Italian word of the day: Pusteggia

The past three days we’ve had the pleasure of hosting a dear Napolitana girl, who we have been corrupting with Belgian beers, stews and other assorted customs.

Several years ago she hosted us in her home town, where I was so overwhelmed with southern Italian hospitality it took me some months to recover.

This time however, she introduced me to the term Pusteggia, a particularly Neapolitan verb with a very Neapolitan meaning:

To be stuck in traffic with your friends (always of the same sex) and use this time to attempt to entice cars full of members of the other sex, with little to no chance of anything ever eventuating

Pusteggia can last an entire evening, and is best practiced on weekends, though can just as easily occur on weekdays

Pizzeria Pietrino

Just a few Mondays ago I threw all my undies in a bag, collected all the change from all the pockets and hit the road, stopping off in Lyon and Cote de A’zur before hitting the final destination: Italy’s (and possibly Europe’s) finest retreat: Piemonte.

Nestled up between Turino, Milano and Genova, the hills of Piemonte offers some of the best wine regions in the world, delightful restaurants and incredibly beautiful (and cheap!) B&B’s.

One of the best pieces of advice for any new region is to track down a local’s favourite restaurant. Be warned though asking a local about food may lead to a very long discussion (and almost certainly only in Italian) – so just learn to nod and agree and keep your most-likely-non-Italian-ear trained for Nouns. This is probably my next best piece of advice. Listen for street names, type of cheeses and wines. If you don’t speak the local tongue do your brain a favour and skip the pronouns, articles and verbs and stick straight to the important bits by listening for names of cheeses, wines, restaurants and any other useful noun. Adjectives might also prove useful just in case the person you’re talking to makes a clear distinction between “shit”  and “fantastic”.

Whilst staying in Villa Pallavicini (amazing people making amazing wine), we asked around for a good pizzeria. The general response was to head direct to Pizzeria da Pietrino, famous for their astounding menu of ‘crema’ based pizzas. Proprietor”Little Peter” has long moved on from the all too familiar pomodoro ‘n cheese, opting instead for brocolli, aubergine, truffle or even salmon as the foundation of his creations.

Check the menu out below,  set your taste buds to jealous, and then book your summer holiday ASAP – Piemonte is calling!


Recap

I haven’t posted in nearly a month, so here’s the recap of a month of Work and/or Play.:

  • 2 x trip to Genova
    Work: Teaching chumps how to not-chump
  • 1 x Kenny Rogers Concert
    Play: So so sooo good. He taught us how to not-chump!
  • 1 x half week chillin with Chritch in NYC
    Play: Three days of drinking, eating, and drop jaw stares as simple school buses. They’re just like the movies!
  • 1 x half week of LA
    Work: Presented some shiz to Nestle USA, they seemed delighted. They also have televisions on every floor showing the world cup! Thoroughly recommend a job with Nestle USA. Coffee wasn’t even bad.
  • 1 x Bon Jovi @ O2 Arena
    Play: TERRIBLE SHIT. So bad I even nearly deleted the Ironic Bon Jovi from my collection. Nearly.

Sum of Total: AWESOME, give or take Bon Jovi. What a chump.

Italy presents: Pesto alla Genovese

Antonella's freshly prepared Pesto

One of the truly remarkable discoveries of the past thousand years is the amazing combination of basil leaves, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and grana padano – Pesto is without doubt the most delightful of condiments.

Every time I make the sojourn to my corporate headquarters, my first stop after indulging in a local stracchino pizza is down to Antonella’s store in Nervi (as seen on Google Street View) where I stock up her freshly prepared Pesto, wines and tasty tasty cheese.

The pesto is so damn good that my girlfriend won’t let me return to Belgium without a fresh supply, which leads to us eating Pesto at great volume for a week until the ever lasting pot finally gives way to emptiness.

Today she’s out working on the boats (link), so I’m at home on lunch duty. To prepare a batch of the most amazing pasta in the world, here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Pesto from Antonella’s store (you may have to fly to Genova for this)
  2. A pot
  3. Water in the pot
  4. Salt to put in the water in the pot
  5. A source of heat underneath the salted water in the pot
  6. Pasta (your choice of variant) to put in the pot once the salted water in the pot is boiling
  7. Six to ten minutes of waiting for pasta to cook in the boiling salted water in the pot
  8. Drain pasta, preserving the cup of pasta broth
  9. Put pesto in with pasta, slop some of the broth in with it (don’t let it get too runny)
  10. Grate some parmigiano reggiano over the top
  11. Eat the most amazing meal of your life.
My lunch for the week...

An equally tasty variation of this simple dish is  ‘Penne alla Portofino‘, where we add some tomato passata (mashed up tomato, boiled for a while), which is quite popular when you’re down to the last scoop of Antonella’s pesto.

In short, go to Genova, camp out in Nervi for a while, and spend a lot of money at Antonella’s store on Via Oberdan, Nervi. You’ll love yourself for it. She’s been working the same store the past 27 years, and is terrified of the fattening properties of Belgian chocolates. She also doesn’t understand why an Australian would choose to live in ‘the grey and silly Belgium’.

Without access to her Pesto, sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here too!

Italy presents: Stracchino Pizza

I have just returned from a rather lengthy week in Italy, days of meetings and nights of pizzas. This particular one goes by the name of ‘Pizza Simo’, a startling delight made from Pomodoro (tomato), Stracchino (most incredible cheese in the universe), Melanzane (roasted eggplant), Salame Picante (spicy salami), Basilico (basil leaves, slightly fried in olive oil) and Grana (second most incredible cheese in the universe, slightly grated over the top).

I sat through meeting after ball-breaking meeting with a smile on my face just thinking about one of these bad boys. Stracchino is easily the most heavenly thing a pizza could ever ask for.

Belgium vs. Italy vs. Belgium vs. ?

I started this blog in the opening hours (days) of 2008 with one intention: To blog my path from ‘Australian-Living-in-Belgium-But-Really-Living-In-Italy‘ to ‘Australian-Living-In-Belgium-And-Sometimes-Holidaying-In-Italy -Or-Going-There-For-A-Meeting-Or-Something’.

Unfortunately though, my plans of personal transformation came unstuck, as I have already spent a half of what has already been 2008 working my way through dear Italia.

Alas.

I have worked on a few draft posts, most of which revolve around the ‘would-have-if-I-could-have‘ theme of the amazing things here in Belgium, such as:

  • Skiing: I went snowboarding! I was Bitchen
  • Stoofvlees met Frijes Frietjes: an amazingly Flemmish Flemish variation on a simple ‘Stew’
  • Belgian Beer of the Day: There is a bottleshop within vomiting distance of my apartment that sells 2001 Belgian Beers. It is currently my mission to consume every last bottle.
  • Road trips: Music required for, food required for, and methods to handle a 2000km road trip once a week
  • Live Gigs in Belgium: I saw Enon a few weeks ago, and was absolutely amazed at how different live shows are here in Belgium. The doors opened at 8, the band walked on at 8:30, and by 9:30 they’d finished and the venue was closed. There wasn’t even a bar in the venue – I saw a pseudo post-punk band in the LAND of beer, and didn’t even manage to have one. Madness.
  • Hitz o’ 2007: It’s already 3/24ths through the year and I haven’t uploaded my obligatory “I Listened to More Obscure Music Than You Last Year” post. Yee gads.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll keep you informed. I’m going back to Italy tomorrow, so there’s a chance I won’t.