Culinary Concierge
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culinary concierge, blog

ViaMedina is a culinary concierge service providing private chefs, cooking lessons, exclusive events, and interactive food and wine tours.

Posts tagged Maremma
The First Annual ViaMedina Easter in Tuscania Roundup!

For most of us, Christmas is really the star of the yearly holiday show: besides the obvious draw of presents, it's got the kind of participatory appeal that really manages to catch on, and just enough crossover between Christianity and popular culture so that those celebrating from the sidelines really do feel connected to the starters on the field. It's a time of ugly sweaters and big dinners, and for most a mass or even two. 

Easter on the other hand, is another thing altogether. In my family in New York it was the time that our most profound guilt complexes came out for air, expunged as it were by the intrepid Lent sacrifices that usually involved us having to give up something awesome for a time period and not quite knowing why. Sure, there was some fine eating to be had particularly in the form of macaroni pie or timballo, a maelstrom of long pasta and lard (though now its Crisco) that we would eat on Easter Saturday before the obligatory Easter Ham. 

The thing is, Easter as a commercial holiday is sort of a hard sell; sure, the bunnies and eggs are great and they probably test well with kids (well, unless they are these bunnies) but there is always a looming sense of sacrifice that hangs over Easter. It's an important holiday, to be sure, because its full of a distant kind of repentance that makes us feel ever so slightly guilty tucking into that giant ham roast or our third chocolate bunny. 

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Nikki's Chickens

Here at ViaMedina, we have the great fortune of having a wealth of collaborators with whom we have cooked, eaten, and worked over these past months. As a member of the core crew, Nikki has helped us about a million times with everything from Sagras to Thanksgiving dinners; we thought that now might be the best time to acknowledge how generally badass she happens to be. Nikki moved to Italy and went to work at her fiancee Tiziano's family plant nursery where, with her highly applicable background in fashion marketing, she started tending to the chickens that once belonged to Tiziano's grandmother.

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A Tale of Two Sagras, Part Two: The Sagra degli Gnocchi
β€œAnd a beautiful world we live in, when it is possible, and when many other such things are possible, and not only possible, but done-- done, see you!-- under that sky there, every day.” 

When last we met I told you about the certain strange and not unpleasant sense of pride and belonging I felt while wandering along through the Sagra del Baccala in Tuscania. It was a singular feeling and one that was aided and perhaps only possible because I was alone, and was a wholly different experience. The Sagra degli Gnocchi, however, was a very different experience based on a few key points. Mostly, it was the presence of a very special Sagra Crew. 

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A Tale of Two Sagras, Part One: The Sagra del Baccala

I must first make a confession. I don't necessarily love Baccala (salt cod) as a foodstuff, and its various permutations as they are found throughout the world rarely leave me enraptured in any substantial way. Instead, I have a much clearer memory of piles upon piles of salt cod pieces stacked upon each other in the myriad bodegas that have featured throughout the course of my life in New York. I remember living in Montreal near a cluster of Portuguese shops where giant unwieldy licks of preserved cod would dangle precariously above voluminous sacks of short grain rice and make the impossibly narrow aisles of the grocery store even more so. I remember the great bellies of cod splayed out across tabletops in various epiceries around Marseille and not in the beautiful old port section where you all still figure that young men named Marius await their next departure whilst debonairly drawing smoke from a never-ending Gauloise. No no, this was in a particularly dodgy little narrow lane in Noailles, and while the name escapes me now the smell lingers on in that lizard bit of brain none of us ever seems to shake. 

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