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.
In just thirty minutes, you can make a pasta sauce that will change your life. Sausage and leeks and tomato. Salt and pepper. And if you’re a spicy person, red pepper flakes to hot the sauce up a bit, or a lot.
Tizi suggests a new menu item for New Year’s Eve. A local tradition in Romagna, her region of Italy. I’m sure I’ve heard the word “lentils” before in Italian and decide to try it out. Use or lose it, right?“But why lentiggini?” I ask.
“For good luck,” she says. “And it’s lenticchie.Lentiggini are freckles.”
While we’re in Italy, Tizi accumulates treasures. Mainly chocolate. Over time we’ve put providers on our maps, in Rome, Florence, Siena, Venice. When we’re hanging out in San Marino and Pesaro, which is usually the case, her go-to place is Cioccolatteria & Confetteria Talmone. Now we have a new place, in nearby Fano.But…, but… Continue reading “Panforte: Best Served in Slab Form”→
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”→
One of the delights in eating in Romagna (and I hazard to guess all over Italy) is the “misto.”
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”→
So I had to get something. Buy something. My wife and I were on the ninth day of a ten-day stay in Italy. She had visited her cousin’s boutique in Pesaro. And her favorite shoe store and bookstore and her favorite herbalist in Rimini. And a great toy store in Bologna. And her scarf and headband lady in Santarcangelo. She was pretty loaded.
She asked me, “Don’t you need anything?”
That Thursday morning we were walking through the mercato in Borgo Maggiore, a village ten minutes up the mountain from our apartment in San Marino. It was the end of November. In two days I would be back in the classroom.Continue reading “Market, Mercato”→
The truth of the matter is, much of what I’m eating today is an excuse to consume olive oil. Salads with spiral-cut zucchini and arugula and tuna–it’s a dish that wants a generous anointing with extra virgin olive oil. Fava beans with chopped tomato–oh, yes, let there be oil. On a steak or a slab of fish, oil provides a definite enhancement. Last night, snacking lightly, I ate a chunk of bread leftover from lunch, giving it a drizzle of olive oil to soak into those dried dimples and crevices, topped with a few slices of mozzarella and leftover scraps of zucchini spirals.Continue reading “Pass the Oil, Please”→
My wife and I disagree. The question is not whether to use it. We’re both parsley positive. The issue is when, during cooking or added afterward as a garnish. I’m during, she’s after.
It has not always been thus. For many years we lived in perfect harmony, parsley-wise. Diced parsley was one of those first-things-first things, like diced or chopped onion-celery-carrot. Then one day a chef friend came to dinner. We must have had something long-cook on the stove, like a braised meat. He raised the lid and lowered his face to the pan. “Always add parsley near the end,” he said. “Cooked, parsley is bitter.” It was a pronouncement. He confirmed what my wife must have always sensed. He named it. And that was that. Continue reading “About the Parsley”→