Though we try to fill our days with museum tours, trips to the seaside, and explorations of elderly castles, there are some afternoons where my family and I want nothing more but to open a bottle of wine and chill. I think that's how a lot of humans feel regardless of their location; there is a nice retreat from the burdensome task of business. The Italians call this breather Dolce far niente, or the delicious art of Idleness.
Uh, yeah. Wine + pizza + pooltime x repeat = d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.
In addition to breeding the art of idleness, Italy produces apricots like a supernova spewing out stars. As a child, I ate dried apricots all the time, noshing on those sugary-stretchy orange guys with blissful bites and then feeling confident that I had knocked out the fruit (and therefore somehow, also veggie) portion of the food pyramid and that it was time for cookie crisp.
But ripe apricots. (!!!) Ripe apricots are plump and soft. Cuter than a peach (sorry, guys) and the blond best friend to a plum. The first time I held an apricot on this trip was at a roadside market, and I rolled the fruit in my hand like I was testing out an egg.
Our breakfasts in San Gimignano have been lazy and to the soundtrack of a rooster, almost always consisting of yogurt and fruit and coffee. It's not until around 1pm when we bust out the wine, except for this morning, when we had apricots baked with Frascati. I found the recipe from Molly Wizenberg, and something about it screamed "TUSCAN BOOZY BREAKFAST", and, not one to argue with Molly (she won a James Beard award, you know!), I clambered my way through the kitchen and had my way with a basket of apricots.
And it was good. It was good while I was making it and licking vanilla bean-y fingers and it was exciting when they were hot from the oven and it was a party when we pulled them from the fridge 6 hours later and ate them cold from the pan. I would have loved to have been one of these apricot cuties, bathing in a white wine bath and smelling of stonefruit and vanilla. What a life.
The end result is plump and syrupy set of apricots, flecked with the black stardust of a vanilla bean. They are lovely in yogurt and ice cream, but also cold and dragged through the wine-y syrup they leave behind. Perfect as a cooldown on a sweaty summer night, or early in the morning when you feel like committing to a hard day's work of dolce far niente.
"dolce far niente" apricots with vanilla bean and italian white wine
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Pour the sugar onto a saucer or small plate. Press the apricots into the sugar, cut side down, so that each half is coated in a thin layer of sugar crust. Place the halves, sugar side up, into a large baking dish that can hold all of the apricots in a comfortable single layer.
Pour the frascati over the apricots, focusing on the in-between spaces, so as not to wash away the sugar crust. Add the vanilla bean seeds and wedge each pod in between a set of apricots. Bake for 30 minutes, or until just tender to a fork's touch.
3 tablespoons of sugar
10-13 apricots, halved and pitted
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle with the seeds scraped and freed
3/4 cup frascati, or other off-dry white wine (riesling works well)
LIke I mentioned earlier, you can eat them hot, but I prefer them veryyyyy cold. And in short and a t-shirt when it's 100 degrees out.
Also, my cousin Adam just finished his walk and I am very proud of him. I walked the three miles from our house into town (and it's uphill, okay) and felt like a total weakling. He deserves mad props. And maybe I'm behind the times, but I finally watched Still Alice and it was so good and important and Julianne Moore killed it.
Even in this humid, sexy, drippy, sweaty weather, guys ---
- Stay cozy