cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.
Showing posts with label Ice Cream. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ice Cream. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An Odd Ice Cream

 Some people find photographing ice cream to be unpleasant. You set up your scene, you get your little camera all ready, and then your model starts moving...rather starts melting. You must be very quick about it. Personally, i like it. I usually spend way too much time photographing a single subject. I remember older posts here at Salty (way back when, we're over six years old now...that's geriatric in blog years) that would require me to set aside the entire day to do a post from start to finish. Yes, an entire day. I can not so fondly remember waiting until well past midnight to begin a paper on King Philip II for an archeology class. Well, i suppose sacrifices have to be made. But in professional photography you cannot spend an entire day shooting a cupcake while everyone else involved stands around twiddling their thumbs. Set up your shot and get in and out. Just like with ice cream. So photographing ice cream is a superb way to practice for on-site photography (or a wedding. blink and you miss it.) You have to act fast.

I'm only drawing such a connection because yesterday (yay!) i had an on-site shoot at a bakery. Usually i photograph inside my studio. Studio being my shanty-set up of living room curtains. Either way, the bakery was uncommonly cute for Brazilian standards. To be blunt, traditional bakeries in Brazil are similar to traditional bakeries in Portugal-- they're kinda ugly. The purpose is to get in, get your bread and get out. Not to sit on an antique piece of furniture covered in hand made cushions while sipping nouveau coffee with house made marshmallows. This bakery, on the other hand, claims to be an American style bakery and suffice to say, definitely hit the "Starbucks Standard" of ambiance. I shot as quickly as i could. With three servers behind the counter and both shop owners staring at you, taking your sweet time isn't exactly a professional option. The trick: pretend the scone is melting... like ice cream. We still took almost two hours to shoot all of the items, but in my defense i had to wait for a few things to cook. I love bakery shoots...particularly because i am quite familiar with nearly all the models. Madam cookie, i know which side of you photographs best--please turn your cheek. Also, bakery owners seem to be genuinely happy people. And how could you not be; perpetual sugar-high bliss.

I made ice cream Sunday morning before going to the gym. The gym doesn't open until ten on sundays so i had time to do such a thing. It's an odd style of ice cream i had seen on tv--made by whipping cream and condensed milk together. Not exactly ice cream but well, i don't have an ice cream machine (yet). The recipe literally contains only cream and condensed milk. I added amarula liqueur to add a bit of flavor. As usual, i added a bit too much liqueur so the cream wasn't able to whip to fully whipped status (stiff peaks). It was a little soupy. So i whipped another quarter cup of plain cream until practically crunchy, then folded it in. To be honest, it kinda tastes like frozen whip cream covered in amarula. Which, i suppose, isn't bad at all. It's an alright option for people without ice cream machines. Next time i will add a stronger flavor to try and mask the whip cream flavor.

An odd ice cream is always better than no ice cream. 

The ironic thing about photographing ice cream is that usually the most enticing shots arrive just at the melting point. You spend the first ten minutes frantically shooting the perfectly balled scoop--racing against the clock.hen, when you're about to give in, you realize how all of a sudden you really want to eat it. oh yeah. luckily that pot is quite small. 

So far this month i already have both a catering event and photography event lined up. Sao Paulo city is definitely treating me better than Indaiatuba ever did. Wish me luck. 

ps. i know i've been posting a lot of photos of flowers lately, but these coral roses are just too fluffy to not share. I received them last Friday as a surprise gift from H.  C'est tres chouette, non? 


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ice Cream Sequilhos

and a word on the São Paulo Countryside

The first time i tried to make corn tortillas here i went to the grocery market and stood in the "flour" aisle staring at the mountain of packaged powders. Wheat flour sits on the bottom shelfs packaged in its dusty little paper sack. As your eyes move up the shelf the packaging becomes a little fancier. There are tapioca and corn flours in every form imaginable. Why are there so many names for the same thing? Literally dozens of different "types" based on the size of the grind and what it is generally used for. Ok, i thought, i need corn flour, so something with milho (corn). I see flakes, nope, polenta, nope, hey this has milho in the title--amido de milho, perfect! When i got home and added the hot water to the amido de milho, to make tortillas, to my horror the whole thing turned into a pot of sticky liquid. What? I looked at the bag, i rubbed the remaining powder in the bag between my fingers, well it feels like tapioca, and tapioca usually feels like--crap. corn starch. Reminds me of when i washed my clothes in fabric softener during my whole first week in France.

At least i know what corn starch is now. I have since learned that the corn flour closest to what i need for tortillas is called fuba. Why the hell is corn flour called fuba? I never thought about corn as a top Brasilian food, I always left that one to Mexico and the rest of Latin America. But the truth is, corn has a large spot in the Brasilian diet; it's everywhere! This week i made corn tortillas with salsa, then some roasted tomato polenta, corn on the cob and now of course our feature presentation: corn starch cookies known as sequilhos made into ice cream sandwiches with corn ice cream. I hope to round the corn week off with fried polenta at Grandpa's bar (actually the name of the bar) this friday with a few caipirinhas. hint...hint....

Sequilhos are one of my favorite cookies in Brasil, probably because they are one of the only commercially made gluten free cookies, but that's beside the point. These crunchy, powdery fall-apart cookies are a Brasilian tradition, every body knows em' and you can find them in just about any confectionery or bakery shop. Usually they are quite small, the size and shape of a quarter dollar, a small square, or bent horse shoe. They cost pennies and usually make the front of whatever you happen to be wearing snow white. This is why i love to eat them in the car. Though they are a litle more genuine when coming from a bakery, you can also find them commercially made in the candy/cookie aisle of any grocery store in a large biscuit bag. As they are made of corn starch, they fall apart the second they hit liquid. Particularly fun to dip in hot tea and have it fall all over your lap.

I meant to post about these a few weeks ago when i made them for the first time, but a few things got in the way. What i mean is, my motivation was stolen by Power Ranger Azul, and i also viewed them a bit dull to post about all on their own. Last sunday was my ticket to ride, but then the floors needed to be cleaned. Then Tuesday for Independence day, but it rained. Then i talked to my mom last night about being woe-full and ready to give up photography for something practical, but then she quickly snapped me from it. Then finally today ice cream came to mind. But, then where's the story?

(the cowboy boots above are a product of my bad neighbor-stalking habit. so no we are not hicks.)

A few weeks ago when our friends C & L came to stay the weekend, we went out for quite a few ice creams. En route our guests were fascinated and enchanted by the layout of the town. I've never heard so much praise about our little city before, and from an American at that! The primary astonishment was the fact that this was Brasil. Brasil is a gigantor of a country, and probably the most diverse in every aspect of life from state to state. C had never visited the São Paulo countryside before. She'd been to most of the capitals; Rio, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte as well as the extreme no-wheres in the interior of Mato Grosso state. Ergo the most and least metoropolitan in Brasil, but never the middle. This could almost be somewhere in the US she observed quite a few times. Cute streets, neighborhoods, planned city development, parks, public recreation areas, green spaces, first Brasilian city to be one hundred percent on treated sewers, clean and kept sidewalks, small businesses, beautiful residential areas, a relatively unfrightened and trusting public accompanied by large commercial and work centers in cities but a few minutes away. Their astonishment reminded me that most people, one year ago me included, haven't a clue that places like the São Paulo countryside cities exist. Well, they do. And though they have no beach, they are rated for having the highest quality of life standard of any region in Brazil. Go us.

We live in the city of Indaiatuba (meaning land of palm trees, or something like that). If there was no such thing as traffic, we can technically consider ourselves about 45 minutes north west of São Paulo city. To the north of Indaiatuba is a series of other small cities of the same caliber leading up to São Paulo's second largest city, Campinas. One thing about the countryside cities is that you can breath. The other thing is that there can be a Toyota factory next door to miles and miles of grazing cattle and farmland. The city is quiet, i hear my birds and neighbors talking in the streets all day with kids running around with kites and calling out games to each other. Though the city is bigger than the Seattle burb of Poulsbo where i grew up, it still manages to be a community where you run into people you know all the time. At the park, the grocery store, post office--yes Mr. Rogers was here too.

Aside from Indaiatuba, my favorite cities include the neighboring Valinhos and Vinhedo with their beautiful residential areas, and to my Editor's great surprise, Itupeva, an upstart city that still seems to be covered by quite a bit of vegetation (ok this is really countryside) yet is as beautiful as any fairytale story book with a dumpy little downtown. Valinhos also happens to be the nation's fig capital, and apparently there is a fig festival every year. We will definitely be dragging the fig-hating Editor to that one. When we took C & L to the airport (to São Paulo city), we drove through the Itupeva country side. Vineyards, grazing sheep, rock valleys, orange tree groves, old men on bicycles, chickens running about, large mansions, small huts, winding roadways flanked by bright colorful vegetation--all this with the setting sun. If she wasn't on her way to Canada i'm sure she would have moved in right then. Seeing other people's reactions to this place makes me extremely grateful to live here, the unknown part of Brasil, one of the many many other unknown parts of Brasil. When you get here, Brasil will surprise you. I promise.

And so the ice cream. There are a lot of great ice cream shops here in Brasil with classic flavors you may like and a few more that you may be afraid of. One of my favorite flavors in Brasil is corn. There's that corn again. Corn is treated as a sweet quite frequently in Brasil; corn juice, corn cakes and cookies- and of course ice cream. Though odd to American taste buds (yeah i tried making it for my family, was not a very big hit) it is a popular flavor in most of South America, South East Asia and the Pacific Islands. You can find it anywhere; in the super market, ice cream shops, corn shops (for serious) and it is very rewarding to make on your own. However, i still prefer my very first taste of corn ice cream in Brasil: at the highway-side stop off known as the Corn Castle. Soft-serve in a cup prepared for you by under enthusiastic teenage women who can't believe they work in a place called the Corn Castle. It is the only road-side stop worth getting off the highway for. There is even a corn playground for the kids! The flavor grows on you, and after a while it seems more refreshing than most flavors.

This recipe for sequilhos is slightly different than traditional recipes--i needed them to be a little softer and cake-like so that they can be bit into double layered and not squeeze ice cream everywhere. So this recipe has an added 1/4 cup of medium grind corn meal to soften the cake. Leave out the corn meal if you want it crisper. These are also about 5X the size of usual sequilhos, a cookie is a cookie right? Roll them into small balls about the size of a grape for traditional sequilhos.

Ingredients: 400 g corn starch, 1/4 cup corn meal (fuba), 1/2 can of condensed milk, 1 tbsp melted butter, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 beaten eggs, 2 tbsp sugar.

Method: 1) mix together the starch, corn meal, sugar and baking powder. 2) Add the condensed milk, eggs and butter. 3) Mix until combined. You will have to use your hands as it is thick. If you want to flavor the sequilhos, add extracts, shredded coconut or even fruit puree. 4) roll small ball and press flat with a fork. 5) bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you want to make corn ice cream, i have posted the recipe already here at Salty, please go here for it.

So a sunny day in the almost-summer of the São Paulo countryside; on tuesday it rained for the first time in three months and washed the sky clear. Never before had i ever wanted it to rain so badly. Today is quite warm, making shooting ice cream extremely difficult as i enjoy using my new 8gb memory card to its fullest, however, melted puddles are not attractive. September is so different on the bottom half of the globe. But i miss the leaves and the Fall. But summer time birds and pink flowered trees, well it's a good substitute. Until then,

a bientôt

oh and ps. hi Sierra and yes i will make you these cookies next year.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ice Cream 2 Ways

Avocado Lemon & Lemon Mint

Ice cream? In March? Remember i'm in the Southern hemisphere now and it is (the end) of summer. Over the past (almost 4) weeks i have realized a few things: i am not going to use the oven to bake anything until i move into my house, i'm not interested in baking yet in the heat, and i enjoy using serial commas. Now obviously it is possible to bake in the heat, millions do it and i have no doubt that i will. But the oven in this house.....and it's not because it's gas, thousands of bakers bake with gas, even my new still-in-plastic shrink wrap oven is gas (though it has a nifty ignite button, so no matches). It's something else....this oven just doesn't like me; it knows i'm North American. Actually there is no thermometer or temperature gauge anywhere to be found and i am not yet quite to the level (and loss of sensory nerve) where i have skill enough to stick my hand inside and determine "yup, 219 celcius." For example. The other day there were 7 blackening bananas, and so before they were mashed 50-50 with sugar in a sauce pan for "dessert" (read: plain) i said hey, stop, let's make banana bread, because after all that is what we Americans do with bananas is it not? Alright alright they nodded, (this of course came out of my mouth in my wonderful present tense Portuguese) and i made the bread. Not cake, i insisted they call it bread. Sweet bread seems to not compute. As the story goes, the thing came out charred black. This was a problem the last time i was here as i recall. But cut away the bottom and sides and it's perfect inside. You've spleened me for the last time oven, now i am only making things on top of you or with no heat at all.

While we were in the middle of miserably hot weeks (90 degrees is miserably hot for me) i thought, ah, i'll make ice one makes homemade ice cream here. No kidding. But i didn't actually want to be right with that statement. Why make it when you can buy it everywhere? that's something that is starting to pop up more and more around me. The bakeries make bread, so why make it? Cookies come in packages, so why mess up a pan? Well, i guess the answer to all of it is i like to do it. It's not the product i am crazy over, it is the process. However, one thing, at least in this household, that is homemade more often than bought is juice. Juice? Granted there are dozens of varieties of juices at the grocery market, but fresh fruit is not expensive, and buying an entire pineapple for one pitcher of juice is quite reasonable. I watch H's mom make juice daily out of pretty much anything. One carrot and one apple? Done. Chop, put in blender, add water and sugar, then strain and drink. She has a pretty fancy pants juicer that happens to be named Mallory (the name of the electronics brand, seriously. they manufacture coffee makers, toasters and fans too) but she does it this way. Lemons, avocados, oranges-seriously it takes a lot of fruit to make a small amount of juice. But no one has scurvy around here that's for sure. So yesterday there was a bag of passion fruits, about 6 apple-sized yellow globes. I (myself) will make passion fruit juice. When you cut into a passion fruit it is quite hollow, there is a glob of seeds attached to a pink membrane with a little juice surrounding. Once that is scraped out all that is left is white sponge and quite unattractive nodes that look like sea anemone tentacles. Whoever thought to call this fruit 'passion' has a sick mind...the Brazilians actually believe it to be a sedative fruit, quite ironic actually. Can't get to sleep? Suck on a passion fruit. In Portuguese it is called maracuja. I mixed it with squeezed lemons, sugar and water and thought it extremely tart (but good). Later i noticed H's mom added about 50 percent more water. Guess i'm too tart.

What? Ice cream? As i was set on making ice cream to do a post for poor Salty, i had it stuck at the front of my mind. We went to Sao Paulo last week for another visit to the US consulate to finish up a few things, and on the way we stopped at my favorite place smack on the corner of a highway exit ramp, the kind with large obnoxious billboards- where? None other than the extremely corny Castelinho da Pamonha, also known as the "Corn Castle" to grab some corn ice cream to make going to the consulate less dreadful. Now, i wrote about this place last August when i recreated the sweet corn ice cream in a post here. I guarantee you that anyone who visits will be forced even against their will into this place. there's even a corn playground. Neither here nor there, but i couldn't make and post corn ice cream i keep moving.

Two days later i went for a visit to an aunt's house (there are about 20 aunts) which is settled in the garden of an extremely large mansion in a private condominium surrounding a river. Why in the garden? Her husband is the gardener. We were there, of course, for "afternoon coffee" and snacks...slightly British if you ask me. We went into the kitchen and she opened the oven; each rack was lined with avocados (Brazilian avocados are huge, bigger than mangoes) that practically spilled out over the floor. jesus, i said, your oven is full of avocados. well, what a wonderfully obvious statement. Now the sky is blue. But at least i'm trying. Aunts, uncles and cousins are the only ones so far who i am comfortable attempting to practice my wretched Portuguese on. Now there were two more large buckets of avocados on the porch; how is she going to use all these? Horrific thoughts returned to last January in my grocery market in Poulsbo (near Seattle) where i unfortunately had to pay $2.50 for a single rotten avocado that was smaller than an apple. yeesh. Another bucket of lemons, a bucket of oranges, and every 5 minutes one of the caged-quails seemed to pop out yet another spotted egg. Well, i have to say being a gardener looks quite rewarding in more ways than one. When we left we took a shopping bag full of avocados and lemons. i'm going to make avocado and lemon ice cream. Thanks tia.

Back to the nobody makes ice cream here statement. I want an ice cream maker for my birthday (which is in July), i told H a few weeks ago. Anyways. Haven't yet seen one at any kitchen store....gulp. So i'm making it by hand for now. Guess they aren't the most popular selling of products-First sign. Now for cream; everyone knows you need cream to make ice cream (hence the second part of the word.) So we be at the grocery store, "where is the cream? doesn't anything come in bottles?" Poor H who tries to help as best he can to accommodate my outrageous projects that make no sense to Brazilians. He looks, thinks, then says "what kind of cream? What does it come from?" uh, a cow. Oh. We shuffle to an aisle with cardboard boxes full of already prepared whip cream mix that you simply whip. No, not this. I want pure cream, this has sugar and chemical junk in it, isn't there anything fresh? Something that has to be kept cold? At this point he is quite confused and my attitude doesn't help. The people at the store inform us that they don't sell it-second sign. please please, this is not the time to have one of those breakdown culture-shock moments. Over the weekend we stopped by the pharmacy at Carrefour and thought to see if they had cream in a bottle, they did (i think it's cream....) have cream in a bottle. Fresh whipping cream (i hope that's what it is...). Hooray Carrefour! However slightly expensive. At this point i decided to make two flavors, because i'm like that. I need mint now. For lemon mint ice cream. Mint?...again i have confused the poor man, like toothpaste flavor, i clarify. I head over to the produce section with green leaves and herbs, H asks "why are you here then?" I pick up a bundle of mint and say uh, to get the mint. "That's mint? Mint is blue." interesting....wait what?? Let's laugh and move on. We are so lucky to be awarded so many possibilities to laugh at the smallest of things each and every day. Culture is such a wonderful thing, nothing is wrong, nothing is right, all it is is different.

So here is my ice cream, no machine, only hand. It is a combination following the methods of David Lebovitz and Jamie Oliver (both don't mind machine-less cream). I made them both at 5:30 this morning since H left early for work (we have an appointment at the registry office early in the afternoon, immigration stuff). All ingredients were thrown in the blender, and then poured into casserole dishes and placed in the freezer. As they are thick (in depth) they took quite a while to freeze, stirring every 30 minutes to break up the clumps. Would you believe 5-6 hours? Avocado is a great ingredient to use when attempting the dish method to make ice cream as it is a naturally fatty food and allows the ice cream to remain creamy with fewer ice crystals. And, not surprisingly, the lemon mint tastes exactly like a mojito. Now we have homemade ice cream, probably the only homemade ice cream around for miles. Was it worth it? I think so.

Avocado Lemon Ice Cream
500ml cream, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk, 2 Brazilian avocados (like 4 of the wimpy ones in the U.S.), juice of 2 lemons, 1 tsp vanilla extract (or powder).

Lemon Mint Ice CreamIngredients:
600ml cream, 1.5 cups sugar, 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk, juice of 2 lemons, 1-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves.

Method (for both):
Combine all ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth (you need to use a blender or you will have avocado chunks...mmm). If using a machine, follow the instructions for your particular model. If making by hand, poor into a shallow baking dish (plastic, glass, etc.) and place in the freezer. Check it after 45 minutes and stir with spatula or whisk. Keep checking every 30- 60 minutes (depending on size of container and temperature of freezer) keep stirring until it is consistency enough to serve.

a bientot

ps. i'm experimenting with banners, this is the third in the past three weeks....can't quite get it right. Yes i do take constructive criticism as useful. So keep it coming.

Friday, July 24, 2009

In a Corn Castle

Sweet Corn Ice Cream and Corn Flour Madeleines

There does indeed exist a corn castle. Connect to this concept: driving down the freeway; you see giant billboards advertising "come, pick apples!" or "the best fried chicken for the next 200 miles!" "World's largest Pumpkin patch, Next four exits!" And each kilometer that you draw nearer, the signs begin to mount, urging you on, "almost there! almost to the freshest bite of fish you'll ever have!" just around the next is in this very fashion that i arrived at the corn castle. No not the world's largest structure supported by cob columns, but a road side stop shop decorated dino-land water park style to create a facade akin to a castle of ears filled with--yep, you guessed it; corn. Corn as far as the eye can see. Oh how corny. on y va.

I kid you not, a castle of corn does indeed exist. Three actually, and all on one very long stretch of Brasilian high way. of course i'm still talking about Brasil, get used to it. They are called Castelhinho Pamonha, litterally little corn castle, and they are filled with corny treats. Sweet corn tamales (pamonhas), corn juice (suco de milho), corn cakes (bolos de milho), cuscuz (i have no way of explaining this to you), corn cookies, corn candies, polenta, and finally--what i had requested upon arrival, Sorvete de milho: corn ice cream. I had come across it goggling food gawker one evening, and since i have been stolen by its curious concept: a vegetable in an ice cream? We initially pulled over to pick up a bottle of suco de milho, but as we stepped out of the car, H registered, Ah, we can get you corn ice cream here! Corn ice cream? i thought with a smile, it's nine in the morning. Let's do it. The creamy concoction came out of the machine as a soft serve into the cup awaiting its arrival, two spoons please! Brasilians eat a lot of corn, not to imply that North Americans don't, but Brasilians use it in a much wider array that, well, tastes a hell of a lot better than creamed corn casserole.

The cream of the crop, pun intended, is the sorvete de milho. At least in my opinion, and who could care for anything else? That being the case, i have grown attached to corn, not only for it's gluten-freeness, but because it finally tastes good. Sitting at my desk in Seattle, staring out the window, and longing with every fiber of my being to be back in Brasil with H and the rest of the family, i decide that it is time for the Salty Cod to pay closer attention to this summery warm weather treat. Ice cream is my guilt, or rather my non guilt, never say no to wine, chocolate, or ice cream, and to the ears of any North American, the concept of corn ice cream is slightly repulsive. Therefore, i must break, convince, and enlighten. C'est possible? watch me.

I hate canned corn. But i don't mind it if it's an ingredient, no dad, eggs scramble mash surprise doesn't count. A recipe for ice cream: one cup whole milk, one cup cream, sugar, a pinch of salt, and your ingredients. Let us think. This is Brasilian. So let us proceed: one cup whole milk, one cup heavy cream, one can condensed milk, and 1 cup corn. Maybe a little vanilla. A pinch of cinnamon. This is a Salty Cod confection, after all. It's first tasters: my brother R and Sister K. R: it tastes like ice cream, with a background of corn. K: background? try foreground. Success? Well, they said they would take another spoonfull. It's unexpected, that's all, K continued. Unexpected? Well, the unexpected is the best kind.

Another corny treat; mais mais, eu quero mais! Corn cakes. Very similar to North American cornbread, though less dry and with, gasp! flavor! are very scientific. I decided to honor the teaching of Aunt P, who made my 23rd birthday cake in a blender with milk cups, hand full measurements, and hey you like cheese, let's put some in! Experimental fashion. Ergo, corn cake Madelines reflect the same kitchen daringness--nose goes.

Sorvete de Milho (Sweet corn Ice Cream)
Ingredients: 1 cup whole milk ~ 1 cup whipping cream ~ 1 can corn, drained or one cup cooked and de-cobbed ~ 1 can leite condesado ~ 1 tsp vanilla extract ~ 1 tsp cinnamon

method: 1) in a blender, liquefy drained corn along with the milk 2) strain through a blender, press with a spoon to get all liquid. Discard pulp 3) return corn milk to blender, add cream, condensed milk, and everything else and mix well 4) refrigerate until quite chilly, at least an hour 5) process in an ice cream maker, or if you are doing it old-school style, god speed to you.

Corn Flour Madelines:
Ingredients: 1 cup corn flour ~ 1 egg ~.5 cup sugar ~ .5 cup milk ~ 2 tbsps melted butter ~ .25 cup Parmesan cheese ~ 1 tsp baking powder ~ pinch of salt ~ some vanilla ~ some cinnamon ~ some love. damn it.

method: mix wets. mix dries. combine. spray a madeline pan, bake at 350 for less than ten minutes. please don't burn.

In two months, H and i spent over 32 hours in the car together (we like to travel). So when the sign screams at us 50 kilometers until the best traíra! brandishing a cute little fish holding a trident, we know we're gonna stop. And when we do, and find the place a complete bust on service, but escape with a memory of a tiny red armchair made for 2 year olds that i somehow managed to squeeze my ass into, a parking lot kiss that yes i remember, and a laugh as we wave at the giant crowned fish statue as we pull out, then it was without a doubt, all worth it in the end.

Sweet corn ice cream in my little kitchenaide off in the distance of the pacific northwest; castles made of corn can be home to a fairy tale princess too. Or perhaps, just to a cod-girl. One scoop, spoon, lick of the drip on my finger and my mind is flown body and soul to that car ride, to the corn castle, to the shared cup that numbed my fingers in the car on our way to Sao Paulo. ice cream at nine in the morning. And then a cake, and i am transported one month later (in the car as well) eating Aunt P's corn cakes after the failed king of traíra. Life is a collection of connections, you just have to make them. Corn, ah. I could eat a pool of you. Taste, smell; these memory triggers outlast all others. Distance does not have to be a terrible burden. If you make the right recipes, it can, and only will enhance and make yet greater every memory that causes your saudade. And yes, i'm talking about corn ice cream. So stop off at the cheesy billboard. You may in fact catch a great memory, at least one to keep you warm until you can catch the next one.
A bientot

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Little Rome Before I Go Home

The only real Gelato in Roma
Ancient Rome, It's Not Like Home-- COLOSSEUM!

This post is dedicated to the Ratburns out there and all the brilliant Arthur Read fans (girl Ryan, and boy Ryan). You know, I do think I may have seen Julius Cesar deliver pizza to the Senate on a Hang glider, that is, before he met up with Russell Crowe.

Flying into Ciampino airport, I ceremoniously noted in my little tete that this was indeed my last trip whilst still living in Paris. Not to say that every passing day in Paris is not a potential candidate for an adventure, but the Euro-hoping, my friends, has come to an end, at least for now. And where better to mark a finale than the epicenter of our ancient western civilization--not to mention a possible Pope sighting. Eh eh? Vatican City! Rome and Paris they sing of, but a three days visit, let me just give you a taste.

I met up with an ancienne amie from my University in the US (my freshman roommate) while she was on a little mother-daughter summer tour of Italy. We will call my friend Tittlywinks, and note now that our rendezvous was at the hotel at n'importe lequel hour. I was the first to arrive, and awaited the rest of the party to show slumped over unconscious on a lobby leather couch due to the previous nights one hour of sleep (you were all there, Salty's birthday, he parties hard that little poisson) Our meeting was wonderful--it truly is great to know that true friends are still there for you, as if nothing has happened, even after an entire year of separation. Our first order of business: food.

Why yes Italian food is pasta pasta pasta. But I didn't have a problem. Antipasta is an understatement. Put cheese, ham, olives, eggplants, tomatoes, and artichokes in front of me and i'm a happy little bubbly girl ready to clap. While every restaurant did in fact incorporate the word "pizza" into the name, i was able to find much more. Beef dishes, veal dishes, anchovies and risottos. Anything swimming in olive oil, such as baked zucchini in Parmesan and a tomato red sauce and all thoughts of lasagna fade. Coming from a french red wine lover--Italian reds are amazingly sweet and surprisingly refreshing. Italy may be known for the lemoncello, but the wine industry, let us hope, is continuing to rise. A bottle between two did make for fun conversation seated at night on the warm crowded steps of the Trevi Fountain--you know, the one she swims in--in la dolce vita.

Enough talk of food--where is the ice cream. The first day after visiting myriad churches, shopping alleys, and oh look the Pantheon, we search out gelato--real gelato. On any one street in Italy there may be up to as many as 10 gelatarias, bright, bubbly, illuminated by flashing neon lights and plastic ice cream cones screaming "Ice cream ice cream here!" Any sign that ever assaults the eyes not only with such colors, but in English is a joint to be avoided. The gelato in these cafes is piled high in mounds that appear to almost ooze into the compartment next door. Your lemon sorbet has been french kissing the hazelnut chocolate crunch.

The colors of many sorbets and gelatos in these displays are putrid--bright, artificial, nothing that is grown organically should be that color. And a cone--my friends, say no to the cone. Gelato is taken in a little cup, with a little spoon, never, never on a cone. You say avoid all the gelato mallory? Well where are we supposed to eat! There are 2---TWO establishments in Rome for you to taste--they are the same, but two different locations for your convenience. But once you do try real gelato, you too as well will snub your nose at the carnival freezer mounds of slush. The name to remember: Gelato di San Crispino, the real gelataria of Rome.

Walking into San Crispino I gasped--holy shit i'm in Mora. What!? The metal bins, the smooth counter, the baskets of colorful gelato spoons, the crisp looking ice cream server (was I crisp looking?) the white, professional, flaalvor-speaks for itself no-nonsense ambiance of the little ice creamery on Bainbridge Island (near Seattle) was present in this little cafe on a tiny street in Rome. Hmmm, I toss around in my head, I think the bosses must have eaten here. Either way--influence comes from somewhere, and reading the list of flavors and "mission statement" at San Crispino, i knew that this, in fact, was real, natural, pure gelato. Crispinos creed: use only the best natural ingredients, nothing artificial, experiment with new flavors while still maintaining the classical charm of the old, and, surprise the taste buds. Sounds an awful lot like the older brother of dear Mora.

One would then imagine the creamery to be packed, lines queuing out the door down the cobblestones, and snacking all the way to the Pantheon's front gate. But there was never a line. 3 times, and there was never a line. Rome in the summer and there is no line? I will tell you, bright neon signs DO in fact attract mosquitoes. So, trip advisory: don't be a mosquito. While the flavor selection is no where near 45, they are still quite diverse and sure to spark some hidden scent of curiosity. They range from walnut and fig (no goat cheese) to ricotta, whiskey, pistachio, hazelnut, cocoa, Italian liqueurs, and many others.

Their signature flavor is the San Crispino, which is made with honey (Tittlywinks' favorite). However, for me I was drawn like a fly to 5: licorice root, ginger and cinnamon, armagnac, chocolate with meringue, and caramel with meringue. Those flavors, those are the ones worth dying for. Meringue incorporated into a gelato is a cry short from genius--crispy and soft, Mora, you must take this into note. Their sorbets also take advantage of the regional flavors--melon, lemon, grapefruit, peach, Isabella grape, Seville orange, and others. Needless to say, going to Rome? Go to San Crispino.

Two locations: Via Acaia 56 Roma, Via della Panetteria 42 Roma.

We visited both locations. The second day was a full day strolling through the ruins of ancient Rome-- the Palentino, Circo Massimo, the Colosseum--through the hot hot heat with dust blowing everywhere, hills covered in poppies, and ancient piles of rubble just...there. Rome transports you to another time, causing one to think, hey where's Russel Crowe! Of course, hot archaeological work must be followed by a gelato.

The last day in Rome was spent at the Vatican. Yes. The Popes palace. No Pope sighting on this trip. But the imense awe and grandeur of St Peters Basilica can not be given full effect through words. The 500 some step climb through the narrowing spiral stairs to the cupola of the Basilica started the journey--through Saint Peters, down into the crypt, around into the Vatican museum, and then, finally, into the Sistine Chapel. Amazing? Yes. 500 steps? hmm. Let's go back to San Crispino. Poor scooper though--made him scoop during the Italy France game and answer my silly questions. I left by sadly shouting, allez les bleues! But gazie for the gelato!

Paris and Rome, Paris and Rome, but it really is almost time to go home. Next airport: Charles de Gaulle.

à bientôt