Thursday, July 11, 2013

Little Little Plein Air

Le Contesse, 2013, oil on panel, 4 x 4 inches 
This has to be my smallest painting yet, funny thing is that the subject is a grand view of the valley bellow Cortona. Believe it or not, this little 4x4 inch painting took over three hours to complete, the usual time it takes me to paint an 8 x10 or 9 x 12 painting. Challenges for this painting were plenty, not only was I trying to fit such an amazing view into a small space, but I was also working with water soluble oil paint. This kind of paint is a little funky, it was a gummy consistency which makes it hard to layer, and the smallest amount of water makes it very runny. It was a constant fight but I stuck with it and I am very happy with the results. Thank you to Jeremiah Patterson for lending me his oils, panel, and paper palette; I am very happy I got to do this.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Weekend in the Berkshires

 Konkapot River Waterfall, 2013, oil on linen mounted on panel, 12 x 9 inches
Took a four day getaway with some friends for the 4th of July weekend, this has turned out to be a yearly summer ritual that takes us out of the city and into the country. This year we rented a house in the Berkshires, MA, and these are the paintings I got done in the backyard.
 Konkapot River, 2013, oil on linen mounted on panel, 9 x 12 inches 

Hartsville Mill River Rd. Meadow, 2013, oil on linen mounted on panel, 9 x 12 inches

Other trips in the past years have been Rhinebeck and Woodstock

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Cortona Watercolors

Jokes have been made between my friends that the painting workshop was more of an eating workshop, and although the pictures of food are plenty because yes we ate a lot, we also did a lot of work. Here are the watercolors I got done in the nine days of my visit to Cortona, I hope you enjoy them. 
 La Valdichiana, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 Tuscan Study, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 Wall at the Gardens of Parterre, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 Tuscan Study No.2, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 Tuscan Study No.3, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 Lake Trasimeno, Morning, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 The Cathedral, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 Chiesa Santa Maria Nuova, Morning, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 Chiesa Santa Margherita, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 Chiesa Santa Maria delle Grazie, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

 Lake Trasimeno, Sunset, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches 

Well at Convent of Saint Augustine, 2013, watercolor on paper, 6 3/4 x 10 inches

I Ate My Way Through!

Fiocchetti Gorgonzola from Bar Sport Caffe

Perhaps one of the things I miss most about my trip to Italy is the food.  Never have I experienced such flavors accomplished through sophisticated simplicity and fresh ingredients. The dish above will melt your heart, these Fiocchetti are little pasta bundles, similar to dumplings, filled with creamy pear and cheese, topped with a Gorgonzola sauce. I hope you're ready to devour theses dishes, rest assure you will not leave anything on your plate!
Our first group dinner at Trattoria Toscana

Spaghetti with Duck and Tomato sauce from Trattoria Toscana

The first group dinner was an unbelievable introduction to the culinary world of Cortona, and what a way to kick things off. That night dishes kept coming from the kitchen and we were afraid that there might not be an end. The Spaghetti above was so firm and the sauce could not have been better.
Cheese Ravioli with Truffle Oil and Truffles from Trattoria Toscana

If the first pasta didn't satisfy your appetite, the second tray with Ravioli and Truffles would definitely do the trick. If it din't then you are not human! By this point I think I had reached an orgasm with an antipasti of deep fried mushrooms. Apparently the mushrooms we were served are only harvested in the Tuscan region for a limited time once a year, and we were so lucky to be there at the perfect time to try such delights.
Rosted Duck, Sausages, and Potatoes from Trattoria Toscana

Haven't had enough yet?  Well I guess roasted duck and potatoes with a side of wilted spinach might do the job . There's always more room right?
Antipasti with a view at Ristorante Tonino

I can't even begin to explain how magnificent this dinner at Ristorante Tonino was, the pictures speak for themselves, trust me it was incredible!
Ristorante Tonino

Carbonara at Trattoria Etrusca

This little dish right here, in my opinion, was the best pasta dish I've had all my life, and I'm a big carb eating sun of a gun, and nothing could have prepared me for what my taste buds savored that afternoon at Mario's Trattoria Etrusca. 
Mario, owner and chef of Trattoria Etrusca serving his delicious Carbonara

Mario is pretty much a one man show. He cooks everything, serves the water, wine, the starters, and the main courses; and oh yeah, he clears the tables as well. I hope he has someone to help wash the dishes, not that they needed much cleaning after we licked every little bit off every bowl.
Orecchiette with Creamy Tomato Sauce, Bacon, and Rosemary at Ristorante Pizzeria Fufluns

By this point pasta had become the only source of nutrition for our group, and although we felt like it was becoming punishment, our masochist hearts and stomachs were eager too keep eating more fresh pasta.
Caprese at Ristorante Pizzeria Fufluns

At some point you have to give it a rest, not a bad idea to have a Caprese salad for a light lunch. Trust me, the tomatoes and mozzarella pictured above were so fresh and delicious it put to shame the same ingredients you can get at the farmer's market here in NYC.
Ristorante Tonino

No great meal is complete without a pairing of great wine, thank our lucky stars that for this dinner Castiglion del Bosco, by Massimo Ferragamo, provided a selection of wines to accompany each dish.
Antipastisimo at Ristorante Tonino

Ristorante Tonino is famous for their Antipastisimo, a selection of about twelve delicate and artful antipasti served during one dinner. You think that much food might be too much, but to my surprise it wasn't. The portions were small yet packed with flavor, and each dish was timed perfectly to give your stomach a chance to digest.
Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Wild Boar at Ristorante Pizzeria Fufluns 

With all the food I've had everything is now becoming blurred, although I do remember the pasta above being really good I can't remember if it was wild boar or duck. Regardless, it was yummy!
Penne al Fumo from Trattoria Etrusca

This is the dish that our friend Mario from Trattoria Etrusca is known for world wide, his Penne al Fumo (smoked penne). How exactly is this smoked or with what? I don't know, but all I can say is that it was close to being heavenly, just like his Carbonara.
Pizza at La Croce del Travaglio 

A trip to Italy would not be complete without pizza, and this one let me tell you, was A M A Z I N G! I love eggs, and to have one at the center of a tasty pizza was like eating the food of angels. In all, food culture in Italy has no comparison, there is a certain ritual that goes along with every meal, and the best part is that it is always shared, never alone. Did I make you hungry? I hope so, and now go on and book your trip, believe me the food alone will be worth it!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Back from Italy!

I'm back from Italy and back to the hussel and bussel of New York City. After a few days of being jet lagged and days of trying to catch up with friends, I am finally getting to go through and edit all my pictures. I believe I took over 700, but lost count, I deleted so many and still have over 500 photos that record my nine day stay in Cortona.
Not to worry, I will not share on this blog all five hundred photos. I wish I could but that would be absurd, instead I will be sharing small selections in the coming days, hoping the images will give you an idea of the amazing time I had. Cortona is a beautiful little town above the Tuscan hills, and everywhere you turn you get a glance of the landscape bellow.
Even if the view of the valley below is obstructed you can still enjoy the simplicity and beauty of the town and its colorful buildings which glow in the afternoon sun.

Every morning I would wake up and eat breakfast with this view, it was breathtaking and I constantly needed to pinch myself, this had to be a dream. Frankly I don't think there's a better way to start your day than with a view like this.   
Just in case you couldn't get enough of the view at the breakfast table, it is guaranteed that you'll get plenty of views as you stroll through the town. Aside from sitting at the cafes and enjoying great company, another favorite pass time is to take strolls, or passeggiata as the Italians call it. 
"Buona passeggiata" an old lady said to me as I walked down from the top of Cortona, walking through the small calles, and even though my direction was downward I still felt the clouds were close enough that I could reach them.
Cortona, and most of Tuscany has magical moments through out the day, one of them is early in the morning when the fog sets in covering the valley and allowing only the top of the hills and steeples to peak through, it almost feels like the town is built in the sky. The fog doesn't last long, so it's best to wake up very early to witness it, by 7am. the fog rises slowly creating beautiful affects with the sunlight.