lunedì 14 maggio 2012

Don't Be Afraid to Dream

Here is a long overdue tribute to my mom. Maybe this means I am growing up a bit. Despite our differences over the years I must say that my mom has always encouraged me to dream big, to reach far and I guess that's why Casa Chilenne exists today. She grew up in the depth of the Great Depression, 1 of 8 children and numerous cousins and relatives all under the care of my grandparents struggling to eke out a living by farming in the Sacramento Valley towns of Fairfield-Suisun in Northern California. As can be imagined times were tough, yet, when she created her own family she never stopped encouraging my sister, my brother and myself to be the best we could be. Sometimes it was a heavy load, but usually it was a reminder to us that we could achieve and excel (if only we would do as she says!). Her personal dreams seemed to be all invested in her children, which can feel like a heavy burden at times. However, as years pass and the space between us has become an ocean and a nation wide, I realize that her dreams are noble though cumbersome-she wants her children to be happy, well cared for and to have them want for nothing. She has always supported our dreams both morally and many times financially so I guess I must say that a great part of our success is hers. So here's to you MOM! Our travels together might have been a bit bumpy at times, but I can't think of anyone who could take your place. Thanks for encouraging and believing in me and my dreams. Love you!

giovedì 3 maggio 2012

I Scream, You Scream!

We know that the Bella Stagione has arrived when we start seeing ice creams on the street again-especially gelati being consumed by Italians. They say that the Romans invented this tasty treat, bringing in snow from the mountain tops and mixing together with fruits to make this tasty treat. We have two gelateria at present with rumors of another one on the way, plus, the seasonal gelati created by Gianni Banchelli for his family's Pasticceria Banchelli and Cocoa Chocolatier/Patisserie which features artisan gelati in the summer. The offerings of the types and styles of gelato change from place to place. Some favor the Florentine style which concentrates on creamy flavors where as the Sicilian style seems to concentrate more on the icier, sorbet-style and the Venetian style coming somewhere in-between. Snoopy gelateria in Piazza Signorelli tends to be of the creamier variety, Dolce Vita, just two doors down from us has a variety of imaginative flavors using candy bars or cookies for inspiration as well as venturing this year into creating gourmet versions of popsicles (ice lollies) and other ice creams on a stick. Banchelli,( now located at their new larger shop at the end of Via Nazionale near town hall) on the other hand, creates high quality gelati with some unusual ingredients like Green Tea, or his creation Crema Etrusca as well as ice cream cakes or semi freddi. Cocoa of course has an offering of delicious chocolate as well as classic gelatos at their shop on Via Guelfa.
So many choices, I always recommend that the quality of all our gelaterias require a careful taste testing during your stay! Nocciola (hazelnut), Zabaione (italian egg nog), Malaga (rum raisin), Stracciatella (a fancy name for chocolate chip!) and of course Cioccolato (chocolate), Fragola (strawberry), Crema (vanilla egg custard), Fiordilatte (vanilla), are just a few of the classic choices, without forgetting Caffe and many of the fruits of summer from peach (pesca), watermelon (anguria o cocomero), pineapple (ananas), limone...the list can go on and on! When overwhelmed by all the choices, I can't help but long for a hot summer day at my Aunt Pat's house in Suisun, California-turning the hand-crank of an ice cream freezer, with melting ice cooling me and my cousins off as we sprinkle rock salt and fight over licking the dasher of the best flavor ever, plain old vanilla!