Friday, April 29, 2011
Everyone has their favorite bar in Rome. It’s usually close to where you live, or where you work. You stop there at least once a day, as much for a the coffee as for the chance to chat and catch up with the regulars.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Sophie was in town last week for Easter break, and I took advantage of her bottomless stomach to go out to lunch often. Although I manage to go to a lot more restaurants than most people, I always have a long list of places I’ve been meaning to try but somehow have never gotten to. Trattoria Cadorna was at the top of that list.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Easter in Italy is pretty predictable food-wise. Like most good Italians I almost always cook lamb. You’d think that after years of cooking the same cut of meat I’d get adventurous in the recipe department. But even though I toy around with the idea of delving into Wolfert or Bittman for something a bit - I don’t know - Middle Eastern? I always go back to the same old, same old.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Even though I stopped on the way up to Todi, at a truck stop, and bought not one but two pastieras, along with a kilo of biscotti; and even though I loaded up on WAY too many chocolate eggs the other day in Rome at Valzani; today I found myself baking a cake. Which I needed like a hole in my head.
But somehow I can always justify baking. First of all Emma suggested it, so it was something fun to do together. Secondly, I had bought some very pretty apples at the market in Ponte Rio that turned out to be prettier than they were tasty. Kind of mealy and not so great for eating. Better for baking, right? Plus, Sophie was on her way up, and apple cake is one of the few deserts she loves.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I know people like Easter in Italy for a lot of reasons. Some like the big chocolate eggs, others the cheese-filled pizza di pasqua. Then there is the whole colombe thing (the Easter version of pannetone). And I guess some people actually do go to Mass since Easter is a religious holiday and not just an excuse for a big meal.
But me? This is the time of year when I order my abbacchio, or baby lamb, to roast in our wood-fueled oven up in Todi. While I usually get a rosemary garlic thing going, this year I may actually experiment with some of Mark Bittman’s suggestions. Maybe.
But that’s not why I’m excited. What I love about Easter is not the lame gift that usually comes inside the big hollow Easter Eggs. I like the gift that comes inside the little lamby: coratella.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
You know when you walk into a place and you just get really happy really fast? That happened to me the other day when I was wandering down a back alley in Trastevere. I had just been to a beer festival (and so, ok, I was already in a ‘happy’ mood to begin with). But I was a bit distracted, walking slowing, checking something on my iPhone when I looked up and found myself face to face with a wall of Easter Eggs.
Monday, April 18, 2011
This past Saturday in Rome there was almost too much to choose from. On the one hand I wanted to see the Lorenzo Lotto show at the Quirinale, as well Alesksandr Deineka show at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni. On the other hand there were both beer and chocolate festivals in town. In the end the weather was too gorgeous to stay indoors with art or chocolate so I opted for beer, which at least included a long walk though Villa Doria Pamphili to the festival itself, which was held in the garden of a Villa overlooking St. Peters.
But first. Can I say something? What is it about beer festivals? Why do I always feel like I’m the only a) girl, b) person without a tattoo and c) person without dreadlocks? Is this just an Italian thing? Me, in my black jeans and trench coat, leather purse and - well - I’ll just go ahead and admit it, well-coiffed hair. I feel like I’m wearing a sign that says “doesn’t belong here.”
Friday, April 15, 2011
I understand that when kids come home from college they expect to find their favorite comfort foods. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes maybe? In Italy it’s more likely to be nonna's pasta al forno. But my daughter? Want to know what Sophie's latest obsession is? Cicoria. Chicory. Yes. All she dreams about when coming back home from University in London is a big mess-o-greens.
Sophie started out like any normal child, refusing to eat vegetables for quite a long time. She was always partial to savory, salty and sour and so loved anything that was cheesy or cured or that she could squeeze lemon juice over. Tripe and prosciutto were favorites. Peas and carrots, not so much.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Even though on this blog I write mostly about food, I’m actually better known as someone who writes about houses. I’ve written six books on homes in Italy and write for magazines like House & Garden, Architectural Digest and World of Interiors. So - you can imagine - I see a lot of houses that I would like to move right into. House envy big time.
But it’s rare that I find a store that has the same attraction. Where I just want to pull up a chair and stay a while. But last week while I was eating my way through Florence, working on my new app Eat Florence, I stumbled upon Il Cuore delle Cose. The Heart of Things. The entire store looked like it was just waiting for a photo shoot to happen.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Even though you are reading this on your computer, I think real, words-on-paper cookbooks are pretty nice too. I was inspired by my friend Sienna's much-loved copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Read my thoughts, and share yours, over at The Atlantic.
Monday, April 11, 2011
We have a winner! If you remember last month Paula Butturini visited this blog and shared a delicious asparagus recipe. While writing up my own recipe for asparagus earlier today I realized (horror!) that I had forgotten to announce the winner of the book Paula had so kindly donated.
And the winner is.....Bella Baita View! (a.k.a. Marla).
And for those of you in Rome, Paula is giving a reading tomorrow evening, Tuesday April 12, at the Oratorio di Caravita, Via del Caravita 7, at 7 pm. She'll be giving a talk and taking questions. Hope to see you there!
Don’t you love it when you start chatting with the guy at the table next to you in a restaurant and it turns out he’s a cheese maker? And then, after promising to send you a piece of his cheese when he gets home, he does? Is there anything better than getting a package of cheese in the mail?
This happened to me when I was at the restaurant Venissa, on the island of Mazzorbo in the Venetian lagoon. The restaurant, only a year old, is run by the much lauded Paola Budel. And in fact, one of the reasons the cheese guy was there was to bring down one of his wheels of cheese for her to play around with.
Friday, April 8, 2011
What am I doing in Florence you ask? Eating. And then eating some more. And after that, more food. All in the name of research of course. Yes. I’ve started work on the next app: Eat Florence. And as my too tight jeans can attest, I’m taking this all very seriously.
My first order of the day was gelato. And I do mean first order of the day. I hit the ground running (at least at first) and started off my gelato trot at 10:30 am and just kept going. Ok. I didn’t eat gelato the entire time. I was also eating tripe, focaccia, bistecca and....well, you get the idea.
Since it’s unseasonably warm in Florence these days, I figured I shouldn’t make you wait for the App (which should be out by end of May) for the gelato report. So here it is.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
My trip last weekend to Mazzorbo and Burano was heavenly. And I don’t say that lightly. I truly felt apart from this world most of the time. The hotel I was staying in, Venissa, was on Mazzorbo, a tiny island just north of the better known Burano. Besides the inn, a cemetery, and two small restaurants there were just a handful of houses, each with their own vegetable garden. I woke up to the sounds of the tide going out and roosters crowing. I somehow had been miraculously transported to a small village, yet here I was in the middle of the Venetian lagoon, not 30 minutes from the madness of San Marco.
Burano, just over a small wooden bridge that connects the two islands, was definitely more touristed than Mazzorbo. Day trippers piled off the traghetto to stroll along the multi-colored alleyways and fondamente to buy ‘local’ lace and other trinkets. Even though my own photos captured the back side of Burano, of which there is plenty, with nary a store to mar the kaleidoscope of color, the streets in the center were lined with stores catering to tourists.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
I’ll get to the food part of my trip soon. I promise. I’ve actually been too busy eating to write much. But somehow I did manage to fit in a bit of shopping. Being naturally attracted to bright and shiny things, I made a bee line for this cute little shop in Burano that my friend Jane told me about, Alla Fiera dell'Est. Actually, I had seen her wearing one of their necklaces a while back, but never thought I would make it out to Burano myself.