I've just come back from the Pitti ImmagineTaste fair in Florence. The kind of weekend that spoils you for real life, almost.
There I was, ambling around the fair, sampling a slice of cotecchino or a morsel of guanciale, nibbling on some fantasticaly shaped provolone, drawing a bit and thinking, my o my, I could get used to this.
Italians are just so cool in everything they do, aren´t they? They´re just better, let´s face it. It´s not that we don´t have ham in Spain. We have the best ham in the world (hey, of course!), and oil, and wine, and cheese. It´s just that theirs is not only great, it looks fabulous. I guess they invented the whole Caesar´s wife thing, so they sure know how to apply it.
Also, what´s with everyone´s looks? Spanish jamón merchants tend to be apple-cheeked fellows who look like they could lift one of their prize ibéricos with one hand, but there at Pitti Taste it was all sleek young things with Gucci shades. Or maybe the truffle fumes were going to my head.
Anyway. I took the opportunity to try out balsamic vinegars at the Giuseppe Giusti stand. The misuse of balsamic glaze is a pet peeve of mine, so I was curious to see if the aged stuff was as good as they say. It is, of course. It is out of this world, and so I thought by the time I had tried the six-year-old and the ten-year-old. By the time we got to the twenty-year-old I was seriously considering sipping the stuff recreationally, drop by drop, all day.
Thanks to the size of my suitcase and the lovely security rules that make traveling such a joy these days, I was not able to bring back a bottle of the elixir.
And when I saw the sad travesty I keep in my cupboard to liven up strawberries, I almost wept. But then I remembered Sally Schneider, who usually comes to the rescue. Her recipe for Balsamic caramel seems to be a good solution to silly, cheap balsamic, so I will try it and promise to write about it. In the meantime, check this one out.
I also met the wonderful Elizabeth Minchilli, whose blog about eating in Rome is a new favourite. It will be up on the links list when I next spring clean the blog, but for now, click here.
And now, it´s off to pack. Tomorrow I leave for Sicily, to meet a bunch of celebrity food bloggers at the Anna Tasca Lanza school in Sicily. The best couple of weeks in the year, for sure.
More drawings of Florence in my other blog.