Isabella Rossellini: From Red Carpet to Blue Velvet

By Anthony Manero

Isabella Rossellini is the essence of European beauty. We have seen her live so many lives, the screen siren, the sultry seductress, the pained and crying eyes that could envelope the embers of history and fan the flames of hope. The ambassador of Lancome, the respected mother for a jewelry brand, the sensual actress, the Mediterranean goddess photographed by people named Helmut and Leibovtiz and draped across the pages of Vogue. We have seen her vulnerability in Blue Velvet. We have seen her immortalized fame rolled out like a red carpet to support network darlings like 30 Rock, Friends and Seinfeld. We have seen her blue label flesh posing for Madonna’s ‘Sex” and ‘Erotica’ and felt so transposed that we dare not ask ourselves if it was indeed as a part of a book or a video.

Rossellini once said that the reason of her life is ‘not to be the most beautiful woman in the world’ as if it is a difficult and daring undertaking that she will take a lifetime to not be able to accomplish.

On the eve of her 66th Birthday, we step back from the woman who cut her teeth in Rome and New York, bearing both Italian and American citizenship and recognize that her legend does not just belong to her and her immense body of work, be it artisan or the philanthropic. The ex-wife of Martin Scorsese and David Lynch has had an even greater director in her life, the father of Neo Realist cinema and the father of one Isabella Rossellini, Roberto Rossellini. The woman who would be such a sentinel for love and sex came from parents who were embroiled in affairs of the heart their whole lives, off screen as much as on. [Read more…]

Espresso: Just Add Sugar

“La vita e gia amara. Almeno metti lo zucchero al caffe.” So says an old Italian friend from Abruzzo: “Life is bitter enough. At least put sugar in your coffee.”

For palates used to third-wave coffee in Sydney and Melbourne – with the emphasis on roasting light to bring out the fruity and acidic flavours of specialty-grade beans – bitter is certainly the word on a coffee pilgrimage to Italy, the spiritual home of espresso.

The roasts are darker, and the coffee sometimes a blend of arabica and robusta beans (especially in the south), with the resulting brews quite bitter, even in comparison to Italian-style roasts in Australia, which now use almost exclusively arabica beans.

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Tortellini: ‘The Femme Fatale of Pasta’!

By Alberto Amore

The beginnings of the pasta variety known as tortellini are obscured through many legends and many villages who lay claim to the origins of the small naval shaped pasta also known by the Italian name for a belly-button, ‘obellico’.

A strong local tradition has it that this dish was born in Castelfranco Emilia (province of Modena). One night during a trip, Lucrezia Borgia stayed at an inn in the small town. During the night, the host became so captivated by Lucrezia’s beauty that he could not resist the urge to peek into her room through the keyhole. The bedroom was lit by only a few candles, and so he could barely see her navel. This pure and innocent vision was enough to send him into an ecstasy that inspired him to create the tortellini that night. Like many Italian stories, there are variants and some believe this to be absolute gospel while others perceive it to be little more than an urban myth.

Many knew Lucrezia, not as the victim, but as a femme fatale, who rather than being the preyed upon was the predator. Lucrezia was known to have a ring that carried poison. She was known to poison, murder and commit incest with those she preyed upon and was easily entertained due to her intoxicating good looks. [Read more…]

The Evolution of the Stove-Top Espresso Maker

Italians consume over 70 million cups of coffee per day in 200,000 coffee bars. In Italy, you’ll find a coffee bar in just about every city neighborhood and in every village. Coffee bars are known as a place to get together and discuss topics such as soccer and politics, play cards, and just people-watch.

Of all the types of coffee Italians drink, espresso is the most popular. While many will rely on a professional barrista to create the perfect cup, thanks to manufacturers like Bialetti, Italians and and many Italian-Americans can enjoy their own cup of espresso at home.

And did you know that the idea for the home-based, stove-top espresso maker actually came from a washing machine?

During the 1920s, Alfonso Bialetti, the owner of a small workshop manufacturing metal household goods, watched as women from his hometown in Crusinallo washed clothes in a sealed boiler with a small central pipe. This pipe would draw up the soapy water from the bottom of the boiler and spread it out over the laundry. Bialetti wondered if he could model an espresso-type of coffee maker after this very same concept.
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Hope, Faith and Charity; Honoring the Flag of Italy!

By Alberto Amore

20 regions,110 provinces and 8101 Comuni fought, invaded and resisted each other for thousands of years, only to join together for the final time during the ‘risorgimento’ as  ‘La Repubblica Italiana’, ‘The Republic of Italy’ under a single flag, that of the Green, White and Red, known as ‘il Tricolore’.

The flag is seen everywhere in Italy, in the Green fertile mountains, the White wash of the water lining the peninsula and the red of the volcanos. It is in the red and white wines and the mountain fresh mineral water that adorns every table in the country and of course it is in so many meals, the white Pasta, the Red Tomato’s and the fragrant Green Basil that grows wildly on the roadsides. But what do the tricolores really mean and where did they originate from?

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