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Posted 02/11/2011

Introducing BOSCONI RECORDS, get your groove on! (free dj-set download)

(Check for a free DJ set download at the end of this post!)

I grew up with music, and for all my life it has been probably the only constant art form I have embraced completely in its fullness and its different expressions. My father was a professional musician, and while my friends at school (I am talking elementary here) were humming music from popular TV cartoons, I used to devour his collection of tapes, and occasionally scratch his vinyls! My heroes when I was about 7 or 8 years old were David Bowie, The Electric Light Orchestra, Stevie Wonder, Traffic (John Barleycorn Must Die was the tape I used to fall asleep with), The Cream, The Beatles and Elton John… before he started composing music for Disney Movies. My friends could not figure out what was wrong with me, I could care less, I was the only one that not even in my pre-teens was considered a music dinosaur, and needless to say my music choices really did not help catching the attention of girls… again, I really did not care much.

I started studying piano, and my house was already a little museum of 60′s keyboards; I used to practice on a Schultz and Pollman half coda piano, and always performed at school shows, sometimes with the help of my father, occasionally he would let me try his Hammond B3 organ or even better his Wurlitzer Electric Piano… shit, I still remember the pressure of learning songs from The Beatles that I would perform four hands with Dad in front of all my school mates (again, girls included), it was so hard to keep up, being that my dad was (is) a Surgeon and a Jew, and therefore very close to God in terms of personality… I remember it as if it was yesterday!

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Posted 02/10/2011

In Florence, vegetarians find a full plate of options

It was an unusually warm day in February when I set out with my two roommates in search of La Raccolta, a vegetarian restaurant and specialty store here in Florence. We headed east from the city center and walked arm-in-arm, passing a picturesque park and ornate apartment buildings. A group of giddy children climbing onto the old-fashioned carousel completed the scene, their parents waving as they circled on the horses. It was at the park’s edge when we realized we were no longer in Florence, and not even in Italy. The similarity hit us at the same time: we had found the Upper West Side. We were three New Yorkers on the hunt for some East Village-style veggie fare amongst prosciutto and pancetta, and this was a good sign. Continue Reading…

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Posted 02/08/2011

Gaja Ca’ Marcanda Promis 2008, from the Prince of Italian Wine

It has been said, “A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world” – Louis Pasteur and by a wiser man than myself but I will say I whole heartily concur! That statement leads me into my review of this wine. I found this little beauty while dining with my wife while we were in this lovely little restaurant in Castellina in Chianti, SI. I was going over the list and saw GAJA next the description and that was all the decision making I needed to make for our dinner that evening. If you are familiar with the name GAJA and the so-called Crown Prince of Italian wine, Angelo Gaja then you know why my decision was made so easily. Angelo Gaja, owner and president of the Gaja Winery, is a fourth-generation Piedmontese winemaker. Internationally acknowledged as one of Italy’s and the world’s greatest winemakers, Angelo Gaja has been responsible for bold innovations in the vineyards and the cellars. Frankly I was new to this particular label, but familiar and only by reputation with his other famous labels which have earned him the title, “Crown Prince of Italian Wine”. Continue Reading…

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Posted 02/02/2011

Visual Storytelling with Food Photography: How To Get Your Food Photos Noticed

Good cooking is much easier to master than good food photography. In the world of professional photography it is one of the most difficult subjects to shoot. Professional photographers have a common saying: If you can excel at food photography you can shoot anything. True, many expert food shooters rely on some repulsive trickeries from food stylists: Crisco and food coloring disguised as ice cream. Motor oil for fudge sauce, anyone? Try blowing cigarette smoke through a straw the next time you want to create the illusion of piping hot steam rising from your coq au vin.

So, maybe you’re not a professional photographer yet you photograph everything you eat. Not to be daunted, but certain rules still apply. With a little creativity and planning your point and shoot efforts can win you an audience. Continue Reading…

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Posted 02/01/2011

Sea Urchins, for the First Time

Food and travel are a perpetually linked in my memories. As I move deeper into my forties, I’ve noticed that the nature of my memory is changing…it’s somewhat less fixed and document-like, more of a tapestry and food makes up an increasing portion of that imagery, especially first tastes. One of my all time favorite new food experiences was eating ricci di mare (sea urchins) in Gallipoli, Italy about 20 years ago.

I was a college student spending the summer in a small town in Puglia, essentially the insole of the boot that is Italy. After several weeks of soaking up the Southern Italian sun, we decided to go to Gallipoli (situated on the heel of the boot) to see the sites. One of the must-do spots in that ancient city, and former Spanish colony, is the Castello Angioino. While touring the storybook thirteenth century fortress with the Ionian Sea lapping at every wall, I noticed an outdoor fish market off to one side. Now I’ve always been a sucker for any type of food market, but especially traditional old word markets with many small individual sellers. They are great places to learn about new foods and local cuisines. Even though we were far from our rented house, with no ice chest to transport fish back to our little kitchen, I decided to explore a bit. Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/31/2011

Perugia, City of Chocolate

It’s hard to say the words “chocolate” and “Italy” in the same breath without immediately thinking about the Umbrian capital of Perugia. Why? Because this city is home to both Italy’s best-known chocolate maker and its most famous chocolate festival.

In November 1907, a group of four men in Perugia (including the son of the man who started the Buitoni pasta company) founded the “Perugina Confectionary Society” (it sounds better, as most things do, in Italian: Società Perugina per la Fabbricazione dei Confetti) and opened their doors in the historic center of town. The Perugina chocolate company, as it’s known today, grew steadily, but it wasn’t until 1922 that Perugina started producing the treat it’s now known best for – Baci.

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Posted 01/31/2011

The Wild Boar Survival Guide

October to February is hunting season in Italy for Wild Boar (Cinghiali).

Hunting boar is a traditional pastime yet it is only this year that hunters have been able to sell their catch – previously they had to eat everything themselves. But this year you might well find actually wild Wild Boar on the menu at restaurants, which is a real leap forwards for slow food enthusiasts (though perhaps not for the boar themselves who are now a commodity rather than a hobby).

Why are boar hunted? Apart from the fact that they taste good (think Cinghiali al umido) [or any other recipe you can link to] but they cause a lot of damage to gardens and trees. This sounds harsh (you can only really appreciate the murderous qualities needed to shoot the creatures after your lovingly planted vegetable garden has been entirely rooted up) but these animals also breed terribly fast. Originally the Wild Boar had one or two young every year, thus sustaining a balanced population. Unfortunately the domestic (and prolific) pig came into the genetic mix and created a hybrid Boar which produces between 4 – 10 offspring each pregnancy. Thus the countryside is overpopulated and hunting is a sensible solution. Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/31/2011

Under The Tuscan Gun, The E-Zine has launched!

Under The Tuscan Gun has been online for a few years now, and it has grown into something really special, for us as we graduated from video blogging to prime time television, but also to the thousands of readers and visitors that every day come to visit us on our pages. Demand for new content has increased, now that we have consolidated a fan base, and I had to think of a way to satisfy the demand without having to spend my nights glued to my laptop trying to create new posts, and expand the range of topics I always wanted to discuss. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and sharing my Extra Virgin “philosophy”, but I also have a family and when the sun goes down, you know, my time is with the girls!

Hence, I decided to reach out to a bunch of writers and bloggers I have been following and corresponding for years, and I asked them if they were interested in joining me on Under The Tuscan Gun and try to create a wider platform where more topics rather than my personal life and my food experiences could be discussed. I am humbled by the outpour of their generosity, and with this post I am very glad to announce that as of this week I will be joined by a first batch of about 15 new contributors that will be posting along with Debi and I on a weekly basis. I am sure some of them are no news to you, as they are actually very popular bloggers with great popularity and incredible “chops” like Nicole Emmert Hamaker from Pinch My Salt, Rachel Rappaport from Coconut and Lime, Barnaby Dorfman from Foodista and Douglas Gayeton from The Lexicon. Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/08/2011

EXTRA VIRGIN, the countdown has started!

The moment has finally arrived, Extra Virgin will premiere on the Cooking Channel on January 19th 2011 at 10 p.m. EST.This is an incredibly exciting moment for me Debi and the Girls, as a project that we started out about 4 years ago on these very web pages is finally getting promoted to bigger audiences.

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