Thursday, June 28, 2012
I have to admit, that I was all set to be underwhelmed by the Eataly opening in Rome. I’d been to the original in Torino, and while it was nice and all, it just didn’t seem like a place I would go to that often.
And the one in New York left me completely cold. I guess it was the fact that once in New York the last thing I have on my mind is anything Italian. That and the humongous crowds just made me think “so what?”
Which left me totally unprepared for my complete and utter love for the Eataly in Rome. In a country where there is much beauty, but little function, Eataly in Rome has created something that is not only drop dead gorgeous, but...it works!
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
My idea of a good summer recipe is something that is both cold and doesn’t require me exerting myself too much. Summer soups usually fill this niche nicely, with gazpacho and some sort of zucchini soup making repeat performances. When I absolutely can’t be bothered there is always prosciutto and melon or bread and tomatoes.
While gelato is my default dessert when things get hot, I’d never really thought about serving it at the beginning of a meal.
Until the other night.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Like everyone else, there are some places I'm more familiar with than others. For instance I know Rome better than I know Venice or Naples. And here in Rome I’m certainly more up to date on areas like Monti, Testaccio and even Monteverde, than I am with Prati or Parioli.
Parioli I can live without (sorry Parioli, but I’ve never had a real connection with you). But Prati is another story. Whenever I go to Prati I understand why people who live there love it. Big, tree-lined streets make it seem ‘European’ in a way the rest of Rome doesn’t. Wide sidewalks, usually swept clean. Plenty of stores, so the shopping is good. And lots of restaurants, most of them unknown to me.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Two weeks ago, when we were up in Todi, I decided to run over the Caseifico Giuliani. Of course I didn’t really need any cheese (does anyone ever need cheese?) but since my friend Eugenia had done a big favor for me, I thought a nice way to pay her back would be in cheese.
To get to the caseificio (which is really just a farm) we drive through the small village of Collelungo. It’s really just a couple dozen buildings on either side of a narrow road. A church, a bar and a supermarket draw most people here.
But as we were driving right through the center (blink and you miss it) I saw red and pink 'stuff' along the side of the road. It took me a while to figure out they were flowers.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
We’ve had our house in Umbria for about twenty years now. And while I’ve gone through ups and downs of preserving different fruits and vegetables from are garden and orchard, there is one item I have a love/hate relationship with: cherries.
Don’t get me wrong. I love, love, love cherries. But I hate, hate, hate pitting them. The thing is we have at least 4 or 5 wild cherry trees on our property and have planted about 4 more varieties. So we are very lucky that our cherry harvest is usually huge.
The problem is, our cherry harvest is usually huge.
Yes, I have cherry guilt.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Last weekend in Todi my friend Jane brought me a gorgeous bouquet of sage leaves. Although I certainly have sage leaves growing up in Umbria, these leaves were something special. Jane had bought a plant at the farmer’s market in Rome a couple of months ago, put it on her small urban terrace where it not only thrived, but exploded.
The small plant quickly became a veritable sage bush, full of huge, weirdly big leaves. Knowing that there is only so much sage you can work into recipes, Jane nipped them in the bud, and carried them carefully up to Todi.
Where we bathed them in batter, fried them, and enjoyed them with a glass of wine.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
A few weeks ago Domenico and I wandered over to the Capitoline Museum to see the show Lux in Arcana. I’d been hearing about this show of documents from the Vatican archives, and a few people told me it was fantastic.
I’m not sure if I’m jaded, but since I’ve actually spent quite a bit of time working with these types of documents in the archives in Florence, the show just didn’t get me that excited. The exhibition itself seemed more intent on impressing with installation shenanigans, than anything else. Computer screens instead of real labels, huge black cases for each document, and lighting so low that a headache was a given.
By the time we had made it to the end our eyes were throbbing and are backs about to break from standing in front of each document trying to decipher the writing in near darkness.
As we were stumbling out, one of the guards saw us heading towards the exit and suggested that instead of leaving, we head across the square to the Palazzo Nuovo. She must have picked up on our sensory overload, and knew we needed an antidote.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
I can’t believe I’ve never written about Hasekura before. This Japanese restaurant was the first ‘ethnic’ restaurant I ever went to when I moved back to Rome full time in 1990. At the time it was one of the only ‘foreign’ places in Rome, and was - together with Hammasei - one of the first sushi places to open.
Going there was a no-brainer, since it’s right in the heart of Monti. Going there often was another issue, since - like all other fish restaurants in Rome - it was prohibitively expensive.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I told you this was going to be catch up week. And I realized I never posted about Kelly & Ping, where we ate twice while in NYC this past Christmas.
We had an amazing duplex, penthouse loft in Soho for a week. A home swap with our villa in Umbria, which we manage to do about every two years. Somehow, we always are able to stay in great apartments. We love being downtown and even if everyone moans and groans about Soho becoming too commercial, it’s a fun place to be if you’re a tourist. And we are, at this point, Italian tourists.
While there are lots of stores where typical Italian tourists can stock up on basics (Gap, Nike and Banana) the restaurant thing is more difficult. Which is why I’m so happy that Kelly & Ping exists.
Monday, June 11, 2012
It’s been an incredibly busy week, and next week will be even more so. Looking at my calendar from last year, I realize I was pretty busy last year too at this time, traveling to Spain, France and London. But if a year ago I was busy reporting for magazines , this year my summer work schedule has become more focused on leading culinary tours right here in Rome. It’s great fun, and I love walking around the city, (except for the bit when a bucket of paint fell on me from scaffolding last week. Yes, really happened) I really do enjoy sharing delicious experiences with truly engaged visitors, but.....it’s left me precious little time to write.
So, folks, this week on the blog will be a bit of catching up. And by catching up I mean looking back over my last year of trips and meals. I realized that there were quite a few experiences that I never managed to post about. Great photos and delicious food, yet I never hit the 'publish' button.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
One of the things I find hardest to write are recipes. I have no problem whatsoever writing up reviews of hotels and restaurants, stories about my day or any other type of ‘reporting’ that you can throw at me. Fiction? Forget about it.
And recipe writing. It just throws me for a loop. It kind of feels like homework. The problem is that while I love to impart whatever I know about a subject, I’m basically an impatient teacher when it comes to any lesson type of situation. And while I love to cook, I’ve never been tempted to do cooking classes since I know my limitations. Put me in a kitchen and then just get out of my way. I like to get on with the project at hand, and I just don’t enjoy slowing down to explain things.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
I’m always a bit behind on new restaurant openings in Rome. Other colleagues in Rome - Tavole Romane & Scattidigusto & Puntarella Rosso for example - always seem to make it to what’s new and exciting ages before I do. I’m actually very lucky in that respect, because once the buzz worthy places have been vetted by people I trust, then I have no excuse not to go.
And so it goes with L'Osteria di Monteverde. As with all things Monteverde, my friend Ruth had also been there long before I. Several times over. So I had no excuse.
The other day I finally made it up the hill to Monteverde, (which does seem to be the new food hub these days) with Emma for lunch.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Bruschetta is my favorite fast food. It usually consists of just two steps:
- Toast bread
Yes. I’m talking about topping stale bread with leftovers.