Copyright Piacere - Food & Travel without rules! 2020 - Theme by ThemeinProgress
The country with its dramatic landscape, lakes, rain forests, jungles, volcanoes, markets and welcoming people is in transition. Its colonial cities such as Granada and Leon are colorful, a photographers paradise.
The population is 95% catholic and there are many churches; a colorful country with buildings, doors and dwellings painted in bright tones. Tourist are discovering the culture and beauty of the country and there is a transition under way.
Those who are not afraid to experience adventure, traveling the country by car can be very rewarding. The landscapes with cone shaped volcanoes, lakes, beaches and pastures are dramatic.
Although the infrastructure is only just beginning to be developed, there are a few good highways and many of the roads are challenging but drivable. We traveled from the North-west to the South-west of the country, parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast line, visiting the major inland cities.
Although the driving is slow it also allows you to see rural life and stop at the small food stands along the way. I highly recommend renting a car and experiencing the country and culture.
It should be said that speaking Spanish is a must. Although you can find a few people in the cities, particularly in the hotels that can speak English.
I can’t say enough about the warm nature of the people. In general they live in dwellings that are built from any type of material that can be found, many with dirt floors and within their property they are cleaning and sweeping to maintain an orderly environment constantly.
Their dwellings are often built in the jungle under trees for shade, smoldering fires are lit to keep bugs away. They are friendly, and more then willing to engage in an attempt to converse, or have you take their photo.
They love music, dancing and being together with family. Their neighborhoods are a close community of people and they are hard workers.
It also must be said that the common areas are filled with trash and my guess is that the country doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle trash removal. The beaches, crowded with locals all the time, are not well maintained. High-end condos for foreigners are in the process of being constructed along the coasts, but the small villages, small hotels, restaurants and roads are inadequate to handle large numbers of tourist.
Having said this, we ate in the local restaurants and found the food to be not only delicious and fresh, but we totally enjoyed everything about them including all the local activity and entertainment.
It was fun to spend time being locals for a little while. The food is very inexpensive and there is no need to eat at higher end restaurant. We visited cantinas, small little eateries, beachfront restaurants and the local markets and never had a problem.
It is always best to be aware of eating in local places, it can be risky, but although we brought along all the medication we needed, we never had the need to use them.
Adventure travelers will find hiking, volcano sliding, zip lining, surfing and many other sporting adventures to explore. There are 25 volcanoes, 9 of which are active. Hiking them opens dramatic panoramas in every direction.
It is time to visit Nicaragua now and enjoy this interesting country before progress changes it.
Yesterday was my birthday and he and I decided to have dinner at our favorite French restaurant in Miami only to find out it was closed on Tuesdays. So we headed to Wynwood, an district between NW 1st Ave and I95 and NW 20th and 36th Street. A friend had told me about the painted walls and galleries near the Design District where I had once considered opening a studio. I knew of the artist activity there even then, which is now about 10 years ago, but didn’t realize how far it had advanced.
It is growing and developing every day as artists set up studios and galleries and restaurants attract visitors.The shear complexity and variety of art is invigorating and the huge brightly painted scenes on the sides of buildings attack your senses simulating every part of your being. My feelings were dancing around in amazement as I found the work, sometimes confused and comical and others romantic and sensual. As I viewed each painting depicting its story in bright colors, I felt myself trying to absorb the intensity of the work. As we roamed the streets talking to artists and locals excited to tell us their life experiences we knew that we this district would be a continuing part of our visits to Miami.
The area is not all fully developed, in fact parts of Wynwood are still somewhat depressed, typical of most areas that artists are attracted to. The incompleteness and struggling sections blends in as artists move into these districts because they to are struggling to find ways to do their art and live inexpensively. This melding is what makes this neighborhood interesting. And where artists thrive, so does everyone else, a phenomenon that is both wonderful and at the same time is what causes them to move on eventually. For now this growing neighborhood is bound to be an attraction for a long time to come.
We found some of the friendliest people in the cafes, bakeries, coffee houses and shops where mingling is part of the lifestyle here. I talked to an artist who was painting the side of a building and he told me that painting is all he wants to do in life. Working on the side to pay the bills and earning small amounts of money painting whole sides of buildings is his life. He loves it, lives it and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. This is the passion of Wynwood.
The owners of these buildings collaborate with the artists about the theme of the work and are happy to promote the artist to whoever comes by. The second Saturday of the month is “Art and Gallery Walk” when all the galleries and shops are open and live music welcomes thousands of art lovers.
Art Basel stimulated this neighborhood to give itself over to the art world and the neighborhood responded and is reaping its benefits growing into an attraction of its own. Some of the photographs I took roaming the district will give you a small impression of the scope of the work. It is now up to you to discover it as I did.
La Chitarra (pronounced key-tahr-rah) is a pasta maker believed to have been invented in Chieti, Abruzzi Italy around the 1800’s. No one seems to know who invented it and until recently pasta made with the chitarra was mainly found in the Apulia and Abruzzi regions.
Since I’ve never been able to find a story behind this unique simple pasta maker, I made up one.
A long time ago, a young boy by the name of Michele, watched his mother making pasta every day, toiling over kneading the dough, rolling out it out into huge thin sheets and cutting it with a knife into thin stands. This is how Michele’s mother earned a living. Michele loved music and often sat on the steps of his simple stone home located along a narrow street of the village playing his beloved chitarra. He played for his mother while she worked – it seemed to make her life a little easier. As he was playing, he had an inspiration that the musical strings of his instrument would be perfect for cutting the dough. He removed the strings and placed them over a simple oblong box – he was going to miss his chitarra. He brought it to his mother and together they cut the pasta on his invention. To their amazement, as they rolled the dough over the musical strings, the pasta fell below the box in perfectly cut strands. The musical strings not only worked perfectly for cutting the pasta, but the beautiful sounds of the chitarra filled the small kitchen as they ran their fingers across the strings. From this point on they called her pasta “pasta chitarra”. Well of course this is my story, but every time I use my chitarra, I think of Michele and his mother.
There are two sides of the chitarra; one side cuts thin strands the size of spaghetti and the other Taglatelle and Fettuccini. The dough should be rolled out a little thicker to make troccoli, which is famous in Apulia. There are screws at one end, which are tightened to make them taut when rolling the spaghetti and loosened when it is not being used. Roll the dough the width and length of the chitarra and place the dough on the strings. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough over the strings. Run you fingers along the metal strings to loosen the cut strands and the cut pasta will fall into the box below.
During a trip to Vieste, Foggia, I visited a little restaurant in the old village called “Enotecca di Vieste”. Here I met the owner who brought me into the kitchen to show me how to make her mothers recipe for troccoli with chickpeas, eggplants and zucchini. After we enjoyed this hearty pasta dish with these lovely people, she handed me a bag filled with all the ingredients to make the dish at home myself. In Vieste restaurants have large balls of dough on a table covered with a kitchen towel. When you order troccoli, they cut off a piece of the pasta dough and roll it over the chitarra. You can’t get pasta any fresher then this.
La Chitarra is possible to find in some specialty kitchen supply stores.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 minutes
Yield: 4 servings as a main course, 8 as accompaniment
4 cups all purpose flour
2 pinches salt
4 medium eggs
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Tepid water (if necessary)
Place the flour mixture on a pastry board and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs, olive oil, salt and a small amount of water (you can always add more water if the dough is too dry). Begin to stir the flour from the outside part of the well into the wet ingredients. Continue this process until the dough holds together in a ball. The dough should seem as if it is too dry, but once it is rolled out in a pasta machine it will hold together. If the dough is too wet, rub a little flour on it, as it will be difficult to handle and too sticky to roll through the pasta machine.
Knead the dough for at least 10-15 minutes, and allow it to stand covered with a clean kitchen towel at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
ROLLING THE PASTA DOUGH
Start with a wider slot when rolling it out on your pasta machine. Roll it out a few times on each level until you have reached the second thinnest level. You will have to develop a feel of the thickness of the dough.
Once the dough is rolled out, cut it the length and with of the Chitarra. The dough should be a little thicker then if you were cutting it for fettuccini or spaghetti.
Pressing down with a rolling pin, roll the pin over dough. Run you fingers across the exposed strings at the end of the Chitarra and the pasta will fall to the bottom of the box.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
10 sprigs fresh basil
3 ripe large tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1/2 cup dry chick peas (soaked overnight)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cube beef bouillon, dissolved in water (1 cup per cube)
1 small eggplant, cut into 1” chunks
1 small zucchini, cut into 1” chunks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
10 sprigs Italian parsley, chopped
1 pepperoncino, soaked in olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
If you are using dried beans, place 1/2 cup beans in water overnight, they will double in size. Put them into the sauce for the last 15 minutes of cooking. If you are using canned beans, add them at the end only for a few minutes.
Place the olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Add the chopped pepper, zucchini, pepperoncino and eggplant and continue to cook for 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, basil, and bouillon in the pan and cook for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. You can add a little wine, more bullion or a little pasta water if required. In separate pan cook the troccoli in salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until al dente.
Mix the sauce with the troccoli and sprinkle parsley over the top of the pasta before serving. Put a nice piece of Parmesan cheese on the table for people to grate over the dish.