“The Order of Chartreuse was more than 500 years old when, in 1605, at a Chartreuse monastery in Vauvert, a small suburb of Paris, the monks received a gift from Duc Francois Hannibal d’ Estrées, Marshal of King’s Henri IV artillery . . . “
A friend unexpectedly stopped by for dinner. I took him shopping with me to get something to cook when he noticed pomegranates at the grocery store. He mentioned that he’d seen them before but never tried one.
I said, “What? How could you live in New York and never have had a pomegranate? Let’s get a couple and I’ll show you how good they are.”
How to cut and remove the seeds –
Cut the skin around the top and remove it.
Make 5 shallow cuts along the sides and pull apart into sections.
Break up the seeds into a bowl.
Fill the bowl with water so the membrane floats and can be removed.
Ready to eat.
Pomegranate Juice –
On the street in Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast.
Put the seeds in a blender with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and blend for a few minutes.
Strain the mixture, squeezing the seeds in a sieve.
Ready to drink.
Pomegranate Liqueur –
After we’d made my Aunt Lena’s Coffee Sport and it turned out so well, Bridget and I got adventurous and decided to try making pomegranate liqueur. I went to the nearest Korean grocer. In NY, Korean grocer means general merchandise and very fresh and varied fruit and vegetables. I picked out 12 pomegranates and went to the cashier. As I started to unload them from the basket to the counter, a couple got on line behind me.
When they saw what I was buying the woman asked, “What could you possibly do with all of those pomegranates?”
Her husband looked embarrassed and so did she. “I apologize. Those words just fell out of my mouth.”
“There’s no need to apologize. And since you asked, my wife and I make some old Italian cordial recipes and this is for one we one we made up.”
The cashier who knew I shopped there regularly said, “These are very expensive. And you’re buying so many.”
“Maybe but that will turn into a bottle of something that will be worth it.”
The woman who apologized asked, “Why can’t you just use bottled pomegranate juice?”
Maybe I looked a little indignant when I said, “Bottled juice just won’t be a good as fresh. We squeeze the juice, strain, then simmer it until it’s thickened a bit. Then we mix it with simple syrup and grain alcohol, and it’s done. That’s it, a simple cordial and ready to drink.”
Hot chocolate season is coming up. There’s an article in L’Italo Americano that will make you want some Italian hot chocolate now.
ITALIAN CURIOSITIES: THE TRUE STORY OF ITALIAN HOT CHOCOLATE
“. . . The fall is the season of the queen of sweet delicacies, the creamiest of treats, the most decadent of the cold season’s offerings: la cioccolata calda. If you tried it, you know that Italian hot chocolate is on a different level: there is nothing else in the world that can compare to it, at least when it comes to hot cocoa drinks. You may find others that are nice, that taste delicious and that do hit the spot if you need a chocolate fix, but no Italian will in earnest say any of those are better than our beloved cioccolata calda. . .”
Illegal Coffee – Gastro-Obscura has an interesting article on coffee’s long history in the Middle East.
In Istanbul, Drinking Coffee in Public Was Once Punishable by Death
Rulers throughout Europe and the Middle East once tried to ban the black brew.
By MARK HAY
“. . . Odd though it may sound, Murad IV was neither the first nor last person to crack down on coffee drinking; he was just arguably the most brutal and successful in his efforts. Between the early 16th and late 18th centuries, a host of religious influencers and secular leaders, many but hardly all in the Ottoman Empire, took a crack at suppressing the black brew. . . “
Some cultures – Irish, Indian, Chinese, etc. – drink tea and others prefer coffee. Italians like coffee and they’re fussy about how its made. Caffés and patisseries have large high-pressure espresso makers that are too big and expensive for home use and the traditionalists among us don’t use pods, percolators, Mr. Coffees, or Chemexes for our espresso.
For a long time, at least 200 years, a typical home espresso maker has been the Napolitano Maganette. This is the one where you add the coffee and water in the pot, put it on the stove upside down, and when the water boils, flip it over. That’s the type of pot my mother used when I was growing up.
We also had a Vesuvianna. It’s made of one piece of cast aluminum in a mid-century modern design. It makes great espresso and is beautiful to look at. The one I have is electric. They aren’t made any more, but you can still find them on EBay.
The espresso pot we use most of the time is our Moka. It was invented in Italy just after World War II and is the most ubiquitous coffee pot in the world. It’s easy to use and makes perfect espresso.
1957 ad for a Moka
Translation – “Where’s Dad?” “He’s in the kitchen with the Moka Express.”
Nice cups are important too.
Medaglia D’Oro is the espresso brand I grew up with and still use today.
Sweet tea and Bourbon are two favorite Southern drinks. Put them together and you’ve got a perfect Southern summer cocktail.
Let’s start with the sweet tea. If you don’t already have a recipe try this –
3 tea bags
2 tbs. sugar (or to your taste)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
A few mint leaves
Fill a 16 ounce measuring cup 8 ounces of boiling water. Add 3 teabags, sugar, lemon juice, and mint. Remove the bags when the tea is good and dark. Fill the measuring cup with ice and when it melts strain the tea into a liter bottle. Top it off with cold water and refrigerate.
Now the cocktail –
1 ½ oz. Bourbon
4 oz. sweet tea
Pour the Bourbon and tea over ice in a rock glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint.
Some friends returned to the city from their summer house with strawberries. I had some with Wheaties for breakfast and now a frozen strawberry daiquiri for lunch.
• 1 ½ oz light or dark rum • ¾ oz fresh squeezed lime juice • 1 oz simple syrup • A few strawberries • 6 ice cubes • Lime sugar for the rim of the glass • A slice of lime for garnish
Add the rum, lime juice, syrup, and strawberries to a blender. Give it a whirl, first without ice. If it doesn’t appear thick enough add some more strawberries. Instead of whole ice cubes, it’s a good idea to crack them first. Wrap the cubes in a kitchen towel and hit them with a pan or rolling pin. Add the ice to the blender and mix it with the strawberries until you get a slushy consistency. Pour into the lime sugar rimmed glass and garnish with a slice of lime.
For simple syrup, heat 1 part granulated sugar and 1 part water over low heat and stir until the mixture is clear.
For the lime sugar, you need 1 teaspoon of lime zest and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Put it in a food processor and grate for minute or two. Moisten the rim of the glass with a cut lime so the lime sugar sticks. (Thank you, Martha Stewart)
“. . . Tuscany. If you’ve never been, I can guarantee you’ll be in awe of the beauty of its rolling vineyard filled hills, Cypress lined driveways and the golden glow that covers that land as the sun sets. They say it is one of the most beautiful places in Italy, so its no wonder that the world’s rich and famous have been BUYING up all of Tuscany for the last century…or more!
Although many of the most beautiful areas and ancient Villas have been bought up by rich foreigners much of ‘Chiantishire’ or simply Chianti, is still owned by the original families as is the case with the Villa Barberino that still belongs to the Conti Family. . . “
A great article on how a beer company survived Prohibition.
When the Government Banned PBR, Pabst Made Cheese Instead
By Mark Hay
“ . . . Yet as America moved towards Prohibition, the folks at Pabst recognized that their beer empire was about to dry up. So, soon after the nationwide ban on alcohol went into effect in 1920, Pabst pivoted to making a “delicious cheese food.” They called it Pabst-ett and sold it in block and spreadable forms, as well as in cheddar, pimento, and Swiss flavors . . . ”
The relationship between caffé and the city of Naples can only be called love. La tazzulella di caffé is the way Neapolitans welcome the day, recharge throughout it and show friends they enjoy their company. It is the occasion to socialize, share opinions and discuss about the latest news and gossip.
La relazione tra il caffè e la città di Napoli non può che essere d’amore. La tazzulella di caffé è il modo in cui i napoletani accolgono il nuovo giorno, si ricaricano e mostrano agli amici che amano la loro compagnia. E’ l’occasione per socializzare, condividere opinioni e parlare delle ultime notizie e fare pettegolezzi.