There’s an ancient Latin proverb that I keep handy in the back pocket of my brain to pull out for times like these. Extremis malis extrema remedia. "Desperate times call for desperate measures."
With some effort, the doors creak open and we slide across the butter-soft, heavily-worn white tufted leather luxury of 1950’s bench seats, three of us in front, three in back. We ignore the whiff of mildew. Sixty years of Havana’s tropical climate have done this beauty no favors.
This trip, I thought, would be the stuff of Nora Ephron movies: seven accomplished and opinionated women, thrown together in close quarters for a week, one husband (mine) as driver and general bon vivant. Layer on the rigors (and stressors) of travel, and well, you get the picture. In fact, you might have seen it on your Instagram.
Let me tell you about the two 24-hour, international vacations I’ve taken in the past two weeks. Change your venue, change your mood, that’s my motto. Nowhere is the international flavor of Canada more pronounced than in Montreal, a little piece of Paris a five-hour drive away.
My guests and I may be the travelers, but these folks are on the real journey. And while we're seduced by the romance of these old-world, artisan-centric stories, beneath the surface, there's an underlying reality that is bone-crushingly difficult.
Interested in seeing itineraries from past trips? Here's one for Sicily and Piedmont, 2015. Yes, my bags are packed again. This time, we'll be bookending the best of Italy in October as we explore western Sicily, and then venture north to Turin and Barolo country and truffles! What could be better?
The annual Tripe Festival. Of course! What else would make the already virtually impassable winding mountaintop roads of Barolo, Italy narrow even further with cars parked haphazardly along both sides? On the sunny October Sunday afternoon of our visit to the famed Marchesi di Barolo Winery it was the tripe festival.
We found ourselves at a dead end, sandwiched between a small railway station and a one-story row of rose-colored buildings reminiscent of a too-cheery suburban shopping mall. A man lounged outside one of the doors that lined its flank, his camo pants a stark contrast to the fiery red of his Fiat Uno, calmly having a smoke, watching the show.
Imagine asking the fine gentleman below "Can you please demonstrate your 200 year-old, ultra-secret ricotta-making technique for my group and me?"
First, it was Ferragosto, the time of year in Italy when any sane person, Italian or otherwise, avoids the cities and escapes to their vacation home for a month or more. Restaurants are "chiuso per ferie," closed for holiday, as are small businesses. The sidewalks are rolled up. The streets, deserted.
I could go on and on about how spectacular the Taste Workshops are at Slow Foods' Salone del Gusto food show. But perhaps sharing just a few of the inspired offering from the 2012 Program will whet your palate.
You can see the itinerary for my first-ever trip to Salone del Gusto. Next one is scheduled for September, 2018. It's finally here! The itinerary for Morso Soggiorno's much anticipated trip to Salone del Gusto 2014, the incredible city of Turin, and Le Langhe in Piedmont
Here are the words I never thought I'd utter: I think I will die if I eat another plate of pasta. Shocking and sacrilegious? Sure is. Heretical, really, since I consider pasta a religious experience. All those old adages about too much of a good thing? Well, they're true.
In the spirit of channeling my inner Anthony Bourdain, I invoke the "What Would Tony Do?" mantra more than once when planning my culinary anthropology expeditions to deepest, darkest Italy.
Flavia arrived one Sunday in July, sight unseen. Meaning, literally, we had never set eyes on her, nor spoken to her. As I waited for her outside of Customs at Logan Airport, I held up a handwritten sign that screamed 'FLAVIA' in giant red letters. Needless to say, she didn't miss me.
Some people wait all year for the announcement of their favorite band's tour dates, or the first game of the season of their beloved sports team, or the latest fashions from Europe's runways, or simply Christmas or a special birthday. Me? My special date comes once every two years.
The itinerary from my first-ever trip, to beautiful, rustic, rugged Abruzzo.
I am at a vertical tasting of Poggio Al Vento Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino. Poggio Al Vento translates as “the windy hillock” because the vineyard benefits from dry Mediterranean breezes even in the hot Summer months. The fabled offspring of this perfect microclimate? One of the most mythical of all Brunellos.
I've dreamed of visiting the ruins of Pompeii since I was a little girl, and nothing will stop me. Not the young Gypsy woman with prerequisite gold teeth who cleverly positions herself to collect change from the autostrada automatic toll payment station. Not the donkey cart that careens down the street alongside my car. Not even an experience at my B + B culled directly from a Hitchcock movie.
3.) Everything’s better with coffee and chocolate.
Ah, the joys of business travel. Long lines. Bumbling airport personnel. Indifferent service. Cramped planes. And yet, it’s worth every dehumanizing minute to get to the island of Saint Lucia.
It was shaping up to be a tough week. Late summer is like that. Transitions abound. Nudgy kids think ahead to September mornings, anticipate unwelcome commitments, mourn unrealized summer plans. June's rabid expectations are now August's fond memories or failed hopes.
It's bad. Beer-swilling-bachelor-party-boys-up-all-night-so-that-the-elevators-smell-like-a-brewery-in-the-morning bad. Dozens of gymnastic-competing-pre-teen-girls-who-make-Toddlers in Tiaras-seem-benign bad. Coppertone-boomer-babies-disco-dancing-in-the-lobby-'til-4-am bad. Cultural anthropology gone horribly, horribly wrong.