Finally I am back from my 2 weeks trip to Italy. The trip was an enriching experience through the lands of Toscana and Liguria, and it gave me the opportunity to discover even more of my native land: the colors, beauty, flavours and traditions of the countryside.
Sightseeing in tiny villages, I came back with a few tools that I purchased from their little shops.
Visiting Toscana and Liguria, the lands of olive oil, it felt natural to buy some olive wood utensils, such as this bread tray. This is ideal to let my focaccias and loaves rest just after baking, letting plenty of air circulate below the bread.
I found it rather unusual that while I was visiting two of these utensils shops in Pienza, in both shops I came across some foreigners who were looking for spatulas for cooking. Both were looking for metal spatulas. I have difficulties understanding why somebody would want to buy a metal spatula in Italy, in a town where the speciality is beautifully carved wooden tools... :)
I love the beautiful veins of the wood that show on these olive wood bowls. These are all one piece, carved out of a log. All these utensils have been treated with oil, so that they won't absorb any more liquid during their use.
I have been looking for terracotta pots for the longest time, but unfortunately they are hard to find in Singapore. I bought this set of pots that are originally from Siena (Vulcania brand) and can be used not only for serving food, but also for cooking. This is a very classic Italian design, which brings back memories from when I was a kid.
I love ravioli, but what discourages me from making them regularly is the amount of work required to assemble them one by one. Making the filling and the dough is not a big deal, but cutting the sheets and sticking them together with the filling does take some time, if you intend to make a few dozens of them. I didn't need to think twice when I bought this ravioli making mould to make that process a breeze. The good thing is that the mould is designed for large ravioli, just the way I like them. I am looking forward to try this out!
One of the things I will never forget is visiting my grandmother in Abruzzo and having her "pasta alla chitarra", very rich in egg yolks, and dressed with her tomato sauce, made of her own home grown tomatoes. I still remember her using this tool, which is rather hard to find outside of Italy. It wasn't the cheapest buy, but worthwhile having, as it felt like buying a piece of tradition. The tool can be used both sides, to make thin tagliolini, or wider fettuccine.
This tool is called chitarra, which in Italian means guitar. The reason is pretty straightforward, given that it's a set of strings mounted onto a wooden frame, just like the well known music instrument. Once you lay the thin sheet of dough, a gentle roll over it is sufficient to cut it into perfectly regular tagliolini, which will have that characteristic square section.
I am back, enriched with experiences and 3 extra kilos around my waist, so I will wait a little before making the most out of these tools. Nevertheless, it's all extremely tempting!