Chicken Liver Pate

May 20th, 2016

Takes less than 30 minutes, makes 2 cups

I have had this recipe typed up for a long time.  I haven’t posted it because it is special to me and I was not sure I wanted to share it…..HA!  Not only is it one of my favorite appetizers, but it dates back to when I was in school and it was given to me by my advisor and his wife.  I know not everyone likes liver and while it’s high in cholesterol, it is also loaded with minerals and protein.  If you like liver this pate is to die for.  Give me a pound of it, crackers, and a football game and I’m all set.  Even if you don’t care for liver you should try this “winner”.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb chicken livers
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup finely chipped onions
  • 1 tsp chicken fat or butter
  • Salt & pepper

 

Simmer the livers in broth until done, takes about 8-10 minutes.  Drain but save the broth.  Grind livers and eggs with some broth in a food chopper or blender.

Saute onions in fat or butter until light brown.  Blend all ingredients into a paste, adding broth until desired consistency is reached.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it!!!

The pate thickens on standing and refrigeration.  Consistency can be adjusted by adding chicken stock for dipping with crackers, or spreading on thin squares of rye or other bread.

RO 6-15

Dunning-Kruger Effect

October 21st, 2015

We probably have all heard of the ”Peter Principle”, or “The Generalized Peter Principle”:  Anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails. It was created almost 50 years ago by Laurence J. Peter, a prominent Canadian scholar of education.  When applied to a person this is sort of inwardly looking where someone outside makes a judgment on someone else’s performance.  But there is another principle or effect where a person makes a judgment on his or her own performance.

The following is abstracted largely from “Pacific Standard, The Science of Society”. I will suppress my urge to relate the following to most politicians.

The opening line is: “The trouble with ignorance is that it feels so much like expertise.”

The Dunning-Kruger effect, named after David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University, Department of Psychology, occurs: Where some people fail to adequately assess their level of competence — or specifically, their incompetence — at a task and thus consider themselves much more competent than others. This lack of awareness is attributed to their lower level of competence robbing them of the ability to critically analyze their performance, leading to a significant overestimate of themselves.

The underling premise is basically that many people (dumb to smart) over estimate their ability because they are too dumb (at whatever level on the scale) to see when they are failing: The Dunning-Kruger Effect, which Wikipedia defines as “a cognitive bias whereby unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate.” Wikipedia added that: “This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude.”  Whew…..I’m not sure I can follow all of that!!!!

The phenomenon was first tested in a series of experiments published in 1999 by David Dunning and Justin Kruger.  The study was inspired by the case of McArthur Wheeler, a man who robbed two banks after covering his face with lemon juice in the mistaken belief that, because lemon juice is usable as invisible ink it would prevent his face from being recorded on surveillance cameras.

…….I could never make that up.

In many cases incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.

For more than 20 years Dunning and Kruger have researched people’s understanding of their own expertise.  This is formally known as the study of metacognition, the processes by which human beings evaluate and regulate their knowledge, reasoning, and learning.  The results have been consistently sobering and occasionally comical.

The American author and aphorist William Feather once wrote that being educated means “being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.” As it turns out, this simple ideal is extremely hard to achieve. Although what we know is often perceptible to us, even the broad outlines of what we don’t know are all too often completely invisible. To a great degree, many people fail to recognize the frequency and scope of their ignorance.

In many areas of life, incompetent people do not recognize or cannot recognize just how incompetent they are. Logic itself almost demands this lack of self-insight: For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack.  What’s curious is that in many cases incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.

Because it’s so easy to judge the ignorance of others, it may be sorely tempting to think this doesn’t apply to one’s self. But the problem of unrecognized ignorance is one that can visit us all from time to time.

Over the years Dunning and Kruger have become convinced of one key, overarching fact about the ignorant mind: “One should not think of it as uninformed. Rather, one should think of it as misinformed.”

An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge.

This clutter is an unfortunate by-product of one of our greatest strengths as a species. We are unbridled pattern recognizers and profligate theorizers.  As the humorist Josh Billings once put it, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Ironically, one thing many people “know” about this quote is that it was first uttered by Mark Twain or Will Rogers—which just ain’t so.)

The way we traditionally conceive of ignorance—as an absence of knowledge—leads us to think of education as its natural antidote. But education can produce illusory confidence.  Because it’s so easy to judge the idiocy of others, it may be sorely tempting to think this doesn’t apply to yourself. But as said above, the problem of unrecognized ignorance is one that can visit us all.

“I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, do not fancy that I do.  In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser then he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know”….

Attributed to Socrates from Plato.

 

Boy, do I feel ignorant!!!!!

 

RO

Make sure your calamari has tentacles on it

August 30th, 2015

This will/should really make you think

Recently I was forwarded a link to a radio program and frankly the story line seemed too strange to be true.  But I listened to the first episode, minutes 5-30, and found myself not only absorbed but really surprised yet laughing out loud.

First, a bit about the show. TCalamarihis American Life is a weekly public radio show broadcast on more than 500 stations to about 2.2 million listeners. Each week they choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme. It is produced in collaboration with Chicago Public Media, and delivered by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.

The episode here was #484 on WBEX aired January 11, 2013 titled “Dopplegangers” and co-hosted by Fred Armisen and Ira Glass.  A Doppleganger is a look-alike or double or evil twin, sometimes portrayed as a paranormal phenomenon, and sometimes as a harbinger of bad luck. So the story is about a look-alikes but nothing I expected.

http://m.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/484/doppelgangers

The authors got a tip about restaurants serving deep fried pig intestines as fake fried calamari, you can’t make it up….right?  In the meat packing industry pig intestine is called “Pork Bung”…..nice!  But who knows.  We know restaurants often substitute fish with a less expensive fish…..DNA tests have showed that in Miami it’s not the fish advertised 30% of the time, Boston 49%, NYC 39%, LA 55%!!!!!  Rock fish for snapper? whatever for grouper? and who has not received shark passed off as scallops?  By the way processed pork bung costs half of what squid costs.

This is a very nice piece of reporting with the story going from the original tip…. to a hog processing plant rumored to have boxes labeled “Imitation Calamari”….to The USDA… The National Restaurant Association…The National Pork Producer’s Council… Squid Fisherman’s Association… US Export Federation… restaurants… rumors that the pork bung gets shipped to China for processing.  This all sounds very impressive, but in the end all that could be found were strong rumors.  Often the final words were “I never heard of it but it’s not impossible”.

So the author got his sister, who is a chief, to buy pork bung at a Chinese market in New York and they prepared and cooked a batch along side real calamari rings.  You guessed it.  They could not tell which was which.   I’ll leave you to listen to the exchange while they were testing the samples, hilarious.  So you can believe the rumor or not.  For me, all my calamari has to have tentacles from now on, just to be sure. And I’ll close with a quote from Fred Armisen……..”This is for the bung in us all.”

RO 9-15

Pickled Mushrooms

August 1st, 2015

Pickled Mushrooms  This is an easy appetizer that can be prepared in advance and takes less than 20 minutes….then It just has to sit until the party. I love pickled stuff so it’s one of my favorites. Try it if you like that vinegary taste and I’m sure you will love it too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound button mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup tarragon (white) vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Dash pepper
  • Dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 medium onion in separated, sliced rings

Clean the mushrooms. (Do not soak them in water but just clean under running water) Remove stems if you desire. Combine all ingredients except mushrooms and onions and mix well. Add mushrooms and onions. The mushrooms should be submerged in the liquid. Let them rest in a covered dish for about 5 hours, or you can refrigerate for 8 hours. Stir occasionally, it’s easiest to seal them in a plastic container and flip them over now and then.

Pickled Mushrooms

Leave out the onions if you don’t like onions, or have an allergy of course. And you can also use red wine vinegar or even add a bit of red wine….wine always helps.

SPEX 60th Anniversary Wines Win Gold and Silver Medals!

June 25th, 2015
SPEX 60th Anniversary Wine Awards

SPEX 60th Anniversary Wines Win Gold and Silver Medals!!!

The SPEX 60th anniversary wines were entered in the wine making competition sponsored by “Wine Maker International Magazine”. There were about 50 different categories ranging from various whites to many different reds to sparkling wines. In total there were thousands of entries.

I’m proud to announce that our wines won two awards:

SPEX 2013 Chilean Merlot won a gold medal, the highest award, in the Merlot Category

SPEX 2013 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon won a silver medal in the highly competitive Cabernet Sauvignon Category

Obie’s Wines: 2002 – 2014

May 20th, 2015

Obies Wines: 2002 - 2014

# Wine Grapes Blend Vintage Year Origin # Gallons Comments
47 Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 70%-30% 2013 Chile 60 SPEX Wine
46 Cabernet Sauvignon --- 2014 California 60  
45 Nebbiola-Barbara-P Sirah 50%-40%-10% 2014 California 60 Barolo
44 Malbec --- 2013 Argentinia 50  
43 Cabernet Sauvignon --- 2013 Chile 60 SPEX 60th anniversary
42 Merlot --- 2013 Chile 53 SPEX 60th anniversary
41 Sangiovese-Merlot-Cabernet 50%-25%-25% 2013 California 60 Super Tuscany
40 Sangiovese-Merlot-Cabernet 33%-33%-33% 2013 California 60 Trivino
39 Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah 70%-30% 2012 California 53  
38 Grenache-Cabernet-P Syrah --- 2012 California 60 Chateanueuf-du-Pape, Splits
37 Cabernet Sauvignon --- 2012 California 60 Lanza Vinyards
36 Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 60%-40% 2012 California 60  
35 Cabernet-Merlot-Syrah 60%-20%-20% 2012 Chile 60  
34 Grenache-Cabernet-P Syrah --- 2011 California 60 Chateanueuf-du-Pape
33 Sangiovese-Merlot-Cabernet 33%-33%-33% 2011 California 60 Trivino
32 Cabernet-Merlot-Cab Franc --- 2011 California 60  
31 Cabernet-Cab Franc-Syrah 50%-25%-25% 2011 Chile 60  
30 Cabernet-Merlot-Cab Franc-Malbec --- 2010 California 60 Splits
29 Amarone --- 2010 Italy 60 Juice
28 Sangiovese-Merlot-Cabernet 80%-10%-10% 2010 California 60 Trivino
27 Cabernet-Cab Franc 70%-30% 2010 California 60  
26 Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Carmeniere 60%-10%-30% 2010 California 60  
25 Tempranillo-Cabernet-Merlot 60%-25%-15% 2009 California 60 Won Bronze medal
24 Sangiovese-Merlot-Cabernet 50%-25%-25% 2009 California 60 Super Tuscany - Won Gold medal
23 Cabernet-Merlot-Cab Franc 55%-35%-10% 2009 California 60 Bordeaux Blend
22 Grenache-Cabernet-P Syrah-Alicante --- 2009 California 60 Chateanueuf-du-Pape
21 Cabnernet-Syrah 70%-30% 2009 Chile 60 Won Bronze medal
20 Sangiovese-Merlot-Cabernet 50%-25%-25% 2008 California 60 Super Tuscany
19 Cabernet-Merlot-Sangiovese 33%-33%-33% 2008 California 60 Trivino
18 Cabernet Sauvignon-Malbec 70%-30% 2008 California 60  
17 Zinfindel, Old Vine --- 2007 California 60  
16 Grenache, Cab-Mer-Cab Franc-Malbec --- 2007 California 60 Chateanueuf-du-Pape
15 Cabernet-Merlot-Cab Franc 33%-33%-33% 2007 California 60 Sanatra Blend
14 Merlot --- 2006 Chile 60  
13 Zinfindel --- 2006 California 60  
12 Nebbiolo-Barbera-Petite Sirah 50%-40%-10% 2006 California 60 Barolo
11 Cabernet-Malbec 70%-30% 2006 Chile 60  
10 Ruby Cabnernet --- 2005 California 53  
9 Chardonay --- 2005 California 53 From Juice
8 Cabnernet-Syrah 70%-30% 2005 California 60  
7 Cabernet-Carmenere 70%-30% 2005 Chile 53  
6 Chardonay --- 2004 California 53  
5 Zinfandel --- 2004 California 60  
4 Cabernet-Malbec 70%-30% 2004 Chile 53  
3 Cabernet-Merlot 70%-30% 2003 California 60  
2 Grenache, Cab-Mer-Cab Franc-Malbec --- 2003 California 60 Chateanueuf-du-Pape
1 Zinfandel --- 2002 California 60  

London Downtown… interesting places (Updated!)

April 27th, 2015

Restaurants and Wine Bars

Gordon’s wine bar… A MUST, basement down Villiers St. next to Charring Cross Station. Very old, buy a bottle and drink it in the arched candle lit rooms or outside in the courtyard.

Bedford & Strand Wine Bar… 1A Bedford Street just off the Strand near Charing Cross, nice selections and atmosphere.  Not as crowded.

Bibimpap Korean restaurant in SOHO at 11 Greek Street London, W1D 4DJ  (020 7287 3434) 2 streets away from Ronnie Scott’s.  Very casual. Cheap and cheerful, queue in the evening.  Try Kimchi Pancake, Pork & Vegetable Mandoo and raw beef and egg Bibimpap.  Bibimpap cooks itself in a very hot stone bowl as served.

Bierschenke, German Bier Kellar at the corner of The Strand and Essex Street across from the Royal Courts of Justice, lots of Barristers, 020 7936 2536 www.bierschenke.co.uk

Café Des Amis… upscale wine bar near royal Opera House and Covent Garden, Bow St to Horal to 11 Hanover Place (alley) 020 7379 3444

Café Pacifico Mexican bar and restaurant… 5 Langley St, Covent Garden WC2H 9JA, near Covent Garden tube station,  020 7379 7728, www.cafepacifico-laperla.com

CnR Malaysian restaurant in the heart of China town near the W hotel, Leicester Square.

4 Rupert Court W1D 6DY very small side street off Rupert Street near the W and pizza express).   Try the Roti Canai and Singapore Laksa if you don’t know what to order

Cork and Bottle Wine Bar… almost as neat as Gordon’s….wider wine and food selections.  In the basement with interesting little carved-out rooms.  44-46 Cranbourn St. Just off Leicester’s Square near the tube stop.

Cicchetti, fine Italian food and dining, 215 Piccadilli, London W1J 9HL, 020 7494 9435, www.sancarlocicchetti.co.uk

Covent Garden, nice wine bar/restaurant in bottom of stall area, great restaurants and pubs.

Daly’s Wine Bar, at the corner of The Strand and Essex Street across from the Royal Courts of Justice, better wines.  Owner Gerry Hanratty, 020 7583 4476  Lots of lawyers. www.dalyswinebar.co.uk

Dirty Dick’s Pub, near the Liverpool Street Station, financial district,  (One of) The oldest Pubs in London, est 1745.

Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilli (downstairs) wine bar;  red and white flights, live music.

Great Queen Street, Queen Street… Traditional English food

La Perla Mexican Bar… 28 Maiden Lane WC2, near Covent Garden.  Mexican food and drinks.  Also Café Pacifico…  5 Langley Street WC2  Locations in Paris also.

Little Italy Ristorante/Bar across the street from Ronnie Scott’s, 21 Firth St.,  London W1D 4RN  0207 734 4737  www.littleitalysoho.co.uk

Madeira Portuguese Restaurant, open until 2am, live music.  Vuxhall station Embankment.

Wahaca Mexican Market Eating… Neuvo Mexican, Maiden Lane Covent Garden

Rules Resturant, 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden,  020 7836 5314, Horse themed, claims to be the oldest running restaurant in London, also great cocktail bar upstairs

The Ritz Hotel, THE RITZ near Piccadilly Circus.  Marvelous décor, great high tea but have a cocktail right at the cocktail bar so you can watch the cocktail preparers preform their art.

The Savoy Hotel on The Strand is a famous old hotel and really neat to just go, have a glass of wine in the New York Bar and take in the atmosphere.  Be sure to check out the “historical display” on the way to the bar with artifacts from all the stars of yester year that stayed there, Monroe, Astaire, Gable to name a few.

The Wolseley restaurant, 160 Piccadilly, 020 7499 6996, great atmosphere located in the old Woseley motor car showroom.  www.thewolseley.com

 

Interesting Places & Music

Camden Town, lots of “crazy” young people too much “flea market” to imagine, ethnic food, old London Locks/Boats, very crowded on weekends…

Covent Garden, good shops, stalls, good street performers

There is a series of markets near Liverpool tube stop that are similar to Camden Town:  Old Spitalfields Market, the Brickline Market, Petticoat Lane Market, and the High Sunday Market.  New and old things and lots of ethnic food from everywhere in a very crowded and diverse neighborhood. Mostly only open on Sunday.

Near Spitalfields is the “Market Coffee House” with jazz every Monday starting at 7:30, 50 Brushfield St. www.marketcoffeehouse.com  020 7247 4110

Great Indian restaurant district near the Sunday markets on Brick Street.  Go to the Aldgate East tube stop, down Whitechaple to Osborn which becomes Brick Street. Try Aladin among all the other eateries that try to talk you in as you walk down the street.

SOHO, “Bohemian” area, very, very interesting people watching, china town… be careful

Ronnie Scott’s, premier jazz club of London. Frith street in SOHO, go to listen not great food, some great acts open late book in advance at www.ronniescotts.co.uk

Jazz After Dark, in SOHO, 9 Greek St W1D 4DQ, small venue with live music open late Tuesday through Saturday, book in advance.  www.jazzafterdark.co.uk  020 7734 0545, 077 7480 3328

Carnaby Street, Oxford Circus, good shopping, trendy shops, Liberty dept store, great Soccer/Rugby store, interesting pubs

“Ain’t ‘nuthin But” Blues club on Kingly St., near Oxford Circus and Carnaby Street, young crowd, somewhat seedy,  may not like it, local blues bands, open mike Sunday starts 4pm.

“Spice of life” Blues, Cambridge Circus, Tuesdays

“Adelaide Road Pub, blues, Clark Farm tube station, Tuesdays

“Heathcote Public House” blues jam Leytonestone tube station, E11 bus, Wednesday

“Globe Public House”, blues, Morning Lane E8, Monday

“Town Hall”, blues, Mare St., Bethnal Green tube station, Bu 254

Tourist musts…Greenwich observatory museum, take the Thames river boat shuttle, great views, stand on the prime meridian, read about the longitudinal clocks before you go, I love mechanical antiques.  Tower military museum, really great dark ages armament neat tour by the beefeaters, royal jewels.  Westminster Chapel, very historic.  War rooms.

Fig Jam and Preserves

July 31st, 2014
Packaged Fig Jam

Packaged Fig Jam

I have a fairly large fig tree in by back yard in Florida. I don’t know much about figs and I’ve had trouble getting precise information about pruning, harvesting, etc. When I have waited for the figs to turn brown they get very soft, so I have just been eating them fresh (yum!!!) as they turn tan. My niece who went to cooking school in Paris took one look at the tree and pronounced them white figs……I guess they are not supposed to turn dark when they are ripe and turn to mush if you wait too long.

Anyway about a 50-100 figs a day were ripening so I decided to make a batch of fig jam. It’s easy, quick and preserves the fruit. Use the jam on ice cream, cookies, and it’s especially good with cheese or on baked brie.

Ingredients:

  • 2½ pounds of white figs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup water (white port can be substituted for all or part of the water)

Instructions:

  • De-stem the figs and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • Add the figs, sugar and water into a large sauce pan
  • Warm slowly, about 15 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved
  • Add the lemon juice and bring to a low boil
  • Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft and the liquid runs off the spoon in thick, heavy drops, takes 30-45 minutes
Prepare the figs for jarring

Prepare the figs for jarring

Spoon the jam into ¼ pint jars leaving ¼–½ inch of space at the top and screw the lid on tight. The jam will keep in a refrigerator for about 3 months. For longer storage submerge the jars in boiling water for ten minutes. Remove the jars and set on a towel to cool making sure you hear a “ping” from each jar assuring a good seal.

 

-RO

Baked Brie…..Always a Hit

July 14th, 2014

Can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

Baked Brie

Brie wrapped in pastry and baked until it has thoroughly melted inside is one of the world’s easiest yet tastiest appetizers. The brie is topped with a sweet jam, wrapped with pastry and coated with maple syrup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry dough, if frozen let thaw until pliable
  • 1 round of brie cheese
  • ¼ cup of chopped walnuts or other nuts
  • Apricot jam, or other sweet fruit jam
  • Maple syrup
  • Brown sugar

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. The thin top rind of the cheese can be carefully cut off with a sharp knife if desired. The rind is edible so this doesn’t have to be done. The rind helps the crust stay with the cheese when served.
  3. Spread the puff pastry out on a non-stick cookie sheet and center the brie round on top. Spread the jam on the Brie and sprinkle the chopped nuts evenly over the jam.
  4. Pull the dough over the top of the brie, folding the sides. Twist the ends of the dough together. Drizzle maple syrup over the dough and sprinkle brown sugar on top.
  5. Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Can be served alone or with slices of fruit, and crackers or thin slices of French bread.

 

A Week in Tuscany… Put It on Your Bucket List

July 1st, 2014
Cinque Terra

Cinque Terra, Manarola from the Water

Our group, actually 22 people, recently spent a week in Tuscany. It was well beyond, and very different from, my expectations and I would recommend it to anyone. What you will find is lush rolling hills, a temperate climate, interesting hill towns, culture and fine art… and of course great food and wine.

Tuscany is a product or it’s history and civilizations. The Apennine culture dominated the late second millennium BC, followed by the Villanovan culture (1100–700 BC). Tuscany, and the rest of Etruria, was then dominated by City-states before the Etruscan civilization rose in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. Then came the Romans in the first century AD followed by the medieval period. Tuscany (Florence) is often referred to as the birthplace of the Renaissance. I didn’t realize how many people died in the “black death” which started in 1348, 50% of the population overall and up to 75% in some cities.

We spent about two weeks in Italy but “the group” all stayed at Villa Ponte in Bettolle for 7 days (previously called Il Casale Del Marchese or La Bandita). The villa dates back to the 18th century but has been beautifully restored and the manager/chef, Gian Luca, is a hoot. While at the villa we did day trips on our own, mostly by car.

Below is the list of towns and places visited:

Cinque Terra:
Actually 5 towns on the Italian Riviera, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. It’s a fairy tale land with multicolored houses built on the steep hills and terraced gardens. Take the (underground) train and the ferry. Be prepared for lots of walking up and down the steps.

Lucca:

1929 Mercedes

1929 Mercedes SSK in the Mille Miglia

A very quaint walled city. We just happened to be there on the day that the 1000 Miglia, passed through town. The Mille Miglia started in 1927 as an open road endurance race and is now limited to cars made before 1957. I lost count at 100 vintage racing cars.

Castello Banfi and Banfi Wines:
A very large vineyard and winery producing 12 million bottles per year…..plus olive oil. We had a tour then a great lunch in the restored castle.

Montalcino:
Yet another quaint hill town/commune famous for the Brunello di Montalcino wine made from the sangiovese grosso grapes grown within the commune.

Siena:

Siena Cathedral

The Romanesque-Gothic Siena Cathedral

Spend some time people watching in the Palazzo Pubblico where the Palio horse race is held twice a year. The Romanesque-Gothic Siena Cathedral is a must see as well as the home of Saint Catherine of Siena, one of the two patron saints of Italy.

Florence:

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio on the Arno River; Get out Your Wallet

What can you say about Florenza?….Santa Maria del Fiore, The David, Uffizi Gallery, Piazza della Repubblica….the cradle of the Renaissance. And of course Ponte Vecchio, the Medieval bridge over the Arno river, now home to jewelers, art dealers and souvenir shops.

Bagni San Filippo:
Hot springs, a great surprise and change of pace. We “sort of” stumbled on hot springs that were a bit of a hike back into the woods and with few other people there. There was a series of rustic pools people had damned up going down the hill with the top pool at the source about 96 degrees F.

Pienza:
A hill town/commune with beautiful panoramic views. The town was originally called Corsignano, the birthplace of Aeneas Silvius Picolomini who later became Pope Pius II and entirely rebuilt it as an ideal renaissance town.

Civita:

Bridge To Civita

Don’t take the bridge to Civita if you are afraid of Heights

A very interesting hill town, less restored then the others because it was isolated for years after the original land bridge collapsed. You can still see Etruscan caves in the area. I got vertigo for the first time in my life while walking up the bridge.

Orvieto:
Another interesting hill town perched on vertical cliff faces with a subterranean city of caves and tunnels one can tour. The Duomo, the Orvieto Cathedral, is striped in travertine and basalt.



Other cities people in our group visited included Rome, Venice, Pisa, Cortona, Bologna and Milan.

RO 6-14