Chocolate & cheese pairings to brighten your Springtime. You will have 3 jars of pure BLYSS single bean virgin chocolate to play with. The key is to LEARN what you LIKE, and why. http://bit.ly/chocNcheese
5 ingredients. The simplicity of the Ligurian sauce, pesto, had me since I was a teen growing up in Australia. These days, we see it in the traditional Italian kitchen from northern Italy or in the hipster London scene served up in ice cream.
Issues of DOP and DOC now almost make the simple sauce of just 5 ingredient s more complex than it needs to be. Ricardo, who has been making his famous recipe for 21 years needed 3 months approval from Italian government to open his specialty micro-batch pesto site. From seeds to oil, the whole sauce can be debated and devoured, here is a little overview and choco-ification that totally defies the tradition in some respects, but honors others. Get your pestle ready as we take the pestle to grind out our version. Of the “pounded” sauce.
As iconic to gastronomy as the symbol of Liguria, this sauce well represents the terroir it was created from; rugged and simple. The region was a big trader of grains with already 250 local pasta producers by 1834 and a massive export trade from Turkey to the Americas.
While sauces based on basil had been loved throughout Italy over the ages, it was only the ligurians who defined it as a daily pasta sauce with just a handful of ingredients. In 1851 Giovanni Casaccia defined “pounded”. A concept called pesto. To this end, salt could be pounded “sâ pèsta” or ground pepper was called “pèivie pèsto”. Somehow over many dinner parties the sauce that was pounded basil and nuts became consistently known as “pesto”. These days you’ll find it as Pesto Genovese or Pesto Ligure when referring to the pounded green goodness found in the region from approved local ingredients.
Early recipes used basil, garlic and parmesan with vinegar (or unripe grape juice) in the early 1600s (before the term pesto was coined) and the best recipe comes from a chemist, Guglielmino Prato whose details are immortalized in the book “Il clypeo del gentilhuomo” (1618). It was in the late 1700s books started to write about pesto recipes with olive oil. The oil emulsifies the sauce and when used with a olive grown from the region (taggiasca variety) it almost sweetens the taste and enriching the overall palette.
Of the 5 key ingredients, the last to be added was the pine nuts (which were often substituted with walnuts). Apropos substitution, when Parmesan cheese could not be afforded, then pecorino was used, which back in the early 1800s was almost half the price of parmesan (and considered by the snobbery, a poorer choice).
Basil, the hero of pesto, often conjures up the character from John Cleese in my mind, Basil Fawlty (and I can never stop the next auditory-klang coming from his wife hollering “basiiiiiiiiil” in classic BBC Fawlty Towers style).
My Fawlt, I digress.
Early 1900s chamber of commerce documents show the cultivation of basil during this time was mostly boosted by the use of hothouses / greenhouses. It was the eastern parts of Genova that bred the baby basil and transported them around the region. To this day, my friend in Rome tells me to go to east Genova to buy my approved basil bambini – “go to Pra. It’s the best,” she wrote on my Facebook wall. Although Ricardo the proud 21-yr-long-pesto-grinder in the snoozy beach town Finale Liguria says he drives over to Albanga to get his leaves.
There is a distinction and it’s not just recommendations.
The PDO is probably something you know from your wine world. Protected Designation of Origin is the European rubber-stamping of a specific food product whose end – to – end existence occurs in an geographical area that cannot be done anywhere else; a la champagne. I love that the whole production cycle comes under review in this classification. You don’t just hothouse a few seeds in the original location and offshore growing and harvesting etc to somewhere more “convenient” (is what the finance guys call it).
From a traditional view for Nonna’s pesto you need the following certified ingredients (ps. you can buy seeds online these days).
PDO Genoese Basil
Riviera Ligure Oil – which consists of three production zones (riviera dei flori, around Imperia, riviera dei ponente savonese, around Savona, and riviera di levante, around Genova. My favorite is from my friend Roberto Rebaudo who makes the award winning U Giarun (if you email him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him you are our friend, he will allow you to try the 2011 oils and let you know when 2012 is ready at the end of the year!)
I cannot tell you what makes the Genoese Basil the best one to use honestly. I didn’t get to do a double blind test (‘Mamma Mia, why you want another basil? You kill me with this request’ is something I was told when asking at a local market).
- Garlic from Vessalico which has a very delicate flavor as not to overpower the basil.
- Pine nuts from Pisa, which are sweet and delicate in nature.
- PDO Parmigiano Reggiano parmesan cheese which is better if you find an aged one with a more rounded flavour.
- PDO Fiore Sardo cheese which has a stronger character.
- Coarse sea salt. No one told me what precipitation it needed to come from, but I’m sure Ricardo in Finale Ligure is working on it.
Apparently you can grow the Genoese variety of basil seeds and all you need to do is “follow the instructions in the box”. With two tries I got it. After already fiddling with a failed attempt in Frankfurt on my balcony in March and having it snowed on, I tried again in Munich with more success. Viva la 4 weeks of sunshine we finally had in Germany. I wanted to send the seeds to Ecuador and see how my farmer friends went, but, I’m all too awarded of friend species in the Amazon and Andean climates and prefer to show them over Skype my budding basil plants and explain instead. And last I heard, Ricardo (yes same name as my pesto god in Finale Ligurie) was on the look-out for a local basil seed supplier in Guayaquil.
If you cannot get the list of certified ingredients where you are, like my Ecuadorian Ricardo, you can look for the following elements: garlic that is. It too strong, use walnuts if you can’t find the pine variety, never skimp on the olive oil and find a virgin, find a hard crystal oriented cheese for your pecorino option and I had to reinforce the Ricardo in Ecuador, this does not in any situation mean cheddar. Go harder.
You can find your varieties of recipes from the pro’s at pestochampionship.it – and go blind with the innovative ways a community can recreate the same 5 ingredients.
We choco-fied it.
Two key elements. We chose Roberto’s early season picked Taggiasca olive oil, which were still green. They have an incredible “prickly” flavour, ultra green in nuance and a spice in the length. We chose this type of olive oil because we took out the pine nuts from the traditional recipe and put in BLYSS arriba nactionale cacao nibs. To our great relief, most modern Ligurians welcome adoptions of their famous sauce and we had no troubled sharing it with our olive oil farmer friends in Pigna.
Our Cacao Pesto recipe is as follows:
80 g basil and parsley
50 g Parmesan
1 lemon (juiced)
60 grams macadamia
40 grams BLYSS cacao nibs
100 ml Roberto’s 2011 early season olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
(No garlic. That’s right, no garlic. Cacao matches olive oil and herbs very well, but garlic if a big *klang* in the mouth.)
In a mortar and pestle, put the cacao nibs and half the basil-parsley and pound until you get a good paste going. The cacao nibs are harder than macadamia nuts, which is why you add them first. Add lemon juice to help loosen up the process and then add even amounts of olive oil, the parmesan and rest of the macadamias and herbs into the mortar until you’ve ground everything into a smooth paste. If you like it chunky, leave it like that. If you like it smooth, keep mixing the edges of the side of the mortar into the centre and pound away.
If you cannot get Roberto’s early season 2011 taggiasca olive oil, you can pick something that still has the spic-ier elements like a southern Tuscan oil.
If you don’t want to make your own, we have a tip for you. Although Ricardo from Finale Ligurie has a very small pesto manufacture which does preservative-free (aka you have to eat it now) pesto, his brother has a larger manufacture who you can buy a very fine pesto online from. Their DPO Pesto Genovese can be found at http://www.oliosommariva.it
If you’re in Finale Liguria tell Ricardo I sent you and take a bottle of his ultra fresh, snarf in a day. Here is the fun part, you have to find him! Just ask around town.
While in the region, we saw the live concert of Zibba, a folk grunge band in the gorgeous mountain top castle of Cervo. When you’re making your pesto, you need to be lulled by the lead singer, who has a voice deeper than the soul kitchen of Liguria.
For wine, we recommend enjoying a Ligurian pigato. We love the family behind Du Nemu who are in their third generation of looking after vineyards, but just their second in producing their own wine. http://www.dunemu.it
This is just one of the many best practices that I teach in my coaching programs and speaking platforms. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can connect with us by emailing BLYSS@BLYSSchocolate.com. I hope to connect with you soon!
A chocolate menu for Valentine’s!
- Believe it or not, when it comes to baking, all that glitters definitely is NOT gold. In fact the duller the finish on your pan the better your cake will be. Using an alluminium pan is best as this helps provide an even, consistent bake without ‘hot spots’. Just be careful not to scratch the metal & release it into your food – use wooden utensils & all will be well.
- Filling your tin to the half way point provides optimum results – not too much, not too little, just right (as a certain Goldilocks once said !)
- Always half-fill the cake pans in which your tins will bake. This ensures that lovely steam will give a soft, moist, tastiness to your baking.
- Follow directions for measuring, adding and mixing ingredients exactly. The order ingredients are added to the mixture affects the quality of the cake, as does the method of mixing.
- Bake cakes in center of the oven and please do resist the temptation to open the oven door before the cake is finished. Impatience can cause a flop as the rush of air into the oven causes a change of temperature. Goodbye Victoria Sandwich, hello Mr. Pancake.
- If you store half an apple in the container where you are storing a cake, the cake will retain its freshness longer as the apple absorbs moisture.
- When slicing cheesecakes use a hot, wet knife. Dip the knife in hot water and wipe with a damp paper towel before each slice to give a professional finish when you serve.
I am excited to be part of a wonderful women in business aspect for the Social Media Week in February.
My keynote will be 20 Feb at 4pm which is called
And I am honoured to see that within a week, it was sold out. Blessings and kindness thank you!
This is my topic: “Tips on how to cultivate your own mindset so you too, can create positive influence in the world with your big idea.
Alyssa Jade McDonald-Bärtl shows how true change and joys begins with the way you think. Lyss’ energetic and humorous style takes you through the top ways to become clear about what you want to do, and how to unlock your full potential. Are you ready for a mindshift? Are you ready to start thinking like a disrupter and bring about the change you wish to see? She will outline the 4-easy steps of evolving your Change Maker mindset, and then the 5-step plan to clarify your thinking. To finish, she will run through the 10 simple characteristics of a Change Maker with some techniques on how to evolve this yourself.
Alyssa Jade McDonald-Bärtl is the Bean Queen of BLYSS who created single bean virgin chocolate for BLYSS, a third generation social enterprise which not only has been described by chefs as “the most pure chocolate”, but also actively works in agro-ecology and food sovereignity to improve quality of life for those who grow and eat food, like you. With her trademark energetic and humorous style, Alyssa Jade practically explains how change can be made, and how you can unlock your full potential to do it. * Bring pen and paper, or a tablet with mind mapping tool for notes!”
What I am MOST excited about, other than being part of the wonderful Digital Media Women group is to be on a panel with 2 extraordinary ladies. Celine Lazorthes and Anastasia Umrik (and I) are all proof of the fact that you don’t have to be male, German and below the age of 40 to ensure strong leadership and high performance levels. Angela Rittig will talk to three very different women about visions rather than brawn, management in connection with networking culture, and the practical role of social commitment in today’s business world. There are still spots available for this panel and I am really excited to be able to learn from Celine and Anastasia about how they “against the odds” went for and through their dreams in their businesses.
Although the most of Social Media Week in Hamburg will be in German, my speech and this panel is in english (lucky for me!).
Anyhoo, hope to see you there!
Yesterday Saal Swei, a german business ladies magazine, published an article about my social enterprise, BLYSS. There is one key question / answer I want you to read.
I think it affects us all:
“What concerns did you have?
There are two types of obstacles when you decide to live your dream: the imagined ones and the real ones. The imagined obstacles are far more damaging that the real ones.
The imagined obstacles are: ‘’If I fail, I will be a loser. If I make this decision, I will lose my life savings. Giving up a secure job for insecure future is scary. I am not an expert at manufacture. I am not an expert at market development. I am not an expert at (insert every other skill you can think you might need and don’t exactly have). If I do this, I will show all my vulnerabilities. People will see that I am not perfect. There is nothing to hide behind (like a company). I am scared. I am not good enough. Who am ‘I’ to take on this mission. Surely there are better people than me. ‘’ Such imagined obstacles are more devastating to the business than the real ones. Because they are like ghosts that haunt my mind at every cross road of decision. They are the reason I fled offers and opportunities in the first years, because I didn’t feel good/worthy/smart/perfect enough. This imagined obstacles cost my business more success and profit and change making potential than any functional obstacle like….
Real Obstacles: Making mistakes on export and import, and having entire batches destroyed by customs. Being robbed. Being robbed again. Being robbed again and having threats on my safety and those that I work with. Ants and monkeys that chase me through the forest. Not understanding the German finance laws and making mistakes with my book keeping. Let’s call these errors, mistakes of a usual start up, things that happen when doing business in South America. Known obstacles that are easy to imagine will happen, and you just need to go through them and learn.”
You can read more about my story in the full article, but this part, where I show my feelings, I think is something that we ALL have and feel, which really holds us back from BEING the change we wish to see. If I show you my vulnerabilities, maybe it gives you the courage to look at yours, and step up to it too. That’s why, I said these things out loud, and not just in my mind.