RECIPE: VEGAN PUMPKIN AND PERSIMMON COOKIES

We are now well into pumpkin and persimmon season here in the Italian Riviera, and we've been delighting ourselves silly in various versions of pumpkin ravioli (Cappellacci) and the big, raw, slimy kaki fruit. Fresh persimmon has a buttery taste and subtle sweetness, an excellent pair to pumpkin's deep, nutty flavor. Or so I ventured to believe when I set out to perfect fall biscotto. 

This truly autumn creation is a moist, chewy round of maple-y goodness, perfect for popping in your mouth with your espresso. If you don't often bake without butter, milk or eggs, the texture might be a surprise, but to those accustomed, you'll recognize the result.

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RECIPE: SPAGHETTI AI PORCINI

Porcini Mushrooms are a-flourish in all of Italia! It is mushroom season, when farmers harvest the wild breed from the forests of the nearby hills. The trunks are 1-2 inches in diameter, average about 5 inches in height, and entice you to take a bite out of their raw, glossy tops (maybe that's just me). All the best markets feature them prominently for about 2 Euro a pop, and all the best restaurants have a special menu dedicated to all things porcini. Our favorite of all the combinations are Pasta + Porcini, the best pair locally to known as Spaghetti + Porcini. Let us share our secrets of our vegan (butter and dairy free!) version, brought to you by your very own chef, Erik. 

I recommend first watching this enlightening tutorial to wash and clean your porcini before you cook.

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DID PORTOFINO INSPIRE BEYONCE?

If you’re from Milan, color blocking might be a bit passé, a bit “so 2 years ago.” But for the most of us, pairing complimentary-colored tops and bottoms has been a fun, warm weather look that we’ve “dared” to wear since neon shorts became a thang. But, even more than its upscale visitors and their fashion-forward frocks, Portofino has out-trended us all once again. This former fishing village mixes and matches their pinks and oranges better than even Beyoncé recently did.

Portofino has famously sported vivid, warm hues for centuries. The town was founded by the Ligurians, conquered by the Romans, frequented by the English (Bryon and Shelley were fans), and then made popular with golden age Hollywood stars by Rex Harrison. As writer Rory Ross puts it, “Were you to photograph Portofino today and compare it to a photograph taken when Rex Harrison ‘discovered’ the place in the Fifties, the pictures would almost be identical.”

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HOW ITALIANS MADE PINEAPPLES COOL 400 YEARS BEFORE THEY WERE

They're everywhere these days: on swimsuits, on gift wrap, on shoes, on Instagram next to tanned legs hanging in the pool... it's like they grow on trees these days!* The pineapple is the cute fruit/design/print/meme of the moment. But despite with S/S 2015 will have us think, we're about 400 years behind the Italians. 

Cristoforo Colombo, or Christopher Columbus if you learned history in English, was the first recorded Westerner to taste the fruit during his second voyage across the ocean blue to the Caribbean in 1493. Originally from Genova (just 30 minutes from Portofino), Colombo returned to a Europe devoid of dolce, where refined sugar was rare and fresh fruit limited its seasonal harvest, and introduced the pineapple for the first time. This New World Fruit, with hard exterior protection and sweet, juicy pulp, caused a great sensation, with royalty coveting its delicious taste, and horticulturalists attempting unsuccessfully to grow it locally. As an exotic, physically extravagant, and thoroughly tasty treat, by the 1600’s the pineapple was a symbol of wealth, prestige, and subsequently, hospitality.

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ITALIANA MUDRA

Italians famously use their hands to communicate. Yogis famously use their hands to mediate. Italians have been using them since Imperial Roman times, yogis since early civilization in India. Italians use about 250 gestures in their day-to-day, Yogis can chose from around 108 mudras to use in their day-to-day practice. Yogis use their hands to adjust the flow of prana, and Italians use their hands to move energy too-- usually from one speaker to another, to ask them dramatically, "What's your problem!" We can find deeper clarity by learning from Italians and Yogis and putting them to application in our personal lives.

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WHAT ALL THAT NAUTICAL BUNTING REALLY MEANS

Bunting. That string of triangle/square flags you’ve seen lately, colored per party theme, draped above the gift table. It seems you cannot have an officially cute shower/party/brunch without bunting (extra points if your flags are burlap or maps). If you’re super dedicated, your event might even feature meta bunting: a mini bunting cake toper, on cake decorated with bunting, sitting on a table with bunting. Win!

Well, Portofino wins. Probably before any of us thought to painstakingly create these decorations by hand, Portofino had nautical bunting bordering it’s marina. Liguria, the region of Portofino, has always been a strong seaport and trading hub, and was it was the most powerful maritime republic in the Mediterranean from the 12th to 14th centuries. Portofino itself was a quiet fishing village before tourism became it's #1 industry, so it's long had a history of boats. Today, the picturesque flags sway in the wind, setting the seaside scene. But upon investigating their meanings, the International Maritime Signals are not quite as romantically nostalgic as they look.

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