Archive | March, 2015

Celebrating Women

27 Mar

March is Women’s History Month, a month in which we pay tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to a variety of things have proved invaluable to society. As the month draws to a close, I’d like to pause and appreciate the women in my life, not only for their accomplishments but also for their joy of living. Whatever path those who preceded me chose or that those around me are choosing, here’s to your unending spirit, your joy of life, and the love and happiness you share.

I know these videos will bring a smile to your face. And as we age, may we always take the time to share a long walk, and if not a hole in one, (although I actually had one in 2001!), may we all jump rope together!

Ciao,

Judy

 

For the second video, click on the title Vecchie bastarde!

 

 

Buona Festa di San Giuseppe!

19 Mar

March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the family, and it is a feast day celebrated by Italians everywhere. Growing up in a neighborhood filled with many Irish and Italian families, I was always happy that the Italians also had their day in March to celebrate.

Joseph the Carpenter, 1642, Louvre, by Georges de La Tour

Joseph the Carpenter, 1642, Louvre, by Georges de La Tour

Of course, not quite as loud or rowdy as St. Patrick’s Day, we nonetheless celebrated the feast of St. Joseph with a food fest. And while the Irish had their green beer and accessories, the Italians, often sporting something red, had their zeppole, a cream filled fried pastry that originated in Napoli.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

According to my fellow blogger, MariaGiovanna, (Sharing My Italy) the “Zeppole di SanGiuseppe” originated in Naples, Italy, “where the first recipe was put on paper, in 1837, by the famous Neapolitan gastronome Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Buonvicino.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to be in Italy to enjoy a zeppole. In Chicago, they can be found in authentic Italian bakeries such as Ferrara Bakery on Taylor Street. Light, airy and filled with cream, it is fun to see the smiles they generate on those wiping the cream from their lips.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

At this time of year, Ferrara’s and Italian bakeries everywhere are busy filling and selling hundreds of dozens of the cream filled gems.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

So, to those looking to get beyond the grey days of winter, here’s an idea – participate in a St. Joseph’s Day custom by sharing some food with the needy and with some friends, and, of course, be sure to bring some zeppole!

Ciao,

Judy

From Grape to Glass

3 Mar

While we continue to meet Chicagoans who visit Cortona, it is less often that the Cortonese visit us. But Saturday was an exception. Meet Denis Zeni.

Denis is the “titolare” – or owner – of Leuta, a boutique winery in the Cortona area. He is visiting several cities in the States and conducting wine tastings in his hosts’ homes.

©Blogginginitaly.com

Denis in center with hosts     ©Blogginginitaly.com

Denis’ story, like so many other entrepreneurs we meet in Italy, is a love story based on deep-rooted traditions. His grandfather cultivated grapes on his land in Trentino, in northern Italy, and shared his passion with his young grandson. Constantly at his grandfather’s side, Denis soon grew to love the land and over time, the possibilities.

Denis’ father, however, hoping for a different life for his son, eventually sold the family land, and encouraged Denis to seek a career in Finance. Denis obliged, but after a successful career and several finance degrees, he awoke one day and decided, “I don’t want to die as a banker!” Not that there is anything wrong with banking, he notes, it just didn’t mesh with the passion that had been ignited in his blood as a child.

With his grandfather’s land no longer available, Denis searched and found land in Tuscany to launch his dream. What began as The Tuscany Project, a small initiative with his friend and then partner Enzo, is now the Leuta Estate, approximately 62 acres at 31o meters above sea level near Cortona.

But back to the wine tasting. As we enjoyed delicious Tuscan antipasti prepared by our amazing hosts,

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Denis shared some of his personal history as well as that of Leuta. He then began pouring the first of five wines we would taste.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Wine tastings are a fun and interesting way to sample various wines and learn something about each. They usually include a 5 step process: see, swirl, sniff, sip, savor. As I listened attentively to Denis, it occurred to me that this tasting was quite different from most others we have attended.  And I quickly realized why.

Denis not only knew about these wines, he was personally connected to all aspects, from grape to glass. He described the vines, how they were planted, how they behaved as they grew, the choice to avoid/limit chemicals, the grape selection, the harvesting process, the aging, the bottling, the mistakes and the successes. It became clear to me that the bottles held not only his wines but also his dreams and life’s work.

Similar to the eye of the beholder, I believe that wine preference is in the senses of the taster. Expensive or not doesn’t necessarily mean great or not. But a really nice wine seems to taste even better when I know its history and understand its traditions.

Grazie, Denis, for sharing your wonderful story and wines with us! We look forward to spending time with you at Leuta.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

In the meantime, as we enjoy our new purchases, we will toast to you and recall the history you shared with us. Your grandfather is surely smiling.

Ciao,

Judy

For more information:
http://www.leuta.it

 

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