25th. I can see it in P's eyes.. he loves this buying and prep. Now everything is in place for Peter's Christmas Dinner. He's in charge of the kitchen next Thursday.
Friday, we went to the market in Pratovecchio. Each one of these little towns here has a market day, and outside market. Stia's market is on Tuesday, But Stia is so small it can't handle all the vendors in it's small piazza. So we go to P'vecchio on Friday because we know the fishmonger ("pescivendolo") will be there. I took some pictures but what I didn't get in the shot was that the whole display and work area is part of his refrigerated truck. People take a number and wait to be served. Better that way because standing in line isn't part of Italian protocol (everybody stands in a clump and tries to remember who's next) and there are lots of people who want that great fish on Friday morning. Peter bought mussels and clams. And the rest I'll let him tell you. One thing I'll say, he gets the most flavor out of all his ingredients now matter what he's cooking. Remember, you don't throw anything out.
Ti passo, Peter.
As Marta said, we bought some clams and mussels from the fish guy to make a spaghetti sauce.
Put the mussels and clams in some water with salt in it for about one hour, Clean the mussels taking off the baffo - we call it beard in Italy.
Get two handfull of fresh parsley, one clove of garlic and a small chili pepper. Chop everything very fine with the mezzaluna and make a quick soffritto (that is, saute the garlic, parsley, and chili on medium to low heat) otherwise the parsley and garlic will burn. When the soffritto is soft throw inside a small can of peeled tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. , breaking them up. Put the clams and mussels in a pot and let them open with a strong fire shaking the pot every now and then. Shell the fish one by one throwing it with the soffritto. With a fine strainer strain the water from the shellfish and keep it aside. Start cooking the spaghetti in the ordinary way. After the pasta water has begun to boil, cook the pasta for about three minutes and then take it from the boiling water and put it together with the soffritto and fish. Start adding the water you kept aside so that the pasta cooks in it. You should have enough water to finish cooking the spaghetti, if not add some more pasta water until ready.
Remember to buy more mussels that clams because of the water content in the mussels. Buon Appetito!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Raining again today. I think we've had maybe two of three days without rain for over a month now. And if it's not raining in the morning it will be raining by the afternoon. Peter said that the spinach in the garden needs water, "But not this much!" But there is good news..the artichokes, broccoli, and cauliflower that the deer enjoyed so much last month are growing back. And the newly planted fava beans are coming up. too. So this is all very good.
There was an anniversary here over the weekend. We brought Lucy home from the kennel four years ago on December 14. Naming a dog is quite a big deal. For me, anyway. The calendars here always have the feast days of the saints listed for each day. Even if it's a calendar for a garage or a tire store. When we brought Lucy home I checked the calendar and saw that the 14th was the feast of St. Giovanna..."Joan". That didn't do it for me. So back up to the 13th and there is St. Lucy.
Now, before Lucy came bounding into our life, we had a short run through with a dog I named "Lucky". He was a rescue dog and we picked him up at the Chocolate Festival in Pratovecchio one November night. Lucky was a good looking beagle mix, two years old. We made him a little bed of rugs and towels for the night and helped him to get used to his new digs. The next day Peter went into Florence and Lucky and I stayed home to cook and bond. That night Lucky got a little nervous as Peter walked past his territory on the way to the bathroom and Peter was almost rendered a castrato. So ciao, Lucky. The guy from the kennel came the next day and took not so Lucky back to the other inmates.
I said to Peter after that, "No cuccia, no dog." ("Cuccia", pronounced coo-chuh, means dog bed.) So, I see Peter taking apart an aluminum lawn chair that he found on the side of the road. And then he goes into Stia and buys some screening. I can see what's going on here. His Tuscan ingenuity is working, the wheels are grinding. "I am making a bed for the dog", he tells me. I told him we were getting a puppy not a rabbit. That afternoon he goes out and buys this huge crate (I call it the guest room.) for the puppy we don't have yet.
December 14 we start out to find the kennel.We stop somebody and ask. Now we're really in the mountains here so it's difficult to even find anybody to ask. Somebody tells us to go up the road and we'll see a sign. No sign. It goes on this way for about an hour.
We finally find the place, It's raining hard and it's cold and tempers are tight. The kennel guy say that he has seven pups. "Seven choices!", I think. This is great. He stops hosing the doggie diamonds from the kennels and opens door #1 and five little poopy white pups come tumbling out. Peter says,"He tells me that they are Pastore Maremmano." These dogs grow up to be as big as Volkswagons and we were really hoping for something on the smaller side. Door #2 opens and these two abandoned sisters explode out the door. They're both about a foot high but one is a tiny bit smaller and we grab her. No time for interviews and puppy chat. Peter puts a leash around her neck and she trots off trying to keep up with him. I'll never forget the sight of them walking in front of me, little Lucy and Peter and the red leash. We sign the papers, etc. and I hop in the back seat with our new bundle of joy wrapped in the spaghetti rug. ( A chenille bathroom mat that unravels.)
We take her right away for her shots. I waited in the car...and waited. Peter finally comes back with Lucy dazed by her sudden new life. He tells me that when she got the last shot and she was placed on the floor that she promptly collasped! The Vet said it (the reaction) happens one in 500 dogs. So an antidote was administered and she was all puppy-liscious all over again.
Now, she's a big girl and she's is our sunshine on a rainy day, believe me. She loves to ride into town each day with Peter when he goes to buy the paper and bread. She is his shadow while he works in the garden and sits by him when he stops to take a break. She barks at strangers but given the chance she will smother them with kisses. She's crazy about Umberto's woods. And we even buried a few truffles and she followed the scent (we rubbed her nose with truffle oil) and found them! All that, and she's bilingual, too.
I know that you can really bore people if you talk about your dreams or your dog. So pardon my indulgence.
I must get Peter to post his recipe for spaghetti with mussles and clams. That was Friday's lunch and it was exceptional. Peter can really step up to the plate (please pardon the pun) when I'm not inspired to come up with something for lunch. Sunday I was pleased with my rabbit with mustard and tarragon sauce. There were plenty of buttery boiled potatoes with parsley to take care of the sauce. An apple and amaretto torta followed the rabbit. Today is somewhat uninspired country fare. Tortelli con patate (a kind of ravioli stuffed with potato which this area is known for) with the ragu' I made last week. Fast and filling on this rainy day
Peter put up his own Nativity Set last night. I think it's terrific. All the little tools of daily life that he made to accompany the main act....I love the well and the bucket and the lamp to heat the oil. Look for the cooking pot over the fire. And don't miss in the stable, the broom made out of a rosemary branch. You just have to love this guy.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Yesterday was a lovely day here in Stia. The morning was bright and frosty and Peter and I made a few plans for after lunch. December 8th is a national holiday in Italy, L' Immacolata Concezione. Everybody's off. I said to Peter, "I can't imagine December 8th being a national holiday in the States." And he answered, "You must remember that in Italy we have the Pope." But first, lunch. Always the primary focus of the daytime hours. I hadn't pulled anything out of that new freezer of ours so I had to think of what was ready to go. Aha! Polenta with sausages and tomato sauce. It's always nice when that decision is out of the way. I found this great way to prepare polenta without ending up with Popeye arms. After you've salted the water and it's boiling, drizzle the polenta into the hot water stirring the whole time.When you've got it all mixed take a brown paper bag and put it over the top of the pot and then cover it with a lid. Put it on the back burner as low as it will go and forty minutes later, Polenta! Funny, when I told Peter about this technique he said that he'd overheard two women in the pasticceria talking about a way to cook polenta without all the stirring but they didn't know how it was done.
I browned the sausages in some olive oil for a bit and then added our own canned tomatoes, threw in a little rosemary (a nice little shot of flavor) and let it simmer away. Amazing the changes that tomatoes go through when they have a thirty minute simmer. It's a satisfying feeling to get a lunch on the table that Peter enjoys and is simple and delicious as well.
We were headed into Pratovecchio later in the afternoon. The Christmas fair was in the main piazza and on a few side streets. I found no turtles but plenty of underwear (a table or red undies that gli italiani wear for luck on New Years Day) lots of made in China stuff, tons of purple clothing (the "in" color this season), household items, shoes, handmade jewelry and crafts, cheese and meats, tools like wrenches and other objects who uses I don't know about but Peter does. He bought something from the made in China table..a set of earphones for ten euro that he can wear when he watches TV at night. He tried them out last night and they work.
After that, we headed back to Stia where we checked out the Presepe in Piazza Tanucci. Il Presepe is the word for the nativity scenes that are so popular here. This one in Stia had life size figures dressed as shepherds, etc. I especially loved the area that was prepared for Mary, Joseph, the Baby and a few beasts. As you walked into the enclosure there was a hidden recording of mooing cows. I could hear it before I went in and was somewhat disappointed to see the real things weren't wandering around. Obviously, someone in town had recorded their own cows. The rest of that part of the piazza had small groups of the figures pointing to the Star of Bethlehem and other nativity eve scenes.
As we walked down the piazza towards the church the Stiani were gathering for the celebratory Mass for La Festa della Madonna. Extra excitement today because Don Carlo, the parish priest, had just been made a Monsignor and I was able to catch a shot of him in his new Monsignor colors (purple!) as he exited his quarters and entered the church to say Mass. I noticed there were tables across from the church with platters of tin foil covered food for a celebratory antipasti after Mass before heading home for dinner. Looks like everybody lent a hand in the preparations.
It was almost dark and as we were headed home Peter suggested we stop at Cafe A-Go-Go for some hot chocolate. It gets quite chilly once the sun goes down and we needed something warm for our ride back up the mountain. Maybe I've never had real hot chocolate before, but the hot chocolate here is actually chocolate that is hot, almost like hot chocolate mousse. It's more for spooning than for drinking. And to really gild the lily, Peter ordered mine with a shot of Amaretto in it. In a word, divine.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
First of all, let me introduce myself, my name is Peter from Florence, as they call me in the States and I think that Marta has already mentioned me a couple of times.
Today I want to write about one of most famous soups in Tuscany, ribollita.
There are two steps before the soup becomes ribollita. First you make minestrone, then bread soup, and finally ribollita. This is a typical winter soup since in this season we can get all the winter vegetables we need for it.( I planted the cavolo nero, black cabbage, in September and it's ready now.)
First of all you must have a big pot for the minestrone because you need to put in a lot vegetables. The"must" for the ribollita is cavolo nero. I think it can be found in the States as well in some speciality shops. If you don't have cavolo nero, kale would be fine. Here is a list of the vegetables you need - cavolo nero or kale, cabbage, cannellini beans, one small carrot, (if you put a lot of carrots the minestrone will taste sweet), a stalk of celery,( too much celery would give it a strong bitter taste), potatoes, and spinach.
Wash the vegetables and chop them up, fill a large pot with everything and add cold water up
to two fingers from the brim, salt it and boil for about two hours. Put the cannellini beans in
some cold water and let them soak overnight. In the morning, cook the cannellini with plenty of
water adding some rosemary, one clove of garlic, a small ripe tomato and a sprinkle of olive
oil. Once the cannellini are ready take out the garlic and rosemary and pour the bean water and cannellini in the minestrone.
Now you need some crusty, rustic bread.. better if 2 or 3 days old and not fresh daily bread.
Slice the bread and put it in a large, wide pot and cover it with some minestrone, add more slices of bread and keep on until everything is finished. Let it soak for about one hour. This stage is called "minestra di pane". Before eating, put some good olive oil over it. If there is a lot left over, don't panic. Refrigerate what's left. When you feel like eating it again, put what you think would be the right serving for as many as you are in the family in a pot and boil it until steaming hot . This will be the ribollita; the word "ribollita" in Italian means
re-boiled or boiled again. While cooking stir the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon so
that it does not stick to the bottom. Put it into the plates, add some good olive oil and buon
If you are able to get from your butcher a ham shank usually once that the ham is finished they
throw it away, put it together with the minestrone and then let me know how it tasted.
This was a typical farmer's dish in the winter. Farmers baked their own bread in those times,
I am going back 50 or 60 years as I remember it.
I have some relatives who own a huge farm just after Arezzo and I used to go there for a month
in the summer or winter so I know first hand what farmers used to eat in those times.
They were baking their own bread every two weeks. I was shocked at the amount they were
baking but they were two families living together, 3 women and 9 men!
Everywhere in Italy farmers used to make these bread soups. They were baking their own bread and they had their own vegetables so it came as a nourishing and cheap dish. They did not have to buy anything since the flour for the bread was their own. They were growing their own wheat. Sometimes they had some bread left over from the previous weeks and they were using it to make bread soups so that nothing was wasted.
In the summer instead of making ribollita, since they did not have winter vegetables - it was not like today that you can get anything you want in every season - they were using the stale bread to make panzanella, a cold dish. They were putting the bread in cold water, squeezing it to take the water surplus off and seasoning it with fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil and vinegar with some finely chopped onions and basil.
By the way, a while ago one newspaper started printing Italian cook books, one for every region. So we started to buy them. We got to n.4 which was Tuscany recipes and I gave it a quick glance. I was horrified to see what they sold for typical recipes. They were putting everything but the proper ingredients into these classic Tuscan recipes. It's like if somebody was putting a hat on Mona Lisa.
The trouble with me is that I have been a waiter for 40 years and I know how food is prepared.
If you want to be a good waiter you must know how every dish in your restaurant is prepared
with all the right ingredients. If you write a cook book with the classic, local recipes stick to them without adding or taking something out. These recipes have been around a very long time and they are still enjoyed by everyone today. There must be a reason why the classics endure!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The rains really haven't let up since Friday. Yesterday we had hail, rain, sun, and extremely high winds in the night. So high that the shutters blew open at 3 AM. The Stia Christmas fair was a washout but there will be one in Pratovecchio, the next town over, very soon.
The kitchen is closed today, as far as I'm concerned. Peter went into Florence on the 6:30 bus this morning and won't be home until 2:30. I know he had some things to take care of in town but to tell you the truth, I think he didn't want to see another round of turkey showing up on his plate. I made turkey noodle soup yesterday and offered him a bowl last night. He looked up from the paper and said,"Again?"
He contributed to turkey-philia on Sunday by making turkey polpette alla Fiorentina,turkey meatballs. This isn't what you think. These meatballs are made with very finely chopped cooked meat, chicken, whatever you have, (you can use a food processor), and then mixed with plain, well mashed, boiled potatoes. Use an egg to bind the mix and season with salt, pepper, cheese, a little grate of nutmeg, chopped parsley and garlic. Use your imagination. Shape them round or as cylinders, roll in flour and then fry in a neutral oil. They are delicious.
Potatoes are used to stretch the leftovers. In very poor times this was what "la mamma" did to feed her brood. Which gets me to the next subject.
I wanted to write about Umberto's Woods the other day but the deer got my attention, instead. Peter's cousin Umberto lives in Stia. I always say that if you sit in the piazza for twenty minutes and don't see Umberto, something's wrong. Peter's father and Umberto's father were two of a brood of thirteen. There was Bruno, Brunetta, Nello, Nella, Giulio..that's as far as I could get but based on those names I'm pretty sure there was a Giulia. Giulio ran a "drogheria" in the main piazza. This was many years ago and he sold sugar, flour, all kinds of dried goods. You don't see drogherie around any more. They've been replaced by the "alimentari",(from the verb "alimentare", to feed) more of a little grocery store.
Anyway, Umberto's father, Bruno, won the lottery when Umberto was young and with the money he bought the two apartments where Umberto and his wife Maria live now and the storefront below where they opened a store. They were selling their own sopressata, fresh pasta, tortelli, ravioli, you name it. You could walk in and Umberto would slice the proscuitto for your panino. Maria was making the all the pasta. She is a lovely woman. One that you would call "handsome" in a complimentary way. Always dressed in a good wool skirt and sweater and classic earrings. As many times as I've sat in her kitchen I've never seen this woman sit down. One time I watched her make about 75 tortellini in about 5 minutes. She's so fast I couldn't get the count. She always uses the same knife. It looks like a sword it's so long. But it's her favorite knife and her brother has mended the handle many times, she says. I've seen the brother pass through the kitchen and pop a few tortellini in his mouth right from the cutting board.
Unfortunately, the store closed about ten years ago when the COOP, a communist cooperative, opened a market in town. Umberto and Maria have never stepped foot in it.
One of the other things that Umberto and his father bought was a nice patch of woods. This must've been a long time ago because Umberto is in his seventies. They built a little hut, shack, cabin, I can never decide what to call it. Our friend Chris was right on target when he said it reminded him of "The Beverly Hillbillies". It is very Jed Clampett, indeed There is a beautiful fireplace with a chestnut mantle, a plastic medicine cabinet (band aids and brandy), another cabinet where we put our cooking stuff, a rickety table and equally rickety chairs. And this is where we have had our Sunday feasts.
As soon as we get there and unload our cooler, Peter goes and collects the wood for the fire as well as wood to bring home for our fireplace in the kitchen, Lucy goes wild and free, and I start the prep. Our favorite is half a chicken, one of those scrawny, free range beauties that taste like heaven. I give it a massage with a dry rub that I concocted with rosemary, sage, garlic, plenty of pepper and some lemon zest and olive oil. Then I chop plenty of parsley, basil (if we've got it) and garlic, s&p, to put on the tomatoes halves after they've been grilled. I slice bread for the fettunta...we grill the bread and when it comes off the fire I take a clove of garlic and rub it over the toasted surface. Then it's drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. That's the REAL garlic bread, my friends. I usually pack some pecorino and a pear, and whatever cake I've made the day before. And of course, vino rosso. Sometimes, I absolutely cannot wait and I rip off a hunk of bread and wash it down with some vino. How can something so simple be so good?! If only the magazines could see our rustic feast. And there's not a sound anywhere except for the cowbells that I hear when the sheep are herded down the road to another pasture. I love it.