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MMerrill

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  1. We are building a wood-burning pizza oven and need accessories. Anyone know of a place to buy such in Portland area?
  2. I see no one had any suggestions. I'm wondering if your parents came home with information on restaurants they would recommend in the area?
  3. We spent a week in the area in 2001 - admittedly a while ago. We loved being there. Started in Udine which is a delightful town. I'll dig out my notes and see what info I could pass on to you. Our favorite restaurant of the trip was this one: http://www.ristorantelatorre.net/index.html, in Spilimbergo. We were 4 traveling together and had lunch here. The waiter suggested we could have a meal of whatever the chef suggested (all 4 of us) and it was knockout. I keep hoping to get back there and return to La Torre. Are you familiar with Fred Plotkin's cookbook, La Terra Fortunata, the Splendid Food and Wine of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy's Great Undiscovered Region? It's a nice introduction to the region with all sorts of information beyond recipes. I recommend taking a look at it! (I feel certain that I posted about this trip before, but I can't find any posts. Do they get deleted after a certain length of time?)
  4. Now that's an interesting idea. Will try it tonight!
  5. No gravy. The searing option seems like a good option. I was wondering about heating the whole thing up in a very low temp oven, say 250 degrees?
  6. I roasted a 7lb rib roast to rare for a dinner the other night. I have about half of it left over and want to reheat it without cooking it too much more if possible. Is there a good way to go about this?
  7. We have a daughter and 3 grandkids who live in Lisbon, so we visit there regularly. To keep my husband entertained we plan a lunch outing every day. I have posted before on favorite places and would like to up-date a bit with some new restaurants we enjoyed on a trip from which we just returned. Our 2 granddaughters (7 and 8) were on school holiday while we were there so were always our companions on these excursions. These are rare children who will eat almost anything with enjoyment. Last Nov. we were searching through the narrow streets of Sesimbra for a seafood trattoria we'd visited a year earlier. When we finally stumbled upon it, the older girl exclaimed "Oh I remember this place. It's where they have the great octopus salad!" So, we were heading there again for said treat but got so terribly snarled in Carnival traffic that we changed course and ended up in a new place - Restaurante O Pinhal in Alfarim - not too far away. We were lucky to get a table on their nice terrace and had a superb meal. Started with wonderful bread, cheese and olives - and octopus salad - but the highlights were main courses of Cataplana with Lobster, a steaming clay casserole of Arroz de Cherne, and a house special of swordfish in a mushroom cream sauce. All were perfectly fresh and perfectly prepared. On our last full day in Portugal we chose to visit the fabulous palace in Mafra and sought out a place for lunch nearby. We drove over to the coast to Ericeira where we had reserved a table at Restaurante Esplanda Furnas (not the Marisqueira of the same name) which sits overlooking the beach and amazing surf rolling in. As you enter the restaurant you pass a display of their varieties of fresh fish and the grill chef will help you choose what you'd like them to cook for you. We had a linguado large enough to serve 4 which was the most perfectly cooked, succulent sole I've ever tasted. My husband had to try their version of Cataplana which he decreed the best ever. And of course we devoured their wonderful starters - really excellent chewy bread, a perfect Azeitao cheese and more octopus salad. Spectacular food and setting and a great waitstaff!
  8. MMerrill

    Mocajo

    From a trip last November spent mostly in the Montalcino area, I'd like to mention a surprisingly exceptional restaurant we stopped at for lunch - and we were the only customers (we had reserved ahead) - on the road from Volterra to the sea near Cecina. It's Mocajo in Casino di Terra near Guardistallo and definitely worth seeking out. I chose it because it is highlighted in the Gambero Rosso guide for its excellent food and wines at reasonable prices. It is run by a brother and sister team: she's the chef, he's the sommelier and runs the dining room. The building is non-descript but the interior is lovely, with round tables draped in pale cream cloths, each with a single candle and Champagne flutes. We were served by the brother, who immediately brought warm cornmeal breadsticks and a plate of 3 different house-made rolls, and offered prosecco. Great start! We accepted his suggestion to let him bring us a series of small courses. Another good idea! These were: borlotti bean soup w/chickpea flour, baccala and a dark green, garnished with a tiny violet; next 3 shot glass tastes - (1) pureed fig, anchovy and parsely, (2) a dense mushroom mixture (can't remember what else was in it but it was great), (3) orange zabayon w/scattering of caviar; next a warm autumn salad of rabbit, duck breast, pear, chestnut and grapes; then tortino of grains w/guanciale (cheek) of senese pork with shavings of local strong cheese on red pepper sauce; tortelli w/ricotta & tiny cubes of salami from the Garfagnana w/ribollita sauce; a flat pasta w/rosemary in a sauce of local pigeon w/pine nuts; finally, main course of little plates of roast pheasant again with pignoli and a dab of pureed potatoes. Then there were 2 desserts: a small glass of pineapple sorbetto with a stick of fresh pineapple, and a hazlenut semifreddo with nocino (hazlenut liqueur made by the nearby Trappist Sisters of Guardistallo), and the same nocino to drink! We took his suggestions for wine which were a Friulian Collio from Venica, and a local 2007 La Regola Ligustro Montescudaio merlot. The tasting menu cost 45 euros and I didn't see what the wines cost, but our credit card bill shows the meal coming out at $163. We thought it was simply sensational.
  9. Last Thursday, we stopped with some friends for lunch at The Lodge in San Antonio. The restaurant is in an historic house that was the "castle" in what's now the Castle Hills neighborhood. The dining spaces are in various rooms throughout the house which has been maintained pretty much in its original configuration. Everything about our lunch was outstanding - the food, the service and the setting. They offer an incredible lunch deal from a set menu - 2 courses for $12 or 3 courses for $16. And any bottle of wine from their excellent list is %25 off. There are also a number of wines offered by the glass. Among our party of 4 we tried 2 first courses - a lovely roasted pepper soup garnished with some herbed ricotta and (maybe) basil oil, and risotto with bits of roasted baby eggplant, arugula, other vegetables and cheese - pecorino Romano, I think. Both delicious! Three of us had one of their signature dishes for mains - "Grilled Texas Bobwhite Quail with Point Reyes Blue Cheese "Farrotto," Butter Baked Apple and Grilled Pear Salsa." The quail is mostly boned, so it's easy to eat, and the combination of flavors and textures was just wonderful. For dessert we tried another signature dish - "Soufflé" Inspired Chocolate Nutella Cake with Hazelnut Ganache and Berries, and something else that was buttery and caramelly. Guess what? Both were great! I can't imagine how they are able to offer food of this quality at this price. The dinner menu is quite a bit more expensive, but still good value, considering the lovely setting and exceptional food. If you find yourself in San Antonio, seek this place out. http://www.thelodgerestaurant.com/
  10. We had a wonderful lunch here in early May: RISTORANTE VILLA TIBOLDI CANELLI (CN) - Loc. Tiboldi Case Sparse, 127 Tel. 0173 970388 - www.villatiboldi.it Both food and wine were excellent and you can sit on their terrace overlooking the vineyards. A lovely spot.
  11. "Also the location of Il Vignetto in Menfi is confusing. It is listed as being in "A farmhouse in the open counrtyside" however the map and address seem to indicate it is in town on Via Porto Palo" You're probably already on your trip, but the farmhouse in the open countryside is the correct location, not Porto Palo. Good luck finding it. It 's worth the search!
  12. MMerrill

    Taormina

    We have enjoyed this place several times: IL PESCATORE, Via Nazionale, 107 Mazzarò. 98039 Taormina. Phone: (+39) 0942 23460. It's down on the waterfront looking out on Isola Bella. Nice setting - great seafood! We had lunch a few years ago at the Murgo winery (where you can also stay in their agriturismo), on the slopes of Mt. Etna. (Look up the Murgo web site and click on San Michele, and contacts for how to reserve.) We had a set lunch with many courses and lots of wine. The food and wine were delicious, the setting delightful and price reasonable!
  13. Back in D.C. after TWO nice lunches in Portland! Last Saturday we followed fatdeko's advice and headed straight to Duck Fat. We each had different pannini which were excellent - nice bread, tasty ingredients. Also had a large order of fries which are truly amazing and the truffle ketchup a special treat. Didn't have time for Rabelais this trip, but did stop in Miccuci's which is a great discovery, and picked up some provisions for the next several days in South Bristol. On our way back to the airport Wednesday, we made a stop at the Blue Spoon for a late lunch and were well rewarded. We both had one of the very best fish chowders ever - creamy (not leaden), good ratio of potatoes to fish, lovely seasoning, just delicious. I followed with the house salad which is a wonderful mix of lettuces accented with goat cheese, thin slices of green apple and perfectly toasted almonds. Very nice. My husband had the burger with caramelized onions and crispy potato wedges. He polished them off with relish. We're looking forward to our next trip through Portland in July and more eating choices to make!
  14. Wow, incredible photos! I just left Italy 2 weeks ago and now I wish I were right back again.
  15. Here are the "oscar" restaurants I found that I thought you might be able to get to. You could look them up on Gambero Rosso for more info, and many have web sites. On the GR web site, look under the heading "Weekend Gourmet" for other interesting food suggestions in different locations. In Emilia Romagna: Trattoria di Strada Casale , Emilia Romagna, Brisighella (RA)- via Statale, 22,tel 054688054 - fax 054688095, Giorno di chiusura mercoledì Ferie 10-25/1; 10-20/9 Prezzo medio Euro 35.00 vini escl. (In the hills above Faenza) Numero Sette, RastignanoPianoro (BO)- via A. Costa, 7, tel 051742017 - fax 051742017. Giorno di chiusura martedì a pranzo e lunedì Ferie variabili Prezzo medio Euro 35.00 vini escl. Cucina 47 Cantina 14 Ambiente 8 Servizio 8 Bonus 1 Totale 78 (13 kms n.e. of Bologna. We had dinner here several years ago. Food was excellent and the proprietors delightful.) In Lazio: La Parolina, Acquapendente (VT)- via G. Pascoli, 3, tel 0763717130 Giorno di chiusura mercoledì a pranzo e martedì Ferie mai Prezzo medio Euro 35.00 vini escl. Cucina 48 Cantina 15 Ambiente 8 Servizio 8 Bonus 1 Totale 80. (small town, just n.w. of Orvieto) In Campania: Papavero Eboli (SA)- c.so Garibaldi, 112, tel 0828330689. Giorno di chiusura domenica sera e lunedì Ferie variabili Prezzo medio Euro 30.00 vini escl. Cucina 48 Cantina 14 Ambiente 8 Servizio 8 Bonus 2 Totale 80. (Eboli is east of Salerno. We ate here several years ago while staying near Paestum. It's very modern, decor and food, delicious and somewhat experimental. Quite a surprise for the location. A bit out-of-the-way unfortunately.) In Lombardia: D'O San Pietro all'Olmo, Cornaredo (MI)- via Magenta, 18, tel 029362209. Giorno di chiusura domenica sera e lunedì Ferie 1-10/1; Pasqua; in agosto; tutti i festivi Prezzo medio Euro 40.00 vini escl. Cucina 48 Cantina 14 Ambiente 7 Servizio 8 Bonus 3 Totale 80 (We just returned from a trip to Piemonte and Milan a few weeks ago. Had dinner here for the 2nd time. Owned by young chef, Davide Oldani, who's very charming. His food is more experimental and can be sensational. You need to book way in advance and call around 10 in the morning. Located 14 kms west of Milano.) Cagnola Milano (MI)- via D. Cirillo, 14, tel 023319428 - fax 023319428 Giorno di chiusura domenica Ferie dal 26/7 al 24/8; dal 23/12 al 3/1 Prezzo medio Euro 40.00 vini escl. Cucina 45 Cantina 14 Ambiente 7 Servizio 7 Bonus 2 Totale 75. (We also ate here. It's a neighborhoody place, very traditional Milanese cooking. The risotto was superb. Nice.) In Milan, there's a gelato place I wanted to get to but didn't. It's called Grom, 16 Via Santa Margherita, not far from Piazza della Scala. They started in Torino and have spread out, very artisanal, but prepared in Torino not in house. Supposed to be great. They've also just opened in NYC! Just looked up their web site. They're in Bologna and Florence too. Have a great trip!! We'll all look forward to your reports.
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