Vino, pizza, baba e cantucci

Thus begins my final week here in Castellina.  I am so dreadfully sad when I think about leaving.  So instead, I’m going to think about all the things I have done this past weekend.

Let’s see…  I saw an incredible view of Florence.

I started shopping for wine to bring home. Found myself in the cantina below the wineshop.

This is a cave I would not mind getting trapped in.  Creepy? Yes. But it’s filled with wine. So it would still count as a win.

I saw another awesome sunset. This time in Radda, the next town over.

Also in Radda, I encountered the largest pizza ever. As in, so big that we don’t even have space for plates.  And between Nana, Papa Tom and I, we devoured the entire thing.

Back at the bakery, (because all this while I’m still waking up at 2:30 am to make bread), Lina taught me how to make Baba. Baba is a traditional Napolitano dessert of sponge cake soaked in rum.  Usually they are in the shape of little balls, but this cake form did just fine. And oh man was it good. So, so good.

Speaking of Napoli, last night there was a soccer game, Napoli versus Florence. Since Florence is so close, many people in town are huge fans, except Giacomo.  His mother, Lina, is from Napoli so that is where his allegiance lies. He even put up a banner this morning at the bakery. Except while I was in the front selling bread that morning, I heard a ton of yelling in the other room.  Giacomo and Nicola and one of the customers were all arguing about the game (I think it was a draw), and by arguing I mean yelling at the top of their lungs speaking the fasted Italian I’ve ever heard.  No way I understood any of it.

The other day, Lina and the guys pulled out an old contraption for making grissini, or breadsticks. They spent a long time cleaning it and getting it to work again.

Once it was working, they would turn the handle while running the dough through (after a couple of times they got the hang of it) and the dough would come out in long pieces. Sort of like making spaghetti I imagine.

And of course they were delicious. They’re fresh breadsticks, what more can you ask for? Except maybe some Nutella to dip them in.  Because that’s how my mind works, people.  I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow!

And on Saturday evening I learned how to make cantucci, those little Tuscan biscotti that they dip in sweet wine for dessert.  I went to Andrea’s little restaurant in the evening and he showed me how to make them. His kitchen is tiny but at least he has an electric mixer!

The only problem is I don’t know where I’ll find many of the ingredients in the United States.  For example, eggs. The first thing Andrea told me was that I needed the gialla, or yellow, eggs for the best color.  Except I don’t know if we even have those in the United States.  Does anyone know? The yolks are super yellow, almost orange in color. They said it was because the chickens only eat corn.  But in Italian corn is mais, which sounds like mice. So at first I had to pause and think, no, the chickens do not eat MICE. Maybe they mean rice. Then I finally figured it out. Corn. There was a real moment of confusion there.

Either way though, these cookies rock.

Lastly, I will leave you with this, my view from behind the counter at the bakery.  Of course, this is during the last hour of my shift when I’m working the counter and there’s actually daylight.  Then, I go back to bed.


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Filed under Bakery, Beer and Vino, Bread, Cake, Cookies, Italian, Travel

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