Monthly Archives: August 2015

St. Francis and the wolf…redux

Last year we had company, Kaye and Jeff who were very interested in the legend of St. Francis and the wolf. See post for the legend. We had tried to visit the church in Gubbio where a wolf skeleton was found buried beneath the floor but it was closed. Kaye was bummed. So yesterday, with friends of Kaye and Jeff named Shiromi and Steve, we tried again to visit the church and it was open!! We descended into the crypt and found the stone that was covering the grave as well as a stone cut of the wolf and St. Francis. It was very cool.

Stone cutting.
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Stone from the grave.
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Upstairs in the same church we found a surprise. First I have to tell you that every May Gubbio has an enormous festival/race. The town is divided into three neighborhoods. They compete to carry something called a Cero or candle up from the bottom of Gubbio, to the top of the mountain. The Ceri each weigh around 700 pounds. In the back of the church we found the stored ceri. They are immense. They attach to a frame and are carried upright. They must be very top heavy. The crowds are frighteningly large. We have not gone as we have been warned. Here are the three ceri (sorry for the blur).
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It was a hot day and we did some good hill climbing.  I also found a ceramic shop I had been looking for. I will return to buy a thing or two there. Here is an old iron ring to which horses were tethered.

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And this one I just thought was pretty.

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We had lunch at Ristorante Lupo (Wolf ) at the request of our guests. Here is a picture of Steve’s pretty carpaccio dish. We also got another Buon Ricordo plate while here.

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For our breakfasts with Shiromi and Steve I decided to try a new coffee cake. It has been a hit. It is very moist and keeps well getting better as time passes. Shiromi told me I had to share the recipe so here it is.

Marmalade Cake – 8 to 10 servings
Adapted from the Boonville Hotel

1 small to medium orange
1 lemon
6 ounces raw almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
4 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
½ tsp. table salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

First, get to work on the citrus. Put the orange and the lemon in a saucepan, and cover with water. (They’ll want to float. Don’t worry about it.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, and cool.

Meanwhile, toast the almonds. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and set a rack in the middle position. Put the almonds on an ungreased sheet pan, and bake until they look golden and smell warm and toasty, 10 to 15 minutes. (I tend to get nervous about burning them, and consequently, I always try to pull them out of the oven too soon. Don’t do that. Let them really toast.) Set aside to cool completely. When the almonds are cool, pulse them in a food processor until finely ground, the texture of coarse sand. Set aside.

Set the oven to 350°F, and grease a 9-inch round springform pan.

When the citrus is cool, cut the lemon in half, and scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds. Cut the orange in half, and discard the seeds. Put the lemon rind and orange halves in the food processor – there’s no need to wash it after grinding the almonds – and process to chop finely, almost to a coarse paste.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

Combine the eggs and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat until foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Fold in the flour mixture. Add the citrus, almonds, and olive oil, and beat on low speed to just incorporate. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack. Remove the sides of the pan. Before serving, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar.

Note: This cake tastes even better on the second – or even third – day, as the flavors meld and mellow. Store it at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.

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Today we took a nice walk, stopped for coffee in the Piazza, and were joined by our friend Michelle. They are also having an antique car show here which we visited as they were setting up. We plan lunch at Calagrana a bit later. It is a pretty day so it will be nice.

American guest

I know I have been quiet but we have had some company. His name is Gene and he stayed for about a week. We went to Assisi, Perugia, wine tasting and Bevagna for lunch and Luther took him by train to (very crowded) Florence. I am glad I opted out of the later! We also took a trip to Isola di Maggiori in Lago Trasemeno. This last was a first for us. We had been meaning to go for some time. It is a nice, down kind of day after a lot of climbing up and down hill-towns. We had lunch at Da Sauro on the porch. The food was not notable. Still a nice day trip

This is a picture of Bevagna. I was liking how blue the sky was and the big white cloud.
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Lunch at Trattoria Oscar. They have a nice terrace. Gene and Luther.
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I couldn’t resist taking a picture of my Gaspacho (italian spelling). It was sooo beautiful and cool.
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Stairway in Bevagna
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Here are a couple of pictures from our excursion to Isola di Maggiori. First a couple of the main (and only) street.
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View of the town from ferry pier. It is a 10 minute ride from Tuoro.
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You can walk a good distance around the island, but not all the way. Here are Gene and Luther during our walk.
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We said Ciao to Gene on Sunday.

Yesterday we visited a winery. The Wine Guy is getting backed up on his posts so be patient. This winery also offered many other products like sausage and prosciutto, and olive oil. I visited the future prosciutti housed nearby.
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Finally two in a series of another sunset. Sometimes they can be pretty spectacular.
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We are getting ready for another set of visitors from Australia so I will be writing about that soon.

August trip down the shore…

We had two birthdays to celebrate back in June and July but found we were too busy to go anywhere. We wanted to go to Sinigallia which is on the Adriatic coast. There is a wonderful seafood restaurant just perfect for a celebration. SO we decided to celebrate late and I made reservations for August 10th for an overnight.

I had not really been to this coast and was excited to go to the shore. We really needed more than a day though. We drove through the very rugged and magnificent Appenine mountains, the tallest of which run like a spine through Le Marche. There has been a road through there for thousands of years winding along the river that cut the gorge. Now there is another road which is under construction. They have to drill many tunnels. You can see them along the way, half completed. It took just about an hour and a half to get to our destination. Traffic was pretty light. I was not sure what to expect given that this is August and the sea is where everyone goes.

We arrived at the town and drove to our hotel which was the Terrazza Marconi. It was situated right on the beach in the best position. We checked in and went to their little seaside cafe for a light lunch. Each hotel has a little piece of the beach where they have restaurants, cafes and their umbrellas. It is free for guests. We were surprised at how uncrowded it was. They had just finished a week long feste so that may have had something to do with it. After lunch we walked along the promenade and watched all the people playing all sorts of games like volleyball, basketball, something like soccer played using heads, knees, chests to hit the ball over the net like volleyball (just no hands) and other games.

That evening we went to Madonnina del Pescatore. It is rated a one star by Michelin. Lovely place with minimalist decor. We opted for the 8 course tasting menu called Vicino alla Tradizione. Here is a run-down of our courses. No pictures. Thought it may be tacky. First (and not counted among the courses) was a parmesan cheese ice cream sandwich. It was a square of frozen parmesan ice cream between thin, cheesy crackers. Good but rich. The other courses were: A plate featuring anchovies; cold anchovy soup, and featured three other ways. Then thin sliced seared tuna with a mayonnaise. Next Octopus salad. Then salt cod salad with panzanella and balsamic vinegar. Then a very light lasagna filled with shrimp (we think). Then a sort of soup with shellfish. Finally dessert which was strawberries with a meringue top, coconut and lime. The final dessert was kind of precious. They brought little plastic maps of the world with the volcanic areas in red. They brought tiny chocolate balls with flavors for that part of the world. I can’t remember them all but the mexico one was with chili powder, Italy was with basil, Japan had wasabi in it. There were others. They brought out a gigantic cotton candy cake for the birthday people. We all pulled off chunks. It was a lovely dinner.

The following day we had breakfast on the 5th floor roof. What a wonderful view. The breakfast was spectacular. Here are pictures. The beach stops at a breakwater nearby. A couple of people  told me they must have hired Germans to do these umbrellas. It DOES seem somewhat non-Italian!
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This is the most famous sight, a beautiful pavilion.
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This is the view from the roof down the other direction which is the main part of the beach.
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We went out and sat on the chairs under the umbrellas for an hour or so before leaving. We all really liked the hotel although the rooms were VERY small. The lady at the desk said to contact them directly and they would give us a sea view room with balcony next time. So I will be sure to do that. There is an old city that we did not even begin to explore. It was established in the 4th century BC on the river Misa. A friend told us when we go back we should search out the digestivi that they are famous for in Sinigallia called Trinchetto. Sold in the tiny sweet shop on the main shopping street near the river gate.

On the way out of town we were amazed to see this car –>
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Blast from the past! I wonder how they afford to drive it. Must have gotten 12 miles to the gallon and a gallon of gas here is about $7.00! Ouch!