A (fruit) fly in the oinment of Pruneti organic olive oil

agriculture, MU Journalism Abroad, news, Will Write for Food

Plated

By Claire Lardizabal

SAN POLO in CHIANTI, Italy—The olive fruit fly, Mosca Olearia, devastated half of the Pruneti’s olive grove and led a decrease in overall olive oil production due to unfavorable weather in 2014.

The Azienda Agricola Pruneti is located in the rolling hills of Chianti outside of Florence. The Pruneti family has been producing olive oil since the 19th century, and currently maintains 28,000 olive trees on 150 acres of land.

The grandfathers of the clan used a hot-press method that was easier but quality had to be sacrificed for quantity. Now, it is the other way around. Olive oil is cold-pressed at 27°C through stainless steel machinery. The cold temperature yields better quality because it will preserve the olive’s vitamins.

Last year’s heavy rains and humidity created a breeding ground for the fruit fly that then ate olive crops and contaminated olive crates, cutting the estimated…

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Panna cotta anyone?

food writing, MU Journalism Abroad, what I'm eating, Will Write for Food

Plated

By Claire Lardizabal
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FLORENCE, Italy—The white gelatinous dome drizzled with dark pink raspberry sauce wiggled as our server brought it towards the table.

“Panna cotta?” he asked.

I claimed it and sliced my spoon into the custard-like concoction, ignoring the fact I spent the last 45 minutes consuming bread, house Chianti, fresh bruschetta and lasagna.

The spoonful melted in my mouth. How can this little dome of perfection be so sweet, light, creamy yet rich all at once? The panna cotta was devoured within minutes, a simple and delicate ending to another traditional Italian meal.

Panna cotta translates as cooked cream. No one knows of its exact genesis, except that the dessert began showing up in the northern Italian Langhe region of Piedmont in the early twentieth century. Panna cotta is made like Jell-O, except gelatin and milk is melted into boiled cream and sugar, then cooled into molds in…

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Capri, Italy

travels, where I've been
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After a nauseating ferry ride from Naples to Capri (what a way to learn that you’re prone to sea sickness), we finally arrived at the base of the famed Mediterranean island. We noticed that everyone was jumping into white vans that shuttled them off, but we opted to walk instead.

Four flights of stairs in, the city was still nowhere in sight. We trampled through makeshift rock steps that trailed up Capri, surrounded by white artsy beach houses (owned by the rich and famous, no doubt) with views of baby blue skies and cerulean waters. We emerged from another flight of stairs and came out into a road, where I spotted a local man. Centro? I asked, out of breath. He pointed up.

Hundreds of steps later, hungry and ready to give up, we were almost to the top when we smelled it. Warm sugary scents wafted down the stairs toward us and instantly, we picked up the pace. What was that smell? we wondered. Was it fresh baked chocolate croissants? Was there some new Italian delicacy waiting for us at the top of the stairs? We finally broke out into the centro of Capri and sped walked past the high-end boutique shops and restaurants when we saw it.

The source of those delicious aromas came from piping hot waffle irons, conveniently placed by an open window, churning out just-baked waffle cones for Buonocore Gelateria. In awe, I watched as they took those thin crepe-like waffles and rolled them into a perfect shape of an ice cream cone. It was the most memorable welcome to Capri.

5 tips for taking a train in Italy

MU Journalism Abroad, travels, where I've been, Will Write for Food

Plated

By Claire Lardizabal

FLORENCE, Italy – Getting to the food stories I would write in Florence meant I had to make it there on the Rome-Firenza train after my international flight. Mostly, the only time trains are used in Missouri are to get to Chicago so venturing from Florence to Rome by train was a new concept for me. Now, equipped with the right information, it seems much easier.

Here are five tips for your first Italian train:

Travel Do’s and Don’ts
TrenItalia is Italy’s train system. The website (www.trenitalia.com) displays in Italian but can be translated to English by clicking on the upper right-hand button that says Italiano, then clicking English. The website offers a plethora of services, such as booking train tickets in advance, how to access the train through the airport, and customer assistance for more information.

Tip 1. Follow signs. When arriving at Rome Fiucimino airport…

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For the love of cheese

food, food writing, MU Journalism Abroad, news, Will Write for Food

Plated

By Claire Lardizabal
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FLORENCE, Italy – Marco Cavani began the San Michele Parmigiano Reggiano factory eight years ago with his wife, Samuela. Samuela grew up making cheese and brought her knowledge to the table when they began their business.

The Cavani’s Parmigiano Reggiano products are labeled DOP (protected designation of origin). The label represents authenticity and distinguishes it from imitators. In Parma, an inspector comes to businesses like the Cavani’s, and inspects every wheel to ensure quality product true to the region.

When we entered the facility, we were asked to cover our feet with electric blue shower caps to prevent dragging in contaminants. Steam was already rising from 1,000 liters of milk in each of three deep, copper vats. After reaching 17°C, rennet, an enzyme that causes milk to become cheese, was added and contined to heat the milk until it reached 27°C. Even though the Cavani’s used modern…

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