What happened to February?
Between immersing myself in the delights of chocolate and then quenching my Olympic thirst, the month just flew right by me! And what a month it was!
As March begins, I decided it was time to take care of some unfinished business and wrap February up so that I can properly focus on the month ahead.
For starters, I must take this opportunity to thank all of you for your tremendous support and encouragement for my series on the food of Piemonte. When I first thought of the idea, I had no clue as to the breadth and variety of Piemontese cooking. As much research as I did, I only scratched the surface of a culinary way of life that is spectacular and breathtaking. While I lost some steam at the end due to work constraints (regular life getting in the way once again!), for those of you are interested I encourage you to continue the journey. If you’re looking for a starting point or two, may I suggest the following two books: Rustico by Micol Negrin and A Passion for Piedmont by Matt Kramer.
Negrin’s book is an all-encompassing look at the regional food of Italy. Every part of Italy is included, which is a nice switch from other books on regional Italian cooking that tend to ignore the smaller regions of Italy. So from that standpoint alone it’s a good investment as it provides an excellent overview of Italian cuisine in its entirety. The section on Piemonte, in particular, is impressive. While the recipes are not what I would describe as typical (you won’t find recipes for penne alla vodka or eggplant parmigiana in this one), they are authentic and true to the spirit of the region from which they originate.
As for Kramer’s book, my only wish is that I had discovered it sooner. I came across this book about a month before the Olympics when my idea for a series on Piemontese cooking was still in its infancy. By the time I ordered the book and received it, the Olympics were already underway. A Passion for Piedmont is thorough in its presentation of Piemontese cooking. It covers all topics, including cheese and wine. Like Rustico, Kramer does not cut corners nor does he oversimplify recipes. They are as true to the nature of the original as can be.
So for those of you who don’t want to leave Piemonte just yet, I wish you buon viaggio …
The next bit of business to address is my final thought regarding February’s Flavour of the Month: Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow. While I did try three new recipes from the book (White Chocolate Coconut Cream Bars, Princess Pudding and Blanc et Noir), it was not nearly as many as I had hoped. The Olympics really did take my attention away from my chocolate discovery. But that’s alright. The three recipes that I did try were tremendous, and while the Blanc et Noir was somewhat complicated, especially for an untrained baker like myself, it was worth the effort. I look forward to visiting Pure Chocolate again when the occasion calls for it.
But just as the months have changed so too have my tastes. While chocolate is a part of my life on an almost daily basis, it’s time to try something new. And in order to combat some of the excesses of February (at least in the chocolate department), I’ve decided to choose something a bit lighter and dare I say it … healthier … for March’s Flavour of the Month: A Beautiful Bowl of Soup by Paulette Mitchell. It’s not that chocolate or Piemontese food aren’t healthy, it’s just that I need to simplify a bit this month after the culinary exertions of February.
And with a cold Canadian winter wind blowing outside, I can’t imagine anything more comforting than a bowl of warm soup. So join me, my friends, and let’s see what we come up with!