Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ten Days in Puglia, Part 3: The Heel of the Boot

This was the first time I had booked a vacation home online, sight-unseen. I was a little wary as photographs online or in brochures occasionally accentuate the positive to the point of distortion. But I was also quite intrigued. When I contacted Bruno, the owner of “La Grica” where we stayed just outside of Tricase in southern Puglia, via the HomeAwayUK website, he sent me a link ( providing additional information on the location and amenities.

Upon arrival we thought, perfect! This is exactly what we expected based on the photos on the website! The house had whitewashed walls, blue shutters and painted tiles, a thatched roof protecting the large terrace surrounded by olive and fig trees. It reminded me of postcards from Santorini and had the same view to boot – an unobstructed 180 degree panorama of the Adriatic sprawled out before it. I typed “sea view” into my house hunt criteria on the HomeAway site and sea view is precisely what we got.

The inside was basic but sufficient and clean. The terrace was really so amazing that we didn’t spend much time inside. There was even an outdoor shower and a clay pizza oven and grill.

The beach was not right out the front door but was accessible. Being on the Adriatic side of the “heel”, we were on the rockier, untamed side. There were steep winding staircases carved into the rockface every few kilometers where swimmers can make their way down to the intensely turquoise water below. For divers or snorkelers, it is a dream; for parents with young children, it’s a bit of a nightmare. The pathways were steep in places and windy conditions meant strong waves which made getting in and out of the water tricky. Kids would do better on the sandier shores of the Ionian side between Santa Maria di Leuca and Gallipoli.

Speaking of kids, if we were to bring the kids back with us next time, I unfortunately would have to say that we probably would not choose to stay here again – as much as I would LOVE to. The house is located just off of a busy road (although you don’t notice this because the house itself is situated down a windy set of stairs, far below) and while the terrace was perfect for my husband and myself, it would be a bit limited for a few small children who would want to run around and kick balls – all of which would fly over the railing and roll 100 meters through olive groves toward the sea below. Easy beach access or a nice yard would be much more ideal for children. Basically, its not the kind of place you as a parent could relax and let the kids run around unsupervised: steep steps, busy roads, vertical drops – it’s the kind of place where you would want to have your kid on a dog leash. But for 2-4 adults – it is an absolute dream. If we can cajole the grandparents into taking the kids again, we would love to get a couple of friends together and come back here.

Or more. The house has two parts; the lower part was rented out to another couple, a middle aged Italian couple from Rome. We said hello in the mornings and they shared a few restaurant tips with us but otherwise, we were very respectful of each other’s space and we rarely noticed someone else was there.

Bruno rented the house on a weekly basis, from Saturday – Saturday. We explained to him that we would have to leave Thursday, two days early, as we had stashed the kids away with their grandparents and need to get back and he gave us a 100€ discount on the weekly rate – which was incredibly nice of him, as he didn’t have to do that.

Speaking of Bruno, he had the keys waiting in the door for us when we arrived. He came up shortly thereafter to introduce himself, see if we had any questions and clue us in as to where to find groceries, the nearest gas station, and the best restaurant in the area. His house was situated about 100 meters below ours and he instructed us to come see him if we had any questions or problems.

About Puglia itself...

Puglia is best undertaken with a car. Public transport is limited and bicycles require serious quadriceps for the gorgeous cliff-hugging roads. Small, charming towns like Otranto, Gallipoli, Santa Maria di Leuca on the coast offer incredible seafood, nighttime passegiatas that take one back in time through the old winding streets of the walled cities, and soft sandy beaches with turquoise water that locals liken to the Maldives. Small villages on the interior like Specchia, Taviano, and Tricase provide a peek at everyday life on the Salento where visitors can stock up on local produce from nearby farms (Puglia is famous for its vegetable antipasti), homemade salami and cured meats and legendary fresh cheeses like Puglian burrata. At A Casa Tu Martinu, diners (like us) sit al fresco in a gorgeous courtyard garden sampling the bread dipped in vino cotto, a cooked wine sauce, bruschetta melanzane, discs of fried eggplant a top a pomodorini salsa, fresh handmade orrchiette with stewed greens or pasta all ceci, pasta with chickpeas. Fresh produce is also the star on the menu at the many messerie in the area. Messerie are former or current farming estates that boast some of the freshest fare in the Salento.

We usually spent the mornings gasping at the view from our terrace over thick slices of succulent watermelon and strong shots of espresso. By the time we managed to tear ourselves away, it was nearly noon and we would explore one of the nearby towns while everyone was at home having lunch, avoiding the mid-day heat. We would escape the heat at one of the gorgeous beaches – Baia dei Turquie north of Otranto or Baia Verde, otherwise known as the Italian Maldives, south of Gallipoli – from 3 pm onwards. One afternoon, we opted to rent a boat and explored the gorgeous rocky coastline around the Baia dei Zagare, south of Otranto and the cliffs and coves north of Leuca.

Gorgeous beaches, delicious fresh fish and vegetables, stunning views and a very relaxed local vibe is what we experienced in the Salento. Thanks again HomeAwayUK for the opportunity to stay in one of your amazing properties. We will definitely be staying with you again soon!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ten Days in Puglia, Part 2: A Basilicata Seque and Southward

Lovely, limestoney, Trani welcomed us into a gorgeous old monestary and fed us fresh fish and creamy gelato.
Had we been staying in an apartment instead of a hotel, we would have hit up this charming fisherman and his selection of langoustine, pulpo, sea urchins and fresh fish.

Sometimes you just stop, right there in the middle of the street, and admire. But keep an ear out for oncoming Vespas. They'll sneak up on you, fast.

In case you've thought about doing one of those "Leaning Tower of Pisa" poses on other monuments, you might want to reconsider, as Ingo cheerfully demonstrates at the Castel del Monte, about an hour outside of Trani and high on Ingo's, "Must see before I die" list.

So, Matera. In all honesty, I had never heard about Matera until I read this article. I am not sure if the city, particularly the former cave dwellings, referred to as the "Sassi" or stones, have attracted many tourists in the past or if the industry got a boost when Mel Gibson' filmed "The Passion of the Christ" here in 2004. But it appears that Matera is poised to become a sort of Disneyland for spelunking tourists. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the old cave dwelling side of the city faces a gorgeous arid canyon. The caves were actually inhabited until the 1950s when the Italian government forced residents out because it was an "embarrassment" to have people living in such squalor in modern times. Government high rises were constructed and the former owners were begrudgingly relocated. Begrudgingly because these caves were kinda rad. They stayed cool in hot summers, boasted the first irrigation system in the city and offered membership into a sort of tight knit community that comes from living literally on top of each other.

We booked a room at the Sextantio Albergo Diffuso Le Grotte della Civita which coincidentally, is the primary focus of an article in the upcoming September issue of National Geographic Traveler Magazine entitled "The Towns Italy Forgot". (Another one of those DAMNIT!! WHY DIDN’T I WRITE THIS!! moments). As Miriam Murphy says in the article, it is a one-of-a-kind hotel and she speaks with the proprietors and provides interesting background on the architect’s vision for the hotel and other similar projects focused on resurrecting abandoned villages while preserving their architectual and historic integrity. And although Phillipe Starcke obviously wasn't around back in the day to design bathtubs for the cave dwellings like the one in our hotel room, they do use mostly locally sourced materials, like the dark woods used by local carpenters to make the closets and tables. Or old stone troughs used as sinks.

We wandered the city from one steep slippery stone walkway to the next. Which was a bit of a technical feat being that I was 6 months pregnant – meaning I had to haul around 20 extra pounds and my balance was off - and it was 95 degrees. But the views kept us going, every winding trail offered scenery more spectacular than the next. As much as “jaw-dropping” is an overused cliché, I can’t think of a better word to describe the Sassi.

In a country like Italy, there is very little left to “discover” – the famous works of art and architecture have all been found, documented, restored and displayed. The charming fishing villages have traded in shanties for boutique hotels and waterfront seafood restaurants, the best beaches are covered with “bagni” where it costs 20 euro a day to have the privilege of sitting under one of their umbrellas and on one of their beach chairs, the best restaurants have lines and waiting lists, as do the most significant cathedrals and now even the wild countryside of Tuscany and Umbria boast views that are blocked by sign after sign for the newest oldest agrotourismo accommodations and dining.

Our cave room
Don’t get me wrong, I love Italy. I fell madly deeply hopelessly in love with Italy when I was 16 and went abroad for the first time in my life on a Rotary exchange program. I spent the summer with two families, both of whom had a girl my age who I quickly called my best friend and both of who lived outside of Milan. I was enchanted by the animated language from the lyricism of the words that would be impossible to speak in a straight jacket for lack of use of the hands and entire body. I was thrilled that dinner started with a huge plate of pasta – just started! I looked forward to the afternoon lull following lunch where we’d lay around and watch bad talk shows or just talk. But most of all, I fell head over heels for Massimiliano. And let’s be honest, a short but sweet love affair will definitely taint your view of a place.

The common room
Massimiliano is long gone but my love for Italy remains deep. The way they stock legs of prosciutto and wheels of Grana in gas stations (!) and convenience stores (!), the repertoire of endearing names you are called by complete strangers and acquaintances (Ciao bella! Ciao stella! Ciao gioia!), the stand-up espresso counters and potato chip buffet apperitivi, the nonnas in their one-size-fits-all moomoo dresses and knee high stockings, the way the women will get made up, decked out, dressed up just to go out to the corner store for milk, the multitude of hand gestures that one must learn to actually understand the language, the tolerance for sexist talk shows that have not changed in 20 years. Even the annoying things – especially the annoying things – are endearing. That’s love.

And the touristy stuff is often endearing as well. But not always. If Italy had a Masai Mara, a Chang Mai hill people tour, an overtouristy, voyeuristic, over-hyped, something potentially interesting relegated to the ranks of banal, it would be Alberobello and “trulli” country. Please tell me I am wrong, I so wanted to be enchanted. And I preface my opinion by saying we had only 24 hours to spend in the Valle d’Istria – nowhere near enough time to explore it properly. I would have loved to spend a week in an artfully restored trullo somewhere in the countryside – and I don’t doubt there are many of them and that they are amazing. But I am atalking about Alberobello.

A typical trullo in Alberobello

Just skip it. Drive by. Snap a pic if you want. But don’t stay there. It’s the kind of place where you feel like you got suckered. You will be angry with yourself for falling prey to the trulli scam. At least, that is kinda how we felt. Go instead to Locotarondo for dinner, and stop in Martina Franca for granita at the M Betitto Sorbeteria.

An evening stroll through Martina Franca

Drive by the trullis in the fields, maybe stop by. But do yourself a favor and skip Alberobello. Maybe it’s because we just came from Matera, or maybe it was the family from Long Island who was walking around behind us with a heavily accented running commentary, but the town was just – meh. Everyone wants to sell you something, or provide you with an “authentic” stay in one of their trullis. Just avoid. Overall we were surprised by how “untouristy” Puglia is. At least, by foreigners. Italians discovered Puglia long ago and continue to appreciate its beaches, its food, its towns. But the rest of the world has only just started to catch on. And a great way to take it all in, is to set up shop there for a little while. Like we did. With our HomeAwayUK rental on the Adriatic coast just outside of Tricase, north of the southern most tip, Santa Maria de Leuca. Next and final installment: our amazing little house on a cliff and the southern tip.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ten Days in Puglia, Part 1: Gargano

It was a bit of a serendipitous babymoon.  A soon-to-expire voucher for a free rental of a HomeAway UK property via this Grantourismo travel blogging contest and my in-laws volunteering without prompting to take the kids for a while was the equivalent of the stars aligning to offer us what will most likely be our last vacation as two before the impending arrival of baby number three for the foreseeable future. I mean, maybe we will be able to do this again when a) baby three is weened b) the grandparents feel up to the challenge of taking on three at once and c) at least one child is old enough to cook dinner, do the laundry and perform CPR, just in case. Until then, we will revel in the memories of a gorgeous ten day get away to Puglia, otherwise known as "the heel of the boot".

We left the kids with tears in our eyes on the beach with their grandparents not far from Ferrara. An hour later, the tears were dry and we had the stereo cranked, the windows down and we were free on the open highway, just me, my man and one baby minus 14 weeks. First stop: the gorgeous Gargano Promontory and the slippery-stoned, peninsula-topped, jaw-dropping view offering town of Peschici.

There were delicious discoveries like little almond paste cookies that Ingo took one bite of and declared too rich, and a sort of Puglian scone, the Pane del Pescatore, a dense bun with sweet raisins and salty almonds that filled us up for the rest of the day. There were also slices of hot dog and french fry foccaccia which we passed on this time around.
After an amazing meal at Porta di Basso where we sat at a table literally ON a CLIFF, I mean one step over the guard rail and it would have been 100 meters straight down into the sea, we headed out the next day to trace the promontory. Cruising by the trabucci, these old fishing nets that reminded me of the ones in Cochin, where you can sit and eat fish from the sea, into the pan and onto your plate.

Stopping over the lunch hour in sweet little Vieste, we continued tracing the coast, stopping occassionally to oggle the view, like this:

And periodically stopping to hike down to some little spot of beach like this:

And then on to the Baia delle Zagare, a little bay and incredible hotel that Ingo had been hearing about from his parents since childhood when they would dump him and his brother at his grandmother's and head down south for a few weeks on their own (sound familiar?). They would occasionally stay at this hotel, a gorgeous place perched up on a cliff with an elevator built into the rock to take guests down to this secluded little expanse of white sand. The only way to get to this bay is to stay at the hotel, have your own yacht to cruise up in OR if you are sneaky like us, talk to someone at the front desk and tell them you are looking for a hotel and wanted to look around the grounds. They instructed us to make ourselves at home and pointed us toward the elevator. The famous elevator! To the famous bay!

Totally dreamy.

Pulling ourselves away from the bay, we continued along the coast, passing exceedingly ugly industrial Manfredonia, which spit us off of the promontory and into Trani:

where we got in just in time to see the sun set over the harbor and cathedral from our hotel room at Hotel San Paolo al Convento, a former convent with limestone walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. Thanks for the tip, in-laws!

From Trani through Matera and the Valle d'Istria and on to the tip of the heel... next.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Oscar's Birthday Week

Psychedelic birthday cake. Designed and decorated by Oscar.

I am a bit fearful that a dangerous precedent has been set. One birthday. Three birthday parties. One week of sugar induced toddler debauchery and a wardrobe covered in frosting. The kid just turned three years old. Yes, it is every exciting, but judging by the amount of fanfare surrounding the big event, you would think he just married the princess of England.

First, there was the school party. A nutritious lunch was swapped out for a gooey chocolate birthday cake. Toddler approval ratings were high and the change in routine was greeted with rave reviews:

Of course we had to have a family party at home. We added a few friends and had Oscar's favorite meal- pesto pasta with chicken and kalamata olives. When people arrived he kept opening the fridge and asking for his "happy birthday." "When is my happy birthday?" I soon realized that he was referring to the dessert and the singing. Most of what he has grasped about birthdays is 'dessert on fire'. Not a bad start.

Wanting a contrast to the cake he ate a few hours ago at school, I combined a banana split and a sundae: homemade banana chocolate-chip ice cream, sprinkled with salted peanuts, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. Hmmm... a dreamy helping of childhood nostalgia. Diving into this salty, sweet, bitter chocolate, treat transported us all to our happy place.

But the real showstopper had to be the kid-tastic birthday fiesta. Because we are moving back to the US in two weeks, uprooting Oscar from everything he has ever known, we went all out-- Mexican-style. Kid birthday parties are a major event here. The phone book has pages and pages of listings for event spaces solely for kid parties. They are equipped with bounce houses, trampolines, a rig for the piñata, and play structures galore; some have stages for a Backyardigan or Toy Story performance. All provide lots of  tables and chairs and a large counter space for a extensive food buffet.

 Bounce house: Check.
Look at the way he steps into the swing. Clearly it is not his first piñata bashing.

Why the tables and chairs? Kids don't sit still long enough to eat at a party. And a buffet table? Don't you just need a table big enough to hold a cake and perhaps a tub of ice cream? That is all the kids are going to eat, right? In Mexico, when you invite a child to a birthday party, you are inviting the whole family-- sisters, brothers, parents, cousins, uncles, grandparents, the neighbor who is over playing that morning, etc. They all come. And they expect to be fed and watered. So, those fifteen invitations that went out to Oscar's classmates could bring in 150 guests. And the kicker..... no one ever RSVPs.

So from someone who foolishly tackled it..... if you are ever faced with the challenge of cooking for a large mystery number of adults and children, I suggest you don't. Just call in a taco truck, order the largest cake at the bakery and get your bounce-house on!

In my memory, growing up in the US, birthday parties lasted two hours MAX at this young age. Parents jumped for joy at the sight of a birthday invitation and quickly scheduled their massage, golf game, etc. Kids were dropped off not one second after the designated time. Now….Mexican-style. Two hours in and the party is just getting rolling. Entire families are still arriving. Naps are not an issue in Mexico and a sleep-deprived breakdown is treated with another slice of cake. Guests plant themselves at the tables and settle in for the afternoon. It’s an event. It truly is a celebration; a reason for everyone to get together. My guess is Oscar is going to want the entire town and their extended families at his fourth birthday—and, of course, a piñata!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Perils of Being Pregnant

Computer refusing to upload photos but imagine a big plate of raw oysters right here.

The daily temptations of the local specialties shops notwithstanding (from creamy unpasteurized French cheeses, various forms of raw meats from aged prosciutto, salami, tartars and sushi to anything from the deli counter basically), I now have to dodge children and raw vegetables. My rubella antibodies have gone from "weak" during my first pregnancy to below acceptable levels in this one. Apparently this happens. And so, what follows? Yes, a fellow mother from my children's kindergarten just informed me that there is at least one confirmed case of some sort of rubella, aptly also called German measles, currently circulating among the little miscreants. But children are not this pregnant woman's only nemisis: there has recently been an outbreak of something referred to as EHEC, a form of E. coli bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics and causes a series of unpleasant and potentially fatal intestinal and kidney malfunctions. They have just announced that a leading research institute in Germany has traced the source to raw vegetables - the one thing that pregnant women are told to ingest in large quantities. AND they have traced these vegetables back to... yes, of course, northern Germany.

While grocery shopping I feel like I am in a minefield: tomatoes about to go off all around me, who knows what's lurking under that lettuce leaf, and the potential pitfalls of choosing the wrong red pepper. ACK! What is a veggie lover to do? Cook them, the experts say. Peel them, boil them, fry them, sauteé them, bake them, just get them hot enough to kill whatever might be on them. But it's summmmmmmeeeeerrr. The season of flip-flops and cut-offs and tube tops and RAW vegetables, of hierloom tomato salads with (raw milk) buffala mozzorella, green goddess dressings made of thousands of fresh herbs, crudités and dips, cold soups made of simple pureed RAW vegetables. Raw, naked, in their natural state. Not baked in cheese and cream, not breaded and fried, not soaking in oil, just plain. Plain delicious.

In the course of my travels, I have had just about every amoeba, parasite and bacteria from giardia to bilharzia and taken every drug from cipro to hard core antibiotics. Of course this is because I've drank water from puddles full of cow shit in Mauritania, risked "Delhi-belly" by sampling the wares of numerous street food vendors throughout India, eaten fish from still water lakes in Afghanistan and kebobs from dodgy road side stands in Jordan; what I mean to say is, I deserved it. I have thrown major caution to the wind when it comes to taking triple-dog-food-dares. And I paid dearly for it. But this time, the game has changed. My intestinal track is weathered and can hack a little EHEC, I wager. But the fetus - I would like to give it a little more time to prepare before exposing it to all  of the intestinal evils of the world.

So yesterday as the woman scans my items at the check out counter  I am practically blushing. I will admit it: I am a bit of a grocery snob. I judge other people by their groceries. I imperceptibly shake my head at the mother who puts a pile of sugary yogurts, Chef-Boy-Ardee-like ready made pasta mixes and nothing-natural-about-them cookies on the conveyer belt; I feel sorry for the middle-aged man who lays out his mayonaisse-laden deli prepared "salads" and his frozen pizzas; I chuckle as I remember when I was one of those students stocking up on ramen noodles and cheep beer. Total snob, I know.

But as I stand here watching my groceries slide by, I realize I am a conglomeration of all of these people. It's painfully obvious that I've completely shunned the produce aisle, even though signs hang above the arugula, spinach and iceburg saying "E. Coli FREE"; instead, it looks like I am preparing for an impending storm - almost everything is either processed and packaged or pasteurized. Artificially flavored hazelnut cream filled cookies, sour cream and onion Philadelphia and my biggest weakness which I usually deny, those something of Hannover honey mustard pretzel bits. They always give me a stomach ache because I eat too many of them but they are crack-like addictive. Nutritional value of my purchase: negligible. E. Coli risk: 0. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Barceloneta: Behind the Scenes

As promised, more on Barceloneta. First, I won't say too much as you can read all about it in the upcoming June issue of Hemispheres Magazine, the United/Continental In-Flight magazine - either on board or online (yay!). But I will give you all a behind the scenes look at the prep for the piece:

In addition to all of the gorgeous dishes from my previous post, my research also entailed

the chef's smoked rice paella dish - unlike anything I'd tasted before.

And while Nathan and I tucked into all things from the sea, our fellow diners, Freej and Avis,

were giddy to find there was a vegetarian version.

But we were here for work not pleasure (although combining the two in this case was effortless) and so we finished off every last gambas rojas and smoky granule and headed to the open kitchen to stalk the man behind the mission (that being to bring diners to tears with his creations), a chef named Hug.  (I'm not kidding.)

Ah yes, fresh seafood with a view of the Mediterranean and sitting down to talk food with adorable chefs, life is hard. But sometimes you just have to soldier through, you know?

Nathan and Freej yawned as Eva and I fawned over this talented cook with stunning blue eyes,

who also, turns out, gives good backrubs. To the pregnant woman. And charms her friend whose boyfriend is standing off to the side rolling his eyes. Ay dios mio. Want some of the freshest, most innovative seafood in Barcelona and a Hug? - his lovely establishment is called Kaiku. Tell him I sent you. Ask for a backrub. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Barceloneta and its Cuina

I was in Barcelona a few weeks ago, in the lovely seaside, city beach, revamped fisherman's quarter of Barceloneta and it looked like this...

and sometimes it looked like this..

and occasionally like this.

More on Barcelona and its cuina coming to follow shortly...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bacon Jam: Pig On A Baguette

I have a guilty secret. I have been keeping quiet for the past two months in fear that I would blurt it out without warning or proper fanfare; however, now I just feel like a greedy hoarder for not letting everyone in on it: Bacon Jam! For real! It exists!

Bacon jam might be the first good thing that has come out of peoples’ obsession with hourly web updates detailing what they are noshing on while sitting in front of their computer. I first stumbled upon these two beautiful words strung together on twitter, which lead to a deeper dive into a few blogs which had recipes for bacon jam, then… I turned to my stash of homemade bacon. A choir of angels sang out from the heavens and I knew how to fulfill this pork belly’s calling: Pork product in spreadable, edible form. Good God, man! Could it be as magical as it sounded?

Oh yes, it is pure nectar!

For my spin on it, I gave it a sort of Mayan-Mexican twist. Cocoa nibs (roasted cocoa beans) impart the essence of chocolate without adding any sweetness. The ancho and chipotle give it a bit of spice and smoky flavor, while the cinnamon adds subtle warmth. I used agave syrup (you can use honey as a substitute) which is a sweet syrup made from the cactus where tequila comes from… hmmmm maybe I should try a batch with a shot of tequila in the mix.

A smear of this smoky, spicy, bitter pork "pate" turns dignified guests into gluttons and beggars. After several bites and lots of moaning, an entrepreneur friend of mine immediately began conceiving of world condiment domination- move over ketchup, now bacon comes in a jar!

Pig On A Baguette

1 # bacon, cut into 1” pieces
1 onion, medium dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or smoked paprika)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs, ground
¾ cup coffee
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup agave syrup (or honey)

1.       Dump bacon into a skillet and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is slightly crisp. Add the onion and sauté for about 3 minutes. Pour out half of the bacon fat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min.
2.       Add the sugar, all of the spices and cocoa nibs and stir over heat for 1-2 minutes.
3.       Pour in coffee, vinegar and agave and simmer on low for about 3 hours. Add water during the cooking if the liquid gets too low.
4.       Transfer to a food processor and pulse until slightly smooth. I leave it a bit chunky with bacon bits. Serve with baguette and apple slices.