Tag Archives: italy

Have I Got a Ragu for You

imola

The sauce was red, runny, and pungent, with bits of tomato-esque matter and oregano floating in it.

I was reading the other day in The Daily Beast about Mario Batali’s friendship with Jim Harrison and their “search for the genuine.” Harrison’s final book, A Really Big Lunch, a posthumous collection of his madman essays on food and drink, was about to be published. My mind turned to a favorite subject and my search for the genuine.

Ragu. Continue reading

Il Sentiero

cass

If it’s agriturismo, it’s got to be good

Above, a local delight called cassone.  The flat bread they make in the Marche and Emilia-Romagna, called piada, is folded over mixed greens or tomato and mozzarella or onion and sausage or mixed grilled vegetables, then grilled and cut.  You can make a meal out of cassone. Often, however, they are served as a little appetizer with apperitvo. Shown above, an exceptionally good cassone from Il Sentiero, an agriturismo in the Marche region. Continue reading

I Malardot

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I Malardot–local dialect for malridotto–those who are in bad shape

The drive, the ambiance, the food–all well worth it at I Malardot.  Start with the food. We’ve eaten at I Malardot 4-5 times now.  With confidence, you can begin with a tagliere, mixed sliced meats and cheeses. For primo piatto our current favorite is artichoke ravioli with fosse cheese.  That might well qualify as a desert island food for me.  I could never tire of eating it. Continue reading

Pasta with Young Poppy Leaves (le Rosole)

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It’s not the same, but almost. And mind-blowing good to eat.

In Santarcangelo, where legend has it the Sangiovese grape gets its name, my wife and I have lunch and dinner at Trattoria del Passatore. We go there for many things, chief among them ravioli served with a rosole sauce.

Rosole, also known as papavero in Italian, are young poppy leaves. You see fields of poppies in Italy, with their brilliant red flowers. The leaves are harvested and used in a pasta sauce, well before the plant flowers. Continue reading

Pomodori gratinati al forno (tomato, oven, heaven)

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Wait ten minutes and your kitchen smells like heaven.

For the longest time, I thought of this as a summer dish. Perhaps because I was conditioned to seeing my mother-in-law bring in a haul of tomatoes from her garden and work her magic on them. Then I saw the error of my ways—the utter foolishness of denying myself the pleasure of pomodori gratinati al forno–oven-roasted tomatoes–in the off season.  Continue reading

Chickpea Me

 

chickpeas

How can something so simple be so good?

A few years ago my wife and I spent a weekend in Naples, the one in Italy, where we had pasta with chickpeas. The dish was life-changing. It’s so easy to prepare, so hearty and healthy, I can’t understand why I don’t cook it more often. Like every week.

Now, about those chicks. When I have the time and my wits about me, I stop by a local Iraqi market and buy dried chickpeas, soak them over night, and cook them up (low heat, olive oil, salt and pepper) for a couple hours. Otherwise, when I am witless, which is more often the case, I buy canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans, we say in the U.S.), rinse them, and get right down to business. Continue reading

Let Them Eat Thistles?

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Cooking seasonal and sensational

The affectionate term for them is gobbi—hunchbacks. I’m talking about cardone, that distant cousin to artichokes. A stalky plant with raised ribs, cardone resemble celery. Like the artichoke, cardone is a member of the thistle family. Just seeing (or hearing) the word “thistle,” if you know the prickly plant, you feel a wave of caution. Handle with care, yes, but eat them with great pleasure. Continue reading

How to Satisfy Your Green Tooth

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Glorious green!

We had our neighbor here in Michigan to dinner one day. He was educated in Rome and traveled extensively in Italy during his time there. That day we ate a dish of pasta, enjoyed some wine, and talked. After clearing the table for the next course, I placed a pan of spinach in the middle of the table.

He laughed. “I bet this is the only house in Southeastern Michigan serving spinach from a frying pan.” Continue reading