The Pizza: Simple to Complex

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For dinner one night we find our way to Casa del Sole.  It’s a country house outside of Pesaro.  We’re 15-20 miles inland, where the gentle hills rising to Urbino begin, far enough from the sea to know we’ll be eating meat.

“We haven’t been to this place before,” my wife’s cousin says.

“But my sister has,” his wife adds.  “Si mangia bene.”

That’s good enough for us. Continue reading

Spiritual Peril

One of my first recollections of grappa dates back more than thirty years. My wife and I joined a friend and her husband for dinner down in Villa Verucchio, at a place called Casa Zanni. One part butcher shop, nine parts restaurant, Zanni is known for its meats. That night, after warming up with tagliatelle al ragu, we probably had a mixed grill: castrato, which is a cut of young lamb, pork ribs, and sausage.

At the end of the meal Fiorenzo said he would like a digestivo, a “grappina,” a little grappa. The Italian diminutive makes just about anything seem attractive. I pictured a small glass, maybe the size of a thimble. Bring one for me too, I told the waiter. Continue reading

Primary Sources

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The food is good, plentiful. The wine, Sangiovese from Bertinoro, a barrel of it.

Around here there is no shortage of help if you want to find a good place to eat. One of our sources is Ricky. He has an enoteca across Ponte di Tiberio, on the San Giuliano side of Rimini. Before lunch or dinner, we stop in for a glass of wine.

The thing to do at Ricky’s is listen to the locals. What do Italians talk about? Where and what to eat. Our friend Adele jokes about Italians: Even while they’re eating, all they talk about is food. Continue reading

The Kids Are All Right

These are people who know and care about local food.

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For years I would ask my Arabic students, Where do you eat? In what restaurants do you find the best, most authentic Arabic food? The response was predictable: a bewildered smile. Then, also predictable, the answer: At home. Whatever they ate in a restaurant was, by default, going to be second best. Eating around in Dearborn, I tended to look toward the kitchen, hoping to see an old lady or two. If there was a grandma back there, that was a good sign.

In the last couple days, we’ve eaten in establishments with kids in charge. Kids? Okay, people younger than us, a lot younger, fully in command of local food tradition.   Continue reading

Once More to the Table

Food so beautiful you can’t believe your eyes, food so good you can’t believe your tastebuds.

If you grow up and come of age at the dinner table in Michigan, the way I did, it can be hard to fathom the variety of foods in Italy.

For 40 some years now I’ve been plumbing those depths, coming up for air with a smile on my face, then diving deeper.  In these next few blog posts, I’m going to try to warm up to this subject; in words and pictures, sharing some of the food fun we have when we come to Italy.   Continue reading

Grubs for Lunch

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My friend Luigi asks, “Do you think prehistoric people were happier than we are?”

We’re standing in line at an airport food vendor called the Dogpatch Bakehouse. Our flight is on time, but my stress level is high. I took a few wrong turns driving from the hotel to the airport, then left my phone in the rental car and had to run back to retrieve it, down two long flights of stairs, down two floors in a hesitant elevator, and back to the rental car parking garage, where the phone’s recovery was very gradually accomplished. Continue reading

Three Days in Rome

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Here are some recommendations for where to stay, daily itineraries, and where to eat. You will walk Rome for three days, see a lot, and eat very well.

I have stayed a few times at Hotel Lancelot and been very happy.

These itineraries are PDF’s.  Feel free to download:

  • Rome, day one  This half day walk takes you to some of ancient Rome’s greatest hits.  Dinner at Trattoria da Luzzi, near the Colosseum.
  • Rome, day two: Campo de Fiori, Ponte Sisto, Trastevere, the Janiculum Hill, Isola Tibertina, Piazza del Popolol  Lunch at Il Brillo Parlante.  Continue to Via Marguta, Spanish Steps, the Colloseum and Palatine Hill. Dinner at Trattoria der Pallaro, near Campo de Fiori.
  • Rome, day three: The Vatican, lunch at Dino and Tony’s, Villa Borghese, Porta Pinciana, Museum and Crypt of the Capuchin Friars, back to Trevi Fountain.  Dinner at Hostaria Farnese, near Campo de Fiori.

If you have questions, let me know by email or by using the Contact link at the top of this page.

Three Days in Florence

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Here are some recommendations for where to stay, daily itineraries, and where to eat. You will walk Florence for two and a half days, see a lot, and eat very well.  Also recommended, a half-day trip by local train to Lucca.  Most of the walking itineraries have the Duomo as the point of departure.

I have always stayed at Hotel Casci.  It’s reasonably priced, centrally located, and clean.

These itineraries are PDF’s.  Feel free to download:

  • Florence arrival, lunch, mercato: Walk from Hotel Casci to Pepo’, a cute little lunch spot; take a stroll around the Mercato Centrale.
  • Florence half day orientation walk:   Half-day orientation walk around Florence: Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace, Santo Spirito, Piazza della Repubblica.  Dinner at Osteria Fagioli (reservation required).
  • Florence, day two:  A full-day in Florence: Bargello Museum, Piazzalle Michelangelo, lunch at Fuori Porta, Accademia Museum (reservation required), Piazza Sant’Annunziata, Fiesole. Dinner at Trattoria Marione (reservation recommended).
  • Florence, Lucca, day three):  Half day in Florence, half day in Lucca.  Dinner in Florence at Buca dell’ Orafo.

If you have questions, let me know by email or by using the Contact link at the top of this page.

 

I’ve Got the INMI in Me

Plato-Wiki

Plato, I learned in graduate school, was nervous about music. He would have excluded the flute from the Republic. His vision of an ideal world was men standing around talking (yes, of course, men), engaged in dialectic, trying to get to the truth, trying to make some wisdom. Continue reading

Where We Are Was Once a Sea

When you get to Pahrump it feels like the end of the world. It’s California desert country, on the northwest edge of Death Valley National Park. Driving into town we pass Bride Street, Gravel Pit Road, and WTF Sand and Stone. Next to the Mobil where we gas up is a storefront church. It might have been a travel agency at one time, Anywhere But Here Travel. Now, in big letters above the door, between two crosses, the church identifies itself: IT IS FINISHED. What, as in end times? Continue reading