This is Malli ....I wish I lived on a farm with copious amounts of mushrooms to harvest. But I don't so I set up a basket at my farmers market and bought home a few kinds of mushrooms. It was then that I remembered my trip to Italy and the porcini mushrooms I bought home. At this point, I have to share a few experiences from one of the best vacations R and I ever enjoyed together. A trip to Italy should be on every Travelers bucket list!
Last year, our trip started in the truly historic city of Rome with its artistic heritage dating back to the Etruscan times.....they say "when in Rome do as the Romans do" and that's exactly what we decided to do--- Eat Pizza...of course!!! Three days in the religious city from the Vatican, Coliseum Roman Forum to endless walks in the city museums and fountains. Then onto Sorrento, Assisi, Positano and the drive through the gorgeous seaside mountain roads off the Amalfi Coast.
We drove across the countryside, farms and vineyards to San Gimigniano a very small town atop a mountain with the best Gelato in the world...that is the actual name of the little store...and so true to the name! This was a drive from a busy city full of working folks to a small seaside town full of farmers and fishermen. Tuscany at last....we had the great opportunity to have dinner cooked and served at a farm on a mountainside...Homemade antipasti, lasagna, ensalata, Homemade bread, eggplant rollitini, risotto balls, olives filled with sausage, a simple tomato pasta and homemade wine. Once you have a meal at one of these farms you will notice the produce is just as fresh as it can be and I will never forget the taste of it on my tongue. Every homemade meal we were served at small farms were about 6-7 courses --small portions of delicious food which lingers on your tongue forever.
Once in Florence we were enthralled by Pisa and the leaning tower--it felt like I waited an entire lifetime to finally see it in real life! Going to Pisa is just a half-a-day trip spending the rest of the day shopping around Florence and visiting the museums to see David. From Florence we drove to the most Romantic city in Europe.....Venice! Who says Paris is the most Romantic place on earth? Yes, it is beautiful at night and simply stunning but in a different way I think Venice has its natural calmness and romance.
The second I set foot in this city, scenes from the movie " The Tourist" came to mind. Mammoth waterways and gorgeous men singing their way maneuvering gondolas. St Mark's square with flocks of friendly pigeons pecking for tidbits from tourists, a finely architectured palace and prison, the Bridge of Sighs where prisoners took a last look at the blue sky in the horizon before they were taken into their dark prison for solitary confinement.
A side walkway leads to historic hotels along which lines of vendors sell beautiful serene feathered masks, delicious gelato, Italian souvenirs, brand name leather purses and attractive jewelry. You can roam the streets of Venice forever. Our hotel was on a quiet island of Burano. This island is considered one of the top 10 most colorful places in the world. The houses are painted in different colors and their reflection on the surrounding waters makes it light up the island- the only mode of transportation is by boat or gondola even to the main city of Veneto. The island of Burano is famous for it's glass blowing factory and its fantastic creations including jewelry.
Back in Venice, we wandered off from the St Mark's Square and across the Piazza Rialto to the open marketplace and fish market. Our eyes were widened and amazed by some of the gorgeous sights....never seen such fresh produce especially tomatoes, mushrooms, grapes, pasta of every kind and color, sun dried tomatoes freshly drenched in healthy warm sun and basil that we could smell as we walked by. I was drawn to buy some of the best pasta, tons of dried porcini mushrooms, lemon scented olive oil, sun dried tomatoes with outstanding flavor, and many other products I stuffed my luggage with. But, before I go on, I wanted to tell you that the recipe I am sharing with you today is one that I created simply to bring back those wonderful memories of Italy and all the places we visited.
Next, we moved from Venice to the Northern mountainous region of Italy called the Northern Lakes. The many small towns or villages located around the Italian Lake region to another small town called
Bristol at the Grand Hotel Bristol overlooking the oceans and Isola Bella.
Isola Bella is a small island with a huge Palace and gardens... Baroque Gardens are stunning overlooking the ocean and towards the Swiss Alps. Taking the ferry over the island, we got a clean picture of the Alps from the Italian side. A couple of days at Lake Maggiore and we bid farewell to Italy taking off from Milan airport to return home to the US.
A small reproduction of the traditional pizza into a flatbread satisfies many a pizza craving without us flying back to Italy.........so here it is:
|How to turn this..........................|
|............into yummy slices of this......|
Balsamic Porcini Flatbread flavored with Tartufo Oil
Sun dried tomatoes- 6-7 small or 4-5 large tomato halves.
Porcini Mushrooms- 1 cup
Portobella mushrooms- 2 cups
Garlic- 1 whole head roasted in oven
Balsamic Vinegar- 1-2 Tblspns
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil - 3 Tablespoons (I used Tartufo or Truffle Oil)
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Now how to make this
Soak the porcini mushrooms in 1/4 cup water for about 20 mins.
Take the SUn dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and garlic along with enough salt and pepper and olive oil and process in a Food processor until coarsely ground to a pesto.
Saute the portobella mushrooms in a little olive oil with a little salt and pepper. add the Porcini after completed squeezing out all the water. Once the mixture comes together dry and all water has evaporated, remove from fire.
Take the flatbread and spread the tomato pesto generously over the surface. Warm in a heated oven after sprinkling the Flatbread with the mushroom mixture. Top with the shaved Parmesan and serve hot!!!