Saturday, November 12, 2011

Grains de Verre on gourds

Tonight I needed to place a little something extra on the table for my guests. I made these last year and thought I would just make a few again this season to decorate the table with. This picture does not have as many beads glued on~I liked the way it turned out. I let my guests take these home with them as a small gift of friendship!

Here it is again, but with different lighting. You can add so many designs!

This photo, I went heavier with the beads.

Here are my supplies~not much required. I used the brush that comes in the glue container and gently covered the area where I wanted the beads to remain. It takes a few hours to dry, so allow plenty of time. Best to do the day before. The materials were purchased from JoAnne's Fabric Stores.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A few shots from my last tour with the ladies in Tuscany.

My tours are for women only. I certainly have nothing against the guys! It's just that the gals have a special way of having fun and relaxing! We stay at four star hotels,with each person having their own room. This is how we differ from other tour groups. We stay off the beaten path and spend most of the time in the hill top villages all over Tuscany.  Of course, we shop, do food and wine tastings, cooking class, visit markets and have lots of photo opportunities. We also spend time with my local Italian friends learning as much as we can about their way of life and how they get the food from the ground to the table. Our group size is between four and six ladies. Let me know if you are interested in a trip with your friends  for next season~it is an incredible experience to share with your friends! It would be my pleasure to introduce you to Tuscany my way.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Soppressata~the spicy salami

There are two stops I make when I visit Florence: the first, my favorite coffee bar, to get my jolt for the rest of the day and then, The Mercato Centrale. As soon as I step through the sliding doors, I am in my element. The hair stands up on my arms, I get so excited!  If I am hungry, all I need to do is walk up to a counter and order. Should I need more coffee, I go to another favorite spot, right there in the market.
 I have just returned from taking my touring group for a ten day adventure. We visited the market twice.We had to do a special stop for cheese. I did one previous tour with some folks from New Zealand and had to do the same.  Honestly, I could spend all day here! One of my favorite stops is the Perini section, who consistently set up an incredible display of meats and foods for display. At times, you can grab a taste or two. The first three photos were taken from their area in the market. They are located all the way towards the back, in case you go looking for them. There are plenty of signs warning you what "not" to touch or taste....

Then we come across the famous pig head, all skinned and no way in the world, able to grunt!

I was hoping to get a photo of this guy turned around so you could see the back side. Gorgeously stuffed! As I asked him nicely if he could" possibly flip" it and he did, Mr. Perini gave me a" not so friendly" smile, so I put my camera down and just nodded.....they have a job to do and the last thing they want is to be bothered by some tourist, like me, with a camera shooting one hundred photos a minute and not coming up for air. It is always polite to ask first to photograph. This is very serious business for them! These guys are are incredible with their displays!
 Anyway, the Tuscan version of this sausage is indeed a head cheese: a sausage made from the pigs head and variously seasoned with spices such as pistachios, pepper and some lemon peel. This, by far, is my most favorite sausage from Tuscany.
 Head cheese is not exactly a delicacy for many of us, but the Tuscans love it....and as you can see, the proud butcher displays the pigs head indicating that Soppressata is for sale at this spot, right now! Soppressata is served by itself or with other cured meats as an antipasto. It is also necessary to note that Soppressata varies in  tastes from region to region in Italy.

One more fabulous display by Perini

And, one more. Enough to make you a cheese addict!

Not Perini, but right across the aisle.