Archive for January, 2011

Haley’s Travels: In Abruzzo, nature’s brilliance

January 27, 2011

Honey making in the village is popular in San Stephano. Great at breakfast too.

This is a blog posted by Rehoboth Beach restaurateur Matt Haley late in 2010.  It gives a flavor of the countryside and cuisine of Italy.

San Stephano, Abruzzo, Italy

After leaving Matera I am headed north to San Stephano in the Abruzzo region. I’m to stay in one of the Sextantio Hotels. It is clear now that this hotelier only builds hotels in remote areas that are surrounded by extreme beauty and stays completely indigenous to the small village’s surroundings and history.

Bry looking over the valley from San Stephano.

San Stephano takes a while to get to but upon arrival after driving some dirt roads and a hundred switch backs up the mountainside I arrive in this quaint little thousand-year old town at sunset. For the first time truly have an understanding of the color palate of the Italian artist. I am not sure what or why the colors of the sky are so intense in Italy but for years I thought the Italian masters were embellishing their colors in landscape. Not true. The blues, grays, pinks, yellows and oranges are absolutely heavenly. The energy and presence of whatever you believe in exists at sunset in the Italian Alps.

Standing on a hillside in San Stephano I imagine what it must have been like to live here over the years and then realize they are still living that way. Traveling has done a lot for me and my life but if it has done only one thing, it has helped me realize how much time I have wasted worrying about nonsense in my life. If my fears of amounting to nothing and being broke on a street corner ever come true, like my teachers told me, I now know what to do……and it ain’t a bad thing. I would scrape up enough money and fly to Mexico, India and now Italy and find a job cooking on the side of a mountain and live pretty well and pretty happy, fear-free.

Entrance to our hotel's restaurant & cantina.

Tonight I will eat at the hotel’s restaurant. Another one with no name or sign. This one is down the alley a ways and the hotel front desk will show me the way. If it comes half as close as Matera’s dinner I will be moved.

I arrive and meet Andrea Colleti, a newly graduated chef from an Italian culinary school. He is very young but has a great smile and is excited to cook tonight. He has found out that I am a kitchen guy too and is really wanting to impress. I am OK with that as long as he knows we will be fine either way.

Leaving San Stephano we travel through the southern section of the Italian alps. There is a lot of flat land at about 8,000-10,000 feet where we see hundreds of wild horses roaming, with the fog rolling of the mountains like big waves. At one point I was waiting for Julie Andrews to show up and start belting out “The Sound of Music” but she was a no-show.

After driving through L’aquila, the earthquake-ridden area of a year ago (300 people died, 80,000 displaced) and stopping to pay our respects, we’re off on another Italian adventure.

Typical afternoon break food in a village Cantina. Salami, cheese, fresh rustic bread and fresh-crushed apple juice.

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Mysterious items on the cape’s point

January 24, 2011

It's like a desert on the point of Cape Henlopen. What survives is tough. What dies, gets bleached by the sun.

24 January 2011

One of Hemingway’s novels or short stories – I think it is Snows of Kilamanjaro – begins with a short observation about the frozen carcass of a leopard (or some similar predator) lying cold and drying near the peak of a mountain.  The observation concludes with a question: what was the leopard doing up there?

The same question coursed through my brain Sunday morning while I was pondering the skeleton of what appears to be a dog in the stony sand flats of the point at Cape Henlopen.  I have included a couple of photographs here in hopes that a reader will have some insight as to the identity of these remains.  What strikes me most is the length of the hind legs and the narrowness of the rib cage.  Could it be the remains of a greyhound? Many questions.  Did it wash up there, already dead?  Did it wander out into those desolate reaches, run out of energy, and die?

The point was quiet and cold Sunday despite a stiff wind bearing down out of the north.  A good day for beachcombing.  No one was there before me and I doubt they came afterwards either. Anyway, I came across a number of items that I need help identifying. Here are pictures.  If you have any idea of what these items are – including the skeleton – send me along a note.

Maybe together we can get some of this figured out.

Here's another angle on the skeleton. I have no idea what that electronic device might be where the animal's head out to be.

Here's a close-up of the foot. You can see why I think it must be a dog.

What is this, sticking out from a dune, being revealed by the eroding winds of winter?

I have no idea what this item is. It's about the size of a football.

This looks like an industrial float of some kind. It grounded inside the point of the cape, not far from the parking area .

 

An old coastal homestead on Wolfe Neck

January 21, 2011

Allan Anderson enjoys searching the winter woods of Sussex for evidence of past history.

21 Januray 2011

In my Barefootin’ column in Friday’s edition of the Cape Gazette, I wrote about an overgrown homestead on Wolfe Neck.  Here are a few of the photographs from that column, and more, that I took last Sunday while hiking in that beautiful coastal forest.

A buckle, buttons and shards of pottery from the old Thompson homestead.

A pile of bricks against a tree provides further evidence of past lives.

The shed skin of a black snake hangs from a holly branch near the homestead. Pricks on the edges of stiff holly leaves must provide a natural tool for helping snakes shed their old skins.

The path of a raccoon near a freshwater stream, that must have served the homestead, witness other creatures that live in the forest.

Haley’s Adventures: Food and art of Florence

January 12, 2011

One of our best dinners was fried eggs with roasted potatoes and freshly shaved truffles.

Rehoboth Beach restaurateur Matt Haley traveled extensively through Tibet, Nepal, India, Italy and other parts of Europe in late 2010.  A number of his blogs were posted before the holiday break.  Now we’re resuming with publication of a couple final blogs from that trip. This first blog about Florence in Italy was mailed into the Gazette on Nov. 26, 2010.

Florence

We decide to drive through Perugia and stop for the night on the way to Florence but get our first bad vibe of a city in Italy. Perugia doesn’t feel right so it’s off to Florence.

After arriving in Florence after a long beautiful day’s ride I need sleep, but first food, and I want a Tuscan steak. Off the Piazza de Rebublica square there is a place called Buca Lipi that is famous for serving fat T-bone steaks rubbed with garlic, salt and parsley after hand-cutting it and roasting it over a wood fire. I got this steak with a simple salad and a side of truffles white beans followed by a Jewish apple cake. Please eat here when in Florence.

Tripe stew and chicken liver frosting in Florence. Lunch staples and favorites everyday.

Florence (like Rome and other Italian cities) is beautiful but very expensive so I suggest bottled water, buying meats and cheeses and some fruit for walking around so you have enough money for dinner. If you do stop for lunch, you have to have tripe stew and chicken liver crostini at a local trattoria.

The unassuming Academie’ was very exciting even though hard to find in a way because in Florence, where they may house the greatest art on earth, they also have decided to build unpretentious museums. I think they want and believe the focus should be on the inside, not out.

Once in, I was excited to see Michaelangelo’s famous piece, what some say is the greatest work of art of all. I got myself ready for a journey through the museum to find the piece like I did when it took an hour to walk through the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel.

One turn, I lifted my head and Bam! There he was.

It was rainy and early so apparently a lot of people had not come out and the museum was empty.

I was alone with “The David,” the greatest work of all time. He stood down an empty hallway 40 feet away, staring me in the eyes. Within seconds I was so overwhelmed I broke into tears and my legs began to shake.  I moved closer, sat and did not move for an hour.  It was the most spiritual art experience of my life. To me this masterpiece was exactly like what was quoted by a great artist and critic of that day: “the last piece you will ever need to see.”

Piazza art and sculpture. Due to restrictions and security no photos are aloud inside museums in Florence.

Driving through the Italian Alps to Florence.