We’re eating at Trattoria alla Rivetta in Venice. We’ve been coming here for over 20 years—for the seafood risotto, the moeche (soft shell crabs), the branzino, and whatever else they have that day that’s fresh. And always, in addition to great fish, there is a generous assortment of fresh vegetables that are boiled, sliced, and served with a generous anointing of olive oil. Was ever a potato so good? Continue reading →
When I got home from the grocery store I looked at the sales slip and saw tartaruga. Which means turtle in Italian. It took me a minute. I didn’t remember buying a turtle for lunch. Then, of course, I saw and remembered: it was the bread. Continue reading →
At dinner last night I had a piece of Lake Superior trout with oxtail on top of it. Five green beans and a fried polenta ball with roasted corn inside. Nifty.
To my knowledge I’ve only had oxtail once, in Rome, when my daughter was having a semester abroad in college. She and I ate lunch one day in Trastevere. A chef buddy back home named Franco had spoken appreciatively of Trastevere. Ballanno, cantanno. Non lavora nessuno. They sing, they dance. Nobody works. Continue reading →
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.”
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 →
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 →
These are people who know and care about local food.
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 →
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 →