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Category Archives: Travel Tips

Who’s Here from Philly!

scoatsI happened to find myself in the company of two of Philadelphia’s finest publicans this week. I thought I’d ask Scoats and William a question about what got them interested in the field of beer. They’re both officers on The Philly Beer Week Board, and they were in Belgium to preside over the brewing of this Philly Beer Week collaboration beer.

William Reed of Standard Tap recalled his defining beer moment. William was studying engineering at Drexel, his then girlfriend was working at White Dog Café. She let him know that Carol Stoudt was giving a presentation and he got in as a friend of the staff. Listening to Carol, at that very moment he decided he wanted to get into brewing. He went on to be brewmaster at Sam Adams brewpub in Philly before opening Standard Tap in 1999.

The rest is Philadelphia pub history.

Mike Scotese (aka Scoats) recalls the first good beer he remembers having was Dock Street Amber Lager consumed in a shabby room he rented in Wildwood NJ as a college student. He bought that single beer for a buck, which at the time was rather expensive. The year was 1986. Scoats worked his way through college in Philly at Cape May in the restaurant business. He got a “regular job,” and 3 years into it, he knew it was a dead end. He decided to open a pub. The first bar he opened was called Muggsy’s Tavern. Then two years later Scoats bought out the other founding partner and turned Muggsy’s into the Grey Lodge Pub. It opened August 13th, 1996.

williamreedThe rest is Philadelphia pub history.

Scoats and William are boone companions. These two friends met at Dave Simon’s Khyber Pass at a Val Salva show.

Funnily enough, around the same time, a famous Belgian restaurant in Philly named Notre Dame did a launch party with our beers with good friend Ruth Van Waerebeke and the launch of the Everybody Eats Well in Belgium as part of the celebration called, “The Book and the Cook.” This celebration later morphed into Philly Beer Week.

Side trips That Are Only a Tiny Bit About Beer

Where We’re Headed  - Louvre-Lens to see a building by SANAA

lensWe had a tempting peek at the newest offshoot of the Louvre during our afternoon with friends from the Castelain Brewery – Annick Castelain and Guillaume del a Fourcade. We’re looking forward to a return visit and an entire day devoted to the collection and the stunning building in which it is housed. Annick told us that attendance had exceeded expectations – with 700,000 in the first year – surely a boon to a struggling Nord Pas de Calais town in the shadow of proud, handsome and more prosperous Lille.

Lens was destroyed in World War I, then occupied by the Nazis and hit by Allied bombs in World War II. The mines continued operating after the war and the area now boasts the tallest slag heaps in Europe. But the industry declined dramatically; the last mine closed in 1986 and the town stagnated.

So Louvre-Lens (view their twitter account here) is seen by the authorities as a major step in reviving the area, in the same way as the Pompidou-Metz Museum did in Metz in Lorraine, and the Guggenheim Museum did in Bilbao, Spain.

Lens was chosen because of its strategic location. It’s just south of Lille and the Chunnel to the U.K. is only an hour’s drive away; Belgium is 30 minute drive, and the Netherlands two hours or so. It is at the center of a well-populated region. The hope is that visitors will make a weekend or a short break and combine the Louvre-Lens with a tour of the area, particularly of Lille and the nearby battlefields and memorials of World War I, which will receive international attention 2014-2018  (More on this in a later post).

The Louvre is internationalizing its footprint with a museum by Jean Nouvel in Abu Dhabi (estimated opening in 2015). A year ago, it expanded within France at Louvre-Lens. The 28,000 square meter museum is designed by the 2010 Pritzker prize winning Japanese architect firm SANAA* founded by Kazuyo Sejima** + Ryue Nishizawa on an abandoned mine site. (It is in fact the second project SANAA has built on a former mine – the first being the Zollverein School of Management and Design In Essen, Germany, in 2006.)

The Pritzker Prize is the top honor in architecture. The prize committee awarded it to SANAA:

“For architecture that is simultaneously delicate and powerful, precise and fluid, ingenious but not overly or overtly clever; for the creation of buildings that successfully interact with their contexts and the activities they contain, creating a sense of fullness and experiential richness; for a singular architectural language that springs from a collaborative process that is both unique and inspirational; for their notable completed buildings and the promise of new projects together, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa are the recipients of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.”

Yes indeed the complex interacts with its context in a stunning way. The museum looks as castelain_beersif it were delicately deposited on the dark earth. Lauren Grieco’s coverage of the project in Designboom offers especially arresting images of the siting on the landscape rendered both in sketches and aerial photographs.

We are particularly excited to see how the architects handled the placements of objects in space. The Gallery of Time presents 200 works from the Louvre’s collection presented chronologically from 5000 BC to the 19th century. There are no partitions along a span of 120 meters which allows comparisons to be made both within and across cultures.

Highlights include Roman pieces bought from Borghese collection in 1807 including a statue of Marcus Aurelius, carved ivories and Limoges enamels from the medieval period, Islamic engraved copper and lusterware, From the Renaissance  period onwards there are works by Rubens, Raphael, El Greco, Poussin, and Claude The gallery ends in 19th century with Ingre’s full length portrait of the heir to the throne, Ferdinand Philllippe, Duke of Orleans, who died shortly after the painting was completed.

Later in the spring a special exhibition will focus on The Disasters of War 1820 to 2014 and tie in with honoring the memory of people who lost their lives in Flanders (French and Belgian) in the Great War.

artIf you are going by public transport, take the train to Lille Station (about an hour from Ghent) and then connect to the Lens train station. From there a shuttle bus takes you to the museum campus in about 10 minutes.

We do need to tell you that only one local beer is sold at the Michelin starred on site restaurant, L’Atelier de Marc Meurin where Annick and Guillaume were our gracious hosts. That beer is the excellent indigenous biere de garde we call Castelain in the US that is sold as Ch’Ti in France. Do not fail to order one.

Note: This blog post was originally written in Helvetica Light, the elegant typeface on the landing page of the SANAA website.

  • Can’t get to Louvre-Lens?  Here are 2 projects by SANAA stateside:  Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion in Toledo, Ohio; the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City

** which made Sejima the second woman to win the award.

Learn about all the Pritzker prize winners: Philip Johnson was the first Pritzker Laureate in 1979. The late Luis Barragán of Mexico was named in 1980. The late James Stirling of the United Kingdom was elected in 1981, Kevin Roche in 1982, Leoh Ming Pei in 1983, and Richard Meier in 1984. Hans Hollein of Austria was the 1985 Laureate. Gottfried Böhm of Germany received the prize in 1986. Robert Venturi received the honor in 1991, and Alvaro Siza of Portugal in 1992. Christian de Portzamparc of France was elected Pritzker Laureate in 1994. Frank Gehry of the United States was the recipient in 1989, the late Aldo Rossi of Italy in 1990. In 1996, Rafael Moneo of Spain was the Laureate; in 1997 the late Sverre Fehn of Norway; in 1998 Renzo Piano of Italy, in 1999 Sir Norman Foster of the UK, and in 2000, Rem Koolhaas of the Netherlands. Australian Glenn Murcutt received the prize in 2002. The late Jørn Utzon of Denmark was honored in 2003; Zaha Hadid of the UK in 2004; and Thom Mayne of the United States in 2005. Paulo Mendes da Rocha of Brazil was the Laureate in 2006, and Richard Rogers received the prize in 2007. Jean Nouvel of France was the Laureate in 2008. In 2009 Peter Zumthor of Switzerland received the award. In 2011 Eduardo Souto de Moura, in 2012 Wang Shu, and 2013 Toyo Ito were awarded the prize  (excerpted from the Pritzker site).

SANAA is in the running for the new Nobel Prize HQ in Stockholm.

Another Fantastically Fun Belgian Fact!

Don and I have been battling colds since we arrived on Jan 12th. We are are pleading with Telenet to restore the internet at our abode. We have effectively been offline since New Year’s Eve- first in the car, then in the ship, then on the Eurostar, now in our belgian hometown. I’m becoming best friends with Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the greatest group of journalists ever assembled under one masthead by the mercurial genius of publisher S. S  McClure -i.e.  Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker, Lincoln Steffens, and William Allen White. Eugene Debs and  jacob Riis. In other words I am listening to a Doris Kearn Goodwin’s superb The Bully Pulpit on tape.  It is a major work of history—an examination of leadership in a rare moment of activism and reform that brought the country closer to its founding ideals. And boy did the headlines then sound an awful lot like the headlines now. It is time to start some agitating again!
 
GhentGhent is pretty as ever but there sure is a ton of construction going on. The number of cranes in the sky per capita has got to rival London. There is a bit of the changing of the guard going on. Some old line retailers are closing shop. The places opening in their stead are a lot hipper. Ghent is becoming a more and more popular place to live. Why not? Asde from the weather which is just as punk elsewhere in Belgiu  there is not much not to love about the place. Ghent is human scaled, sophisticated and beautiful but with a gritty edge. I am very much hoping that the mayors of  smaller American cities seeking models come here to take a look. And it is very tourist friendly. How tourist friendly?  It is the only city I know of to publish a map of the public toilets. Ghenteraars have a sense of humor. They issued the map in honor of World Toilet Day (November 19th don’t you know?)
 
Bradley Wiggins “Wiggo”  - the first Englishman ever to win The Tour de France is a son of Bradley_WigginsGhent!  He was born April 28, 1980 to an English mother and Australian father. His dad, Gary Wiggins was also a professional cyclist who rode for a Ghent based team that is no more Marc- ARD.His mom and dad divorced when he was 2. He moved with his mom to Maida Vale (London) and began racing at the age of 12.  Wiggins has won seven Olympic medals and is one of just a few cyclists to have made the transition from track to road cycling successfully. The modest Wigggins was the subject of several honours and awards recently; the Vélo d’Or award for best rider of the year, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and a knighthood as part of the Queen’s  2013 New Year Honours. Wiggins said that he felt “a little bit inferior” to others receiving knighthoods saying “I’ve won a bike race, you know, and I feel a little bit inferior to everyone”, saying “I was just talking to some of the other people getting stuff, and asking them what they’ve been honoured for, and they’re historic things, ground-breaking sciences or whatever”.
 

So far we have had a delightful visit to Castelain in French Flanders and to Brasserie Dupont in Wallonia. Will write more about those visits as time permits.

Best,

Wendy & Don

What to do in Ghent (aside from drinking beer) when the weather is punk.

gent18 It has been unremittingly dark and rainy and bleak. It barely gets light til 9. January is not the best month to come to Belgium - but we know the jonquils and tulips will make an appearance before too long. To make matters worse, we have not had internet or cable in the house since day one. To get our stateside work done we’ve hunkered down in a string of neighborhood cafes where the wifi is reliable. We’ve also borrowed a set of keys from our former landlord who is kindly letting us use their offices after hours. I tell you this lest you think the life of the Belgian beer importer is all glamor.

 

What to do? Hit the cinema. In honor of Martin Scorsese Fest in Ghent (one of the top film fests in Europe) last night we went to see The Wolf of Wall Street. it is currently the number one box office hit in Europe.  The Wolf is playing at a movie house called The Sphinx. The film has been called brilliant and repulsive  - we’d emphasize repulsive – and is based on a real life person (Jordan Belfort). Alternating scenes of sex, drug abuse and motivational speaking unfold over THREE hours. It is not very encouraging that the villain comes out quite ok. According to Wikipedia, Belfort now lives in Manhattan Beach and is engaged. I hope he is a big donor to his alma mater – American University.

 

Enough about Jordan. We were struck by the fact that a slide before the film announced that the Sphinx is one of a group of more than 600 independent theaters across Europe specializing in independent film and that association benefits from funding from the European Union. We think this is a good thing. Do you?  Some of you know that in Chicago this past year we have had an association with the Music Box Theater – pouring one or another of our beers before matinees called Malty Mondays (or Tuesdays).  We feel a kinship with the people who distribute and screen independent films – as we are all in a niche business and going out on a limb hoping that what we believe is worthwhile will attract an audience. If you are in Chicago we hope you will go to the Music Box!

 

We looked into the history of the Sphinx this morning and were not surprised to find that it is on a list of Belgium’s best cinemas. They write ”Sphinx cinema, constructed in 1912, is located in a building that is recognized by the city of Ghent as a cultural heritage monument. The renowned local Design Museum even has plans, photos and other interesting documents about its long and eventful history. While there’s always been a movie theatre in the historic building, it has not always been known by the same name; Sphinx has existed since 1986 and screens a carefully selected mixture of blockbusters and art house movies, with a special focus on international film festivals from Cannes to Toronto. Sphinx also organises special screening cycles, and even hosted Ghent’s first queer film festival, Pinx in January.”

 

The next Ghent FIlm Festival will take place  the 14th-25th of October, 2014 when the gent11Ghent  One thing that makes Film Fest Gent unique is the focus on music and the celebration of the film composer, often the forgotten key figure in the artistic and/or commercial success of a film. Some of the people who have won and the films in which their compositions figure are John Williams  for Artificial Intelligence,  and multiple winners Alberto Iglesias for The Constant Gardener, Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy
and Alexandre Desplat – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This past October the top prize was awarded to Mychael Danna, the Canadian film composer who has collaborated with Atom Egoyan and An Li. Learn more about the “13th World Soundtracks Awards and Concert” and winners here.  Soundtracks from Life of Pi here, and even more.

 

While on the topic of movies: there is a lot of buzz about Broken Circle Breakdown which was filmed in Ghent and based on a play by the star of the film. It is directed by the heralded  Felix Van Groeningen. It’s been nominated for an Oscar Best Foreign Film. Go see it if you can!

 

Tomorrow we start planning for the 2014 blending and Friday we visit our friends at Dubuisson. More news soon.

 

(Photos from top: A phone recharging station at the train stop, Squash soup masquerading as a beer.)

News of a great Belgian chef making waves in DC

coatDon in his new waterproof coat.

Down the street from our house in Ghent, on the Burg Straat near the Baroque Carmelite Monastery Church is a clothing store for men and women of long standing. Though the clothes they sell are a generally a little more conservative than what I customarily wear – I like to go in and have a look – and inevitably find something that is a fine souvenir of our annual stay. But more than the clothes it is the management that draws me there. The management typify what makes shopping in Belgium so satisfying. The proprietors of the independent shops really do make a special effort to understand their customers – what your style is, what occasion you are shopping for, and find the things that suit you well. Sometime in the last couple of years of visiting and in chatting about this and that – the subject of our line of work came up. The proprietress volunteered that her son was a chef in Washington DC with an important catering concern who might be interested in our beers.

fishinghorsebackFast forward to this week. We arrived in Belgium with head colds, no rainproof outerwear or umbrella. It was raining persistently on Monday morning. I convinced Don that he should stop in the shop and get a coat that was truly waterproof. So we resumed our acquaintance with Madame who informed us that her son now had TWO restaurants and a catering business. Michelle Obama had been a patron recently. They are called Table and Menu, Bistro Bar & Kitchen. The chef is Frederik DePue. It just so happens that this Monday was the first anniversary of Table. We wish them a happy one. The anniversary menu looks lovely and features wild boar bolognese – a tip off that the chef is Belgian. We can’t wait to dine there on our next visit to Washington DC. Washington has a number of talented and successful Belgian chefs who are graduates of the top cooking school in Belgium Koksijde on the Belgian sea coast. Geert Piferoen and Bart Vandaele are two others we know and who are talented and kind! Here’s to Belgian chefs succeeding in DC and beyond! If Frederik’s mom had not told me he’d gone there – I’d have guessed it – since there is a large photo of a man fishing on horseback – typical of the towns near the school. Wonderful Ghent – in one visit you can get an impermeable coat, a restaurant recommendation, and a prospect for our beers.

Another Fantastically Fun Belgian Fact

gent1 Well if I don’t start blogging soon from Belgium I may as well give up on the idea. 
 
Don and I have been battling colds since we arrived on Jan 12. We are are pleading with Telenet to restore the internet at our abode. We have effectively been offline since New Year’s Eve- first in the car, then in the ship, then on the Eurostar, now in our Belgian hometown. I’m becoming best friends with Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the greatest group of journalists ever assembled under one masthead by the mercurial genius of publisher S. S  McClure -i.e.  Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker, Lincoln Steffens, and William Allen White. Eugene Debs and Jacob Riis. In other words, I am listening to a Doris Kearn Goodwin’s superb The Bully Pulpit on tape.  It is a major work of history—an examination of leadership in a rare moment of activism and reform that brought the country closer to its founding ideals. And boy did the headlines then sound an awful lot like the headlines now. It is time to start some agitating again!
 
Ghent is pretty as ever but there sure is a ton of construction going on. The number of cranes in the sky per capita has got to rival London. There is a bit of the changing of thegent15 guard going on. Some old line retailers are closing shop. The places opening in their stead are a lot hipper. Ghent is becoming a more and more popular place to live. Why not? Aside from the weather which is just as punk elsewhere in Belgium, there is not much not to love about the place. Ghent is human scaled, sophisticated and beautiful but with a gritty edge. I am very much hoping that the mayors of smaller American cities seeking models come here to take a look. And it is very tourist friendly. How tourist friendly? It is the only city I know of to publish a map of the public toilets. Ghenteraars have a sense of humor. They issued the map in honor of World Toilet Day (November 19th don’t you know?)
 
gent2Bradley Wiggins “Wiggo” – the first Englishman ever to win The Tour de France is a son of Ghent!  He was born April 28, 1980 to an English mother and Australian father. His dad, Gary Wiggins was also a professional cyclist who rode for a Ghent based team that is no more Marc- ARD. His mom and dad divorced when he was 2. He moved with his mom to Maida Vale (London) and began racing at the age of 12.  Wiggins has won seven Olympic medals and is one of just a few cyclists to have made the transition from track to road cycling successfully. The modest Wigggins was the subject of several honours and awards recently; the Vélo d’Or award for best rider of the year, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award and a knighthood as part of the Queen’s  2013 New Year Honours. Wiggins said that he felt “a little bit inferior” to others receiving knighthoods saying “I’ve won a bike race, you know, and I feel a little bit inferior to everyone”, saying “I was just talking to some of the other people getting stuff, and asking them what they’ve been honoured for, and they’re historic things, ground-breaking sciences or whatever”.
 
So far we have had a delightful visit to Castelain in French Flanders and to Brasserie Dupont in Wallonia. Will write more about those visits as time permits.

All best wishes,
Wendy & Don

(Pictures from top- Wendy & Don’s Belgian swimming wonderland, vending machine waffles at a Belgian train station, one of the beautiful alleyways in Ghent.)

Where it eat in Belgium…

Want to know the newest and hottest places to eat in Belgium?

Check out this map from Eater.com!

 

eater-belgium-heatmap-2013

Gone Fishing in Belgium

Whew, the C2CT2 was last night. I’ve scarcely a spare moment to gather my thoughts, let alone luggage before heading to beloved Belgium tomorrow. I’m off to meet Janet Forman, who is a friend and beautiful writer. We’re going on a contemplative travel adventure – on retreat at Westmalle, and to visit the beguinages of Flanders. These are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, places where since the Middle Ages up to the 21st century women have taken refuge. The beguines are also known as the first feminists of Europe. A couple of them were even brewers. By the time I return, I expect to know a good deal about the subject. The exploratory is to be the topic of a story by Janet for National Geographic Traveller. The beguinage movement is of special interest to me because for a time I ran a women’s retreat (founded in the Progressive Era for textile workers), and because the little house that we recently bought in Ghent backs up to one of these beguinages.

In the second half of my trip I’ll reunite with Don. We’ll visit with our brewer friends, get acquainted with our new house, and finalize shipments of a couple of new beers.

We wish you all a peaceful Thanksgiving in the company of loved ones. A special thanks to our Coast to Coast Toast hosts and members of the distributor community for making this year’s Toast utterly stupendous. I’ll be back in action in Chicago in the 2nd week of December. Drop me a line if you have a question, or if you want to share an observation

The Genius of Kobe Desramaults

Kobe Desramaults is the head chef at In De Wulf (what a great name!), located in Danrouter, Belgium.  Lambickx pairs perfectly with his dish of lightly cured sea bass, radish, shellfish broth, and sloeberry vinegar.  But until Wendy returns to the US with Kobe’s cookbook in hand, we are recipe-less.

But in place of a recipe, I thought I’d share a few facts about Kobe’s culinary genius.  In De Wulf sits in the place of Kobe’s childhood home, which evolved from a cottage, to a brasserie, to an inn.  Kobe studied under some of the world’s best contemporary chefs - Sergio Herman and Carles Abellán – then returned home to transform his mother’s restaurant into a Michelin-star winning establishment.  In De Wulf received its first Michelin star in 2005, making Kobe the youngest Michelin starred chef in Belgium; to date, In De Wulf now boasts two Michelin stars.  Recently, Kobe has been named one of the top 100 chefs in the world, and at 31, he is among the youngest.

Kobe’s cooking focuses on bringing out the best in local ingredients, no matter the season.  In his own words:

“Every day there’s something changing. It’s to be found in some little things like the scent of the first elders bringing me directly back to my childhood, the wild dock leaves in the talus, the glance of the first blackberries…

It’s the same feeling a want to reflect in my kitchen. The menu doesn’t change every season but when the time is right. I call it ‘organic kitchen’ because I have to adjust it to the things happening around us. The menu never changes from dish to dish… I see it as a never ending project. Every day there is worked and puzzled on. Adapted but never feigned. It especially has to be ‘real’, sometimes brutal, soft, just natural. Being honest of who we are and where we are as the biggest challenge.”

In Kobe’s spirit, why not improvise a dish out of local ingredients?  Let us know what
amazing dish you have created, and since Lambickx dazzles with most food pairings, try it with your creation and let us know what you think!

Follow Kobe on Twitter (@kobewulf) and prepare to be tantalized, scintillated, and culinarily inspired by both his tweets and this beautiful video of In De Wulf’s offerings:

 

The View from Monte Amiata – Home of Amiata Brewery

I am posting this little travel update from Livorno. Our room at the NH Grand Hotel Palazzo overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Livorno

We lunched at Ristorante Miramare in Marina di Castagneto Carducci, not far from Bolgheri (about 50 km from Livorno). Incredibly beautiful day and magnificent lunch of pasta with shellfish and salad. It is warm enough that people are swimming in the sea. We had to have a glass of Bolgheri, the famous local white wine so we could better appreciate the splendor and particularity of Doppia Vecchia Bastarda, Birra Amiata‘s vintage heirloom chestnut beer aged in Bolgheri barrels. We learned that the chef has consulted with Lidia Bastianich about Liguria’s cuisine, a cuisine we will come to know better when we have dinner with our friends Claudio Cerullo (one half of Amiata’s brewing brother duo) and his wife Patricia. They have promised us a Livornese fish feast!

Working backwards, we reached Italy and the village of Arcidosso on Monday. We have been spending time in the company of the very loving, talented, hardworking and thoughtful Claudio and Gennaro Cerullo and their families, eating together, visiting the brewery, touring the little hill towns on foot, and of course drinking the local wines and beers!  It poured rain when we lunched at the Cerullo house on European Labor Day (May 1) but that did not put the slightest damper on a great meal prepared by Carla and Sophia. 

We stayed at a sweet little inn: Locanda del Prete which the owner (Carlo Innocenti) renovated himself. 

He is a former adman, cameraman, and he even ran a discoteque. Now, in addition to the inn, he operates a cooking school in his 25 room house near the castello of Arcidosso. His wife Pascale is an architectural designer from Paris – a former model for Armani and Versace. That is a picture of our lunch below – not Pascale!

Carlo gave us a little recipe book from the cooking school. The recipe and sentiment come from him, the beer pairing from us.  Because the Crocus beer from Amiata contains saffron, we thought it would be delightful paired with risotto.  Crocus will be coming in later in the year.  In the meantime, substitute a glass of Contessa or a Montepulciano wine.

Risotto a Funghi Porcini (Risotto with Porcini mushrooms)

During the spring and fall in Tuscany and Arcidosso, people venture out into the woods of Monte Amiata in search of the rare to find and prestigious porcini. In order to preserve the mushroom for the rest of the year, many dry them, then use them to prepare pasta sauces and risotto.

INGREDIENTS

17 ounces of Arborio rice
2 handfuls of dried procini mushrooms
1 chopped onion
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Warm water
Salt & Pepper

PREPARATION

Place the dry porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with warm water. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes. Using a strainer, get rid of all the sediment in the water.  Do not throw away the water since you’ll use it in the risotto.  Using your hands, squeeze the mushrooms to get rid of the excess water. Meanwhile, finely chop the onions and place in the medium sized pot with some olive oil. Add the mushrooms with a little water. Cook at low to medium heat stirring continuously. Add the rice and then some more water. Keep stirring the rice and adding warm water to the pot. Add salt and pepper.  Once the rice is al dente, the risotto is ready. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

The team at Ristorante Miramare in Marina di Castagneto Carducci