Arrivederci

Posted on May 24, 2013

Arrivederci: The word translates from Italian as “to” (a) and “see each other again” (rivederci).” Spoken idiomatically, a farewell in Italian – arrivederci – conveys “goodbye for now” or “until we meet again.”

During my trip to Italy, when I met or left people behind in shops or restaurants or at one tourist sight or other, I said “Ciao.” Ciao, meaning both hello and goodbye, was efficient. And for this non-Italian speaker, the word was mercifully brief, not to mention easy to say. Its “ch” sound gets pushed through the teeth with the tongue in a very familiar way. I couldn’t mangle it, so I went with it. Arrivederci, on the other hand, required a pronounced rolling of the Rs. Once those consonants spilled from my mouth, I invariably tripped over the rest of the word. Arrivederci required a speed and flair I just didn’t possess.

How I wish I did, for arrivederci is an apt word for conveying the promise of a future visit.

I may have said farewell to Italy but already I hope to return, with better language skills under my belt the next time around. Until that future trip, though, I offer below the last few photos from the Florence leg of my recent trip, ones I haven’t shared yet with readers,  and with these you too may say arrivederci to my travel chronicles.

Closer to home, I am also about to say arrivederci to my kitchen. To the broken range, broken fridge and dishwasher, to the cabinet doors falling off their hinges I say goodbye and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. To the space, though, I say a wistful “see you again soon.” Yes, we will be separated for a time, but not for long, not forever. Kitchen, most loved and lived-in room, we will be reunited. Arrivederci sounds good at the end of the day as I clear out drawers and box cookware and dishes, and make the last pass across dusty shelves with Windex and paper towels. The idea of reunion makes me smile, fills me with anticipation.

But, readers, saying arrivederci to the kitchen means saying arrivederci to inviting you in to the experiments that go on here day in and day out. For the next twelve weeks, I won’t be cooking much. I won’t be baking at all, not even in the small countertop convection oven that has helped me along in the past few months.

Then what lies ahead for us in the short term, readers, regarding this cooking trip we take together every week?

I might show you the kitchen’s progress. Although I have to say upfront, nothing I do will possess up-to-date flash or design flair. You won’t find granite or marble or custom anything happening here. However, the cooks and bakers among you may find some practical and applicable tips by following along, as some kind of non-flashy phoenix rises non-flashily from the ashes. You may  learn something of value from the successes and missteps of the next three months as we break down and rebuild and restock.

I might still share with you the summer CSA haul despite having no stove or oven to cook with – yes, I re-signed with Middle Earth Farm in January when kitchen renovation was but a faint light flickering in the distance. I will have to do something with all the fresh food, we have to eat. Will Jane become a raw foodist? Will she curate recipes for you from other sources? Stay tuned to find out.

Perhaps I will rely on the season itself to present subjects to write about. Summer’s long and lazy days hold the promise of  drives and exploration and even adventure, so perhaps I can take you with me along the highways and by-ways of my part of New England.

Maybe we’ll simply read a few good books together.

So: arrivederci kitchen, recipes, cooking. I will see you all again, once Ben begins to prepare for his third year in college. Once the summer swelter fades. Once the last lick of new paint on the finally finished walls dries. In the scheme of things, a few months’ break from cooking is nothing, and I bet we’ll all come back to the kitchen reinvigorated.

Until then, here are those last few travel photos (Arrivederci, Firenze!) and one last recipe of mine to try, an attempt to recreate a cookie – bocconcini della Nonna con pistacchio – that I brought home from Rome’s il Fornaio bakery. Not quite the bakery’s version, but very, very good nonetheless.

Enjoy!

Not-Quite Bocconcini del Nonna

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The originals (above) came in almond and pistachio varieties, and were less the chewy macaroon than mine turned out (below). I may tweak the recipe in the future to get something closer to il Fornaio’s cookie. Until then, you will enjoy the results of this recipe. The cookies are delicious. They are also gluten-free (if that’s a concern) and butter-free (if that’s a concern). Not, however, sugar-free, but I find the predominant flavor is nut, not sweet. Try both almond and pistachio. So good either way.

  • 6 ounces almond paste
  • 4 ounces pistachio paste
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites, beaten until frothy
  • 1 cup almond flour (almond meal)
  • 1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, chopped
  • confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Put the nut pastes and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend on medium high speed until the sugar and nut pastes combine to form a crumb-like mixture. Reduce the speed to medium and, with the motor running, add the egg whites gradually. Mix until the ingredients come together to form a smooth batter. Add the almond meal and stir on low speed just until combined into a stiffer dough.

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Form the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll these into the chopped pistachios, forming a log shape as you roll and press the nuts into the dough. Place the finished cookies onto the prepared baking sheet.

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Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, set the pan on a cooling rack, and allow the cookies to cool before removing to another wire rack.

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When completely cooled, dust with confectioner’s sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Makes about 18 cookies.

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To make the almond variety:

  • 10 ounces almond paste
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites, beaten until frothy
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 cup almond flour (almond meal)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • confectioner’s sugar

After making the substitution of ingredients, follow the recipe directions as noted above.

©2013  Jane A. Ward