HockeyTradeRumors In Northern Italy Part II

Hello everyone! It’s time for Part II of HTR’s coverage of Torino 2006 Winter Olympics. Here comes some good food, my top Italian beers…. and definitely Olympic Hockey Talk.I really hope all of you are enjoying the Olympic Hockey, I definitely am. It is amazing how I only got to find one real…authentic Italian restaurant here in the US. And, it had to be in Boca Raton, Florida.

This place has the real good Italian stuff that you will never find anywhere else, such as the many plates of wild game.

To give you an example. Last night I had polenta (very similar to cornmeal, but creamy and while it is being cooked…you add some good Italian cheeses to it). With the polenta, there was quail, a pork rib, and wild boar sausages. The taste between a normal sausage and a wild boar sausage is extremely different. And by the way, any sausage that has fennel seeds inside is not a real sausage.

Anyway, that is the kind of stuff Northern Italians eat. Before that plate, I had a funghi (mushroom) porcini soup, with a little bit of truffles on top.

These are things that are unheard of here. Elk chop is also very popular up North, and I must say that elk chop is one of the tastiest meats I have ever eaten, and I am a total meat lover. Pheasant is another animal that we eat up North in Italy.

You’ve heard of prosciutto, most likely. There is the Parma-cotto which is the normal ham… cooked ham. And the prosciutto crudo (raw) which is the cured ham. Well, let me present you another one called speck. Speck is just like prosciutto crudo, salted and seasoned with pepper, coriander and herbs. It is briefly smoked with wood chips, then naturally air cured for about a year. It’s probably impossible to find in the US. I get it here in Florida, but in Canada it is VERY possible as I believe they also make it in Canada.

Hockey Break

Well, I am starting to get hungry so let’s take a break. I must say that I’ve been surprised by my Italian team in the Olympics. I understand many are Canadian born, but they have Italian blood and they became, legally, Italian. I don’t see anything wrong with that. But hey, I got up at 7-am…and I must say… the first five minutes of Italy vs. Canada was exciting. I got to give my Azzurri some credit for comming out to play real hockey. Sure, they ended up getting killed on the scoreboard, too many penalties, but they showed up.

I was a bit upset to watch Germany, when playing against Italy, play a very defensive game. A tie would have been a loss, theoretically, yet everytime Germany tied the game (they never led), they sat back and sent one guy out to forecheck. Against a less talented Italian team that kept trying to score and win, as evidenced since they kept leading up until Germany scored the 3rd.

But imagine that, Italy played competitive enough to almost win a game.

One great thing about Italian hockey is that it is acquiring North American influence. In the 90’s it was a lot of washed up 2nd tier Eastern European players that changed their passports to play for Italy. Now, Mickey Grule is really giving Italy a totally different plan. Inserting North American style of hockey is exactly what Italy needs. Physical, a lot of back and forth skating. Italy will never have an NHL 1st line skilled player, but they can build a tough competitive team. Grule gives enough credibility to allow more money to be put into hockey programs in Italy.

I really wish the best for my country and hockey. The Italian hockey league is well recognized in the hockey world. I believe it was Joe Michelletti, or Dave Strader, where he said many European players, or North Americans, come to Italy to play hockey. Why? He said that they play hockey, the job pays them enough, and Northern Italy is a great place to raise families.

Hey, I’d love to play hockey, and eat the great food, drink the great drinks, and enjoy life. Sure, the weather is cold, but there is a lot to do up there.

End of Break

By the way, I forgot to add to the prosciutto talk. It is very common in Italy to eat prosciutto and mozzarella. Of course up North is spek and mozzarella. But, mozzarella is very different than what you buy here in the US and in Canada. Normal mozzarella, sure…you can find a good one around. But, mozzarella di bufala (buffalo) is the real specialty, bot not the top. You can find buffalo mozzarella, but it is very hard to get a good one because as it travels long, and with refrigeration, it tends to get very….. “acidy”.

By the way, mozzarella actually originated in Southern Italy, but anywhere in Italy is good. The top mozzarella cheese that I ever ate is called burrata. Imagine an “oval” of mozzarella, but inside… it’s mozzarella cream. So, it is very soft..creamy mozzarella. I catch it once in a while down here in Florida (I am so lucky), but if you go to the real Italian deli markets and tell the manager to look for “burrata”, they should be able to find it. And yes, Canada has the advantage for that.

As far as cheeses go, Northern Italy has tons of them. And, only a few could I find here in the US. Of course the common one is parmiggiano (parmesan). But there are others like asiago, taleggio, fontina,…. then a cheese called mascarpone is used to make the famous desert called “tirami-su`”.

Hockey Break

Alright, what is up with Canada? I say that the team has way too many all-star players. Not that they play like they don’t care, but they look out of sync. That’s what happens when you put too much talent on a team. Look at Team Finland, they have the right players to fit certain roles. Canada has the best players.

Remember Herb Brooks? Pick the right players to win, not the best ones.

What say you?

I like the way Finalnd plays hockey because it really matches up very well against North American hockey. Imagine if they had Kiprusoff? They could have been a lock for the gold medal.

And what is up with Team USA!? I said it from the beginning, I did not like Don Waddell’s choices. I think Ryan Miller should be in net, and he clearly ignored him. Don’t tell me that Miller was injured and that’s why Waddell did not pick him. That’s nonesense. Tkachuk was out too…and came back recently before the Olympic break.

It seemed like USA also tried to go with the best players available, because they are much less talented than certain others. But, why not go for the heart and soul players, like Jed Ortmeyer? Not because he is a Ranger, but the guy plays like the American kids of 1980. I think Jason Blake is not used well enough. Erik Cole… too quiet. These guys are agitators, but they are not agitating. Look at Jarkko Ruutu who took a cheap shot on Jagr. Yeah, cheap shot but the guy stirred things up.

Both USA and Canada should have treated their teams like a regular NHL team. Talent, chemistry, role players, and character. They have those ingredients, but they are being misused.

End of Break

So what about those two famous Italian beers I mentioned in that Beer Edition Challenging Mikster article?

Well, you finally get to know them.

My favorite Italian beer is……… Forst. It is such a tasty Pilsner beer.

Yes, the Italians favor the wine, but beer started to catch up lately because of the beer movement from the north. A lot of Italian beers were highly influenced by Austrian breweries in the 19th century. Forst is very tasty and I doubt you would be able to find it in the US since the Importer down here is not taking it anymore, which really upset me. But in Canada, you may have a shot. It is a very rich beer, one to drink while eating. What it tastes like? Expect some sweet flavor, yet because it is a European pilsner, it also has that bitter flavor too. Really great mix.

The second beer that I really get to enjoy is Menabrea, Now this is interesting. Originally, this beer started in the big island of Sardegna (Sardinia). Eventually, it was then moved to the same town that my family comes from, and that town is… Biella!

Mr. Menabrea himself was actually a popular figure in Italy as he was involved in politics and did a lot of engineering work, even for military purposes, back in the 1800’s.

Now this beer is very unique. I don’t like it as much as Forst, but it is a great beer. It’s a blonde beer, quite bitter because of the richness in hops.

Another tid bit about this beer, it is Jacques Chirac’s favorite beer.

I really encourage you to get this beer because it has won gold medals. Go to their Web site:

http://www.birramenabrea.it/index1.htm

Check it out. A lot of history, the medals…are interesting. In 2004, the Menabrea Lager Amber won the silver in the World Beer Championships in Chicago.

Once again, Canadians get lucky here. The main contact for Menabrea beer is in Toronto. If you look on the homepage, click on Agents and select the world. You’ll see contact info if you scroll down the right side.

I like this beer, pretty much a beer to drink every night, goes well with anything to eat, make sure it’s Italian food… of course!

Annnnd… the most common beer from Italy is Peroni Beer. Unfortunately it is no longer owned by the family that ran it….. and that’s because too many idiots were running the private firm. It is now owned by SAB (South African Beer)-Miller. You can find Peroni Beer, and the special one is called Nastro Azzurro (Blue Ribbon). That’s a great one too.

For wines…well… I’ll include the wine talk in Part III later this week where it will be a wrap up of the hockey tournament in Torino, Italy.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. I enjoy doing it. To tell someone about your country is something to be proud of. In 2010…. I’d like to see the BC Canadians come out and give me every tid bit on BC, local beers… foods, some culture and history. I love this stuff. Be proud to do it when you get the chance…. it is your land and a part of your life. Like I say to many people. I am extremely proud of my US citizenship…. but soul is Italy. And though Rome is my capital and my place of birth, and where I spent nine years of my life, I know where my roots come from…. up in North Italy.

Thank you all and cheer your country!

Micki Peroni

Vice-Admin