Saturday, July 30, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I’m a creature of habit. When I’m in the car in Rome my brain sometimes goes on autopilot and I find myself heading north towards our house in Todi, even if I’m only going towards the supermarket. The same thing happens to my feet when I’m in a foreign city. If I’ve been there before I always seem to end up heading down streets that are familiar. Even if I think I’m exploring a new neighborhood, there I am, in front of a favorite shop where I’ve bought things in the past.
That happened to me a few weeks ago in Barcelona. I actually had a destination in mind and was headed towards a much-loved ceramic shop. But once I’d found it, (and stocked up) I decided to just wander aimlessly. Of course I soon found myself in front of another store I love in Barcelona: Antiga Cereria Lluis Codina.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I went down to Sicily a few weeks ago at the invitation of the Tasca D’Almerita family. Just in case you don’t know, they make wine. Big time. So most of our 2 1/2 day trip was spent driving across Sicily, from one incredibly beautiful vineyard to another. Our ‘tour guide’ for this viniferous voyage was Ivo Basile, the resident Tasca enologist.
While Ivo was eloquent on all things having to do with Tasca and vino there was one word that kept popping up: Scopello. Ivo just kept talking about Scopello. Granted, Sophie was badgering him for advice to help her plan an upcoming trip to Sicily, so it was natural that Ivo would encourage her to go to what he thought was one of the most beautiful spots in Sicily.
But really. It was Scopello this and Scopello that. Scopello, Scopello, Scopello. As you can imagine after two days of this, both Sophie and I were pretty darn curious.
Monday, July 25, 2011
As you already know we went down to Ravello a few weeks ago. Great food, great views, great fun. Also great souvenirs. Not only did I pick up a hefty cedro (citron), but we also came away with a few kilos of lemons from our friend Tom’s incredibly beautiful limoneto.
I realized that I had never actually seen a limoneto up close. I’d seen many from afar, but this was the first time I was actually invited to spend a few days actually living in the middle of a lemon grove.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Every Roman has their favorite pizzeria. While their choice has a lot to do with taste, of course, it also has as much to do with location. Just like having a favorite neighborhood bar, all Romans have their favorite corner pizza joint.
This is where they head on a Sunday night when the family feels like going out for an inexpensive meal. Or where they can stop on the way home from work during the week, for a pizza to go. These dependable, local places rarely get written up in guide books or blogs. Mostly because they aren’t doing anything beyond the norm: good pizzas cooked to order in a wood burning oven.
I have to admit to having a blind spot towards my own neighborhood pizzeria. We decided to go there last week and I was all set to call up to reserve. I got out my iPhone, opened my own app Eat Rome, only to realize that I hadn’t included Alle Carrette.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
A few weeks ago we escaped for two days to the Amalfi coast. We were headed to Ravello and rather than wind our way down the breathtaking - but hair raising - Amalfi drive, we cut over the mountain road inland.
The road is equally stunning, cutting through the mountain pass and skirting through several small villages. Along the way I of course spotted several produce stands I made a mental note to stop by on our way back home. Heaped high with bright yellow lemons and citrons, I knew I’d want to stock up for Rome.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sophie and I did a whirlwind tour of Sicily last week. We were in the capable hands of the Tasca family, and so visited pretty much all of their vineyards. This meant that over the course of 48 hours we made it from the slopes of Etna all the way over to Mozia, including a stop at Regaleali of course.
But we also managed an evening in Palermo. While on our way to dinner, we stopped for a snack at the Antica Focacceria S. Francesco. Although I’d been there in the past, I’d always eaten up on the top floor, which is more like a restaurant. Instead, the Focacceria is best known for it’s street food: arancini, crocche di latte, panelle, focaccia and sfincione.
But what I really wanted was their famous Focaccia Maritata. While Sophie was scolding me about ruining my appetite before dinner, I went ahead and got a few arancini , crocche’, a slice of sfincione and....a huge whopping Focaccia Maritata.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
On my way back from London last week I did something I’ve never done in my life. I missed my flight. Not only am I super organized, but I am internationally known not only for being on time, but for being border-line embarrassingly early.
Although the hour and a half stuck in London traffic had something to do with it, I should have known better. I should have taken the tube to Victoria, not a taxi. I should have just jumped out of the taxi when I realized what was going on. But...well, it all just got away from me very quickly.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Everyone has their favorite neighborhood bar in Rome. And while people say they love their own bar, you know that at the same time everyone’s got this nagging feeling that maybe the grass is a bit greener on the other side of town. There must be other bars, in other neighborhoods that are even better.
While I do love my neighborhood bars, I know for a fact that there are bars I wish were a bit closer to home. Lotti, off Via Veneto on Via Sardegna is one of those.
Monday, July 11, 2011
There are so many ways to order coffee in Rome. I think someone told me that there are over forty ways Romans ask for their coffee in a bar. Some like it in a cup, some in a glass. There are variations on cappuccino including very hot, not so hot, tepid, cold, extra foam, no foam. Then there’s the whole ‘add a bit of chocolate thing’ with variations of the marocchino, etc. I could go on and on...
But today’s coffee lesson is weather dependent. Seasonal if you will. You see summer’s finally struck here in Rome. We’ve been lucky up until now, with temps still hovering in the low 80’s for the most part, and cooling off at night. Most years we are sweltering by early June.
But summer has finally arrived, big time.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Have I told you lately how much I love Slowfood’s guide book Osterie d’Italia? When in doubt, it is my bible. If I am clueless about where to eat -whether it is a big city like Torino or a small village in the middle of nowhere - I can always count on the Osterie d’Italia to steer me in the right direction.
Last Sunday we dropped off my daughter Emma at the airport in Rome at noon, and then were heading down to Ravello. I wanted to find some place to eat lunch along the way, but had a few tricky requirements. It had to be about an hour south of Rome, and not too far off our course. Also, it had to have outdoor seating since we were traveling with doggie Pico. And of course, I didn’t really want to leave our fully loaded car parked unattended too close to Naples either.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
While in London last week I somehow stumbled across one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time. I was visiting Sophie and was looking for a place to eat somewhere sort of near where she lives, in North London. After browsing around Chowhound, and other London blogs, I kept coming back to the Bull & Last. The location was perfect - a 20 minute walk from Sophie’s apartment - and the comments included phrases like “as good as it gets” and “gastropub perfection.”
If you’re used to eating in central London, this place will seem like a hike to get to. It’s just down the road from the Gospel Oak tube stop, in a neighborhood you’ve likely never been to. But don’t let that put you off. Make the effort.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I know the 4th of July is supposed to be about grilling and pies and all sorts of American style eating. But if you live outside of the States, the holiday is just not that big a deal. In fact, the 4th usually just slides by without us even noticing.
This 4th we were lucky enough to find ourselves at our friend Tom’s house, in Ravello. Since he’s American, I guess we all could have made a bit of effort for some sort of flag waving. But the level of relaxation was way to high to even think about celebrating anything more than just finding ourselves in such a spectacular setting.
Friday, July 1, 2011
It’s been a while since I posted a recipe. As you know I’ve been traveling a lot lately and so doing much more restaurant eating than home cooking. But in between restaurants, museums, walks and theater I always manage to get some serious food shopping in, where ever I am.
While in Paris last week I stopped by Le Grand Epicerie, which has become a tradition. While I always make new discoveries, I also always end up getting at least one pack of Haricots Tarbais.