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Travel

In Maine: Coast and Nicatous

We’re back home now, and sifting through memories from the last 2 weeks in Maine...

From the Coast



Lobster boats in Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island. The point in the distance is picturesue Lands End.


View from Harpswell Island near sunset.


On the path to the Giant Steps on Bailey Island.


Periwinkles in their natural habitat (i.e., not our fridge!)...


Tall lupine flowers nestle a weathered sea dog in this display outside Big Al’s Odd Lots on Route One in Wiscasset.


The best of 3 lobster rolls — just a kiss of mayo and the lobster meat was sweet and tender— we had on this trip, from Estes Lobster House on South Harpswell.


Can’t pass up the chance to send a shout out to all the folks in Lisbon, ME as they kick-off the 26th Annual Moxie Festival this evening and running through Sunday, July 12th (wish we could have stayed for this)!! Moxie is a carbonated elixir resembling soda, but wa-a-ay better. If you’re a fan of Dr. Pepper or Campari, then you might also enjoy Moxie, which some people describe as having a medicinal flavor similar to Angostura bitters. I got hooked on Moxie when we lived in Boston, so we brought home a case! To sample Moxie for yourself, head on over to Lisbon this weekend for Moxie-flavored BBQ, ice cream and other goodies, or order a case of this unique beverage at Maine Goodies.

And a winner has been selected in the “Moose Watcher’s Handbook” giveaway at Maine Musing — congratulations, Lynne! Although I had no moose sightings on this trip, after we had moved on to Nicatous a young bull moose literally washed up in downtown Brunswick (where we had been staying while on the coast) in the middle of the Androscoggin River. As of this past Wednesday, the moose had found his way off the island and safely back to shore.



From Nicatous Lake region



This sign above the patio on T’s parents’ camp says everything...


View from the campsite.


Morning light over the quiet cove fronting the camp. My biggest take-aways from this trip are the sight and sounds of the many loon families and couples around the lake. Although I couldn’t capture them on “film,” this photo evokes for me the loons’ haunting calls sounding across the still lake especially at dawn and in the evenings.


Late summer sunset over the cove at camp.


View from the boat on a late day fishing trip...


Speaking of fishing... despite the many days of cloud and even rain, T could not get enough of fishing. Besides the boat, he also cast and caught from the dock with a rod and reel...


...and from a kayak with a fly rod. Did he have enough by the time we had to leave?! Never!! And BTW, I stand corrected: Nicatous has lots of pickerel, which are not synonymous with walleyes. T and his folks caught lots of pickerel, bass and sunfish in Nicatous (me, none), but all the trout in Middle Oxhead Pond eluded T’s flies. (You’ll get ‘em next time, Honey!)


Kio proved himself to be quite a good traveler, too. Despite some rather vocal protests at first, he soon settled in to a routine both in the kennel in the car and at each new destination he found himself in. At camp, he ran up the stairs every time someone used the hand pump in the kitchen, pausing half-way to peer around the corner to see what was making the strange noise.


T’s parents’ camp is so picturesque, even the outhouse has a great view at sunset — I tried to get a picture from the window in the outhouse looking out towards the lake, but my photos were a total blur, sorry. Although there isn’t running water or electricity at the site, there is a generator and batteries to keep a fridge cold, water heater hot, and lights in the main A-frame, outhouse, and shower room — hot showers after a day’s activities were a welcome end to each day...

Thanks, Mom & Dad, for hosting us for a whole week and sharing your wonderful slice of Heaven with us!

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In Maine: Breathing Easy


A couple of days ago we crossed the border into Maine — yippee!! This photo is of a highway sign that captures pretty well, the whole premise of the easternmost of the U.S. States. By next week we’ll be at our final destination — Nicatous Lake in Downeast Maine. Once there, we’re planting ourselves for 8 days. The area around Nicatous is remote, with no electricity, running water or cell phone reception. What you will find there is a 40-mile long freshwater lake full of bass and wall-eye/pickerel, and surrounded with loons, osprey, coyote, deer, eagles, beaver, frogs and immense quiet. I can’t wait to get there...


But first, we’re hanging out in the more touristy coastal area where T grew up, visiting with family and letting T get back to his roots. Maine’s shores are unbelievably beautiful with thousands of miles of rocky coastline and clean sweet air. Little wonder it is invaded every summer with vacationers (like us) hungry to leave urbananity behind.

We’re also getting our fill of the incredible way Mainers have with seafood — creamy stews and chowders crowded with meat and still smelling of the sea, perfectly deep-fried popcorn-size Maine shrimp, clam strips, scallops and haddock with just a kiss of breading, and of course, steamy fresh-from-the-dock lobsters, mussels and clams.


Maine is renown for the incredibly sweet lobsters that abound in the cold waters of the Atlantic here, but what is less known is that Maine is home of the best fried seafood in the United States — Bar none. Truly, only in Italy and Greece have we had better fried seafood, but those were in a completely different style and variety of catch. And the best place to savor Maine’s deep-fried seafood done right is at the Sea Basket in Wiscasset (there’s a limerick in there somewhere, but I’m not that talented...). The way deep-fried is done at the Sea Basket, even the french fries aren’t greasy and taste of true potatoes. This is one place not to be missed if ever you’re between Boothbay and Bath, or on your way up to Acadia. It’s right on Route 1, just before you enter the town of Wiscasset if you’re coming from the south. We’ll be there one more time before we leave, because we didn’t have the oyster stew on this first visit.

And speaking of all things Maine, if you believe there are moose in this state, there’s still time to enter to win a copy of the “Moose Watcher’s Handbook” that GL is giving away on June 30th on her site, Maine Musing... check ‘em out!


Sunset from West Harpswell Island our first night back.

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Roadtrip!!

We’re planning a 600-mile road trip next week. This doesn’t sound so special, but after living on an island for 3 years it’s pretty exciting for us! Our final destination will be T’s parents’ lakeside camp in Maine, but along the way there are visits with other family members and even a school reunion. The biggest challenge of the trip, of course, involves having an 11 lb. cat with us — this will be Kiowea’s first big road trip. He’s a seasoned flyer now — having come here from Hawaii — but he had “big sis” Haiku to mentor him through the ordeal and she did a great job. Now that Kio is solo, we’re hoping he will adapt quickly on his own. To help, we’ve started putting Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy drops in his drinking water, and his kennel is out in the living room so he becomes familiar with it again.

I’ve heard rumors that there are moose in the area where we’re headed. I say “rumors” because for all the times I’ve visited the state, I’ve only seen statues of moose other people claim to have seen... This is now a running joke between my MIL and FIL and me — they say the moose leave when I get there. Ha ha. My mother-in-law swears that there really are moose in Maine and right now she is boosting her claim by giving away on her blog a beautiful full-color book all about these lumbering but majestic creatures. You can enter to win the book, “The Moose Watcher’s Handbook,” simply by leaving a comment if you follow this link to her site, Maine Musing, or clicking on the photo of the book (at right).. The giveaway closes on June 30, 2009 so there’s still plenty of time to enter!

But back to the road trip... I don’t know why being locked in a car for long periods of time has always signalled that it’s OK to eat junk food, but let’s go with that! I’ve already started collecting some of our favorite munchies — plenty of salty crunchy things and some sweets thrown in for good measure. But it’s been a long time since we’ve done a long trip so we’re a little out of practice, and I feel like we’re probably missing out on some good stuff. We would love suggestions for snack and junk foods — what are your must-haves when you’re hauling yourself around on the road or long train trip???

If anyone has any recommendations for good eats along U.S. I-95 between DC and Boston, we would welcome those, too — truck stops, cafes, restos, we love them all!! We’re familiar with the drive between Boston and our destination and are already planning to stop at Dysart’s near Bangor, ME either going to or coming from the camp. But we don’t really know the corridor between Boston and DC so would love to hear from more seasoned travellers. Thank you!


Maybe Kiowea will see a real moose on this trip...


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On the Move with Cats, Part 2

This is the second in a two-part post about travelling, especially during a permanent relocation, with cats. Part 1 covered 2 natural therapies we have used to keep the cats calm, and offered tips about non-traditional places to stay during your move. This part touches on kennel-training and insights about using U.S. carriers when your pets travel as cargo. Everything in this series is based on our personal experience with the three cats we have travelled with, and is not intended to substitute for the advice of your own veterinarian.



KENNEL-TRAINING
We have a sign that says, “Dogs have masters; Cats have staff.” It’s usually the case that cats are better at training their humans than we are at training them, but one instance when training can be really important is preparing your cat to be in a kennel or travel crate for long periods of time if she has to fly. If your cat has never been in a kennel or has only spent a short time travelling to or from the vet or groomer, then it will help your pet to practice being in a kennel for the same amount of time it will have to travel. For instance, if you’re putting your cat on a 3-hour flight and have to check her in 2 hours before departure, that’s at least a 5-hour time frame (more like 6 or 7) she will be in the kennel.

Kennel training does several things for your friend. One, it allows her to slowly get used to being in a kennel while she’s still in a familiar environment, her own home. Two, the timed training period will give her a sense that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel, and that she will see you again and maybe get a treat and a cuddle. Three, it gives her a chance to make the kennel her own — it will have her smell in it, and will become familiar and safe.

Begin kennel-training as far in advance of your travel as time will allow.
1. Use the actual kennel in which the cat will be travelling — put water and food dishes in place, too. Also use an absorbent lining for the floor of the kennel, and maybe a shirt or small towel that has your scent on it (this will also help to keep your cat calm). Most airlines will not allow any toys in the kennel, so don’t put any toys that she won’t be able to take on the trip. The point is the kennel will look and smell the same as it will on the day of travel.

2. Prepare the kennel with Feliway or Comfort Zone, if using: spray around the corners of the kennel 30 minutes before the cat goes in. (See
Part 1 for information about these natural alternatives to keep your cat calm)

3. Start with short time periods similar to a trip to the vet (10-20 minutes), and increase the time by 20-30 minute increments each day. As the time periods increase to hours, put food and water in the dishes so the cat is used to eating and drinking from them. The airlines won’t allow food in the kennels during the flight, but they will put food and water in the dishes during layovers if you provide the food. Check with your airline’s policy for pets travelling as cargo.

4. If at all possible, try to make the experience a pleasant one. Don’t chase the cat and throw her in the kennel every day because obviously she’ll be suspicious and traumatized by then. Once she’s in the crate, spend a few minutes assuring her she’s OK, but don’t stay too close the whole time — the point of the exercise is to get her used to being alone and to learn that you will come back for her. Then at the end, offer her a favorite treat — for our cats, it’s usually a cuddle and a good scratch around the ears — but catnip, treats, or whatever she considers special will work. One cat we knew loved broccoli!

Three weeks before their flight, we started kennel-training Kio. This would be his first plane trip. We figured Haiku had been through so many moves and long car trips that she didn’t need the practice, but Kio hated kennels and he would soil his kennel even in the short 7-minute trip from home to the vet!

After a couple of days, Kio had stopped soiling the kennel but was still mewing and letting everyone know he was not a happy camper. Then it occurred to T that maybe the process seemed like a punishment since Kio was singled out for this treatment, while Haiku was left roaming around. He was right — as soon as Haiku joined the routine, Kio settled down. Haiku lay down and went to sleep once she realized she wasn’t going to the vet; and by the second time they trained together, Kio actually walked into his kennel, lay down and fell asleep, too! By the end of the training period, he would remain asleep in his kennel even after the door was opened. When we dropped them off at the cargo office for their flight, Kio was noticeably anxious but he didn’t claw or cry. When Mike picked them up in D.C. 18 hours later, he called to say that Kio walked out of his clean kennel, plopped on a rug and made himself quite at home. (Mike had the
Comfort Zone diffuser plugged in at his home, too.)

FLYING IN THE U.S. WITH PETS
(This only applies to pets that are NOT travelling in the passenger cabin with you)
Travelling with pets on a U.S. carrier presents some challenges. Going from Hawaii to D.C. was the first time we tried to do this. What we learned is that
only one U.S. airline will guarantee travel with pets as cargo (our cats are too big to travel under the seat in the passenger cabin). What this means is that the other airlines will allow you to make reservations, BUT they can still refuse to accept your pet on the travel day if any stop in their itinerary is too hot or too cold. Translation: if you’re planning to have your pets travel in cargo on the same flight with you, you might find out that the airline will NOT let your pet be checked-in on the day you have reserved for them. The airlines can even call passengers AFTER the pets have been checked in (in some cases the passengers might already be passed security and waiting at the boarding gate) and tell them it has been determined that it will be too hot or too cold for the pet to travel in cargo. What does the passenger do then? The agents we talked to on the phone at Delta and United basically said: Not our problem.

We would have liked to travel on the same flight with the cats on this trip, but unfortunately our flight was arranged and paid by T’s employer who did not have travel contracts with the only airline that will guarantee pet travel reservations. We were travelling in August and were being routed through the Southeast, so it was a good bet that the airline we were flying with would cancel the cats’ reservations at the last minute and this was a stress we did not want or need. So we opted to have them fly out earlier on a different airline — the only one that would guarantee a travel day. We were also fortunate to have a kind person on the other end who offered to pick them up and take care of them until we got to D.C.

The only U.S. carrier that guarantees reserved travel for your pet (as cargo) is Continental Airlines — they are the only airline that has temperature-controlled holding areas for animals at all their major hubs. This might mean that you will not have the same itinerary as your pet, or that you will have to pay more for your flight if you want to match your pet’s itinerary, but at least you can count on your pet leaving when promised. The folks at the Continental cargo center in Honolulu told us that they often see frantic travellers at their counter who are trying to get their pet on a cargo flight an hour before their own flight is scheduled to leave because their airline refused to accept the pets at the last minute. Of course, trying to re-book at the last minute doesn’t always work out (and if someone can’t pick up your pet at the airport, the animal shelter will be called in) or people have to pay a premium price because they don’t have a reservation.

If you are not travelling on the same flight with or same itinerary as your pet, Continental allows you to track your pet’s flight and offers updates on their arrival at each stop. It also offers an extra service for pets whose itinerary goes through their Houston hub and whose layover is more than 3 hours long. For an additional fee per pet, you can have your pet’s kennel cleaned and your pet exercised, groomed, fed and given water. The amount of the fee will depend on the type and size of the animal; for cats it was an additional $75 for the first cat, and $50 for the second. Haiku and Kio had a 5-hour flight from Honolulu, a 5-hour layover in Houston, and another 3-hour flight to D.C., so it seemed like a worthwhile investment this time. If you don’t want the extra service, Continental will still give your pet water and any food you provide (dry food in a ziploc pouch taped to the kennel) during their layover, but the pet will not be allowed out of the kennel, and food and water will only be given through the locked door.

From the moment you know you have to re-locate until a few months after everything is unpacked and in its new place, there will be some stress and tension in the pets in your life. Think about how stressed you feel — and you know what’s going on and are (mostly) in control! Your pet has no idea why or to where you are moving, or even if they will be going with you. They may become clingy, talkative (mewing a lot), combative or depressed; or they may overeat or stop eating. Take a little time to reassure and comfort, and take to heart the Girl Scout motto and help them “Be Prepared” for the journey ahead. And when your pet invites you to play, accept the invitation — it will have a calming effect on you, too!


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On the Move with Cats


The American Psychiatric Association recognizes relocating, or moving, as one of the most stressful challenges we can face. It’s right behind death of a spouse or family member, and divorce and losing/changing jobs. But there are things we humans can do to prepare and to take care of ourselves throughout the moving process. We understand what’s happening — and even with children, we can talk to them and help them process what they’re feeling and what to expect in their new home.

Not so with our four-legged furry friends. What our pets see is that their people are stressing, and one day all their furniture and other stuff with their smell on it is taken away. Then it’s a series of strange places to stay, maybe a long car ride (or worse, a crate and dark plane ride for a long, long time), and finally another strange house with all their stuff in unfamiliar places. Hey, what gives?! I suspect dogs may have an easier time with this adjustment — we haven’t made any moves with dogs, so I can’t say for sure.

But cats, especially indoor-only cats, are all about The Routine: I wake up when I feel like it, but My Bowls are filled at This Time, twice a day, even if I have to walk across someone’s pillow or tickle someone with my whiskers; I sit by This Window to watch the birds, and that Other Window at exactly That Hour when the sunny spot hits me just so; my people come home at This Hour and I spend half an hour letting them brush me and pay me the Attention I deserve... So what happens when The Routine is interrupted and Things Change?... Acting out (spraying, fighting, scratching furniture), loss of appetite or overeating, clinginess, depression, just about any reaction you can expect from a human... (See Cat's-Eye View: When Our Pets Decide To Move Without Consulting Us)

In the last 11 years we’ve moved five times, twice literally across the world, with two cats. Unquestionably our toughest move in terms of pet travel was going from Germany to Hawaii because of Hawaii’s strict quarantine laws. Because Hawaii is rabies-free, they understandably want to keep it that way and so there is a long-standing 4-month quarantine on incoming animals (same is true in the U.K. and Guam, both also rabies-free). Fortunately for us, just a year or so before we moved there, the quarantine regulations were loosened to allow the pets to fulfill the quarantine period BEFORE you get to the Islands. It’s a very strict protocol, with numerous steps and expensive tests and fees. But if you’re considering bringing your pets with you when you move to Hawaii, it’s considerably better for your pet to follow this protocol than to allow them to languish in quarantine for 4 months.

WHERE TO STAY
What we didn’t realize when we moved to Hawaii, until it was almost too late, was that if you successfully by-pass the quarantine for your pets, there are no hotels — on Oahu, at least — that will allow you to keep pets with you! Actually when we moved in 2005, there was one hotel and one short-term apartment rental that did allow pets, but they have both changed their rules. So unless you have family or friends in Hawaii willing to house your pet, you might have to kennel your pets while you house-hunt — which defeats one of the purposes of avoiding quarantine.

One alternative we found on Oahu is to find advertised private vacation rentals that will allow you to keep your pets with you (we used
craigslist). On this latest move, we found a high-rise 1-bedroom condo in the heart of Waikiki that was less expensive per night than any hotel, even those with special local or military rates. Make sure pets are okay, and that payment is made through some kind of system with guarantees (we used Paypal) so your money doesn’t disappear before you get a set of keys. You may be asked to pay a deposit, in our case the deposit was refundable once the Lessor knew there was no damage from the pets.

In Germany we have also booked with pet-friendly private vacation rentals, called Ferienwohnungen (or FeWo, for short), when entering or leaving the country. These are usually fully furnished private apartments, many of which include breakfast or at least Brotchen delivery service in the mornings. They too are usually cheaper than hotels, and provide all the amenities of home, including cable or satellite internet connections, washer and dryer in the unit, linens, and fully equipped kitchens. In general, it is much easier to travel with pets in Europe, especially Germany, than in the U.S. but your pet is expected to be well-behaved and clean. And it helps to know what to expect: many FeWo are attached to the landlord’s home, are located outside the main city or town, and the landlord usually speaks a smattering of English (but which was always much better than our German).

In the U.S., you can find lists of “pet-friendly” hotels and motels, but call directly to the hotel you’re planning to stay in — rather than the hotel chain’s 800-number — because these policies can change very quickly (“One bad apple” can spoil the whole bunch, Girl"). If you’re planning to bring more than one animal, ask if it’s okay before you get there — some places only allow one pet per room. And get the okay about pets in writing in your confirmation email. By the same token, some places that advertise only one pet per room may let you keep more than one cat or smaller dogs if they do not disturb other guests. But consider, hotels that accept pets (not counting premium 3 and 4 star properties, of course) are generally not centrally located and often require deposits or charge extra fees.

NATURAL THERAPIES
To prepare your cat for any stressful situation (vet visit, boarding, relocation) there are 2 products we highly recommend — one can be used by humans as well as pets, but the other is specific to cats. The first is “Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy”, a British homeopathic formula that includes over a dozen flower essences — it is sold in dropper bottles or sprays. I discovered Dr. B’s on the recommendation of the house mother I lived with in London when I was studying at Leith’s — a few drops in your tea or under the tongue helps to calm nerves in just a few minutes. A few drops in your cat’s drinking water does the same for your pet. When we know a stressful situation is coming up, we’ll begin adding the drops to the cats’ water every day for 2 weeks before the event. In cases like a relocation, we’ll add it to their water or put one drop in soft food throughout the process. Dr. Bach’s ($10-17) is available in the U.S. at many health food stores, Whole Foods markets, and on Oahu, at Star Market.

The other product is called Feliway spray — which is available by that brand name, or as a component in “Comfort Zone” spray in the U.S. As its name implies, Feliway is designed for cats. It’s a pheromone-based spray that calms felines. It was first prescribed by our German vets when Haiku and Laika were flying from Germany to Boston. The spray is used on your cat’s kennel, bedding, toys or other objects that the cat is around — don’t spray the cat itself! A newer product is the Comfort Zone plug-in room diffuser, which uses the same technology as those plug-ins that release fragrances into a room, except these have no fragrance (at least we don’t smell anything). This was particularly helpful when Haiku and Kio spent a week at our friend Mike’s home in DC before we joined them, and then in the series of hotels we all endured over the next 3 weeks, and finally our new home. One diffuser lasted about one month. You can find both CZ spray ($20 and up) and diffuser ($35-50) at PetSmart and Feliway ($13-25) on-line from Ashley's Animal Ark. Once you have a diffuser you can buy just the refills. We’ve seen Feliway/CZ lessen stress activities such as constant mewing, clawing at kennel doors and floors, and “spraying." But it also works in other stress situations — fighting among household pets or introducing new animals (or babies) to the family.

But just like catnip (25% of cats are not affected by catnip), one or both of these products may not work on all cats. We just wanted to share our experiences in case other people are looking for non-pharmaceutical alternatives to travelling with their feline friends.
Everything in this series is based on our personal experience with the three cats we have travelled with, and is not intended to substitute for the advice of your own veterinarian.

Next post, Part Two:
The benefits of kennel-training and what we learned about flying with pets in the U.S.


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World Pasta Day: Homemade Pasta

** This a "talk story" post. In Hawaii, to "talk story" is to share memories and tell stories. **

When I received
Verena's invitation (from "Mangia che te fa bene") yesterday to participate in World Pasta Day, which is Thursday, October 25th, the first thing that came rushing back was our last trip to Italy in 2003. We had such fun exploring the Cinque Terra, the 5 sparkling sea cliff villages on the Italian riviera that have been designated a World Heritage site. More on that in a bit, but first the pasta.

Immediately after returning from that trip, I felt compelled to make pasta at home to take advantage of this beautiful wondrous mushroom called Ovoli we found in the markets at
Chiavari (the town we stayed in). I'm sorry this picture doesn't do it justice because it was taken 4 days after we bought it, and after a train ride, overnight in Bologna (sigh . . . Bologna), plane trip to Germany, 2-hour car ride home, etc. You can see it retained it's lovely orange color, despite our abuse.
Prized ovoli mushroom

We were there around this time of year (October) and it was mushroom season and the markets were full of all kinds of incredible mushrooms. I don't speak Italian besides being able to order coffee, and inquire about a price (but not understand the answer). That's what happened with these mushrooms. I was so taken with them that I just selected 2 and handed them to the proprietor. And she handed me a receipt for . . . (gasp) 20+ Euros. The Euro-USD exchange rate was better then that it is now, but that was still about $19. This was for 260g of mushrooms -- yes, that works out to about $40/lb!! I looked at her sign for the first time (I was too enthralled with the mushrooms to see it earlier) and yes, it said 80 Euros per kilo. A sane person might have said, oh, sorry, my mistake, I won't be taking these. Instead I thought, wow, these must be good, I have to try them! I asked the proprietor (in German, it was our only semi-common language) to write down the name of the mushroom in Italian, which she was kind enough to do.

So, no dried pasta for these babies, it had to be from scratch. I also did a mad search on the web for any information on the Ovoli and recipe ideas on how to take most advantage of it's unique flavors. I wanted a recipe as simple as possible, so the Ovoli would not be overshadowed by any other ingredient.

Egg Pasta
500g/ 4 cups durum flour (Type 00), aka "pasta flour" in the US
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp salt

Mix flour and salt. Make a mound of the flour and a well in the center. Add the egg yolks and starting from the middle, incorporate the yolks into the flour (this is messy but fun!). Gradually add flour from the sides until all flour is incorporated. Flour your hands, start kneading until the dough comes together and does not stick so much. Cover with damp towel and let rest while assembling pasta maker. We will finish the kneading with the pasta maker/roller.
Flour, egg yolks, salt

Set your pasta maker on the largest setting. Sprinkle flour very generously over the pasta roller. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take the first piece and flatten it with your hands so it will fit through the rollers. (Keep the other pieces under a damp towel.) Crank it all the way through. It will look something like this.
First pass through the roolers
Not very appetizing yet. Fold the dough and pass it through the rollers again. This action is actually doing the kneading for you.

After 2-3 times at the largest setting, go to the next smaller setting on your roller, and pass it through 2 times. Remember to fold the dough after it comes out of the rollers!
Dough after 6 passes

Set the rollers down at the third setting and roll through again. Now it's starting to resemble pasta . . .



Roll through the third setting one more time (don't forget to fold). This is a before and after view of the dough.
Pasta dough before and after kneading
After the last roll, cut your kneaded dough again into 3 pieces. Bring your roller setting down to the last setting, and put the short end of the dough through for the final roll. This is for the thinness of the dough. (Sorry, no picture of that)

Now go to the cutting side of your roller and put the paper-thin pieces of dough through to be cut. Sprinkle with more flour, gather lightly and leave to air dry. Isn't that beautiful? Fresh fettucine.
Pasta is cut into its final shapeFresh fettucine drying
But wait, we've only made one of those bundles so far. You have to go back and finish cutting the 2 other pieces of kneaded dough. Then there are still 3 pieces of unkneaded dough that have to go through the whole process. Hard work? A bit, but it's the kind of repetitious work, like making bread, that is meditative as well. If you're not in the mood to be meditative, put on your favorite music, open a nice Montepulciano and have fun with your work!

Ovoli saffron Sauce (made this up after a web search)
2 Ovoli, about 250g, cleaned gently with a towel and lovingly sliced
1-2 TBL olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 TBL unsalted butter
4-5 TBL creme fraiche
pinch of Saffron
sea salt to taste

Warm creme fraiche gently and add saffron to infuse.

Sear mushroom pieces in hot pan with minimal (no more than 2 tsp) oil. You want them to brown, not lose their juices. Remove them from pan. In same pan, add rest of olive oil and lower heat. Add garlic and saute until soft. Add butter and saffron-creme fraiche, and let them warm through. Turn heat to medium high and return mushrooms to pan. Heat through. Remove from heat and season as needed with salt. Mangia!
Fettucine in Saffron Ovoli Sauce
Fettucine with Ovoli Saffron Sauce



I hope now you will indulge me the nostalgia for the lovely places that inspired this cooking. The
Cinque Terre are the five villages (from south to north) of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. There is a cliff-side trail that connects the villages. We started first from the south, in Riomaggiore, and took our time to visit in each village. We stopped for a late lunch in Corniglia, the middle village, and took the train back to Chiavari for the night. Now a word to the wise, the trail that starts in the south, at Riomaggiore is a wide boulevard, paved and often with guard rails. We thought the whole trail was like that. But we were wrong.

View of Riomaggiore from the start of the trail
From the trail

Entering Manarola from the trail, and down its main street
Entering Manarola fr the south Manarola's main street

The only way to reach the town of Corniglia from the train station is up this switchback staircase! That'll work up your appetite.
Switchback staircase to Corniglia Fresh and fried, that's how we like it!

We started the next day at the northernmost village, Monterosso, and headed on the trail south to the village of Vernazza. The trail starts off as it did in Riomaggiore, paved and with rails, as you can see in this picture looking back at Riomaggiore from the beginning of the trail.
Northernmost village of Monterosso Trail leaving Monterosso

But it becomes this, and this. At one point, there is a narrow foot path (so narrow that my size 6 1/2, Euro 37, feet could not stand together on the trail) hugging the cliff-line for about 200 feet. We have no pictures of that because our fingers were dug into the cliff as we shuffled, crab-like, through that part!
The pavement and railing is gone after the first half-hour on the trail More on the trail

But after 2 1/2 hours hiking you see the light at the end of this dusty tunnel. The jewel of a village that is Vernazza.

Heading south on the cliff-side trail to Vernazza The gleaming jewel that is Vernazza

Thanks for taking that journey back with me. It's back to Hawaii and the present day in the next post, promise.

Happy World Pasta Day!
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