Tuesday, November 29, 2011
While this week is all about vegetables, last weekend was a 48 hour meat fest. At least it seemed that way.
We went to Madrid to visit my daughter Emma. Between restaurants and tapas stops (with some shrimp stops), it was a whole lotta jamon going on.
Which is just how I like it.
Our last meal, on the Sunday before we ran off to the airport, was happenstance. We were wandering, somewhat aimlessly, around Plaza Mayor, when it started to rain. Stepping underneath an awning, I realized that we had miraculously ended up right in front of one of the restaurants at the top of my list: Botin.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Lately, when we eat at home, I end up cooking meals that are mostly vegetable. It’s not that we don’t eat meat. We do eat meat. And even perhaps too much meat. Between working on Eat Rome and Eat Florence, traveling, participating in a hamburger contest and just our normal social schedule, I find that we’ve been eating in restaurants more than usual. And meat always seems to make a scheduled appearance.
So, back at home, it’s veggie time.
Friday, November 25, 2011
I was just looking through my recent posts and see I haven’t written up a recipe in a while. There’s a reason for that. I haven’t really been home and cooking that much lately. After a week in Florence, updating Eat Florence, this past weekend we headed to Madrid, to visit my daughter Emma who’s living there this year.
Even though Sophie (the one in London) is definitely the ‘foodie daughter’, Emma like to eat too. But while Sophie will cook and seek out new restaurants on her own, Emma takes the back seat and is happy to have me find the best places to dine, (even if she is the one living in Madrid)
Not knowing a thing about where to go, I sent out various fb and twitter queries. A few people, including my friend Sienna, suggested La Casa del Abuelo. In fact, it was Sienna’s claim “the best shrimp EVER” that made me head there.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I’m a creature of habit (aren’t we all?) I always tend to go the same 2 or 3 places in cities I know very well. But this Eat Florence app thing has definitely gotten me out of my (delicious) rut. Not only has it forced me to try out new and wonderful restaurants, but it’s made me revisit some of my old favorites where I haven’t been for ages.
While in Florence a few weeks ago, the top of my ‘must revisit’ list was All’Antico Ristoro di' Cambi. I don’t think I’d been there for....oh, I won’t even tell you how long it’s been.
There was a reason, of course. Cambi is not only way across on the ‘other’ side of the river, it’s down in the San Frediano neighborhood. Ok, Florence isn’t that big, and everything is certainly within walking distance. But in the last ten years or so I just hadn’t had a reason to head that way. No museum. No fancy house to write about. No important people to interview. And - until recently - no interesting shopping.
Monday, November 21, 2011
I moved to Florence in 1988 to work on my dissertation on Renaissance gardens. While a lot of my time was spent trolling through the Medici archives in the basement of the Uffizi, I also managed to find my way into every museum, church, collection, convent and any other space containing artwork in the city.
There was one quirky collection that I only managed to get to near the end of my two years in Florence. Yet it is the one museum I make an effort to go back to every time I’m in town (which is pretty often). While I haven’t been to the Uffizi or even the Pitti in ages, La Specola makes my hit list every time. While in town last week, updating Eat Florence, I made sure to stop by between tripe sandwiches and plates of ribolita.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Remember the weekend in Todi when I tried to use only ingredients from our garden? Well, I failed to mention that I did make one big addition to the menu: the fruit of our visit to the goat farm outside of Orvieto.
Besides just eating way too much cheese, straight out of the pretty packaging, I also managed to use it in this salad. Which did indeed come from the garden. (And provided much needed roughage for our lactose heavy blow out.)
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
You know when you get something stuck in your head and it just won’t leave? Could be a song that runs through your mind while you’re trying to work. Or a 'to do' list that swells at 3am when you’re trying to get back to sleep.
Well, I got something stuck in my head a few months ago that refused to leave. It was a photograph of some cheese.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Since I was asked to be one of the ‘experts’ in the burger contest going on in Rome these days, I’ve had burgers on the mind. The contest (which you can read about here and here and sign up to participate in here) started yesterday, and so I’m about to begin burger tasting my way around Rome.
Which leads me to the question I should have asked myself before I agreed to embark on this adventure: What’s the perfect burger? Once I began mulling this over, I realized that there really is no answer. One person’s idea of patty heaven is another’s nightmare.
Better to ask myself (since it’s me I’m talking to anyway) what’s my own personal burger look like?
Friday, November 11, 2011
Every year it's the same thing. Do we do Thanksgiving or don’t we? Living in Italy it’s just not that big a deal (obviously). But sometimes I go all out. Buy a turkey from the farmer next door in Umbria, light up the wood burning fire, invite friends for the weekend and cook a feast.
Other years? Eh. Often it just seems like too much to organize. And it’s not really even a holiday here.
But this year, it looks like there may actually be something to be thankful about. Yes, you read right. Thankful. Even if I live in Italy, where the imminent financial crisis means it’s mostly gloom and doom 24/7.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I’m in Florence this week, updating my app, Eat Florence. I’ve been so busy running from restaurant to tripe stand to gelateria that I haven’t had a minute to sit down and write a post today.
But I have had a minute to take some incredibly gorgeous photographs of the city. Because that’s all it takes. A minute. I just point my camera and shoot. Florence really does look like this.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
One of the things I love about Florence (along with most of the world) are the museums. But one of the things I can’t stand about Florence are the crowds. Waiting in line to visit the David or gawk at The Birth of Venus? No thanks.
There is a way, however, to get my art fix - and then some - while seeing almost no one else. Florence has a treasure trove of small, exquisite museums that most people almost never step foot in. It’s not even as if they are off any beaten track. Most are right in the center of town, so there is no excuse not to go.
I’m up in Florence this week, updating Eat Florence. Between portions of tripe, ribollita and focaccia I’m trying to get myself into as many of my favorite small museums as possible. (It’s not exactly exercise. But at least I’m vertical and moving).
Monday, November 7, 2011
I have a thing about beans. I almost never buy them when I am at home in Rome. But put me on a plane and land me in a foreign land and beans end up filling my luggage. Barcelona, Paris, London and Istanbul were all recent bean sources. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t even have to leave Italy since I managed to bean it up in Torino and Florence.
Somehow I never think of buying beans here in Rome, or even in Todi for that matter. But get me behind a shopping cart in a supermarket in the 6th arrondissement, and I’ll throw in any bean with a romantic sounding name. I guess it’s the thrill of the unknown. That these dry little pellets will, once I get home, get soaked and swell into something expressive of a trip that is now long past.
But here’s the thing. Beans are almost too easy to bring home (nothing to leak) and store (they take a hell of a long time to go bad). The result is that since I’ve been traveling quite a bit in the last year, I’ve got a cupboard full of gorgeous beans that need eating.
This months project: to start working my way through my bean inventory.
Friday, November 4, 2011
The other day one of my favorite restaurant blogs in Rome, Tavole Romane, ran a restaurant review written by a guest. The guest in question was Swedish and so was the restaurant, so it made sense.
The restaurant was Bla Kongo, and the reviewer was John R. I’ve been following John for a while now on twitter. Although we’ve never had any interaction longer than 140 characters, I’ve gotten a feel for how he cooks and what he likes to eat. He’s an extraordinarily talented young chef, having worked with the likes of Rene Redzepi at Noma, was the sous chef at Antico Arco, and is currently the sous chef at Rome’s hottest new restaurant, Roy Carceres’ Metamorfosi
So. What was John doing in an out of the way Swedish restaurant in Rome that no one really talks about, eating what looked like (at least in the photograph) canned herring and meatballs shipped in straight from Ikea?
Did he trash the place? On the contrary. He was incredibly gracious, offered some advice for improving and gave the place points for trying.
And that’s the thing about us ex-patriots in Rome. Or anywhere I expect. Give us enough time spent eating the local fare (even if it is extraordinary) and eventually we will have a hankering for Swedish Meatballs.
Or, in my case, a hamburger.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Remember when everyone was doing that cabbage soup diet a few years ago? Where you could eat all the cabbage soup you wanted? But cabbage soup was the only thing you could eat?
It was a horrible diet. It came complete with a truly boring recipe for cabbage soup which - as you can imagine - got real old, real fast.
Yes. I speak from experience. I tried the diet and of course lost a few pounds right away. Who wouldn’t if all you are eating is basically cabbage and water? And of course, if you haven’t guessed it already, the weight came right back on the minute I branched out into non cabbage food groups.
One of the side effects of this diet (I’m sure you can guess what the other one was) is that it managed to put me off any soup featuring cabbage for quite a while.
I’m very happy to say that a few weekends ago I finally got over my cabbage soup aversion.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The only excuse I have for not having been to Le Tre Zucche earlier is it’s location. Situated decidedly off the beaten track, off the Via Portuense, it’s a pain in the neck to get to. But I kept hearing from very dependable friends (like Hande Leimer) who swore it was one of the best restaurants in Rome. They were all right.