Weekend Writing Prompt #93 – Horizon

I must be in a reflective mood today.  Or really thinking about what lies ahead.  Either way, this is the result.  Thank you to Sammi Cox for hosting his weekly challenge that I love.  The changing word-count makes it so interesting.

A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend.  How you use the prompt is up to you.  Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like.  Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise.  If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments.

Word Prompt

Horizon

Challenge

 

It is funny how the horizon can reshape your perspective

Ever changing, ever elusive, ever within your grasp?

Stretch out your arm and your hand touches it, just an illusion

Stretch your mind and it expands, this is reality

As the scenery transforms, so does your range of vision

Circumstances evolve, and so can your perception

When we stop learning, we stop living

“There is no Final Resting Place of the Mind.”
~Anthony Bourdain

A Tuscan Feast

“The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living…”
Dione Lucas

 As this is a post about food and Italy, here’s a little dinner music to keep you company as you read 😉

I thought for sure that this morning I would be suffering from dysania, but no.  The alarm clock went off for François at 6:25 and I was wide-awake.  Dammit.  I had been planning on sleeping in and being totally lazy today.

For those of you who don’t know, in September 2016, I went to Tuscany all by myself.  BEST. TRIP. EVER.  My first week of that trip was spent with the fabulous Cook in Tuscany group, created by the wonderful and irrepressible hosts, Linda and George, and 13 other fantabulous participants, learning how to cook Tuscan food and experiencing a lot of what the area had to offer.  A dream of mine since forever.

Fast-forward to last night.  Okay, maybe not so fast.  It has been one and a half years since said trip.  It was about bloody time I had my sisters and their hubbies over to show off what I had learnt.  (Thank you, Tracy, for nudging me…)

I warned them to come bellies empty because I had a lot to show them!

“I like a cook who smiles out loud when he tastes his own work.
Let God worry about your modesty; I want to see your enthusiasm.”
Robert Farrar Capon

To get us started on the right foot, I served Aperol Spritz – did I take a picture?  No.  So right.  With our cocktails we had two kinds of bruschette.  Bean and onion and the classic tomato.  I only cut and toasted so many slices so that no one over-exaggerated…

Once they had a little food in their bellies, I put them all to work!  To truly appreciate Pici, one must roll with the dough 😉

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
Laurie Colwin

Having worked for their supper, they were then allowed into the dining room for the first course, a Tuscan tomato and bread soup.  Now.  I may have screwed up a bit.  I had toasted my bread ahead of time and was supposed to add it to my soup in bits and pieces till I felt there was enough.  In my usual over-zealousness, I dumped the whole bowl into the pot.  Um.  Can we call it Bread and Tomato soup instead?  No one seemed to mind and hey, Tuscan cooking is all about stretching out what one has….  All around, it was declared delicious.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
Julia Child

As I had not quite finished preparing my crumbs for the pici, I had them all come back, with their glass of wine, into the kitchen to keep me company (next house, OPEN CONCEPT).  This was a very interactive meal, in case you’ve not noticed 😉

When in Sienna, I went to visit one of the Frescobaldi vineyards, Castel Giocondo, in Montalcino.  I splurged (BIG time) and bought two bottles of their Brunello.  These I kept for this special night.  We decided to decant each one and oh wow.  They were both fantastic.

Pici now cooked and sautéed, it was back to the dining room!  Before Tuscany became the “go-to” vacation spot, even for Italians, they were quite poor.  Salt was used sparingly on food, kept mostly for preserving.  Not everyone could afford cheese, so they “cheated” by cooking stale bread crumbs in olive oil.  It truly gives incredible flavour.  Everyone loved their pasta – it was theirs, they rolled it, after all!

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”
M.F.K. Fisher

While we were enjoying our pasta, the pork tenderloin and grilled veggies were being warmed in the oven so there was no longer a need to dance between rooms.

I did, however, remember that I had a bottle of Grappa.  Instead of sipping it as a digestif after the meal, we used it as a “Trou Normand” – a shot which, as they say, serves to make room for the next course.

This was a cheat in the whole Italian evening and I may get a frown from a true Italiano but I’m willing to take my chances.  Besides, the deed is done.

We’re still smiling.  Certainly  not because we are overstuffed.  Yet.

You still with me?

The meal is not quite done!  Time for dessert.  I made panna cotta with two sauces, chocolate and strawberry.  Pick one, pick none or pick both!

“A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch. ”
James Beard

Coffee was served and one would think that it ended there, right?  Wrong.

A little Vin Santo and Cantucci to cap it all off… hoping no one would be feeling crapulous after such a feast!

“I lurched away from the table after a few hours feeling like Elvis in Vegas – fat, drugged, and completely out of it.”
Anthony Bourdain

 

Arrival in Tuscany – My Tuscan Trip

Well. So much for that!

I was positive I would be blogging daily, keeping you all up to speed on the happenings of the moment.  Didn’t take into account the 13th century walls being too thick for adequate WiFi!  As my Facebook friends told me:  “Don’t stress, enjoy each moment and tell us about it later!”

Guess what? Now is later 🙂  I have an hour to kill at the Firenze airport so…

*** Note:  it has taken me days to write this!***

The plane ride from Zurich to Florence was a mere hour and we still got a snack and a piece of chocolate.  No complaints here…

Got my bag, found a taxi and 22€ later, was at the Firenze Treno Terme where I got a ticket to the Chiusi-Chianciano Terme.  Having no access to WiFi and not being able to find the document Linda from Cook in Tuscany sent us, I had to rely on my memory for the ‘how-to’.  Well, somehow, I chose an open ticket with the milk-run operation instead of the direct one.  Ugh.  Almost two hours later….

I was so late, my hostess from l’Albero di Gameli called my cell to find out where I was.  No way I was answering that one!  I didn’t bother getting a plan for my phone since all the places I’m staying at have WiFi so I can reach and be reached.   Anyhow… A 10€ taxi ride later, I arrived in Chiusi.

The very beautiful Milena Mazzella greeted me by telling me that, had she known what time I was arriving, she would have picked me up… dang. 2nd time I could have saved a buck!

She showed me my room and made me a sandwich with a glass of wine which I had on their little balcony.  Her partner, Marco, then came out and kept me company, soon joined by Milena and her youngest, Iliana.  She then got the classic Tuscan duo of contucci (cookies) and vin santo (sweet wine).  Dip, bite, drink… yum!

My room was beautiful with my own private bathroom.  Truly a gorgeous place to stay.  Kinda wished I had a few more days with them.  Ah well, la prossima volta!

As if their welcome wasn’t enough, Milena and Marco like to to give a gift of jewellery made by Marco.  All the rings were too small or too big and they insisted I choose this lovely pair of earrings.  So very generous of them.  Milena and I have become fast friends and I know that if ever I want to come back, there is a place for me!

Lovely gift!

Lovely gift!

Tomorrow… I tell you about Cook in Tuscany!

Ciao!

Part 1

Part 3

 

And We’re Off! (OK… I’m Off… ;) )

It’s here, it’s here!  Finally!  After all this time, I am finally  making my way to my dream destination of Tuscany, Italy.  This has been a long time coming.  Of course I was last minute everything,  Booking my Airbnbs, getting last-minute items and by 1:30, was still packing my bag!  Considering I had to leave the house by 2:00 pm, I’d say that was cutting it a “tad” close, don’t you think?

I was going to try to use the Über but got flushed twice.  Hmmm… By the time a taxi was called and arrived, it was already 2:15. Cutting it close again. They say to be at the airport 2 hours before take-off time.  That meant arriving at 3:05.  I cannot believe it, considering the amount of traffic we got, but we made it by 3:15!  Cost me a bloody fortune, though. $75.55… eesh… if it costs that much to get home, it would have been a better bargain to use the Park ‘n Fly!  Ah well.  Now I don’t have to worry about losing my car key!  Silver linings, Baby!

So, here I am at Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport in Dorval, sitting waiting for flight LX87 to Zurich, Switzerland.

20160902_162359

I am so excited! I have a friend in Zurich so I took an 11-hour layover so he could show me around.  Way to start a vacation, eh?

Hope I don’t bore you all to death with my daily postings (considering I haven’t written but one post in how many months?)

See ya tomorrow!

Friday Fictioneers – Another View

It’s Wednesday!  Actually, it’s midnight, so it’s really Thursday.  Oh well.  Time for Friday Fictioneers!  Yes, yes, some of us try to get our stories in early!  Quite a few of us, actually!  Rochelle not only hosts this shindig, this week she also supplied the wonderful photograph!

Should you like to read more stories, or, better yet, add your own, please click on the Blue Frog!

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Genre:  Fiction – but hopefully not for long!

Word count:  100

Another View

©Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Coffee in hand, she leaned against her kitchen counter and gazed outside the window.  On this quiet morning, she contemplated her life thus far.  She determined that on the whole it had so far been a very good one.  All the challenges, hardships and losses were far outweighed by all the joys, good fortunes and gains.

Her thoughts turned towards her future.  There was still much more ahead of her now.  Endless possibilities.  What were her dreams and desires? The flat lawn turned into rolling hills filled with vineyards and olive groves and sunflowers.  Tuscany was definitely part of it.

Chianti

Where Do I NOT Want to Visit?

Beach

Friday, November 7

Where is the one place you would never want to go on vacation that other people seem to love?

 

As one who wants to travel the world (!) I have trouble answering this one.  There are definitely places I am not inclined to visit and nor are most people… War-torn countries do not appeal to me.  I kind of like living and don’t feel the need to put myself into any precarious position just for the sake of saying “I’ve been there”.  Yes, disaster can happen anywhere but let’s face it, while there is a war going on, chances are more in favour of this happening!

I cannot truly say I will NEVER visit Cuba but it is very low on my list of places to visit.  You see, part of any good vacation in my books is food.  I have heard nothing good about the food in the resorts in Cuba – and going outside of the resorts is not a thing to consider (because that is probably where we would get good food).  Yes, one or two have said it’s not bad.  Hmmm…  Not bad is not good enough.  I will need more positive feedback before going.

I do hear the beaches are amongst the most beautiful, however.  It is a hugely popular destination for Canadians, Quebecers in particular.  It’s cheap. It’s not too far. It’s not on my list.  I just have so many other places to visit that ARE on my list!  At the top of the list has nothing to do with the Caribbean. (I love the Caribbean.  Have been there umpteen times.)

Way at the top is Tuscany – though after last night’s wine class, I am adding Trentino-Alto Adige to the list!  Maybe I’ll just have to take a year and visit the whole country.  Now there’s an idea…  I am obsessed with all things Tuscan/Italian.  I want to go and be a part of it, to experience it like a local.  Meet some Nonna who will bring me into her kitchen and teach me the how’s of real Italian cooking.  I keep threatening my family that I’m going to pull an “Under the Tuscan Sun” and stay there!  They will have to come and visit me!  One can dream, no?