My friend and superb teacher Viola Buitoni sold out her Valentine’s Day event at the SF Italian Cultural Institute. Her family started Perugina Chocolate in Perugia and have been making baci they invented since 1922. Call the Institute. Sometimes you can score a ticket if someone cancels. If you get lucky you’ll learn how Viola makes baci and hear her family stories.
If you need Valentine inspiration here are some other suggetions for that special day. Stay home and cook. The restaurants will all be insane.
The Virginia branch of the family gathered at my nephew’s beautiful new house on Smith Mountain Lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
No one but my sister and brother-in-law knew I was joining 3 generations for this Thanksgiving gathering. As each wave of the family arrived at the lake taking in their surprised reaction upon seeing me for the first time was priceless.
Thinking I was in San Francisco my nephew emailed me on Tuesday as we were driving to the lake from Richmond.
“Hi John. I hope all is well. I wanted you to know I watched the video with your ribs hotness challenge and will make those for mom and dad over Thanksgiving. Looks awesome and perfect for a late fall ribs at the lake. Hope to catch up soon.”
“You’ll love these Greg. Happy Thanksgiving,” I replied. Little did he know that we would cook them up together that night to feed the first wave of family to arrive. 2 pounds of imported penne pasta and 3 full racks of ribs in a San Marzano tomato sauce doused with hot oil were quickly devoured by the crowd at the table.
3 generations pitched in to cook up a fantastic southern Thanksgiving dinner. There were so many side dishes I had to fill up my plate twice to get a taste of everything.
I’m eating light now that I’m back home. Here’s an updated version of my family’s favorite beet salad. Nothing concentrates the sweet beet flavor than roasting them in their jackets but in a pinch you can use canned beets too.
The tender butter lettuce is a perfect base for the sweet beets bathed in an olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano & shallot dressing. Gorgonzola adds a zesty flavor note and crunchy hazelnuts add texture to this simple delicious salad.