Monday, January 26, 2015

Picnic in Boboli Gardens: A LOVE, LUCY cheese playlist

Italian Cheese Shop, photo courtesy of Madame Fromage
On the eve of Love, Lucy's release, I'm still fine-tuning the plans for Friday's big Italian-themed launch party.  One of the things I really want to do is recreate the impromptu picnic lunch my characters share in Florence's Boboli Gardens.  



Lucy and her traveling companion Charlene meet up with Jesse, the cute street musician who also works at the hostel where they are staying.  He arrives bearing some very special delicacies:

"Jesse--with his hair ruffled from the walk across  town--was a welcome sight, to Lucy at least.  'You brought your guitar,' she observed, taking one of the bags from him.

"'Everywhere I go,' he said.  "Let me show you my favorite spot for a picnic."  He led them along a winding path to a shady spot in a grove of pine trees, spread his blanket among the fragrant needles, and motioned for them to sit.  Then he unpacked the grocery bags, laying out soft cheese, crusty bread, artichoke hearts, apricots, and prosciutto."

 

 For some expert tips on exactly which cheeses Jesse might have offered up, I consulted with my notorious cheese blogger friend, Madame Fromage.  Sweetheart that she is, she sent me a pair of dreamy cheese profiles to pass on to any readers who might want to plan a Boboli Garden picnic of their own:

Jesse's Provolone
"Like Jesse, Provolone is strong in character with a unique finish -- sharp, like a power chord. In Italy, this cheese is shaped into large globes and hung from rafters to age (it's the cheese you see hanging from the ceiling in cheese shops). Although American Provolone is viewed as a mild sandwich cheese, the Italians favor sharp Provolone as a table cheese. It's wonderful on a picnic with cured meats, olives, and a jug of red wine -- making just the sort of cheese Jesse and Lucy might have feasted on in the Boboli Gardens." 

The Mercato Centrale--where Jesse buys his cheese!
 Lucy's Taleggio
"Like Lucy, Taleggio is sweetly milky with a golden exterior -- a likable cheese that calls to mind the smell and taste of fresh bread. It's washed with a salt-water brine to keep it moist and to encourage its umber crust to develop. (This also adds a bit of grit to the surface.) In northern Italy, Taleggio is served on panini and on cheese boards with a mustardy fruit preserve, called mostarda. It's the sort of cheese Lucy and Jesse might have carried with them in a bicycle basket as they rode off into the wild."
photo by Madame Fromage
As the Midatlantic states dig out from Snowmaggedon 2015, I'll be cubing cheese and humming O Sole Mio to myself in preparation for Friday night's festivities.  If you're in the mood for a picnic in the Boboli gardens, please drop in.  

January 30, 7-9 p.m.
Salem Oak Vineyards
60 North Railroad Avenue
Pedricktown, NJ

Tutti i frutti: one more from the Mercato Centrale


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