Monday, April 30, 2012
I’ve mentioned in the past that I really love getting gifts. Books, jewelry, scarves....it’s all good. But what I really love to get is food. While a box of chocolates is nice, it’s always better when it’s something I don’t expect. And the best is when it’s something I’d almost never head out the door to buy myself.
Take, for instance, the lamb’s head I got last week as a gift. No. It didn’t come in a box with a ribbon. I was at the Farmer’s market and had just bought various cuts of lamb and chicken to see us through the next couple of weeks. It was a Sunday afternoon, and the market was due to close in an hour. Which is why, I guess, the farmer lady asked me if she could give me a lamb’s head.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
If you’re my friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, then you know I’ve been indulging my inner artichoke lately.
Yes. I’m talking about artichoke porn.
My daily dose of carciofyness - from me to you - via my Cannon or iPhone. I spend a lot of time in markets and restaurants this time of year (ok, any time of year) and I find it physically impossible not to photograph, buy and/or eat any beauty I come across.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
You know how you can get obsessed about something? A song running through your head that won’t stop? Well, Domenico got a sausage stuck in his head two years ago, and it just wouldn’t go away.
When we were up at the last Salone del Gusto, while I was busy at a beer tasting, Domenico was wandering around the Mercato. He started chatting up one of the vendors from Ferrara and when I came out of my tasting he told me he was going to buy a salama da sugo. Oddly, I’d never heard of this before, but I guess Domenico has been dreaming of it for years. Who knew?
Monday, April 23, 2012
Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto is one of the major events of the food world. It takes place in Torino every two years and brings together over 900 food producers from 130 countries. During this amazing, delicious four-day event it’s possible to taste, learn about and buy foods not just from all over Italy, but from all over the world.
As incredibly delicious as this extravaganza is, it can also be a bit overwhelming. The fair covers over 65,000 square meters and includes over 300 workshops, dinners, tastings and conferences to choose from.
But don’t worry: I’m an expert. I’ve been attending the Salone since it was first held in 1996. I know exactly how to reserve the best workshops, how to head straight for the best producers and how and when to visit Salone to best avoid the crowds.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Yesterday was Rome’s birthday. While the mega concert on Via dei Fori Imperiali and the fireworks above the Campidoglio were hard to miss, there was is one tradition - a few thousand years older - that was a bit more subtle, but infinitely more moving.
The Pantheon, which was built in the 1st century AD, was constructed so that the oculus in the roof would funnel the light in to the entry way on exactly April 21, the day that Romulus and Remus founded Rome. At that very instant the Emperor would enter the door way of the Pantheon, bathed in the intense light coming in from the roof.
Posted by Elizabeth Minchilli at 11:05 AM
Friday, April 20, 2012
Just in case you’ve missed them, I’ve written a few articles lately:
Travel & Leisure: Europe’s Best Neighborhoods for Foodies: Monti: Rome
Food & Wine: Go List 2012: Rome Restaurants New Takes on the Classics
LA Weekly: Garofalo: The Italian Pasta in Woody's New Film, To Rome with Love
Posted by Elizabeth Minchilli at 7:13 AM
Thursday, April 19, 2012
You already know about my obsession for finding old fashioned bars or pastry shops that haven’t been horribly ‘renovated’. I hope you aren’t getting bored with these kinds of places? I’m not. Which is why I was so happy to discover this one the other day.
I have to admit I’d passed it by about a million times. But I was always on the back of Domenico’s scooter. Every single time I'd make a mental note to return, but somehow the note kept getting lost (That seems to happen a lot. Too much mental clutter?).
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
I used to be super organized when it came to the holidays. Back in the pre-internet days, I would be ripping out magazine articles from special themed issues of Bon Appetit, Gourmet and Saveur a year ahead of time, keeping files for menu inspiration for future Thanksgivings, Christmas and Easters.
Things have changed. Not only do I now do almost all my recipe reading online, the timeline to my planning has shrunk from about a year’s lead time to.....a few hours.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Sometimes the best things to eat are the simplest. Good bread and great olive oil. The perfect steak, simply grilled. An August tomato, sliced with just a bit of salt.
You know what I’m talking about.
One of my favorite recipes - if you can even call these types of dishes recipes - comes from Puglia: fave e cicoria. Fava beans and chicory.
Friday, April 13, 2012
While up in Florence for Taste a few weeks ago, a magazine asked me to be on the look out for travel stories. You know, new up-and-coming places to go to, things to see. My friend, (and incidentally one of Italy’s top PR gurus) Alessandro Grassi pointed me in the direction of the Nuovo Teatro dell'Opera.
Trying to do some research before I went up, I could only find one photograph, a few renderings, and various short local newspaper stories about a concert that was held there last December to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification.
After that, nothing.
So I arrived for my private visit, not quite knowing what to expect.
Looking at these photos, you can understand why I was totally blown away.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Sometimes I worry that I write about my own neighborhood too much. Is it that I’m lazy? That I don’t get out much? No. I do get out, and very far away , and quite often.
It’s just that there’s an awful lot of great stuff happening in Monti. Via dei Serpenti and Via Boschetto get most of the attention. But in the last few years Via Urbana has taken the lead, with places like Urbana 47 and Tricolore getting a lot of press (guilty).
But if I could dream up the kind of shop I would want someone to open in Monti, I’d imagine a place where I could buy fresh herb plants - from wild cress and mint, to Sicilian oregano and French tarragon. Peppers from all over the world, lemon grass and little pots of mustard sprouts. I’d also like to be able to sit down to eat: nothing heavy, just enough for a lunch or tea time. And if there could be a section devoted to spices and garden supplies, that would be nice too.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
After all of the artichoke photos I’ve been posting on Facebook and Twitter for the last couple of weeks, I’m finally getting around to a recipe. But really. I couldn’t help myself with the picture taking thing. This year, for some reason, the artichokes are beyond beautiful. Big, fat, purple and green orbs. The grassy, slightly bitter and 100% spring smell of them hit me each time I walked into Campo de’ Fiori.
They were piled up in virtual carciofi mountains at every vendor. Gigetto even had an artichoke tree made up of about 100 artichokes in front of their restaurant. They were all just waiting to have their pictures taken.
Monday, April 9, 2012
One of the most frequent questions I get - on my apps Eat Rome and Eat Florence, on this blog and over at Chowhound where I give free advice - is where can a vegetarian get a good meal? While many ask expecting an answer that’s a short list of my favorite ‘vegetarian’ restaurants, I give a different kind of answer: Almost anywhere.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Although I often complain about new things replacing old, I’m always happy when something brilliant AND new comes along. When I lead my Food Tours, I often have to gloss over the stores and vendors that are springing up like mushrooms, selling questionable gourmet souvenirs to tourists.
(Yes. I’m talking about bright green pasta shaped like male sexual organs).
On the other hand, in neighborhoods like Monti and Testaccio, there are a bunch of new places that I think are fantastic. Small stores, specializing in just a few things. They choose to limit their inventory, while focusing on the highest possible quality.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
As the weather gets gorgeous and Rome heads into Spring I've been very busy leading Food Tours. Some of my clients have been very busy too, writing and talking about me. (thank you!) Here are some recent reports from the front lines of eating our way though Rome.
Posted by Elizabeth Minchilli at 11:22 AM
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Even though I really love discovering brand new places, what I really love is re-discovering old places. And by this I mean traditional, worn-at-the-edges places I’ve been to years ago. Unfortunately, in Italy, these places are an endangered species. Rather than embrace the patina of history and sense of place that clings to bars and restaurants, owners decide to ‘re-new’ or ‘restore’.
And if you’re thinking the kind of light touch that I wrote about in my last two books (Italian Rustic and Restoring a Home in Italy) think again. Rather than painstakingly clean, polish and put back together cracked and worn walls and floors, many of the owners rip interiors apart, throw away the old, and install slick and shiny marble, halogen light fixtures and oddly shape furniture that cannot have any possible use except as design statements.
(Don't they realize that Keith McNally pays good money to recreate what they are ripping apart?)
Way too often, when I go to re-visit an old favorite, I’m met with an unrecognizable - bright and shiny - monstrosity.
Monday, April 2, 2012
When my friend Sienna travels she always come back with bags full of spices and other exotic dried ingredients for me. Luckily she goes to places like Morocco and France, so I get gifts of bright red and yellow mixes for making tagine or fancy mushrooms for throwing into stews.
Not that I’ve had much time to cook with them recently, much less blog about them. I’m not complaining, but I am apologizing a bit. I realized that I haven’t posted a recipe in about a month. The reason is simply that that I seem to have been doing just about everything but cooking. Traveling (to Iceland, Puglia, Florence as you know) but also working. And eating. Besides the writing (the traveling and eating is actually working you know!) my Food Tours and Workshops have been hugely successful. And while a day spent talking, teaching and sharing food is invigorating, it doesn’t leave me with much appetite - or time - for cooking at the end of the day.
Luckily for me Sienna’s husband, Yves, travels to other types of places and brings back a completely different set of goodies - that require no cooking what-so-ever - each time. He works at FAO, and besides traveling to the expected places like Africa, he often finds himself in places like Poland or Switzerland where you’d think the culinary souvenir buying is pretty slim.