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Reflecting at the Museo Enzo Ferrari – beautiful design, of course!

 

An added bonus on a food foray in Italy is the setting.  The Italians must have studied our films and been inspired to plant cypress trees in rows and geraniums in clay pots under trellises of grape vines.

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Sunlit grapes

 

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Bricks and grapes at Antica Corte Pallavicina

 

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Flowers in a window

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Collage of La Stoppa Winery and vineyards, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Don’t kill me when I disclose that I was invited to the region of acknowledged culinary supremacy in Italy called Emilia-Romagna to sample, savor and share their edible incredibles.  Each region has their own celebrated style of preparing dishes we’ve all come to know and love.  But many specialties and ingredients hail from small corners and quadrants of Italy that have micro-climates ideal for curing ham, for instance, while too moist for the roots of an olive tree to take hold. Thank goodness for efficient methods of transportation!

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Peddaling the pumpkin cart

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A Maserati – one of a collection – on display at the Enzo Ferrari Museum, celebrating 100 years of Maserati.

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A fisherman and his bicycle, Cervia, Italy

Whisked straight to La Stoppa winery directly from the jet-lagged airport in Bologna, I had no complaints wine-ding down with tastings of regional reds accompanied by classic salamis, Parma hams and prosciutto crudo, and a sweet dessert wine I ended up packing home in my suitcase.

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The one that won. From La Stoppa Winery.

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What would be a common setting, mixed salumi and robust red wines, La Stoppa, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Food. Is it just a combination of ingredients, thrown together carelessly? In my kitchen it can be!  In the case of an Italian’s kitchen, it is an art form, cultivated and curated for centuries, alongside – and perhaps with as much passion as – the other products of this country; frescoes, sculpture, music, automotive excellence, handbags…

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Furla handbags competing with the reflection of the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna

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The famous – and one-time scandalous – Neptune fountain in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore

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Painted ceiling of Torrechiara Castle, outside of Parma, Italy

I learned so much in my week of wonderful food-ing. And it has only enhanced my appreciation for the senses experienced by my pleased palate when, for instance, I taste a 27-month aged culatello (the filet mignon of hams) from a specially raised white pig, or slowly savor a 36-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano, allowing my tongue to detect the remnant rennet granules…

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Culatello plate at the celebrated Antica Corte Pallavicina, Italy

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Copious coppa. Another memorable meat from Emilia Romagna.

The particular hunk of cheese I stuffed into my suitcase alongside my wine came from the coveted red cows and contained Pope-blessed salt from Cervia. (Yes, really)

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Wheel O’ Cheese – Parmigiano Reggiano, to be exact. The King Cheese :)

I’m much more a food aficionado than a wine connoisseur, but far be it from me to cover my wine glass, refusing the prized wines of the region, so artfully paired with our meals and samplings…Wait, which one was the Trebbiolo again?  We enjoyed, reds, dry, sparkling, deep, light whites, pinks and even a magenta. ;) Another common sight during our Italian excursion…

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White with our first course, of course at Osteria del Gran Fritto, Cesenatico Milano Marittima, Italy

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Me, cuddling up to a bottle in an unswerving rainstorm, Parma, Italy

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Magical magenta wine. Was the camera inebriated? :)

We covered a lot of ground…

 

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Just a wonderful walkway in Bologna

There were cooking classes…

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Beth and BB cooking it up in the kitchen of a traditional Cesarine of Bologna

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Cooking in master Chef Massimo Spigaroli’s kitchen at Antica Corte Pallavicina in the Po River lowlands, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

 

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BB and Laurel in the home of the Cesarine of Bologna, teaching us some cooking skills!

 

Expert chef presentations and tasting of their creations…

 

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Chef creating a masterpiece at Terrazza Bartolini in Milano Marittima, Italy

 

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A fabulous fish dish prepared before our dazzled eyes at Terrazza Bartolini, Milano-Marittima

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The piadina lady at the salt festival in Cervia

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Proud chefs at Terrazza Bartolini, Milano Marittimo, Italy

 

There were delightful detours…

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The umbrella brigade, Night of 100 Chefs, Parma, Italy

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The museum of boats in the Da Vinci canals of Cesenatico, Italy.

And happy surprises…

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Comedic vendor passionately selling us his Crema Enorotica (I’ll let you translate the tag line) :)

 

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A happy groom and his side cart bride in the quaint seaside town of Cesenatico

It ain’t just about the food

I’m so glad I added several days to linger in Italy at the end of my food tour, visiting friends, slowing down, stuttering in my own Italiamerican when ordering or asking directions.  For me, the food of a region cannot be separated from the other offerings of the locale; the people, the history, the culture.  They weave together and hopefully create a tapestry, rather than a velvet wall hanging. ;)

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Me and Deb under-umbrella giggling and feasting at the Night of 100 Chefs in Parma

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Our fearless guide Simona and the warm company of our La Stoppa winery hostess, Francesca

Especially in Italy, the food experience includes long dinners, copious amounts of wine, deep discussions and often hearty laughter along with the hearty meal. (Deb and Tara, you know of which I speak!)

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Chef Gino and dazzling wife BB in a moment of merriment at the magical dinner of 1000 people in Parma, Italy

I raise a toast to the people I meet along the way, and who this time, enhanced my enjoyment of the amazing food and beautiful sights of of Emilia Romagna.

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A happy stroll on the beach with BB in Milano-Marittima…wait, when is a beach walk NOT happy? ;)

We experienced so many amazing and delectable moments, I’ll be posting them in chapters; like maybe cheese, salt, balsamico and/or prosciutto.  I hope you’ll stay tuned – and keep your bib on!

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Sensational seafood-infused risotto at Osteria Del Gran Fritto in Milano Marittima. Scrape your plates, people!

A special thank you mille to The Emilia Romagna Region Tourist Board for the pleasure of touring and tasting in their rich region of temptations and traditionsI was invited as a guest to experience the diverse food specialties of the region, and my opinions expressed here are my own.

All photos by Gina Stark, except where I’m in them!..well, sometimes, it’s a self-snapped selfie. :) Captured on my iPhone 5S

You may also enjoy: ‘The Sweetest Dolce of My Vita’ – Bologna, Italy

and Beautiful Bologna – Part I in Photos & Beautiful Bologna – Part II in Photos

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I should have known. Bragging publicly on social media about any delicious unique recipe is going to result in requests for said recipe. And in the case of these delectable baked mini pumpkins, I am happy to oblige.  I think the original recipe came from the Los Angeles Times Food section, over 20 years ago!  I’ve not made them every year since, but when my family adds them to the Thanksgiving table, you can imagine the festive flare they add to the feast.

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table

The first time I prepared these for Thanksgiving, I had doubts about their deliciousness, and also recognized there would be plenty of other dishes to compete with my pretty pumpkins. So, I made one per couple and placed them on small plates between settings.  It was a test of matrimonial maturity, as forks were flying in the battle to scoop out the creamy goodness.

I managed to drum up some old photos to feast your eyes on (taken pre awesome iPhone :\), but none of actual prep; I’ll add them later when I next make them.  I made promises to several people on Twitter yesterday that I would post this. You’re welcome. ;)

Multiply by desired # of pumpkins
1 mini pumpkin
salt and pepper
1-2 Tbsp. cream or milk
1 fresh sage leaf (dried will suffice)
grated Fontina, Gruyere or Emmentaler cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.  Slice off top 1/2 inch of pumpkin, just like you would a Halloween pumpkin, but on a reduced scale.  Scoop out the seeds (maybe 3 or 4) and rub salt and pepper into the cavity.  Pour in the cream and add a large sage leaf and grated cheese. Replace the lid.  Bake in a pan until tender, for 35-45 minutes.  If they are of varying sizes, some may cook more quickly.  Take care not to overcook or it may split and collapse. Enjoy!

Baked mini pumpkin, individual serving.

Baked mini pumpkin, individual serving.

Tips: After Thanksgiving, mini pumpkins become scarce in stores, as they’re usually considered a decoration.  I have bought some that kept just fine until Christmas.  *Please make sure you don’t use any pumpkins that have been shellacked!

You might also like: Travel Recipe: My “Spanish Madre’s” Gazpacho

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Maui and Kauai: Traveling with a New Companion – My Droid Maxx (with Panorama!)

Thumbnail image for Maui and Kauai: Traveling with a New Companion – My Droid Maxx (with Panorama!) by Gina "SuuperG" Stark April 7, 2014 Travel and Adventures

ShareI am decidedly UNtech-y, but oh so photo trigger happy.  It is the camera feature of my new phone that I wanted to try out and continue to do so. Of course I broke it in on my recent Hawaii trip.   Here are some of my favorite snapshots so far!     The roads […]

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Dare to Dream! Lancôme #DreamTone Dare Accepted

Thumbnail image for Dare to Dream! Lancôme #DreamTone Dare Accepted by Gina "SuuperG" Stark December 1, 2013 Random Ponderings

ShareIf you follow me and my pursuits, you’ve probably gathered that I’m a hiker and outdoors lover.  This means two things: I don’t have much time or inkling for heavy make-up, and yet, my sun-kissed southern California skin has been clamoring for some camouflage.  As for make-up foundations, I still resort to my big sister’s […]

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Souvenirs – Coveted and Collected Memories from Our Travels #FriFotos

Thumbnail image for Souvenirs – Coveted and Collected Memories from Our Travels #FriFotos by Gina "SuuperG" Stark November 1, 2013 Travel and Adventures

Share Ahhh don’t we love the contributions of the French? Croissants, romantic accordion music, water lilies, the Statue of Liberty, expert flirtations, and stolen vocabulary.  The word “souvenir” means “to remember”, and if you’ve been to France, it certainly is memorable. Shamelessly plugging my beloved Idyllwild haunt, Cafe Aroma, on my bike tour through Paris. […]

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Protein Fight Club Twitter Party (with a Milk Mustache!)

by Gina "SuuperG" Stark October 8, 2013 Twitter

Share  Join #WWEmoms for a PROTEIN FIGHT CLUB TWITTER PARTY with the National Milk Mustache Campaign When: Thursday, October 10, 2013 7 – 8 pm ET   #WWEmoms #ProteinFightClub Glove up with @WWEmoms @MilkMustache @RachelFerrucci and friends this Thursday, October 10 at 7pm ET as we highlight Milk’s Protein Fight Club campaign! Learn fun facts, […]

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Interactive Travel: When in Rome…What Would You Suggest I Do?

Thumbnail image for Interactive Travel: When in Rome…What Would You Suggest I Do? by Gina "SuuperG" Stark September 2, 2013 Interactive Travel

ShareSo I’m traveling again, as is evidenced by the lack of blog postings. [insert sheepish grin here]. One would think the result would be more blog posts but my whirlwind trip through Germany was so non-stop I was lucky to find time to share some photos on Instagram!   In one day I’ve already stumbled […]

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Glass-ology: A #FriFotos Gallery from My Translucent Travels

Thumbnail image for Glass-ology: A #FriFotos Gallery from My Translucent Travels by Gina "SuuperG" Stark June 7, 2013 Travel and Adventures

ShareThis week I have happily joined the #FriFotos team on Twitter as a cohost, and even contributed the suggestion for the theme!  So you can imagine all of the sifting and sorting I’ve been doing of the various photos I’ve taken on my travels, and pondering the myriad interpretations of the glass theme.  The cover […]

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First Date: Toledo, Spain

Thumbnail image for First Date: Toledo, Spain by Gina "SuuperG" Stark May 21, 2013 Travel and Adventures

ShareOn my first stay in Spain, over twenty years ago, I was living at my friend’s flat in Madrid, only a quick jaunt to Toledo by car and an easy 35-minute train ride from the Atocha station.  In those summer days of teen-hood, my friend and I were more intent on savoring and sampling the […]

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Horizons – A Photo Gallery for #FriFotos

Thumbnail image for Horizons – A Photo Gallery for #FriFotos by Gina "SuuperG" Stark May 10, 2013 Hiking

ShareHorizons are both visual and representational, drawing our attention in a mesmerizing fashion.  For this week’s theme for photo sharing on Twitter, I selected several images…especially because I live both coastal-y and mountain-ly.   And with my hiking, I’m often gazing out over gorgeous horizons and snapping photos to both share and try – sometimes […]

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Tongue-in-Cheeky Travel Tip: Have a Moment with a Monument

Thumbnail image for Tongue-in-Cheeky Travel Tip: Have a Moment with a Monument by Gina "SuuperG" Stark May 2, 2013 Travel and Adventures

Share    Travel is such an individual experience and I’m reluctant to dole out too many “should”s about it, but I have another important “tongue-in-cheeky” travel tip I’d like to share. Well, it’s more a recommendation:     Have a moment with a monument. It took more than a few moments for them to be […]

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White Sands (in My Pants?): A National Monument au Natural

Thumbnail image for White Sands (in My Pants?): A National Monument au Natural by Gina "SuuperG" Stark April 25, 2013 Travel and Adventures

ShareStory contributed by Fred Briggs:   White Sands is one of my favorite National Parks. I love the three-color universe there; blue sky, black mountains and ultra white sand. A couple of years ago, I was driving alone through New Mexico, returning from visiting my brother in Texas. It was a beautiful late fall day […]

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