Baked Tomatoes

Boy, was I wrong.

Wrong about local tomatoes that are coming into the farmers’ markets right now, gorgeous, firm, red, both sweet and acidic beauties that I’m using to bake alla gratinata.  

Wrong because in the off season, I content myself with hydroponic vine-ripened tomatoes that do have a little flavor, that are firm enough to be transported who-knows-how-many hundreds or more likely thousands of miles to get the local Kroger, firm enough to withstand 120 minutes in the oven at 350 F and miraculously retain their shape and make a pretty good graté. But the local tomatoes are besting the vine-ripeneds this summer, blowing them right out of the oven.

Continue reading “Baked Tomatoes”

At Delinda, Serious Joys

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Full disclosure.  These are our relatives.

My relatives by marriage, and how lucky I was, am, and will always be. (When Tizi’s cousin Pierpaolo shakes my hand and says, Come va, cugino? How goes it, cousin? I sort of pinch myself. How did this happen?) Continue reading “At Delinda, Serious Joys”

Intermittent Feasting

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Fat rats. Research focused on them suggests there may be something to intermittent fasting. So says Monique Tello in Harvard Medical Publishing

Good, I think. Because this morning I feel like a fat rat.

My wife and I are in our fifth and final week in Italy.  Around this time in our stay, a kind of desperation sets in. Can we eat enough before we go home? Yesterday at lunch, after our first course–she had the ravioli, I had the pappardelle in boar ragu–we asked our server about the carbonara.   Continue reading “Intermittent Feasting”

Into the Mix

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One of the delights in eating in Romagna (and I hazard to guess all over Italy) is the “misto.” 

The mix. 

Where I come from, eating fish you usually get one thing. Your appetizer is one thing–a tartar, half a dozen oysters, a bowl of mussels. And your main course is usually one thing–fillet of whitefish, fillets of perch, a chunk of salmon or tuna or swordfish, some crab legs or a lobster tail. Want to taste something besides what’s on your plate? Poach a bite from your wife’s when she’s not looking.   Continue reading “Into the Mix”

Romagna Food Notes, Part III

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“This chicken has barbecue sauce on it,” I say to my wife.

We’re eating take-out for lunch, a few chicken legs, roasted potatoes, some bietole, and grilled zucchini. All this for 20 euro from a place in Santarcangelo. I also picked up a bottle of Sangiovese for 5 euro from a street vendor. This weekend is Festa di San Martino. The whole town is an outdoor market. I love this place. Continue reading “Romagna Food Notes, Part III”

Romagna Food Notes, Part II

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Where I come from, the wine I drink comes from somewhere else. Around here, the wine they drink comes from around here. Vineyards everywhere. Wine production is local, in small batches and large batches, quaffing wine, slurping wine, sipping wine, wines that go with your food just right, wines you want to contemplate and appreciate and gently guzzle. 

Local legend has it that the Sangiovese wine (meaning “blood of Jove”) got its name from some monks in Santarcangelo di Romagna. Tuscans might take issue, referring to first mention of the wine in the 1590 writings of Giovanvettorio Soderini. It’s a quibble. Who cares? I love the idea of monks getting tipsy, and I love the ceramic billboard (shown above, “Sangiovese was born in Santarcangelo”) you’ll see when you walk around Santarcangelo di Romagna. Mostly, I love the pour. 

A word about pronunciation: Sangiovese, san-joe-VAY-zay.   

A few days ago in Santarcangelo we had lunch at Trattoria del Passatore. Our server offered us new Sangiovese, a young wine; not the novello, Italy’s version of the nouveau, this was a wine just a few months older than novello. He said in a few more months the wine would grow up and become the restaurant’s regular table wine–what comes by the glass or in a pitcher or carafe in quarter or half liter quantities–at a ridiculously low price. 

Among other things, among MANY other things, we come to Italy for the wine.

We come to Passatore for the food. 

The pasta, in particular. This day we ordered ravioli con le rosole. Rosole are leaves from very young poppy plants. Inside these delightful little ravioli pillows: ricotta, grated parmigiano, and nutmeg. The sauce consists of a little butter and a gentle saute of the greens. The grated cheese you see, formaggio di fosse, a sheep or cows milk cheese aged in a cave.

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Also on the table, passatelli con crema di porcini e tartufo nero (passatelli with porcini mushroom cream sauce with black truffle).  Like cappelletti, passatelli are served dry (asciutti) and in broth.  Delicious either way.

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So much variety. We swing both ways–pasta asciutta and pasta in brodo. You can look forward to a soup meal or two on the October 2020 trip.  

Yesterday we chanced on a new place in Rimini, Osteria Io e Simone. How charming is that? Osteria me and Simon. We’ve walked past this corner many times in the past, noticing the wine bar and crowds of gioventu (young people) outside. As chance would have it, our wine bar of choice is closed and changing ownership, so we needed a new place. Inside, we had a long chat with the fellow in charge of the pour. A glass of local, for 4 euros. Very satisfying. And a restaurant recommendation, right next door. That would be Osteria Io e Simone. 

Staying with the current theme, showing you “primi piatti” (dishes you start with) here are two more pastas we might find on the menu when we travel.  First up, cappellacci di zucca al burro e salvia and second, tagliatelle al ragu di coniglio. 

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Cappellacci–the word means ugly old hats (whereas cappelletti are little hats).  These cappellacci have a sweet squash filling. Served with butter and sage. Delicate and interesting.

With those tagliatelle (pronounced tal–yah-TELL-ay), immediately above, is a rabbit ragu.  Hold on, now. I know Americans tend to recoil from rabbit as food. They’re little and cuddly and cute. You might think: It’s like eating a baby.  Think again.. At this point in our trip, we are on our sixth pasta dish, and the rabbit wins paws down. I’m joking. But I’m not joking. Tagliatelle with rabbit ragu is amazing. I won’t make anyone eat anything they don’t want. But I hope you will consider trying a rabbit roast or a hunters rabbit (cacciatore) or a rabbit ragu. 

Autumn time and the eating is easy.  Shown below, Santarcangelo.  

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Give Us This Day Our Daily Breadcrumbs

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A friend asked once: “Are you one of those people who makes his own breadcrumbs?”

No, I’m not.

I had just pulled a sheet of roasted tomatoes out of the oven. Topped with seasoned breadcrumbs, they perfumed the house, then ravished the palate. Continue reading “Give Us This Day Our Daily Breadcrumbs”

So Many Ravioli…

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My wife’s cousin sat a few chairs down from me.  It was Christmas 1984. We were having cappelletti in broth, a typical–and beloved–dish we look forward to at holiday time. After spooning (scarfing) for a few minutes, the cousin looked up, turned to me, and said, “I could kill myself eating these things.”

They’re that good. Continue reading “So Many Ravioli…”

Cassoni to go—che piacere

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When I was in college, on many a drunken evening roommates and I ordered a thing called a “faz” from a local pizzeria. It was pizza dough loaded with a ghastly tomato sauce and grated domestic mozzarella, folded in half, sealed, and baked in the oven. When a faz arrived at your dorm room door, its gooey molten interior oozed out on your first bite. It was dangerous. Of course we scalded ourselves every time. To a nineteen-year-old, a faz was nothing if not delicious. Until recently I had blotted this culinary error from memory; now, having retrieved it accidentally, I wish it back to oblivion, where it belongs. Continue reading “Cassoni to go—che piacere”

Erbe in abbondanza

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A staple at the table around here is “erbe.” Google Translate says erbe means “herb” in English. Google Translate is entitled to its opinion. The word erbe covers a wide spectrum of green stuff. (Plug “cut the grass” into Google Translate and you get “tagliare l’erbe.”) Continue reading “Erbe in abbondanza”