Savoring the Summer

Greetings And Happy Summer to everyone!

Since the summer edition of the Giornale is always the most popular, I wanted to start by talking about my very favorite ingredient of the season. Recipes are usually placed 3rd or 4th in the Giornale, but let’s give a recipe priority this time. This particular recipe is so simple and so good that I had to make it first.

Insalata Di Anguria (Summer Watermelon Salad)

So why do I like watermelon so much?

What’s not to like? The taste, the bright red color (my favorite), the sweetness, the texture…you name it, watermelon’s got it. But as you know, behind all my favorite ingredients there is a story, which usually has to do with my childhood and my family…remember the story about the Artichokes?

Cori, Italy

When I was a kid, I lived in Ferrara (northern Italy) since my father’s job was up there. But as soon as school was over, we would go spend the warm summer months at my parents’ native town of Cori. As you may know, Cori is in the hills southeast of Rome and north of Latina, the closest place to go to the beach (only 20 miles).

Our daily ritual was to wake up really early (summer heat in Europe is pretty uncomfortable, so everyone starts their day early), have breakfast, meet up with my cousins and my aunt (R.I.P. Zia Paola…will always miss you). During the half hour drive down the hill to the beach, our faces would be glued to the windows admiring the beauty of our town. The horses on the side of the road, the farms, the vineyards, even at times stopping for chickens crossing the street. You can imagine it was quite an entertaining drive for little kids. Such a contrast to today – there were no videogames to play (Thank God!).

ImageOn the side of the road, we would usually see little kiosks, which by 8-9 am, would be open to sell anything from peaches to vegetables to plums. And of course my favorite was the little watermelon kiosk about 15 minutes into the drive. WHY?

Because on every single trip back from the beach, we would stop there and grab one giant waterlemon, bring it home, throw it in a huge bucket of ice, and after a quick shower we would DEVOUR that thing like nobody’s business. So with all this said, I realize the reason I love watermelon so much is as much the flavor as it is its ability to bring back memories of family time and SUMMER fun.

Even now, summertime trips to farmers’ market stands take me back to those unbelievable memories. I hope you don’t mind my reminiscing, but that’s what happens when you write your Giornale so early. It’s 5am as I’m writing this, and I’m still dreaming of my homeland and my childhood. TRANSLATED: I’m home sick!!!

Enjoy the recipe for your summer dinners. This is a great start for an outdoor BBQ outdoor with family and friends, or a formal seated dinner. It’s easy to prepare and its vibrant colors make it look really cool.

Insalata Di Anguria (Summer Watermelon Salad)

INGREDIENTS:
1 Small Seedless Watermelon from local farms
1/4 cup Sliced Kalamata Olives
2 Limes
1/2 cup Feta Cheese
2 springs of Fresh Mint
4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cut the watermelon in small cubes of 1” X 1”.
Each salad will have 12 pieces, or you can combine it all on a tray for family style service.
Squeeze the Fresh limes and set them aside.
Place watermelon on a plate, drizzle some of the lime juice, drizzle some of the olive oil (both divided equally), add 5-6 slices of kalamata olives, add some feta cheese, and complete with a few leaves of fresh mint.
You can juice the remaining parts of watermelon and make an amazing watermelon-vodka cooler topped off with some prosecco.

“NEW” Hands On Cooking Classes

Those who know me well can tell you there’s one thing I’m not so crazy about (because of time and logistics), it’s cooking class!!!

BUT when the cooking class involves lots of fun, eating, drinking, making gigantic messes in the kitchen, plus more eating, drinking, laughing and storytelling? …  Welcome to my new career…LOL

ImageA few months ago, a dear friend approached me to ask if I would do something special for a mutual friend’s bridal shower. This particular bride-to-be must have been Italian in a past life, judging from the way she dresses, speaks, and acts, as well as her passion for food and fun.

I was asked to create some interactive way of cooking while having fun, and she mentioned the possibility of teaching the guests how to make fresh pasta. At the time I thought, “NO WAY! Me making fresh pasta with 10 ladies chatting, drinking and giggling…the pasta will never be done and they would be STARVED.”

So instead I had this idea to make “Dining al Fresco” the theme, and I created a menu using all local summer ingredients. The menu included some of my favorite dishes and ingredients, like heirloom tomato, burrata, cantaloupe and wild arugula salad, stuffed figs, pea and ricotta bruschetta, pasta with bresaola, shaved asparagus and lemon zest, chicken in piccata sauce and so much more…

The way I did it??

After creating the menu, I submitted the list of ingredients to the host, and I pointed out the stores and local farms where they could be found. I showed up a few hours early and made sure the dinner table was set. I prepared the Mis En Place (French terms for staging ingredients) for each dish, prepared the cutting boards and the knives and of course chilled some beverages.

When the ladies arrived, the first thing was to welcome them with a drink, get everyone familiar with each other, then go over the menu and assign everyone a specific task under my supervision. By 2-3 hours, dinner was done and ready on platters, and everyone took a seat. We served the dinner family style, all the while chatting and laughing our heads off….

As a good married man I left at that point…LOL

SO IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in this new type of Cooking Class, please email me directly at giuseppe@giuseppecatering.com. I’m sure it would make a great birthday gift, a fun baby or bridal shower, or a memorable get together with your friends.

What’s New in my Fitness World…Breakaway Cycle

A Boutique Indoor Cycling Studio

This year again I was able to complete a few more triathlons and stay connected with the sport. Then after signing up as a team sponsor for Breakaway-Training, another opportunity landed right in my lap.

In Italy we say “Catch the ball while the ball is bouncing,” which I would explain means take a new opportunity while you can. So where was the ball bouncing?

When one of my dearest friends and longtime clients, Jon Halberg, approached me about a year ago, he said “Hey G can we have coffee?” and, admittedly, I was thinking that this guy was about to hire me for another amazing party. (I had the honor to cater his kids’ celebrations, his and his wife’s milestone birthdays, and all the family functions through the years.) So with business coming my way and a great chance to have coffee and catch up with my friend, I was ready for a great start to my day.

Now those familiar with Jon know he was one of the most successful people in the car business in this city. Remember the Metro-Volkswagen dealer on Kettner Blvd and its commercial with the “Metro MAN”?

Well that is Jon, a one-of-a-kind human being who was lucky enough to happily retire and move on in life with new ventures. So I was surprised when, once we sat down, Jon asked me, “G what would you think about opening a spinning studio?” I just said, “WHAT?”

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It took me a minute to process why he was asking ME this question, and most of all why would he want to go back to work, dealing with employees and overhead when he’s happily retired?

It turns out he asked me because  I’d been teaching spinning for a few years and my class on Sunday was always very popular, and he trusted my judgment as a business person. Most of all, he wanted some guidance on starting this new venture and getting away from the retired lifestyle. So to make a long story short, we grabbed a cocktail napkin, wrote some notes, drew a few schematics…and Breakaway Cycle was born. Isn’t that amazing??

From one little napkin to a state-of-the-art boutique indoor cycling studio, and surely nothing like this exists in this part of Southern California. Described in our words:

ImageWe are up-at-5-AM, day-conquering, boundary breakers. We see a mountain, we climb it. …We sweat passion. We pedal ambition. We break free from limitations. We break a sweat. We break through barriers. And together—we breakaway.

It is truly a MUST SEE and a MUST TRY. By visiting the website (http://www.breakawaycycle.com/) you will find out more information about what we do and how we do it. I teach there now three times a week and you can see my classes on the schedule.

As a new local business, the studio is offering limited special deals so you can try things out. Stop by at the studio anytime. The first class you take is free. The second class is free when you bring a friend.  Watch out, because it’s becoming pretty popular, so hurry up and go see it.

As always I look forward to sharing some fitness time with you and balancing out my culinary life as well. I hope to see you there. 

Philanthropy & Upcoming Events

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Bishop School Gala

Another first semester has passed, and we stayed pretty active in the philanthropic and charity community, both as a company and as an individual through my own personal work. We had the privilege to cater some really amazing charity galas back in the spring. The highlights of March and April were the amazing Supper Club evening at the Playhouse and the Disco Nights to celebrate the Bishop School annual auctions.

Another really good and heartwarming event was the Alzheimer foundation gala which drew almost 500 guests, including some of the top players in the city.


So much more happened that it would take me too long to explain, so instead I will tell you what is ahead of us:

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Playhouse Gala

. Upcoming in August is the annual UCSD CANCER CENTER LUAU AND LONGBOARD INVITATIONAL. This event is unbelievable and takes place right by our Caroline’s Seaside Café. As a local surfer and as a local philanthropist, I am extremely honored to be working with this organization. I am reaching out to all of you to visit the website and get familiar with this amazing celebration. (http://longboardluau.org/)

. Another up and coming Gala is for the LUX ART INSTITUTE, which will take place late in September at a gorgeous estate in Rancho Santa Fe. The theme will be built around the 50’s with a swanky setting, low lights and a ton of great food. There will be plenty of fun with drinks, music and auctions. (http://www.luxartinstitute.org/)

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click to enlarge

. As you know, I belong to a group of local CEOs called PEERS. This is a group that works together and supports each other in life and business, and most of all this is one of the fastest growing groups in the San Diego philanthropy scene. Last year our annual gala raised almost 200K to benefit Just in Time for Foster Youth.

This year we are about to sell out our gala coming on October 13th. It will be held at a beautiful estate just above Black’s Beach. More info can be found here  and here.

I look forward to seeing you there.

So to everyone, giving back is key in life. Help others, support your locals, and make a difference. There are people out there who can use your help.

And of course, HAPPY SUMMER EVERYONE!!!!

Mangia bene e vivi meglio ~

Giuseppe Ciuffa

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