Tuesday, May 31, 2011
By now you know that I care a lot about how things look. When it comes to food, I love good design, and the setting - especially when it comes to a restaurant - greatly influences my experience.
The other day I had lunch at the Chiostro del Bramante. The food was just fine. Actually it was quite a few levels up from ‘just fine’, bordering on really very good. But this was one of those times when the setting so outweighed what I had on my plate, that I think I would have been happy with just about anything.
Monday, May 30, 2011
I’ve already admitted that whenever there is a question of buying too little or too much food, I usually err way over on the side of too much. This weekend it happened again. The farmer’s market was blessedly empty on Sunday morning, and so I had plenty of time to make impulse purchases, without truly planning any meal.
I had a vague idea of a Sunday lunch that involved pasta. The next thing I knew I was heading home with two kilos of freshly made fettucine. Which would have been fine had we been eight - or even ten - people. But we were only four. (I blame it on the woman in line next to me, who kept telling everyone who could hear “I always make 200 grams of pasta per person.” Well, good for her.)
Thursday, May 26, 2011
If you’ve ever lived in Florence then the idea of carts all over the city selling tripe sandwiches seems like part of the landscape. The other day I realized that most people don’t really ‘get’ one of my all time favorite snacks. I tweeted that I was craving a tripe sandwich in Florence and the responses made me realize that tripe on a bun is not what most people run out for when the munchies hit.
And then I remembered it had taken me a while to get used to the idea of a late morning offal snack. I was living in Florence, working on my dissertation (Renaissance gardens) and had just met my soon-to-be husband, Domenico. Up until then I was more interested in deciphering 16th century Medici shopping lists than delving into pots of steaming innards.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I know I sometimes take it a bit too far with the organization thing. I like knowing what’s happening when. And I also like being the one to decide things. Especially when it comes to food. I have control issues, I admit it.
Last Sunday I had things nicely planned out, at least in terms of dinner. I was very excited to cook the boned rabbit I had bought at the farmers’ market the week before. Thawed out on Friday, marinated on Saturday, ready to grill on Sunday. I’d never grilled rabbit before, so I was very excited to give it a go.
Monday, May 23, 2011
People ask me for my favorite restaurant in Rome on an almost daily basis. This was one of the reasons I wrote the app Eat Rome. Now, instead of sending out individual emails I can just say “Buy the App.” And most people do. But you want to know something? Even though I spent an awful lot of time pulling together my list of favorites in Rome? I still get emails from people asking me to narrow the list down. What are you favorite five restaurants? What is your very very favorite place to eat?
How am I supposed to answer that? Depends on the weather, how I’m feeling, how you’re feeling, how much money you have, what neighborhood you’re in. Not an easy question, no simple answer.
That said, what with the recent Rapture and Earthquake scares, I finally got to thinking. What would my very last meal in Rome be if I had to choose? My very last meal if I would never be in Rome again? Before I got raptured up to heaven or sucked down when the Earth split open?
Saturday, May 21, 2011
There are some things that I’m scared of cooking because they seem too technically difficult. Like meringue, hard candy and anything else where you have to get the temperature exactly right. And then there are other things I am scared of cooking because they are just plain scary. Things that can actually hurt you. Things like sea urchins, live lobsters and nettles.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I really didn’t mean to visit this jewelry show. I don’t need any more necklaces or earrings. But I had to go over to pick up two shirts I had ordered from Sabine Schomber and - purely by chance - she was hosting a showing of these baubles by her friend, Laura Di Vincenzo.
I’ve admitted by shortcomings when it comes to foraging. I want to be a better forager. I intend to be a better forager. And one day I will be a better forager.
But in the meantime, when I have a springtime craving for dandelion green salad I have a very nifty trick. I invite my friend Carol over, and she is bound to arrive with a bag of freshly gathered dandelion greens. You see, Carol is very good at foraging (at least for dandelion greens). And she’s even better at being a dinner guest. Not only did she arrive with a bag-o-greens, she brought me a thick slice of pancetta and a nice red onion.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the reasons I love my neighbors Yves and Sienna is because they invite us over - often - for cocktails. They live just on the other side of the courtyard, so it’s almost like staying at home, but even better. And while I like going over to their place in the winter (see this cozy cold weather cocktail) I really love it when we get a chance to hang out on their fabulous terrace.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
I'm very visual when it comes to shopping. Bright pretty things can make me cross the street at a run, heedless of traffic. The same thing happens when I see a pretty vegetable. I am a sucker for pretty.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if I’m buying shiny apples imported from Chile. I’m doing most of my shopping at the farmers’ market, where almost all the items on display have their fair share of dirt still attached.
But last week while I was up in Todi I stopped by my favorite fruttivendolo. Located just down the hill from town, on a farm tucked behind Ponte Rio, this small shop does sell their own produce in season. But off season the owner makes a twice weekly truck run to the Marche to stock up.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Mondays are a drag. After the weekend, it’s back to work. And even if you enjoy your work (and I do) I know that sometimes it’s hard to get up and get going. So today, as my Monday morning present to you, I’m posting some pure, unadulterated, drop dead gorgeous rose porn.
Friday, May 13, 2011
I’ve always had a problem with buying too much food. I guess it can be partly blamed on the whole jewish/italian mother in me. Feed the world, starting in my own kitchen. The problem becomes especially severe on my Saturday trips to the farmers’ market. A kilo of this, and a kilo of that, and before i know it I’ve not only got enough to feed an army, but I can’t even fit it all into my fridge.
This problem becomes even worse in the Spring. After months of chicory, cabbage and cauliflower the arrival of artichokes, fave and peas throws me into hyper-drive. Plus, with all those vegetables - peas and fave in their pods and artichokes with their leaves and stems - I can never quite figure out quantities, and always err on the side of too much. (why risk it?)
OMG, I’m so sorry! I just realized that I haven’t written anything about cocktails for over two months. I don’t really have a plan dictating what I write about. But I like to think that I cover recipes, restaurants and cocktails with some regularity.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Last week I went foraging for wild asparagus, like I do every spring at our house in Umbria. I love the idea of foraging, but in reality I’m not very good at it. I wish I was better, and it is definitely near the top of my list of things I want to do. You know. “Spend week in Umbria following farmer neighbor around fields while she’s picking greens.”
Somehow it never happens. Which is why I’m stuck on asparagus. Even though they are hard to spot, at least when you do find them, they look like asparagus. The other greens that grow wild in Umbria are another story. They all look the same to me.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Remember a few months ago when I blogged on and on about the courses I took with Gabriele Bonci? First Bread, then Pizza. I wrote about the classes here, here, here and here. And about my one attempt at making pizza (which turned into crackers) here. Last week I was among the chosen few who got to attend Bonci Pizza Two: Beyond the Pan.
I made up that last part, but really that’s what it was all about.
While a good portion of the class was spent working with different kinds of flour (enkir, farro and a mix of the two) The other part of the class was more “having fun with pizza” a.k.a.: “definitely try this at home.”
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Since I published my app EAT ROME two months ago there is one question that keeps popping up (besides - strangely - where to get vegetarian food in Rome): when are you going to do one for Florence?
EAT FLORENCE is here! Although most of you associate me with all things Roman, I actually lived in Florence for a few years, and go back often, for work and play. I also report on all things beautiful and delicious in Florence for magazines like Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Architectural Digest.
Posted by Elizabeth Minchilli at 5:24 PM
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
It’s getting to be that time of year when snack time turns to thoughts of something cool and creamy. Gelato, for sure. But it’s also when I start to have cravings for frullati. And when I want a frullati there is really only one place that I have in mind.
I’ve been going to Frullati Pascucci since I was 12. I had just moved to Rome from St. Louis, with my family, and while my sisters and I were all very adventurous eaters, we also didn’t mind when something looked kind of familiar. We would order Vitello Milanese just because my father told us it was fried chicken. And frullati of course were just a different version of a Steak-n-Shake milkshake.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Going to the markets in Rome in the spring is intoxicating. While I like cavolo nero, broccoletti and cicoria as much as the next girl, come April I am so over cruciferous anything. But spring brings artichokes, peas, fave and asparagus. And the season is so short for this spring bounty, that I buy and cook as much of them as possible.
At the beginning of the season all of these vegetables are hugely expensive. Artichokes can go up to almost 2 euros a piece. But the most expensive spring vegetable of them all must be tiny wild asparagus. Small, thin stalks, sold in tightly bound bunches, they look more like twigs than the fat cultivated variety.
Monday, May 2, 2011
I can’t believe it’s been about a year since David Lebovitz came to Rome and we hosted a book signing party for him. Of course I bought a copy of the book, Ready for Dessert, and made immediate plans to bake my way through it.
And then...it's been more or less a year of not baking. I go through phases, especially when it comes to sweets. There was a very long jam phase. And the whole gelato thing. And for a while I was making a lot of biscotti. But for some reason this past year I’ve been almost ignoring desert altogether.