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Everything posted by Marco_Polo

  1. I'm a real big fan of spit-roasted meats, too, especially chicken (who can resist those rotating, dripping banks of chickens in any market in France?). In fact, many years ago we had a brilliant home oven that gave just such results. Of course it was French - Scholtes - and it had a fantastic, never-fail spit. We eventually changed the oven for a 90cm Smeg and we chose this in part because it too had a spit. However I'm afraid to say that the Smeg turned out to be a toy and simply not man enough for the task. Problem, it seems, was that the drive was not direct - that is, the motor was accessed through the back wall of the oven, so it meant that power was transferred through a gearing mechanism to make it change direction to drive the spit horizontally across the width of the oven. The chicken would invariably flop around (no matter how carefully positioned) and sometimes the mechanism would jump off, the chicken would stop turning, and, if we didn't notice this in time, then the chicken would burn. We finally got fed up with the Smeg - for this and numerous other reasons, notably because the heating element kept burning out. We replaced it with an oven from of all places New Zealand - a Fisher Paykel. This is both a fantastic oven and also a great oven for spit roasting. It too is a 90cm oven, which means we can thread two chickens on the spit and it is more than up to the task of turning them both without effort. As suggested I usually put one chicken breast up, the other breast down and this works well. But even with just one bird, it turns evenly without the flopping about. I think it is because the motor doesn't have to struggle. No counterweights are necessary. And the results are mouthwateringly superb - crispy, bubbly skin, juicy, moist meat - sometimes we put diced potatoes underneath to catch all the fat and juices. Delicious.
  2. Pop-up restaurants are happening not just in London but all over the country. It's a fascinating development. Here's a great resource. We ourselves have been doing a sort of monthly 'pop-up' in Devon that has proved very popular. We cook in our domestic kitchen at home and carry the food across the road to a wine cellar to serve around 35. Marc
  3. Chris, cooked the three whole loins last night. Your guestimate timing was pretty well spot-on. As it was something like 12 kgs of meat, albeit in three different pieces shaped as described above, I still thought it would take way longer. The three loins went into a low oven (140C), and I was very surprised to reach 150F after less than 2 hours (my oven is C, my meat thermometer F). The meat had first been char-grilled on a gas grill, then I oven-braised in wine and balsamic vinegar on a bed of onions and rosemary. Since it was done way earlier than I had anticipated, I covered the pan in aluminium foil, and kept it warm in a very low oven (85C) for another two hours. Reduced the liquid, sliced thickly, spooned over the juices: still incredibly moist and succulent. In fact everyone raved about it. Here's a photo: Thanks, everyone, for the help!
  4. Thanks for this, all excellent advice. I do use a meat thermometer and am happy with around the 140-150 mark. The pork comes from a freerange farm 3 miles down the road from where I live - there's still a bit of fat in and around the loin and when slow-roasted it shouldn't dry out, unless overcooked. What I am really looking for is a ballpark figure for time when slow roasting 3 pieces of loin (long and relatively thin in diameter as described above) that together weigh around 15lbs in a slow oven of around 250F. 1 1/2 to 2 hours seems a bit on the short side, Chris. I recently cooked a similarly shaped rolled belly from the same source in an even lower oven - 85C: 4 hours it was edible though still firm, but after another 2 it was melting and almost falling apart. So I'm thinking around the 3-4 hour mark for the loin in the slightly hotter oven. Of course if it cooks earlier, I'll pull it, but I need to plan the timing for serving and don't want it sitting around warming for a couple of hours.
  5. Advice on roasting times for meat is usually given in minutes per pound/kilo. But in my experience, the shape of the joint in question often is more important than the total weight, and it is therefore difficult to calculate. For example, one could have same weight in roasting joints of pork of vastly different shape - a long, narrow rolled loin versus a big hunk of leg or shoulder, less long but much wider in girth. The leg will take longer because of the time needed for heat to penetrate to the interior. I wonder if anyone can give me some advice. I am planning to slow-roast 3 whole boned loins of pork at the same time in a single tray. I have asked the butcher to take the skin off (which I will cook separately for the crackling) and roll and tie the joints. I plan to first char-grill the outside on the bbq (this give a great smoky flavour) then will place all three in a large catering pan on top of a generous bed of sliced onions, a bottle of red Italian wine and lots of fresh rosemary. Each loin weighs about 5-6 lbs so a total of about 15lbs of meat. Each will be about 15-17 inches in length and about 4-5 inches in diameter, so long, but not very wide or thick pieces. I'd like to slow roast in a fan oven at around 250-275 degrees F (120-140 C). It's important that the loin (which is quite lean) does not dry out. Can anyone give advice on overall cooking times? Many thanks Marc
  6. Amazing photos. Very impressive. The "porcine pedaler (beta version)" is brilliant! Bravo. Marc
  7. Cycling and eating, my sort of travelling. Nice descriptions, Gary (would have liked to know a little more about those 140 miles, can't quite figure out how you managed the mileage between those long lunches, dinners, afternoon snoozes with all that lovely wine . . .). I haven't been to the Chianti Classico for a few years and you've made me want to jump on a plane in Bristol tomorrow (with my Colnago in a bike bag). We're coming up, after all, to the best time of year to be in Tuscany (to be just about anywhere in Italy, come to think of it), as the grapes come in (we used to live outside of Florence in the Carmignano wine zone and have the fondest memories of this magical moment of the year). And there is no better way to explore Italy than on two wheels.
  8. Nice to read about both cycling and truffles/mushrooms in the same posts. I was in Turin last week for Terra Madre, and was put up in Susa. It reminded me of when I cycled from England to Italy, and descended from France via the Moncenisio pass. We bombed down that 20km descent and I remember passing through Susa at breakneck speed, en route to Alba. Speaking of which, we took the train down to Alba on Sunday and Monday (yesterday). On Sunday, the town was absolutely heaving, never seen so many people there for the Fiera. This was my first visit to the new truffle fair hall on the edge of town. It was crazy. We went with a winemaker friend, Mario Fontana of Cascina Fontana. One of the trifolau was a relative of his, and he sold some friends some good truffles, certainly said they were local. But the price was very high, 450 euros an etto! I bought a small truffle myself yesterday at Tartufi Morra in Alba. Alessandro Bonino told me that this year is even worse than last year! Nonetheless, now back home in a very wintry Devon, we'll enjoy this Langhe treat tomorrow night, probably simply on tajarin noodles or on fried or scrambled eggs. Marc
  9. My mother taught me the joy of cooking, that even if you are unhappy, eating well - not fancily but generously - is one of the daily pleasures that can make life worth living, that can make us feel good. Mom was a great intuitive cook, and no one was better able to throw together the most delicious everyday meals from whatever ingredients were at hand, even the most frugal. This stemmed above all from her generosity of spirit, and the desire to enjoy the company of family and friends around her table, eating, talking, laughing, arguing - living. We may be considered better cooks, 'fancier' cooks, but how I miss her generous spontaneity, how I miss those wonderful family meals. Marc
  10. Hi Phil, glad you enjoyed the fish and scallops. I agree about the chips, though, they are rather indifferent in comparison to the incredible fish. Yes, the courtyard shuts when Darts Farm closes. We live no more than 4-5 minutes away by car (or 15 minutes by foot). That's just about close enough to get the fish & chips home still piping hot - and not soggy (with lid of cardboard box open so that it does steam while being transported). But it's a risky business, I tell you. One of my friends lives marginally closer (so say 3 minutes away), and in eagerness to get said fish & chips home, he actually had a car accident driving down his own street (not his fault, he claims, though he does acknowledge that he was in a state of 'distracted urgency'). Next time you're back down this way, make sure and have a pint at the nearby Bridge Inn. Marc
  11. The Fish Shed at Darts Farm - only two miles off the M5 motorway exit Exeter Services (about 1 hour 45 minutes from Padstow - and about the same from Bath) - for probably as good fish and chips as you will find anywhere. Fisherman David Kerley brings in fish straight off the boats at Exmouth, has a wet fish counter, and fries or grills any fish you like to order. Battered diver's scallops are to die for. Local sea bass is good grilled, but even better batter-fried - incredibly meltingly sweet (David makes a very light beer batter). You can eat outside in the courtyard, inside in Darts Farm, or in your car if you only want to make a quick pit-stop. Definitely worth a detour - in fact a destination in itself. For an even better treat, pick up your fish and chips from the Fish Shed, then continue down the same road no more than a half mile to The Bridge Inn, an historic pub (the only pub the Queen has ever visited) serving outstanding cask ales. Sit outside with your fish and chips by the banks of the Clyst together with a pint of light Branoc ale from the Branscombe Brewery. Hard to beat that... For food lovers, Darts Farm is an incredible one-stop food emporium that deserves to be visited. To reach Darts Farm and the Fish Shed, exit M5 south at Exeter Services - turn left from slip road, then right at next roundabout signposted Exmouth, carry on through mini-roundabout to another roundabout - by St George and the Dragon pub - turn right, Darts Farm is just down the hill on the right. The Bridge Inn is a half mile further down the same road. Marc
  12. This year's Exeter Festival of South West England Food and Drink 2008 was definitely the best ever. The Festival Conference this year saw the launch of an important new initiative to link the South West with Tuscany as food regions and the Festival itself was really brilliant. The Castle Courtyard where the chef demos took place was expanded and became a much more central feature, and on the Friday night a 'Festival After Dark' event was staged, with live music, cookery demos (with Michael Caines and James Nathan, MasterChef 2008). The 3 days of the Festival itself were great, the usual array of really outstanding local and regional producers, good things to taste and eat, plus a glittering array of celebrity chefs all strutting their stuff in the Cookery Theatre. I was involved with the Slow Food Devon tent, and this was incredibly popular, with Peter Greig of Piper's Farm cooking his own outstanding Red Ruby beef alongside Tuscan friends Simone and Michela, who made some amazing focaccia. Here's my report and pictures.
  13. Just back yesterday from a therapeutic short winter break to the Algarve. Two old favourites that are most definitely worth a considerable detour: Marisqueira Rui in Silves, possibly the greatest shellfish shack in the world. We were there two days ago and it was just as good as ever. Here's an account I wrote some years ago, still an accurate account of the experience. Another not to be missed favourite is Sudeste in Ferragudo, a quayside, wholly informal restaurant that simply serves the best charcoal-grilled fish you will ever eat anywhere. This is quite a claim, I realise, but how can it be any better? The fishing boats return with a haul of fish tossed up directly from boat to restaurant. What I like best about Sudeste is that they always have big fish - so that the sea bass or stone bass or gilt-head bream that you order is always thick and meaty. Best to come in a group and order one giant fish to share for the whole table. The accompaniments are the simple classics. Perhaps a platter of ameijôas - clams - to start, and of course baskets of fantastic sourdough bread, simple boiled potatoes, platters of tomato and onion salad. Nothing else. Nothing to take away from the sea-fresh perfection of the fish, expertly cleaned, butterflied, and cooked over charcoal until just done. We usually go in summer, around the coast by boat, the sea journey only adding to the anticipation and enjoyment of the meal. But you can easily reach Ferrugado by car (it's just across the estuary from Portimão) and believe me, it really is worth a detour. Here's an account from a few years back. Nothing will have changed. Of course the Algarve has many fine international restaurants, and we've been to many over the past 30 years. But these days, for our taste, we prefer places like Rui and Sudeste where the Algarve's incredible bounty from the sea is prepared with such outstanding skill and expertise. Never underestimate the deliciousness of simplicity! Marc
  14. Hi Tim, While I think your mission to stomp out pomposity in food writing is admirable, I'm not convinced that the term flavour profile (or its close relative taste profile) is always necessarily an egregious affectation. A flavour or taste profile to me can signify a complex whole that goes beyond mere flavour or taste to encompass a tone or style of a dish, its balance, mouthfeel, weight or structure, all elements that may go beyond mere flavour or taste. Of course, I may simply be trying to defend the indefensible, for as it happens, I'll put my hand up and 'fess: an article of mine on matching wines and foods published just this month uses the very offending phrase (mea culpa, mea culpa, I'm wearing my hair shirt as I write this): The sentence reads fine if I were to replace 'taste profiles' with 'tastes' but it doesn't quite have the same meaning to me. Well, there, I've outed myself, guess I'd better go and sulk off to my local eaterie... Marc
  15. Nice job, Bob. Sitting here over breakfast in Devon, England (one minute pouring with rain, the next brilliantly sunny - looking across the Exe estuary to the green green hills of Haldon), reading your excellent written quest for Indian food in Buenos Aires, Argentina is somehow strangely uplifting: connecting us around the world (and around the breakfast table) through "fascinating faraway traditions and flavors, thru means of one of humanity’s first arts: the art of cooking".
  16. 1. My wife Kim's roasties to go with English roast Sunday supper (not lunch in this household). The potatoes are either Maris Piper or King Edwards, peeled, cut into just the right size chunks - not too big, not too small - blanched in boiling water, then added to a pan with hot olive oil**, tossed around to coat, seasoned with Maldon sea salt, freshly ground pepper, maybe a sprinkling of chopped fresh rosemary, and put in a hot (200 degree C) oven for around 45-50 minutes. The potatoes should emerge from the oven crunchy on the outside (but not leathery), and steamingly, gorgeously soft on the inside. No matter how many potatoes she makes, there are never quite enough. If by rare chance there happen to be a few leftovers, they are fantastic the next day for breakfast, simply picked up with the fingers and eaten fridge cold. 2. Pan-fried potatoes cooked in duck fat - crispy, oily, salty - ideally to accompany some some pan-fried confit de canard - crispy skin, oleaginous texture, deliciously salted-cured meat falling off the bone. A forkful of duck, a bite of crunchy fried potatoes, and on the side a simple green salad, yes, dressed with a tart, vinegary dressing (2:1 not my normal 3:1 or 4:1!). 3. Perfect mash potatoes, the ultimate comfort food. Sometimes I use a ricer, which definitely gives the lightest results, but mostly we just bash, add massive quantities of butter (I think it's impossible to use TOO much butter), moisten with milk, season with plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper. What could be better? I can eat this just on its own, with nothing else, a huge plateful. But with some good English sausages, browned and plump and cooked just right so that when you prick with a fork, the juices spurt out and soak into the mash, it's damn near the perfect meal. **I know that purists will say that you shouldn't roast potatoes in EVOO. But we do and the results are superlative, I assure you.
  17. I'm with the traditional 3:1 or even 4:1 oil to vinegar, I'm afraid. Sharp salad dressing just doesn't work for us at all, not least because the lingering taste of vinegar kills any wine we might be drinking stone dead. I import olive oil, so we always use a top single-estate extra-virgin (Tuscan or from Le Marche); vinegar is my own homemade wine vinegar (which is relatively strong). We make our dressing in a wide-mouthed cruet that we've had literally for decades, and we always make it the same way, topping up whenever necessary so that there is always dressing on hand (could never understand why people buy dressing when it's so simple to make well). Here's how we do it: add the vinegar first, then a crumble of Maldon sea salt, swirl to help dissolve, then add a furious twisting of freshly ground black pepper (maybe 40-50 turns of the giant mill), then the extra-virgin olive oil, not measured, just added by eye 'cos we know the proportions in this venerable cruet. Nothing else, no mustard, no garlic, no herbs, no sugar, nada mas. To use, just shake like crazy to make a nice, thick emulsion, add to the salad bowl (not too much), then lightly toss with the hands. The perfect salad. We have this just about every night and I never ever get tired of it.
  18. Hi SheenaGreena, My grandmother used to do something that sounds quite similar: she called it 'instant kimchi' and used to say that 'even haoles like this'. Really, it always seemed to me more like a take on a normal Western salad, but with a Korean twist. Halmoni's would have romaine letuce, green onions sliced on the slant, maybe some sliced radish. maybe some chinese cabbage. Her dressing was as follows: 2 tbsp rice vinegar 3 tbsp light soy sauce 1 tbsp kochujang 2 tbsp sesame oil 1/2 to 1 tbsp coarse red chili powder (or to taste) 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds As for your other salad, I wonder if the vegetable is ssuka or garland chrysanthemum? Halmoni used blanch this then dress simply with soy sauce, sesame oil and toasted sesame seed. I love Korean salads! They are so fresh and deliciously crunchy. One of the simplest and one of my most favourite is oinamul - simply cucumbers sliced as thinly as possible, placed in a bowl, covered with salt and then water and left for around 20 minutes, rinsed and squeezed out, then dressed simply with rice vinegar, sugar, and coarse red chili pepper (you can add green onions, cilantro, red onions, radish, whatever, but simplest is best). Marc
  19. Marco_Polo

    Wine Tag: K

    By luck, I happened upon a "K" wine just this week: Kadarka Zoltan Polgar 2006 from the Villany region of southern Hungary. I had the chance to meet the winemaker, Zoltan Polgar, when he was visiting Devon. He explained that Kadarka is a widely grown indigenous grape in this region, sometimes blended, often used to make a varietal - I hadn't come across Kadarka before. The wine was young, quite full in colour, with rather rustic, bubble gum fruit, an easy-to-drink guzzler that would be good with a paprikas or grilled meats Magyar style.
  20. Hi Mark, I do hope you have a great time at La Salvetat and look forward to hearing of your experiences. As for Lascaux II, we have been twice now and have found it on both occasions to be a wonderful experience, for ourselves as well as for our children. Yes, the cave is a total fake reconstruction, but so painstakingly has every nook, cranny, fissure and contour of the interior been apparently recreated that the cave art comes magically to life, a rounded protruding surface giving shape and life to the body of a painted bison or stag. The profusion of prehistoric animals - horses, ibexes, bulls and cows - their seeming movement and vivacity, is simply overwhelming and we felt a real and eerie sense of connecting with human beings from thousands of years ago, of sharing a common humanity. However, in our experience, the guides speak only limited English, so it's best to bone up in advance, or buy a good illustrated guidebook from the adjoining shop to study before or afterwards. Bearing in mind that you have limited time, it may be best to see if you can book as only limited amounts of people are allowed into the cave at any time. Can't advise on anywhere particularly good to eat around Lascaux II. But remember, this is picnic country par excellence, and you could do far worse than stocking up at the Sarlat market - some good country bread, a jar of foie gras de canard or rillettes de canard, some cabicou goat's cheese, whatever fruit is in season, and not forgetting a bottle of good Bergerac wine. Then simply find the perfect riverside spot to enjoy. Marc
  21. Always thought this method (boil and drain like pasta) was for people who didn't know how to cook rice. Never even considered trying it myself, though can quite understand that it will give different results suited for particular dishes. Not a fan of rice salad, though, so unlikely to change the habits of a lifetime. MP [edited to remove disparaging throwaway comment about Uncle Ben's, knowing, from past experience, that said comment will no doubt ignite a flame amongst devotees - uh oh too late - am not a rice snob, honest, just like my rice steamed and fluffy]
  22. It's not just a question of romance, John. It's also a question of knowing what you are cooking with. While I don't disagree that good, possibly equally tasty dishes may be able to prepared with inexpensive wines as compared to more expensive (and I'm not talking about using Tignanello or cru classé Bordeaux) wines, what I do maintain is that knowing the wine you are cooking with can be as important as knowing the wine you are drinking. I don't necessarily want to cook with some cheap rotgut that may be packed full of sulphites or chemicals, or flavoured with oak extract or chips, even if the results come out palatably well in a blind tasting. Naturally made wine from the producers whose wines I know and drink regularly (as well as import) marry well with the foods we cook and eat, and I'm more comfortable through knowing where they come from, whether or not I'd be able to pick out the nuances of their flavourings in your blind tasting. To be honest, blind tastings are in my opinion overrated: how many of us can trust our palates well enough to identify all the efforts, myriad ingredients and flavourings that skilled cooks bring out in a dish? Yet nonetheless our pleasure is enhanced by the overall effect of well-made foods which are a combination of all those separate elements, whether we can separately distinguish them or not. I may not be able to discern the difference in a blind tasting of a dish cooked with fleur de sel de Guerande as opposed to the same dish made with ordinary Morton iodized salt, or tell the difference of a soufflé made with freerange organic eggs from one made with battery-raised eggs, but does that mean such differences in the ingredients are insignificant? For me, I get pleasure from knowing the elements that I prepare a meal with, their provenance, their authenticity and their quality. That does not mean, I hasten to add, that one has always to use expensive ingredients or cook only with expensive wine. I don't. But I do cook with wine that I consider good, regardless of the cost. And besides, what's the problem with having a little romance with food? Ingredients, their provenance, their history, like words, give 'a local habitation and a name' to fleeting sensory sensations such as taste, touch and smell, and help to define the gustatory world we live in, our tastes and taste memories. Take romance out of food and you might as well have chemists concoct a pill that replicates all our favourite tastes and nourishes at the same time. I'm sure it can be done; I'm sure it will be done. Meanwhile I'm going to keep stirring my pot of risotto, made with good Dolcetto wine, just the way I like it.
  23. Good points, Steven. I guess I've never been all that good on objective reality. For what it's worth, my approach to cooking (when I'm in a regional cooking frame of mind, that is, which is not always the case) is to try and put foods in the context of the land from which they come. My approach to wine is much the same. I'm not really that interested in blind tastings, in wine as simply a liquid in a glass, disconnected from the land it comes from, or from the people who make it. Might not matter to some. Dish might well taste the same, whatever wine is used. But it sometimes does matter to me. As for the 'cook with the wine you're drinking' rule of thumb, you're certainly right to point out that it depends on what you're drinking. For the record, I don't usually drink $100 bottles myself, not when I'm cooking, indeed not often any time at all . But I do like a glass of something good while I'm in the kitchen, and a splosh or two might well go into the cooking pot. Maybe I'm just too lazy to open another bottle. Or perhaps it's that in using 1/3 of a bottle to cook with, it usually demands that another bottle is opened to finish with the meal.
  24. When cooking regionally there is much enjoyment in creating dishes that taste of the land, as many who have followed the regional Italian 'Cooking and Cuisine' topic as well as Kevin's magnificent year-long food blog would acknowledge and agree. In such instances, cooking with a wine from a particular region or area is every bit as valid as cooking with other ingredients sourced as authentically as possible. Of course it may be possible to recreate dishes using alternative ingredients (wine included) but that is a separate discourse. It should be remembered that many classic 'cooked in wine' dishes come from cuisines connected with wine regions: coq au Chambertin (from Côte d'Or) or coq au Beaujolais (from the Beaujolais wine hills), boeuf bourguigonne, brasato al Barolo, sauce bordelaise, beurre blanc au Muscadet, etc. In such instances, the wines used would be the local wines, the wines that were readily on hand, especially in wine growers' households, and so not necessarily expensive additional ingredients to buy. Of course for the rest of us, using Chambertin to make our coq braised in wine would seem a terrible affectation not to say a waste of good or possibly great wine. However, for me, if I want to make the Burgundian classic coq au vin then it just doesn't feel right not using a Burgundian red wine, whether a simple Bourgogne rouge, a Macon red, or whatever. Yes, I could make a chicken dish stewed in Chilean merlot or California Cab. Or New Zealand Pinot Noir. It might be good or it might be sensational. But for me it wouldn't be the 'coq au vin' that I relate to my taste memories from travels in Burgundy. The example of risotto al Barolo is an interesting one. I travel to the Langhe often to visit my good friend Mario Fontana, who makes Barolo wines from his vineyard holdings in Castiglione Falleto. Mario's mother usually cooks for us brasato al Barolo. In this instance, she doesn't have to open a bottle of Barolo, she just sends Mario down to the wine cantina below the house to draw off from the vat a big jug of the stuff. The wine is young, usually too young to drink, but needless to say, the result is absolutely sensational, especially when accompanied by a mature bottle of the same wine. On more than one occasion, however, I have tried to recreate Elda's recipe at home, and have even gone so far as to open a bottle of Cascina Fontana Barolo to cook with - accompanying the finished dish with the same wine. Yes, the result was good; yet somehow it was not ever *quite* as good as one would expect, given the exalted wine that the dish was cooked in, combined with my taste memories of Mario's mother's home version. Perhaps I'm just not as good a cook as Mario's mother. I don't know. Nonetheless, I don't think there is any point at all in cooking brasato al Barolo or risotto al Barolo with a lesser wine. For in such instances, those dishes clearly would not be brasato al Barolo or risotto al Barolo, but something quite different. This isn't just a matter of nomenclature - it's a matter of connecting a dish with where it's come from. Wine is one element that can do this. When I make risotto-cooked-in-wine, which I do often, I use Mario's much less expensive and less exalted Dolcetto d'Alba. The colour is always far more vivid than Nebbiolo based wines, and as the wine also has considerably lower levels of tannin, it works brilliantly for the risotto. In this case I call the dish risotto al Dolcetto for that is exactly what it is (how can you make risotto al Barolo using a wine that is not Barolo - though admittedly risotto al Two-Buck-Chuck may not have quite the same ring to it). The point of the article and of this discussion is a very interesting one. The moral, as most all the posts above maintain, is that good food can be cooked with inexpensive wine and it doesn't necessarily have to come from any particular area or region. I'm sure we all agree on this. And yet, I maintain that there are times when substitutes just won't do, and where the provenance of the wine, allied with its inherent qualities, make it the perfect wine to use for the recreation of a certain dish (notwithstanding that using another wine might well result in a dish that is both delicious and achieved at lesser cost). As for the 'don't cook with a wine you wouldn't drink' rule, I maintain that it is mainly a valid one. I most usually cook with the same wine that I am drinking while I am cooking. A splosh for the pot, a splosh in the glass for the cook. And then we'll usually carry on with the same wine when we eat. It seems entirely right and natural. Why open something crappy just to cook with? Marc
  25. Wonderful, wonderful photos and description, Judith. Your pic of brodetto is particularly appetizing and brings back fond memories. I went out from Fano once with a trawler fishing for pesce azzurro - sgombro (mackerel), acciughe or alice (anchovies) and suro (horse mackerel). It was a fascinating experience - two trawlers positioned themselves side by side and dragged a large net between them, trailing out from behind. Once it was full, the net was winched in by the trawler that I was on, a massive ball containing some hundreds of kilos of blue fish that spilled wriggling and glistening into the hold below. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch from that daily catch, actually cooked on board as we headed back to port. Fish anywhere in Italy, and especially along the Adriatic coast, is delicious but usually expensive. Pesce azzurro by contrast have always been the diet of the poor, the fishermen themselves. Of course we now know that such oily blue fish are among the most healthy that we can eat! Also, for my taste, among the most delicious. One of the best places to sample pesce azzurro is in Fano itself at the 'Self-Service Al Pesce Azzurro' where the Comparsca fishing cooperative runs, in season, an excellent cafeteria style inexpensive restaurant serving the catch of the day. If you're in the area, it's absolutely not to be missed! Self-Service Al Pesce Azzurro Viale Adriatico, 48 61032 Fano tel 0721 803165
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