Monday, October 31, 2011
Last week I posted a photograph of our pomegranate tree on Facebook. I post a lot of stuff on Facebook. Photos, links, my own articles. But that photo of a pomegranate got more and faster comments and likes than almost anything I’ve ever posted.
What’s up with that?
Thursday, October 27, 2011
It’s quince time again. We have a smallish tree out in Todi, and I wait patiently for it to produce its meager few kilos of fruit each year. At least that’s what I’m thinking, until the fruit is actually ready to pick.
Then I remember that I don’t really like quince jam. And while my husband loves quince paste (cotognata in Italian, membrillo in Spanish) I think it’s a lot of effort for something that - in my humble opinion - is nothing to write home about. (although I'd like to try Judy's, if only because her molds are so cute)
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
We have a winner!
Thanks to all of you for participating in my book giveaway for Pamela Sheldon Johns' fantastic new book Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking. 63 of you graciously stopped by my blog and left a comment. I very scientifically printed out the comments, cut them into pieces, threw them in a salad bowl, closed my eyes, and picked a name.
And the winner is......
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sometimes I feel as if traveling is a bit of a glorified grocery shopping expedition. A trip anywhere is never complete without a visit to the local markets and food shops, right? I always make sure I bring an extra carry on, to store my stash.
I know I’m not alone in this, since my friends Sienna and Jane always bring me back goodies from their trips. And I respond likewise. Since we all travel quite a bit, we give - and more importantly, receive - some pretty nifty treats. Recent bounty has come from Lyon, Paris, Istanbul, Seattle, Cairo, Tel Aviv and Geneva. (I am going to forgive Jane her trip to Krackow which produced only a small statuette of a fiddling Jew).
So, when I opened my cupboard the other night I was faced with an international smorgasbord of ingredients. And no clear idea of how to mix them up.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Fall is definitely my favorite season. There is something about the shorter days that makes me want to head to the kitchen and
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Inspiration always strikes in the most unpredictable ways. At least in my kitchen it does. Sometimes I know exactly what I’m going to make for dinner. Other times I look at the ingredients on hand and think, WTF. (pardon my language. but it’s my kitchen and I’m usually alone.)
This happened the other night. Fall seemed finally to have arrived, and the chill in the air made me want to cook something warm and warming. You know, a bowl of something that sticks to your ribs, is a bit spicy and full of autumn color.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Last week I had the huge pleasure of tagging along on a hiking tour of the Basque region, organized by Country Walkers. Although the hiking part was truly amazing, I of course managed to focus on the food.
Come lunch time, most days saw us high up in the hills, traveling along an isolated stretch of a pilgrims trails, perched on a seaside cliff or resting by an idyllic valley lake. Since we were no where near a restaurant, our lunches were picnics which our hiking guides magically pulled out of their back packs. Rather than making do with prepared sandwiches and salads, every day they whipped up gorgeous - and scrumptious - picnic versions of pintxos.
Monday, October 17, 2011
My friend Sienna has a thing about ginger. When we stop by our local bar to get a carrot apple juice, she asks for hers with so much ginger it burns your tongue. So when we were at the movies the other night, I shouldn’t have been surprised when she slipped me a candy, and it was a ginger bomb.
Since it was dark, and the movie (Carnage. Great. Go see it.) had already started, I had to keep my WOW to myself. Since my ginger love is almost as strong as Sienna’s I of course asked her for another half way through the movie. Once the lights came back on I was able to see what I was eating: Curiously Strong Altoids. But not the horrid mints that I can’t stand, but their newest flavor, ginger.
Which is all to say I had ginger on my mind the next day as I was making fruit salad. Sienna had invited me to lunch on her terrace and I’d offered to bring fruit. I’d planned on buying and bringing a gorgeous bunch of grapes, but forgot. I did however have a couple of apples, bananas and kiwis - as well as a handful of grapes. In other words, fruit salad.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Just when you think there couldn’t be anything left that you didn’t already know about Italian cooking, a book like Cucina Povera comes out. If you’re reading this blog, there is a good chance you are a fan of Italian cooking. And like me, I’m sure that you have all of Marcella’s books on your shelf, as well as classics like those by Evan Kleiman, Nancy Jenkins, Michele Scicolone, Carol Field and Ada Boni. You’d think that about does it.
So I was as surprised (and happy) as anyone to open up Pamela Sheldon Johns’ Cucina Povera and find so many recipes that I’d never heard of, much less eaten or cooked. Peas and Eggs? Chestnut Crepes? Who knew?
Cucina Povera translates into Poor Cooking. And this is just what it is: cooking from the peasant side of things. The kind of cooking that has been going on forever in central Italy, in farmhouses, where families make do with what is available.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I’ve been eating in Rome since I was 12 years old, when my family moved here from St. Louis. While a lot has changed in the Rome restaurant scene since I first came here in the ‘seventies, much has stayed the same.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I was in Spain last week, mostly hiking (thank you Country Walkers), but also eating. I got back late last night and so haven’t had time to shift through all the wonderful things I saw/did/ate. I’ll be reporting on all this in the coming week.
But for now, just a bit of colorful fun to brighten up your Monday. While San Sebastian is probably better known for it’s incredible seaside beauty and it’s over abundance of good food (Besides pintxos, I think it’s got three three-starred Michelin restaurants?) I was loving the more amusing side of the city.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
I wrote about going to the Nuovo Mercato Esquilino the other day. And while the market is known for it’s grand selection of exotic fruits and vegetables, I have a secret to admit. While I certainly leave the market with bags weighed down with fresh produce, there is another reason I always come here: The Romanian Meat Guy.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Every couple of years my friend Marietta travels to Florence, from Boston, to attend the Biennale Internazionale dell’Antiquariato. I usually come up from Rome for the day, to wander around Florence, see the show, but mostly to have lunch with ‘Etta.
It’s always hard deciding where to go. ‘Etta and I used to live in Florence (back in graduate school days) and so of course we have our old favorites. But I always feel like we should branch out, try something new. (Ok. I'm always 'researching' for Eat Florence too) Last time around we went to Osteria Tornabuoni, which was new, a bit fancy, and certainly good.
But that’s the thing about new places in Florence. They pop up, and then they disappear. Like Osteria Tornabuoni. Here one year, gone the next.
So this time around we decided to mix something old with something new. We settled on Ristorante del Fagioli. One of the oldest trattorie in Florence. But new for us since - weirdly - after all the time we’ve both spent in Florence neither if us had ever been there.
Monday, October 3, 2011
The other day my friend Dana asked if I wanted to go to the Piazza Vittorio market with her. The man who manages her country house was in town, and since he’s Sri Lankan, she thought it would be a great idea to have a look around the market with him. I thought so too.