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Friday, April 25, 2008

The Baroque Era (Part I)

The word baroque is both a noun and an adjective. It is a term used in the literature of the arts with a unique meaning.

The word has a long and interesting history. It might have originated with the Portuguese word for misshapen pearl.

But, in English, it has retained three principal meanings. The first and primary meaning labels the style of European art that occurred between Mannerism and Rococo.

The second meaning refers to the general label for this period when this style was in great fashion, mainly in the 17th century and in some areas of the globe large parts of the 18th centruy. It is referred as the age of Baroque, Baroque politics, etc.

The meaning that is used very little refers to 'baroque' with a small "b" and refers to any time in history when art displays change and use of the intellect.

A Middle Eastern Wine Tale

Once upon a time, a long time ago an cient Persian fable recalls a lady of the court with the discovery of wine. The lady was a princess who had lost favor with her father, the King. She attempted to poison herself by eating some table grapes that had spoiled in a jar.

She became intoxicated and finaly fell asleep.

When she came out of her sleep, she found the stresses that had made her life not worth living were gone.

The princess regained the favor of her father, the King. The King shared the princess's discovery with his Court. And the rest is wine history.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Where Wine and History Meet

In 1867, when excavators were digging the foundation for a new house in a vineyard near the town of Speyer Germany, there were surprised to find two Roman stone sarcophaguses.

These ancient stone coffins contained a green-yellow amphora (storeage jar). The jar dates back to approximately 325 AD. The amphora has handles formed in the shape of dolphins. One of several bottles found, this is the only one with the contents still preserved.

The preserved liquid has much silty sediment. It has been estimated that 2/3 of the contents are a thicker, hazy mixture. This is probably olive oil. The ancient Romans used olive oil to float on the surface of a bottle of wine to preserve the contents from oxidation.

This amphora or storage jar, along with other wine antiquities, is on display at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz (History Museum of the Pfalz) near the town of Speyer in Germany.

Wine lovers enjoy the following sites:

Italian Renaissance Architecture and Art: Mannerism

Originating in Italy as a reaction against the equilibrium and form characteristic of the High Renaissance, mannerism is equated in art as well as architecture (c.1520-1600). In Florence, Pontormo and Brozino, and in Rome, Il Rosso, Parmigianino and Beccafuni created a new form. These elegant figures were elongated and in uncomfortable postures.

Mannerists rendered pieces of art in which scale and proportion were deliberately off kilter. Good examples of this type of art exist in the work of Tintoretto and El Greco.

The works of the Zuccaro brothers took mannerism to another plane. By the end of the century, the Baroque age had taken over.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Long Island is Wine Country!

In February 2008, the New York Times announced that it would publish a new section on the Long Island wine region. Noted wine expert and veteran New York Times writer, Howard Goldberg, wrote an introduction for this new section of the newspaper. Summing up he said, "while the Finger Lakes in north-central New York define the state's largest region, the Long Island wine region seems the most exciting."

In the past thirty years, the Long Island wine industry has evolved from one small vineyard to nearly 3,000 acres of vines with over 30 wineries producing wines with a world class reputation.

The Long Island region embraces both Nassau and Suffolk counties. The majority of the wineries are in the East End of Long Island, specifically the North and South "forks." Time honored traditions have been amalgamated with state of the art technology to produce wines that are highly praised throughout the world.

Traveling to the Long Island Wine region is an extraordinary experience. You will be able to sample and purchase award winning wines directly from the vineyards as well as enjoy beautiful scenery and a wide range of leisure time adventures.

St. Peter's Church

The present Church of St. Peter in Rome was begun by Pope Julius II in 1506 and completed in 1615.

Known the world over as the church of the Roman Catholic Popes, St. Peter's is one of the largest churches. It was built to replace Old St. Peter's Church built by Constantine over Peter's traditional burial site.

St. Peter's Church was built according to the original plan of Donato Bramante. This design was to take the form of a Greek cross around the Central Dome.

Many other architects are connected to the design of St. Peter's like the Renaissance artist, Raphael. They changed the original design from the Greek cross to a Latin cross; however, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger returned to Bramante's original idea.

Michelangelo,who follwed Sangallo, almost finished the drum for the massive dome before he died.

Pope Paul V adopted the sketches of Carlo Madero, which extended the church nave in an easterly direction. Bernini added the piazza, lined by the colonnades, that introduce the basilica.

St. Peter's Church is filled with Renaissance and Baroque priceless masterpieces, including Michaelangelo's Pieta and a bronze throne of St. Peter.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Art, Wine, Architecture and more...

I am so excited to welcome Sandra Pianin as a guest blogger on Maria & Co.
Watch for Sandra's blogs on wine, art and architecture..all of the subjects she has a passion for...
Sandra will be blogging a few times a week and as always you can post your comments to her here on her blog entries..

Welcome Sandra!!!!

Ciao for now..
Maria Liberati
Visit me at

For recipes and to and get your copy of the bestsellign book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at $5 off retial price and free shipping as well..

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tiramisu light

One of my favorite desserts is tiramisu. It reminds me of along afternoons at the coffee bars in Italy..a great mid afternoon dessert to have as a pick me up.

Here is my own lighter version of the recipe. The original version does contain mascarpone cheese..which is reallya 'scrumptious' cheese and it is an artisanal cheese but becasue it has such a high fat content I have decided to make a still healthy but lower calorie version of this dessert.

here it is..

Tiramisu (light version)
(copyright, 2005,2006,2007, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking, Maria Liberati)

*16 ounce package of savoiardi or ladyfingers
*1 cup espresso coffee with 1 tablespoon sugar
* ¼ cup powdered unsweetened cocoa
*1 tsp amaretto or anisette liqueur
*8 ounces of fat free coffee flavored yogurt
*8 ounces fat free cream cheese
*small piece of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)

Place espresso coffee with 1 tblsp of sugar or 2 packets of artificial sweetener in shallow bowl. Dip each ladyfinger in the coffee mixture for about 2 seconds. Then arrange biscotti-side by side to on a plate.
Place yogurt and cream cheese in bowl and whip together till well belndedwith hand mixer. Blend in liqueur.. Spread about 3/4 of yogurt mixture on top of ladyfingers. Repeat again and top with ladyfingers and then top with remaining yogurt mixture. Place in refrigerator for at least one hour. Right before serving, dust with powdered cocoa and shave some dark chocolate on top.

For more recipes get the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at for $5 off retial price and free shippping now!!see what everyone is talking about..

Ciao for now,