Thursday, August 30, 2012
Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. I’ve written about them here, here, here and here. You’d think there’d be nothing much more to say or do.
But the other day I was - once again - going to make pasta with tomatoes. Rosa, my visiting mother-in-law, had brought up a big bag of orecchiette with her from Bari to Todi. Since they are very firm little shapes I knew they would stand up to the strong taste of roasted tomatoes. To which I usually add some sort of cheese, preferably ricotta salata.
But since Sophie and Emma are trying to avoid cheese these days (the lactose intolerant thing kicking in) I decided to go fishy instead.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
It used to be that the point of any day trip around Umbria was ending up at Salvatore Denaro’s restaurant in Foligno, Il Bacco Felice. Ever since Salvatore closed his place a few years ago I have a reliable back up plan: I call Salvatore and ask for his advice.
So when I headed to Bevagna a couple of weeks ago I just did what Salvatore advised: head to Antiche Sere. "It’s an honest place” said Salvatore. And when Salvatore says a place is honest, he’s not talking about the final bill, but about the integrity of the ingredients that go into the dishes. "And tell Luciano I sent you."
Monday, August 27, 2012
Even though I really enjoyed wandering around Bevagna, looking into all the meticulously recreated artisan workshops, there was one thing I kept thinking as I saw the ancient ways to make paper and candles.
Why can’t I buy any of this stuff?
Thursday, August 23, 2012
People are always asking me for advice on what to do in Umbria. Yes, we have a house there, so you’d think I’d have tons of answers. The problem is, we have a house there.
In other words, we are not tourists and so rarely do we head out from the comfort (and chores) of our own home to do things like sight see. You know what I mean. When is the last time you visited the Empire State Building you New Yorkers?
But a couple of weeks ago my friend Gillian was visiting. And since she had made such an effort to take me out and about when we were down in Positano last month, I thought it would be only fair to show her a bit of Umbria.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Today’s post was not inspired by the incredible bounty from our garden in Todi. See that photo of the beautiful vegetables above? Notice the lack of tomatoes, the smallness of the zucchini? This would be fine if it was June, or even the beginning of July. But we’re right in the middle of August and my basket should be so heavy I can barely lift it.
A combination of factors has meant that our orto is very disappointing this year. At least we're not the only ones. The heavy spring rains meant that many people around us didn’t plant their gardens until pretty late. End of May for us. That meant the the little plants had to really struggle to catch up. Then came the searing heat - and no rain - of the last few months.
Monday, August 20, 2012
It’s August, so everyone and their uncle are talking about tomatoes. And I’m one of the worst offenders. If you follow me on twitter, facebook or instagram you already know. It’s tomatoes 24/7 around here.
And even if our own vegetable garden isn’t producing as well as past years, I am still able to get baskets of the beauties from our local vegetable guy. Giancarlo in Ponte Rio grows them himself, and keeps me supplied with gorgeous San Marzanos, Cuore di Bues and huge, fat pomodori per ripieni.
I’ve been using them all month to make friselle, panzanella and stuffed tomatoes. But for Ferragosto I wanted to make something special. Since it’s been hotter than usual I wanted to make something that a) wasn’t too heavy and b) wasn’t going to make me spend too much time in the hot kitchen. Last year’s pasta al forno was out of the question.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
In Italy it’s still pretty common to eat seasonally. No one would ever dream of having pomodori al riso or friselle in the dead of winter because where are earth would those tomatoes come from? And anything with cavolo nero is for the cold months only. The eating seasonally thing is mostly tied to ingredients, obviously. But there are certain dishes that could - in theory - be made all year round, but are reserved for specific seasons because, well, they just are.
Insalata di riso is one of those dishes. It’s simply boiled rice, with chopped raw vegetables as well as a few preserved ones. Olive oil, salt and pepper and you’ve got your dish.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
My friends Ruth and Gillian had been telling me about their newest discovery: coffee with almond milk. According to Ruth, it’s a Pugliese thing that you had to go all the way to Puglia to get. Gillian, instead, had it recently for breakfast at the newly opened Coramandel restaurant in Rome.
I'm a big lover of anything coffee. I love it hot and I love it cold. And as soon as summer begins I start making daily pilgrimages to Tazza d'Oro for granita di cafe or Fiocco di Neve for cafe affogato con zabione.
Usually, however, I am limited by the fact that I usually have to leave the house to grab one of these treats.
But last week I realized something really dangerous. After a quick trip to the supermarket down the road, I was able make this addictive treat in the comfort of my home, way too easily.
Monday, August 13, 2012
You know the whole 'pretending I’m cooking when I’m really not' thing? I finally realized that I inherited this gene from my mother. Come summer time, when things got too hot to cook, my mother would make what she called a ‘summer dinner.’ My sisters and I loved this dinner. Not because it was reliably full of much loved favorites. But exactly because it wasn’t.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
I usually don't post on Sundays, since I figure you probably have something better to do than look at your computer screen. Hopefully on this mid-August weekend you're out at the beach, up in the hills or just hanging out in your hammock somewhere beautiful.
And maybe you've got the New York Times Sunday Magazine with you? Just in case you don't....
Posted by Elizabeth Minchilli at 9:32 AM
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Most people, when faced with a gorgeous basket of summer peaches will immediately start thinking of pies, cobblers or crumbles.
Me? My mind tends to go another route. You know. The wine, gin, prosecco path. And since my friend Gillian is visiting us in Todi this week, cocktail mode is in full gear. When she saw the peaches sitting on the kitchen table, all innocent and beautiful, she had just one thought: vodka.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
The post today is a blatant plea to make you spend money. But don’t worry. I have my reasons.
Here they are:
- You will really like what you’ll be spending your money on.
- It’s a good value
- It's (kind of) for a good cause.
Monday, August 6, 2012
I love it when house guests come bearing meat. Delicate soaps and embroidered hand towels are nice, I guess, but tender pork medallions are so much better.
Last weekend Jane came with her cooler chock full. Not only did she pick up the afore-mentioned pork medallions, but also a fully boned rabbit as well as four perfect lamb burgers from Eataly.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Like almost everyone I know, I easily fall into a rut. Doing the same thing over and over, just because...well, there’s never really a reason for a rut, is there?
While I’ve acknowledged cocktail ruts in the past, and sought hard to get out of them, I realized the other day that I was deep in a pasta rut and no one had mentioned it.