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We think our cousins want to kill us.  No kidding!  They are lovely people, but look at what they made us eat on Thursday.

We started with hot little red peppers, some stuffed with anchovies, others with tuna or cheese; these are among my favorite things to eat in the world.  They also served olives with the same variety of stuffings.  In the picture you can see the salami and the lardo they forced us to eat. Lardo‘s name tells you exactly what it is. It sounds disgusting, but it is one of the most sublime things you will ever put in your mouth – rich, creamy, salty – it is sinful (and also deadly, I suspect).  It’s an interesting food with a long history and is so good it is impossible to resist.

In case we were feeling cholesterol-deprivation we were also given three kinds of cheese, two goat and one cow, all Piemontese, that were to be eaten on little crackers and topped with mostarda, either grape and wine, or pear and pinoli (these mostarde  were just like jam).  I had to keep trying them as I couldn’t decide which was better. Cousin Gino served the Cortese wine that the Captain and I had just picked up at the Rinaldi winery – about which more soon (stay tuned).

Following this group of light antipasti we moved on to this week’s Best Thing That We Ate: Tagliarini ai Porcini.  The mushrooms are beginning to appear in the woods to the north now, and this is a dish that wants fresh funghi.  You can find the recipe over on the right under Recipes; it is starred as a Best. This dish is also served frequently in Liguria, but according to Fred Plotkin it is made with olive oil instead of butter, and there are neither tomatoes nor pinoli in it.  We loved the Piemontese version.

Thank goodness there was no meat course; we would have croaked for sure.  We had offered to bring a clafoutis of peaches which we did.  But perhaps Cousin Giovanni was afraid her family wouldn’t care for our dessert, so just in case she served Stuffed Peaches (pesche ripiene) and Gino popped the cork on a crisp prosecco.  Both desserts are pictured on the left.  Giovanna’s dessert was almost selected as this week’s best – it had a very surprising ingredient.

As a quick bonus, here’s how she made it:  Take most of the pulp out of the peaches, leaving sturdy little peach boats with skins still on.  Chop up the pulp with amaretto cookies and add some unsweetened cocoa powder.  Stuff the peach halves with the filling and bake in a moderate oven for a while.  Couldn’t be easier or more delicious.  The mixture of chocolate and peaches was both startling and pleasing.

By the way… this was lunch.

Buon appetito!