One of my favorite things to do is to go to marble and granite warehouses and look at slabs. Not that I have done it that often; in fact, it seems like a privilege. This will be the third kitchen that I am co-designing and the most enjoyable part — hands down — is finding materials for countertops.
For years, at least in the United States, Carrara marble has been the Holy Grail of countertops despite its penchant for stains and knicks. In Italy, ironically, it is one of the least expensive natural stone options available. The mountains of Carrara are only 65 km from where we live and driving along the highway toward Carrara, they look like they are covered in snow. In reality, they are covered in chips of white marble which have littered the mountains for thousands of years (including during the time when Michelangelo got his large block of marble to carve out his famous statue of David). After all this time, I’m surprised there are still any mountains left. Yet they stand tall and proud even though their insides look like Swiss cheese holes with all the mining caves.
Here, marble with even the slightest hint or streak of color costs three times as much as white Carrara. This is contrary to everything I’ve been told in years past (Salesperson says, “The purity of white marble is so rare, and this is why I need to bankrupt you and steal your first child… blah, blah, blah.” And manufactured porcelain countertops? Forget about it… They cost 5 times as much as Carrara because of their durability and stain-free abilities. It’s amazing that a manmade material costs so much more than something that Mother Nature took millennia to make. What to do, what to do? Well, we will have to wait until our kitchen rep comes back from vacation to decide because most of Italy goes on vacation for part, or all of August! Whew! I need a drink.
Speaking of which, the Pimm’s Cup cocktail is my drink of the summer. Pimm’s No. 1 is a gin-based liquor developed in the 1800’s in England by James Pimm that has a secret blend of herbs that tastes spicy and citrusy.
The Pimm’s Cup Cocktail is as simple as they come: In a glass filled with ice, add 1-part “Pimm’s No. 1” liquor + 1-part lemon soda or ginger ale with garnishes of thinly sliced cucumber and mint and stir. It’s summer in a glass!
- Lemon Basil Martini
- Hugo Cocktail
- Cosmopolitan Variations
- Summer Stone Fruit Sangrias
- Classic Negroni and Negroni Sgabliato
- Pisco Sour
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