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Martina from Bologna: Katharine’s Goat Cheese BellEATsimo!

A Serendipitous Slow Food Meeting and A Traditional Canadian Prairie Potluck for Martina

Very early this past Spring, Slow Food Edmonton received an e-mail from a woman named Martina, stating that she was from Bologna, Italy, requesting to meet with a person from Slow Food Edmonton. She was going to be around sometime late July or Early August. It just so happens that I had been answering the requests coming into “info@slowfoodedmonton.com” or forwarding them to whomever they were best meant for. This was the first summer I have been in Edmonton for several years, and so I responded that I would definitely be around for the summer and would make arrangements for her. I did put it on my calendar, but then promptly forgot about it.

I heard from her in mid-July and we made arrangements to meet. After a vibrant conversation, I discovered that Martina had a business very similar to my Taste Tripping Business, in Bologna, She expressed an interest in bringing some people from Slow Food Bologna to Canada and was doing some research about what we had to offer such a venture in Edmonton food wise and other wise. What do we have to offer? I had to invite her to dinner to meet a few of us. Not just any dinner, a traditional potluck dinner!

As she wanted to meet with the organizing body of our group, I sent out an invitation to the executive. It was fairly short notice and at the end of an incredibly busy Slow Food Edmonton organizational week, but the troops rallied and everyone who could attend did so with that gusto characteristic only to the Canadian prairies!

Katharine had just returned from a long and incredible trip through Italy and welcomed Martina with an apéritif from Italy that has gained recent popularity here this year: Aperol and Prosecco with Mandarin orange. I was eager to taste this as I had read so much about it: YUMMY, and so thoughtful. Katharine also brought an appetizer made from local goat cheese layered with the colours of the Italian Flag. It was delicious and apparently the leftovers make an incredible pasta sauce. can’t beat that! What surprised me is that Vanja was nuts over it, yet complained profusely when I snuck some goat cheese into his mashed potatoes one day.

This was soooo yummy! I have printed the recipe below.

Martina is originally from Germany, but moved to Italy when she was very young. She also spent three years of her adult life, not so long ago, living in Salt Spring Island. So, she speaks German, Italian, and English. She is an Official Tour Guide. That is not an easy undertaking, Her business partner teaches the cooking classes. She actually has a brother in Edmonton who owns an outdoor adventure tour company. Long after her initial message, Vanja and I planned a trip to Italy this fall and  three nights in Bologna was on the itinerary. I did not miss the little miracle of meeting Martina at such a perfect time for us. Neither did she. Before the dinner, and early on in our first meeting, her warmth and openness was obvious through her strong invitation that “we must” stay with her family in their house in the middle of the old town in Bologna. Well, I knew Vanja would never go for that, but what an incredible offer.

Kevin was the first to arrive with the most fragrant freshly foraged gifts for our meal: Hericium Coralloides [Combs Teeth] Wild Mushroom, below, and others we didn’t eat, but he shared them with Martina.

I had never seen this before, but it is apparently everywhere in the forests and wooded areas right now, and one of the mushrooms that is clearly edible as there is no poisonous counter part. It is well worth the bike ride in nature, and I know it is plentiful as the next week Thea brought me another gift of this that she found on her ride home from work. I first learned about it on Kevin’s blog.

Did you know puff balls were edible? Some definitely are; there is one beside the Shaggy Parosol to the right, below. How can you tell which ones are edible, Kevin? Can you please also identify and explain the ones to the left and which one had that beautiful anise aroma when cut in half. It was such a clean an pure licorice scent coupled with the earthy tones of a muchroom. YUM!

Kevin just sliced it and fried it in butter with salt and pepper. It was so fresh and absolutely incredibly delicious. You must try this.

Kevin wanted Martina to taste Alberta in a way that few could offer her. The freshly foraged wild mushroom was his gift to the meal alongside his foraged high bush cranberry paste from last fall and his beautiful calf moose steak.

I prepared a Sundog Organic Garlic Stuffed Spring Creek Range Prime Rib roast, but didn’t take a photo of it. Ha! When in Alberta, one has to have Alberta Beef. Bison, too. And, if you are really lucky, calf moose. I also prepared Greens Eggs and Ham’s baby potato mixture, boiled, with sour cream, butter and dill from my garden. So simple and so yummy. Didn’t take a photo of those, either.

Su made the most delicious Macaroni and Sylvan Star Cheese that Vanja has ever eaten in his life. I believe she said it was Irvine’s Farm’s dry cured (not smoked) bacon in it, too. It was so yummy. But, she hardly brought enough! ( :) ). Will you share your recipe, Su? I would love a copy of it!

Maria just got back from Toronto the day prior. Jeff had been taking care of their community garden plot on his own and what abundance! Look at the two salads they put together from their own garden produce and some Sylvan Star feta!

The beans and carrots were heaven and the beets with the feta was bliss! I was a happy diner and I believe the dishes were truly characteristic of our way of life.

I did take a photo of the salad I made with the most flavourful, nutty, mature arugula from my garden with a balsamic and Parmesan. I loved the combination of simple flavours and saved the arugula for this night.

There was just enough room for us all to sit very close together around the outside table!

Martina is the gal with the sunglasses on top of her head. Wonderful to meet you, Martina. Until we see you again, this fall, in Bologna!

Katharine’s Goat Cheese BellEATsimo! Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 4 ounces of chevre, or an herbed chevre
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped onions or shallot
  • 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of pesto
  • fresh flat leafed parsley, basil, or toasted pine nuts for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Cream the first three ingredients together
  2. line a cereal bowl with plastic wrap
  3. Spoon 1/4 into the bowl and smooth to edge
  4. Spread pesto onto the cheese mixture ensuring that the green pesto goes around the outer layer of the entire circumference
  5. Layer chopped, well drained, sundried tomatoes over the pesto again ensuring that the red tomatoes go to the outer edges
  6. Continue layering: cheese, pesto and tomato until you end with cheese (does’t have to be a full layer, just enough to seal in the pesto)
  7. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight; turn onto platter and garnish with either chopped parsley, basil or toasted pinenuts
  8. Serve with crackers

Note: Stores for a few days and leftovers freeze and become the makings of a great pasta sauce for chicken, smoked salmon, etc…just thin with some evaporated milk

Oh, and I did make desserts: three pies that I hoped would also provide Martina a taste of the prairie harvest: Saskatoon berry, Apple pie, and the rhubarb tarts. So, for those of you that think that Alberta is a culinary wasteland, I hope we have convinced you otherwise! And I cannot wait to entertain Martina’s group.

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About Valerie Lugonja

Educator, Writer, Gardener and Traveler who believes in buying and eating locally, and most importantly cooking at home!

Join The Conversation!

  1. Droolicious! How I wish I could have been there!

  2. Beautiful evening, wonderful Alberta food and how lucky are you to have an amazing guide through Bologna.

  3. How fun Val!! I can imagine Martina’s enjoyment of so much wonderful food!!

  4. I am planning a 5 week vacation in Italy next fall. Part of the joy of travel is in the planning and there is so much to do and see it is hard to make decisions:D This was an incredible meeting of like-minded people in the heart of Edmonton.

  5. val,

    thanks as always for the wonderful recap. your pics and detailed summaries are a beautiful way to forever remember these fabulous meals and occasions.

    thanks too for the shout out for my mac and cheese. :) VERY flattered!!! i will admit that i was initially super-intimidated by all you ‘foodies’, but having become a member of slow food and participating in various outings and celebrations, i quickly realized that it is NOT just a club for gourmet cooks, and high falootin’ menu’s; there is a place for the humble, simple and plain old good food.

    as for a recipe there was none…i made a simple white sauce, dumped in the best cheese i could find, (sylvan star gruyere and some grizzly i think), fried up on onion and some of the irvines farm bacon. mix it all together, toppped it off with some some panko that was flavored with butter, fresh parsley and thyme.

    thanks again for your hospitality-was a great great meal
    cheers
    su :)

  6. The mushrooms top left are very likely Agaricus Silvicola, which are a bit chancy to tackle for a newbie, as they can grow in similar habitat to and look like some deadly Amanitas. The large one was overly mature – not optimal to eat – and the little ones were too little to make a confident ID [gills haven't colored]. An in-between size would have allowed a confident ID [colored gills with maturity as white gills = bad, could spore print it] and would have been a good size for yield, texture, etc.

    I love the fragrant sweet anise smell of many of the agaricus family – something one certainly doesn’t experience when buying Agaricus bisporus at the grocery store [white button, cremini, etc].

    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Balogna this fall!!

  7. Such a multicultural affair!

  8. Hi Valeria, the food looks fantastic and the photographs are great. Looks like it was a great meeting…how did you dress the red beet salad? it also looks fantastic!

    yummy

    • Maribel!
      I will get that recipe from Maria! She is the one that brought that salad – actually, both wonderful garden salads and have her post it here for you!
      XO
      Valerie

  9. Che bella accoglienza!
    Complimenti Valerie!
    L’anno prossimo mia figlia molto probabilmente si trasferirà ad Edmonton!
    Magari un giorno ci conosceremo di persona!
    Merry Christmas
    Roberta

    • Valerie Lugonja says:

      Roberta!
      I understood the simple bits. Is your daughter moving to Edmonton? If so, let me know and I will have her for dinner! Why is she coming here? I would love to show her around.
      “)
      Valerie

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