Alpine Arrivals, Cured Beef, and Vineyard Volunteering

The truth is that it feels silly to try to explain any of this with words.

Could there be any other idea of perfection than homemade hobo backgammon in the Italian Alps?

The feelings stretch deeply to that pure and shiny spot inside of each of us that can only be described with the sound of belly-deep laughter or the sight of a dog sunning itself on a porch.

pork lard
Allow me to introduce you to lardo. This is straight-up pork fat, rubbed with local herbs and spices and cured in a salt brine.  You should eat some fat every day, so why not keep it simple rather than hide fat in greasy potato chips or a slice of cake? Throw it on a warm piece of bread and watch the fat soften into sweet sweet salvation.  

Italian food just gets me. It makes me weak, speechless, giddy. It is food based simply on what is local and fresh. From there, you find the highest quality items among your participants, and then you cook with them. Could you ask for more?

Porcini and sausage risotto with a side of bresaola (you can tell a man is choosing the side dishes here) All local, all amazing.
Saltimbocca alla Romana, made with lightly-breaded turkey cutlets (since there's no humanely-raised veal nearby), sage, and speck

I am volunteering as a way to travel. I am avoiding the "real world" and working for various families in exchange not for money, but for simple room and board. At least that's the gist. But what I'm also getting is culture.

High in these alpine towns, the water comes straight from the source, leading to these  pure and rustic "fountains" found all over the mountainside. When going for a walk, I just strap a cup to my belt and have mountain juice any time I please.

Take my current situation, for example ... 

Genuine Italian meals—cooked with the skill of a chef—twice a day. Carefully chosen wine served at dinner that is not only local, but moreover made from the nebbiolo grapes (i.e. the grapes used for Barolo wine) that literally grow in our backyard. Two generous and amazing hosts to work and eat with. A view of the Alps from my bedroom window. Twelve absurdly silly and friendly Bernese Mountain Dogs to play with at any given moment (and no, "twelve" wasn't a typo).

Kitten bedding and a view of the Alps?? Hello, paradise.
Our first dinner: baked rigatoni bolognese
Paolo and a few of the family members. "Just a few" meaning "not even half." There are times when the house gets a little crowded ...
mozzarella salad
The original caprese salad (guess whose flag's these colors replicate?)...served with a side of local cheese. Cheese as a side for a cheese-based salad? This is getting serious.

And in exchange? I have to find 25 hours at some point in the week to devote to helping to prune and arrange the vineyard.

The view from our window during our three week stay here

I can do these hours in three days and have the rest of the week off, I can do five hours for five days, etc...The arrangement is my choice.

Jackpot, y'all.

italian ice cream truck
Spare time? Find the local gelato mobile (chasing it uphill under the midday sun optional, but highly rewarding).
Beating the heat by logging some hours in the evening under a rising moon and serene sunset

And so, with Paolo as our local master chef (and Marisa, his wife and official taster), I believe I'll have some recipes to be sharing with you.

While the French take foods and spend hours concocting them into something new and rich and complex, the Italians just take what's good, keep it simple, and eat it.

bresaola recipe
Bresaola "salad" and a view that'll make you cry.

Case in point: Bresaola. This salt-cured, air-dried beef originated in the very Valltelina Valley that we currently call home. It comes from cattle that graze in the local Alpine meadows and since only the leanest, fat-trimmed cuts of meat are used, it ends up being a relatively "healthy" choice in the realm of charcuterie.

The herbaceous mountain diet combined with the salt, herbs, and seasonings that are massaged onto the rind before aging it for two to four months produce a heartbreakingly flavorful end product. There is no need to incorporate this divine meat into some haughty dish. Slice it thin and eat it as it comes. 

Bresaola with Arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Ingredients (per person, multiply as necessary)
5-6 paper-thin slices of high-quality bresaola (you can even make your own...)
A handful of arugula
A few shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, the real stuff
High quality EVOO
High quality balsamic (not balsamic vinegar—you may have to find pure balsamic at a specialty shop)

Spread out the slices of bresaola on a plate, sprinkle on a handful of arugula, 7-8 hearty shavings of Parm-Regg, and a quick glug of EVOO and balsamic.

Remember: keep it simple. No one ingredient should overpower the others, no matter how much you love cheese or want to try to be healthy with extra arugula. Savor the balance.

italian cured beef
Serving with a Bernese mountain dog glass is completely optional
bresaola recipe
Not an arugula fan? How about some local cheese and grapes, then?

And just for the record, I'm not the only one who likes a leisurely meal...

bernese mountain puppy
One of the puppies has honed the art of eating to a master-class skill

Coming up: fresh trout, local flavor, and way too many desserts. Sign up for Chowgypsy posts in your inbox!


  1. The benefits of eating beef is plentiful. Meat which includes red meat category, has a plentiful nutrient content yanag. But red meat is not necessarily free from risks.

    Just like other cara membuat rawon foods, red meat every day, especially beef is not recommended. Moreover, if we consume excessive portion, Risk seperto cholesterol, high blood pressure and stroke always haunt.

    However, although there resep biji salak are risks, we do not avoid beef. Provided that what we eat tailored to the needs of the body. Moreover, the processed beef is many kinds, such as burgers, sausages, or nuggets.

    The risk of eating beef will increase along with its processing is not suitable, such as excessive roasting, to have this desired color. Due resep tahu telur to the higher karsiogenik substances, which cause cancer growth.

    Here are some of the risks of excessive consumption of beef which we quoted from Boldsky:

    1. Alzheimer's
    Mereah meats such as beef, rich cara membuat martabak telor in iron, and a very good moment of growth. However, researchers believe that if the protein of beef, named Tau and beta-amyloidal, which accumulated can affect the performance of the brain, and interfere with brain cells that can lead to Alzheimer's.

    2. Cardiovascular Disease
    Red meat can not be separated from high cholesterol and fat, can lead to high risk of cardiovascular resep lasagna panggang disease, which is a blockage in the blood salurah. But do not be afraid, as long as we are healthy digestion, digestive tract bacteria will break down fat and cholesterol than beef, which is named Carnite.

    3. The risk of colon cancer
    Many studies have shown a high risk for those who frequently consume red meat, for developing colon cancer, it can also be due to lack of fiber consumption.

    4. Diabetes Type 2
    Berlebian beef consumption will increase the risk diabets, about 50 percent. Therefore, we do not letagihan to eat beef.

    5. Processing is
    Many food manufacturers are fraudulent in the processing of beef, they sometimes label their products with a composition of 100% beef, but many mix that we do not want in it. So avoid eating processed beef.

    6. Obesity
    This is the "disease" most suffered by the global community today. The beef is high in fat, it is very popular, especially children, and sometimes parents late when children affected by obesity, and it is difficult to prevent

  2. The feelings stretch deeply to that pure and shiny spot inside of each of us that can only be described with the sound of belly-deep laughter or the sight of a dog sunning itself on a porch.
    Hy-Vee customer Survey

  3. How would you like, if you will get a $4,000 gift card to redeem the offer instantly for sharing your five minutes with these articles if you are excited to know “what is the matter”.Pep Boys Customer Satisfaction Survey

  4. Exceptionally pleasant article, Thanks for sharing this information




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...