cookbook club: The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis

Welcome to the first book of our spring cookbook club! Our first book of the series is: The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis.

But, before digging in, I want to thank Kitchen Arts & Letters bookstore and The 92nd Street Y in NYC. Their beloved live program, Talks & Tastes, had to go virtual and they made it happen in the best possible way. If you missed this season’s club registration, sign up for any or all of our newsletters to learn when the next round begins.

What is this cookbook club? You can catch up with my previous post HERE.

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join the (cookbook) club

I’m about to do something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS!

Confession: I’m a food and drink book addict. OK. Maybe you’re not surprised at all by that.

My home is literally wall-to-wall cookbooks, food history books, and a library’s worth of wine and spirits books. They make me happy. And when I’m happy, I want to share it. So, a food and drink book club has been on my wishlist for decades. But life kept getting in the way…

Until recently. The opportunity to share this obsession finally arrived. And, of course, now I want to share it with you!

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Want to drink in an Italian sunset by the glass? (think Puglia in rosé)

love Italy? love rosé wines?

Even if you don’t, I’m betting you’ll love the rosés from Puglia.

The region of Puglia is in the deep south of Italy, the heel of the boot. Puglia (aka Apulia) is known for its abundant sunshine, its 800 kilometers of coastline, and its lush, sensual red wines made from distinct regional grape varieties. 

where there’s red wine, there’s rosé! 

Most rosé lovers are die-hard and open to exploring all things pink. I love that about you! And you’ll love these wines. It’s those who aren’t in that category who may need a little convincing.

so, let’s do a little exploring by the glass! 

You’ll be rewarded with rosés that are lush and aromatic. Wines with many of the characteristics of the rich reds made from the same grapes, including structure from soft tannins and long, clean finishes. Wines that are bright and crisp enough to enjoy on their own. Yet, complex and structured enough to take to dinner.

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winter warming cocktails

There’s something about a hot cocktail that feels so decadent and cozy. My mind immediately conjures up visions of ski chalets, glowing fireplaces, the first snow, down blankets, and intimate moments with close friends. Hot cocktails are (or should be) a necessity of the hygge lifestyle! You don’t have to be in Denmark or Norway to appreciate the snuggly warmth of a good hot cocktail!

What’s your favorite hot cocktail? Share in the comments… and find a few of mine in and at the end of this post!

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enchanted by Venice, pt 1 of many

Have you ever been to Venice? Before February 2020, I had not. If you’ve been there, you know the magic spell she casts over you. I was not prepared for the enchantment. Even now, over eight months later, I am still enraptured. So much so that the “quick” blog post I intended to write about my visit turned into something much greater. It’s going to take several posts to share the best parts.

unexpected good fortune

As I mentioned earlier, this grand tour of Italy was planned around one dinner reservation. The rest was just good fortune. February is not the most popular time of year to traipse around Italy. Unless you’re headed to Carnevale di Venezia. That wasn’t part of the plan, it was simply our amazing luck!

Carnevale di Venezia

In Venice, Carnevale is an epic celebration of excess that runs for approximately two weeks, culminating on Shrove Tuesday, the same day as Mardi Gras. This is last day before the Catholic Church begins the season of Lent.

During this time, acrobats, jugglers, and street performers entertain the masked and sometimes elaborately costumed masses in the Piazza San Marco. And grand dinner parties and balls are hosted throughout the city. Carnevale is also popularly linked with Casanova who took full advantage of the Venetian penchant for mask wearing in his legendary exploits.

The origins of this festival date back to the 13th century and hit a peak of popularity in the late 18th century. So much so, that they were outlawed. Even the wearing of masks was illegal. In 1979 the Carnevale di Venezia resumed. Today, serious Carnevale attendees plan their extraordinary costumes sometimes years in advance. And at great cost (several thousands).

Our visit coincided with the early days of the festival and the weekend of the grand ball. Because of the looming world health pandemic, there were far fewer people crowding the Piazza San Marco in 2020. Still, the costumed and masked revelers were out in all their glory.

I heard the final ceremonies of the year were cancelled. I will always be grateful for the rare twist of fate that allowed me to experience this historic event.

art and architecture in Vicenza

Where will you go when you can travel freely again? I can’t wait to get back to Italy!

This post is part of a series highlighting a few weeks of wandering Italy in February 2020, from Rome to Venice and back. There are still a few more stories to come. I hope you’ll be inspired to wander along with me. And don’t forget to share your own stories in the comments below!

Vicenza was a late addition to our itinerary; a brief visit to have dinner with a wine industry acquaintance who lives there. The dinner never happened, but Vicenza became a highlight of the journey, nonetheless. No plan. No research in advance, just a lovely apartment with a well-equipped kitchen and a view. 

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The Butcher of Panzano

If you’re going to Tuscany, you must find him.  He was the reason we drove out of our way for the shortest overnight stay of our trip. (Remember what I said about chefs recently?) To say the visit was worth it is an understatement.

But first… Where are we going? Panzano in Chianti. To go to a butcher shop? Trust me. But, seriously, where are we going?

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Bella Toscana

We travelled from Rome through Tuscany to Modena, then on to the Veneto, Venice, and back to Rome. When we planned the trip, we had no idea that it would be the last time we’d see Italy before a world health pandemic closed borders and sent us all home for an extended time out...

Tuscany gets a lot of attention. Most of it is well deserved. Often, it starts to sound all the same. I’m going to switch it up a bit. Of course, there were cypress trees, fertile vistas, and good wine. But, I’ll share some things I didn’t think about when I thought about Tuscany. And I’m guessing maybe you haven’t either.

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