Tuesday, January 31, 2012
I love winter vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower and fennel are all friends. But my favorite time of the year is when puntarelle start showing up in the markets.
If you’ve had puntarelle then you are probably swooning by now (it’s a love kind of thing). If you haven’t, then let me introduce you. Puntarelle is a type of chicory. Examining a head of puntarelle, it looks green and leafy - at least at first glance. But start to pry apart the outer leaves and you’ll soon find the pale green, crunchy center that sets this vegetable apart. The core of the vegetable grows into multiple pointy spears, that are almost asparagus like at the tips.
The taste is slightly bitter, with loads of crunch. In the winter, when it comes into season and is dressed with a lemony/garlic vinaigrette it's what your sluggish body has been asking for, but didn't realize . When I've tired of roasted root vegetables and every kind of boiled green, puntarelle is the fresh, crunch I crave.
Monday, January 30, 2012
A lot of you know me as a food writer. But I’ve also been writing about design, architecture and all manner of the handmade for most of my career. (I’ve even written six books on the subject, and a seventh is on the way).
So my interests are never narrow, and even if I’m traveling to cover the newest restaurant openings in town, my eyes are ever open to what’s beautiful.
For instance, last November, when I was in Florence to update Eat Florence, I went to visit Bartolozzi e Maioli. I didn’t just stumble upon it, while walking around the Oltrarno. I had actually been there over two decades previously. But my memory of the place was vague and dreamlike. I remembered piles and piles of beautiful objects, some hand-carved, others molded out of stucco. When I thought back on it over the years, I kept thinking that it couldn’t have been as magical as my memory lead me to believe.
Turns out my memory was actually pretty good.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
How did I not know about Pizzeria Leoncino? I must have walked down this centrally located street at least a hundred times (if not more) in my life. I’m always on the lookout for a decent place to eat in that neighborhood - only a few blocks away from the only cinema in Rome that shows English language films. Yet there you have it. A pizza place whose speciality was a “Onion, Bean and Sausage Pizza” and it was totally off my radar.
Yes. You heard me right. A pizza with three of my favorite food groups: onion, bean and sausage. I mean really, who dreams up these things?
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The only good thing about time flying by faster and faster each year, is that artichokes season is here before I know it. Yes. It’s that wonderful time of the year again, when the markets in Rome are stacked high with big, fat green/grey globes of petaled blossoms.
The first ones to make it into town from the fields of Lazio are the cimaroli. These are the larger-than-life orbs that are from the ‘cima’ or top, of the artichoke plant. In other words, this is where all the pent up nutrients and energy of the plant end up, making these first artichokes not only humongous, but incredibly tender, flavorful and with barely any choke at all.
Monday, January 23, 2012
As an American food blogger, I guess I guess I’m supposed to weigh in (pun intended) on the whole Paula Deen thing. If you’ve missed it, here is a great piece by Frank Bruni and another by Marion Nestle. Both - especially Frank - look at the issue from different perspectives, and try not to go over board with the Paula-bashing.
But I've decided to stay out of the fray, letting you read these two articles - and a million more online. Instead, I'll just post this rather ordinary recipe which sums up how I eat and cook most of the time. Which is about as far away from Paula on the Deen spectrum as you can get.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Ok. Bear with me.
I know you’ve become used to seeing gorgeous photographs of food, landscape and other pieces of Italy on my blog. And I realize that the above photo looks kind of like the type of dive you’d not only pass up, but probably not even notice. Rusty sign out front, cars almost driving through the dining room, and architecture that is reminiscent of an illegally built addition to an illegally built strip mall.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
We usually go to NYC at the holidays. It’s a chance to see my family, eat, visit editors and publishers, eat, shop, eat, go to museums, eat and do all the things Italian tourists do when they are in the city.
The problem is that I never have time to see as many friends as I hope. That is why I usually throw one biggish dinner to celebrate my birthday. It’s not only a chance to catch up. Since it’s my birthday, it’s also an excuse for me to receive some really nice presents.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Going to the States for the holidays means going out to eat a lot in New York. Trying to cram in all the exotic (i.e. Asian, American, etc.) foods we can’t get back home in Rome.
But it also means eating meals with family. I’m lucky in this respect, since both of my sisters are pretty good cooks. And their husbands aren’t bad either.
In fact, my brother-in-law Kevin (Jodi's husband) is somewhat of a grilling genius. When I grill, I never attempt anything beyond things like steak, fish or - if I get real fancy - anything on a skewer. But Kevin is one of those people who won’t flinch at grilling a turkey. He can actually figure out how to keep the fire going, how many coals to use, how to move them around....all that kind of stuff.
Luckily Sophie and I were invited over to Jodi and Kevin's during Chanukah for a family meal. As is typical in my multi- denominational family, the menorah was set under the sparkling lights of the Christmas tree and we had a pork roast for dinner.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Just in case you missed it, I had a feature in the New York Times last week: here's the link. It was about the sale of one of the most magnificent homes in Rome, located in the Palazzo Orsini, which is itself located within the Teatro Marcello.
Posted by Elizabeth Minchilli at 7:44 AM
Thursday, January 12, 2012
A lot of people ask me how I started writing about food. I’ve always been a writer, but at the beginning of my career I focused mostly on design, architecture and art. Even though food had always played a huge role in my life, somehow I wasn’t writing about it.
All that changed when I met Evan Kleiman. From the first moment that Evan and I began the conversation that would turn into a life long friendship, it was mostly about food. If I can in any way call myself a food writer today, it is thanks to Evan who encouraged me not only to write about food, but to become engaged in a meaningful way that continues to define my life.
Posted by Elizabeth Minchilli at 8:35 AM
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Yes, New York again. I know the blog is called Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome, but since I seem to be the resident New Yorker for a lot of my Roman friends, I’m taking the opportunity to post about some of our favorite places we visit every time we’re in town.
As you’d imagine, when in NYC, we steer clear of pizza, pasta and anything else even vaguely Italian. Instead it’s either 100% American (like Peels) or else from a far away continent - preferably Asia.
One of our traditional stops is at Jing Fong, for dim sum. I’m sure there are probably quainter, or even better, dim sum places in Chinatown, (and you can check out this app for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about that neighborhood) but we love Jing Fong, in all it’s glorious, tacky, Hong-Kongish, over-the-stop splendor.
Monday, January 9, 2012
When we’re in New York one of our favorite things to do is go out for brunch. And by brunch, I mean eating breakfast a little later than usual. And by breakfast I mean things like eggs, pancakes, porridge and other breakfasty things.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
I spent the last two weeks in New York, with Domenico, Sophie and Emma. Most of the time was spent with my sisters and their families, but I did manage one girls’s night out. Melissa, Alice and I ended up at the John Dory Oyster Bar, where I’d never been. Arriving with a slightly horse voice (I’d been talking too much I guess) I immediately ordered a hot toddie, which I guess soothed me enough to continue nattering away for the next two hours with friends. It’s quite a scene there, and I think I nattered louder than I should have, since buy the time I left I had completely lost my voice.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Like all good Europeans, one of the reasons we go to New York is to shop. Yes. We are one of those Italian families wandering around Broadway, making our way from Nike to Levi. But besides hitting the big brands to stock up on jeans, underwear and sneakers, there are tons of smaller, quirky boutiques I love to visit each time we are in town.