Thursday, May 23, 2013
This past Monday I had a marvelous dinner at Casa Bleve, in Rome. As I wrote about a few months ago, Tina and Anacleto are back to their old ‘formula’ at lunch time, laying out the buffet that we all knew and loved for years.
On Monday evenings, though, they have started a new tradition. Every two weeks a different wine producer is invited to present their wines, and a four course menu is served. Prepared by Tina of course. And so delicious, of course. Food plus wine all at an incredibly low price of 40 euros.
But this post isn’t about that dinner. It’s about the fact that the featured wine producer this week was Tasca d’Almerita from Sicily. And the first wine we enjoyed (I actually enjoyed three glasses of it) was their sparkling Almerita Extra Brut. To go with the wine, Tina prepared a scrumptious dish of pan fried green peppers coated in crunchy toasted breadcrumbs. Which is exactly what you want to go with one of my favorite bubbly wines. Something fried, crunchy and full of intense flavor.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Every two years almost everyone I know heads to Venice. I used to be more involved in the art world and so most of my closest friends are art historians, art dealers, professors or artists. And almost all of them go to the opening of the Biennale which takes place - as the name implies - every two years.
Countries from all over the world exhibit contemporary art in their own pavilions that are located at Venice’s most Eastern tip. While I usually don’t head up for the opening events (too crowded for me, I go later on in the summer) I content myself with the fact that most of my friends usually end up making it down to Rome too.
Monday, May 20, 2013
I love to cook from my terrace. The problem is, our tiny space in Rome is not that big. So what we usually focus on growing are things that will thrive in pots. That means herbs, of course, but also radishes, arugula and every so often a cherry tomato plant.
What we do have in abundance are citrus plants. We started out, ages ago, with an ordinary lemon. Then our local nursery in Umbria started getting in exotic things like Meyer Lemons and Limes. When Domenico started working on a house up in Tuscany, that meant that he drove by one of the best citrus nurseries in Italy, and at that point there was no stopping us. Except, of course, for the size of our terrace. (which still didn’t stop Domenico bringing back a limon di pica from Chile in his suitcase a few years later).
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Sometimes you just have to make do with what you have. I am reminded of this pretty much every time we head up to Todi for the weekend. In the summer and fall I have the bounty of the garden to jump into for inspiration and ingredients. But during the rest of the year? There is no garden to speak of and I kind of forget what I have (and don’t have) in the cupboard.
A few weekends ago the weather was grand, and we decided to stay longer on Sunday than I had planned. That meant I had to figure out something for lunch. My go to solution is, of course, pasta. I can always figure out some sort of pantry pasta, right?
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Ok, I know that with only one week in San Francisco I should have taken advantage of every single meal opportunity to dine out. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are that many fantastic places in that food obsessed town.
So how did it happen that I did take out, and stayed at home two nights?
Monday, May 13, 2013
It’s been one holiday after the other in Italy these last few weeks. April 25 (Liberation Day) and then May 1, which is basically European labor day. Traditionally, on May 1, you are supposed to take the day off and head out to the countryside for a picnic.
Ideally, included in this meal, would be fresh fave beans and pecorino cheese. It’s a very social kind of snack, since everyone peels their own fave beans, nibbling on them raw, while they alternate with bits of cheese. It tastes great, and a pile of fave beans on the table is admittedly gorgeous. But.....I always find it a bit too rustic a combo to serve at a real meal. Plus, I”m always thinking that while nice, there must be a way to incorporate a bit of salt and olive oil, which I feel is missing.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
During my trip to San Francisco I had the great pleasure of going on a tour of the Mission district. If you think SF is foodie obsessed, the Mission District is its beating heart. Leading our group in and out of some of the best places was Sean Timberlake who, besides being a blogger there, also leads these mouthwatering tours for Edible Excursions.
While it was one delicious experience after the next, perhaps the highlight was a sweet trip to a chocolate factory. Of course San Francisco would have a bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the middle of town, right? This small place sources single varietals of beans directly from growers, and then roasts and grinds them right on Valencia street, before pouring them into bars to be hand wrapped in pretty gold foil.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
I’ve long ago admitted to my laziness when it comes to getting out of the center of Rome. But the other day, I got a sweet email from a reader of my blog, Sarah B., asking me if I knew of any restaurants way out on the Nomentana? She was a musician, and had a ‘gig’ in that part of town (where there are plenty of night clubs) and was fearful that between rehearsals and performances she wouldn’t get a chance to make it down to the center of town.
That’s when I remembered that I’d been meaning to go to Lanificio for way too long. Which is where, it turns out, the musician was actually playing!
Monday, May 6, 2013
Saltimboca alla Romana is a Roman classic. Fragrant sage leaves are sandwiched between a tender veal cutlet and a transparently thin slice of prosciutto. Held together by a toothpick, the trio are quickly sauteed in a mixture of white wine and olive oil. It is a staple of almost every Roman trattoria in town.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Remember my avowed obsession with beans? I’m always buying them, especially when I travel. They can be just plain and ordinary fave from Puglia, or else fancy haricots trabais from France. If I can manage to fit them into my suitcase, home they come.
I’m always especially successful ‘foraging’ for beans at the Salone del Gusto. The Salone is divided into regions and each one always has new and wonderful beans (always on the verge of extinction of course ) and never before seen (at least by me).