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Everything posted by maremosso

  1. I concur on the set-up of Enoteca Pinchiorri being (extremely, in my opinion) contrived and artificial. Both of these are particularly un-Tuscan characteristics. The last time my husband and I dined there (about 10 yers ago), we vowed never to go back. The food was good, but hopelessly contrived as well, like only the French will tolerate - not the Tuscans. The wines (too many at a single dinner) did not compliment the food, and the service was efficient but cold and impersonal. The place is of course a magnificent Florentine Palazzo - but again the injection of French kitsch just about kills it for me. ( I notice from agbaber's photographs that all that shiny and cheap looking plated silver is still in use!). Also, the time between courses was absolutely interminable - again another French Michelin-starred specialty - dinner took several hours. All in all, it was a dreary evening. I am a Florentine, though I now live overseas, and the one thing I believe Florence (and Tuscany) are really good at is the incomparable touch of understated elegance and uncompromising cuisine. Better food can be had in many places in Tuscany. Usually Italians expect respectful but corteous and knowledgeable service - that too can be had at many other places.
  2. Bague, you did mention adding salt to the water, and then the rice flour. Thanks again for your answer.
  3. AH, so that's the secret - boiling the rice flour in water first! No one had told me to do it this way before. Thank you Bague25 - and would you add any flavourings (like green chili/ginger/sesame or cuminseeds) to the rice dough? I have tried making my version of rice rotis with boiled rice and rice flour, and the usual masalas (green chili/ginger/chopped coriander/turmeric). and a little yoghurt and oil mixed in the dough - but they really are frustratingly difficult to handle... I have eaten them in the past at friends' houses and they are always so beautifully made that may be I've got the technique all wrong. I'll try your version next.
  4. A Chicago thing? Naaah... it's all over Italy - sold mainly to tourists in every Piazza. It's called "al taglio", and it's easier to eat, while walking around and looking around at the Italian architectural wonders, than the triangular slices. It's been around for ages.
  5. Watching a travel programme recently about South India I learned that rice rotis are a Mangalore specialty. Would anybody have a recipe? Thanks.
  6. Chromedome, the number 1 use for saffron, may be after Paella Valenciana, is for Risotto ai Porcini. The porcini mushrooms and saffron combo is one of the tastes made in heaven... I am really surprised no one has come up with it so far. For recipes, any search will yield scads - it's that famous! Recently in Buenos Aires, an Italian TV Chef showed how to make a pizza crust with saffron... but I wouldn't go for it.
  7. I would think the basis of your bar contents should consist of whatever you and your circle of friends enjoy drinking. You can start with Brandy, Scotch, Vodka, Gin, Tequila and Rum - whatever quality you can afford, and later add your favourite liqueurs. I find that nowadays few people go for Drambuie or Cointreau anymore - and absolutely noone ever wants Creme de Menthe either. But it's a question of taste, and geographical fashions. Kahlua is better than Tia Maria. Sambuca is extremely versatile and popular among us Italians, as is a good Limoncello. Pisco is a wonderful Peruvian grape spirit - Pisco Sours are much in demand. I second Drinkboy's advice: many bartenders keep a stash of top-quality syrups, to which they add Vodka to obtain the odd Curacao or Creme de Cacao (and even the occasional Creme de Menthe) to add to cocktails. You could find a bar supplier online - these are incredibly useful to have on hand, without having to invest in the expensive liqueurs. These syrups can also be successfully used in out of this world desserts.
  8. hmm... 8 years? Here on the Western Coast of India my new papaya trees always bear fruit from the first year, and delicious they are too!
  9. maremosso


    Viva, Cachaca is another great drink, and interchangeable with Pisco. I find them both very versatile, and use them instead of Tequila in similar drinks to Margueritas, and with just as many variations. Here in Argentina, where people have an incredibly sweet tooth, they tend to use sugar instead od salt - see how you prefer it. In Uruguay, which is just across the Delta from Buenos Aires, there is another drink, called Cana Humada - very nice indeed.
  10. La Caballeriza, Puerto Madero (also branches in Pilar and San Isidro - just as good) La Bistecca, San Isidro, (also in Puerto Madero) - this is a great place for grilled meats, but it also has a fantastic buffet for those craving salads, vegetables, fresh pasta and pizza). La Parolaccia, Puerto Madero. El Marisol, Puerto Madero.... Kansas on Avenida Liberdador (Martinez- San Isidro) has great atmosphere and is popular with the US expatriats. While the quality is excellent, I find the menu a little unimaginative. But the bar is great. Actually the Parrillas (grilled meats) are fantastic just about anywhere - just stay away from shopping mall food!
  11. I live in India six months of the year. About 10 years ago I imported 100 liters of good olive oil from Italy. A pharmaceutical company helped me repack the oil in suitable 1 liter tins, in order to better preserve it for the years to come. I gave away a lot to friends who were very grateful. I still have about a dozen tins. Everytime I get back to India I expect the olive oil to have hopelessly soured - but so far, so good. It certainly doesn't have the aroma of fresh oil, and forget the cut grass experience, but it's still soooo much better than the locally available olive oil! I keep it in my cellar, away from light and heat.
  12. Yes, of course - Italians are even more obsessed with olive oil than the French. We like to say that, short of cappuccino, olive oil goes on everything. I am from Tuscany, but every region has its choice oils - I personally love the fresh cut grass smell of very young olive oil, and the fresher the better. Old olive oil is only good for lighting church lamps, or for gresing door hinges.
  13. Even worse: sandy, gritty salad greens - so common here in Buenos Aires restaurants. Oh, yes, and overcooked meats - again very common here even in the best places. And pasta not "al dente", served with a technicolor-red tomato sauce. Overcooked fish.... and sugar on the rim of cocktail glasses serving Caipirinha or Pisco Sour, instead of salt...
  14. As an Italian, I think Indian Pizza is tantamount to committing culinary murder... and the less said about Domino's, the better... anywhere on this planet! To me this version is no better, for example, than putting coconut chutney on tandoori chicken, or making iddlis makhanwala.... or may be this can inspire some budding chef in India who's into "fusion" food. Having said that, almost anyone with a slightly more sophisticated taste than one conditioned by fast food can make good and suitable pizza toppings. The difficult part is the crust, and this takes years of learning and practice to make well. In India, many are proud of their pizzas. I think it's invariably god-awful and enough to put me off for life. Fortunately, there are some equivalent dishes in Indian food that are top knotch, like for example the Kurmi Naan at President Hotel in Delhi. Or the Tandoori Naan topped with cheese and green chilies. P.S. Edited this to add: Raddi Pizza is just about right.
  15. Several years ago I used to go to Montignac's restaurant in South Kensington, London. Always had delicious lunches and I was always intrigued hoe on earth one could actually lose any weight while still eatin chocolate, jams, etc. Does this diet actually work, or is it just a fad?
  16. Gingerly, adding tej patta leaves to "rationing" rice used to be an old cook's trick in India, to try and make cheap rice taste (almost) like Basmati rice. Especially during the early years of Mrs. Gandhi's reign, when flour, sugar and rice were in such scarcity in India.
  17. Having lived in Delhi 20 years, I can assure you that dried leaves of Laurus Nobilis are indeed available there - try Modern Bazaar in Vasant Vihar. They look just like our European bay leaves, though larger, but aren't very aromatic at all. Laurus was probably planted by the British in the hills (like rosemary), where it grows wild now, and it's much used by the large resident English-Indian community. I would just leave them out of a North Indian recipe. In Goa, where many varieties of Cinnamon are grown, all these leaves have a more or less strong cinnamon smell - not the same thing at all.
  18. Sweet Potatoes and Mascarpone Ice Cream (Papas Dulces y Helado de Mascarpone) Boil 1.6 kg. sweet potatoes (1 to 1and a half hours) Peel and add sugar syrup (made with 1.2 Kg sugar and 1.2 litres water), vanilla pod and simmer 20 minutes. Add agar-agar and simmer 10 minutes more. Place sweet potatoes in blender and puree. Pour into wrap lined loaf pan(s) and chill. Combine 1 and a half cup Mascarpone and 1 and a half cup sugar syrup (made with 1 cup each water and sugar). Chill and churn in ice cream maker. Just before end of churning, add half a cup lemon juice. Turn out the slab of "Papas Dulces", slice and serve on individual dessert plates with a dollop of Helado de Mascarpone.
  19. Abra, though agar-agar comes from seaweeds, it's also called China Grass - and it's definitely edible! I am surprised it's an unusual item in the US. I live in India for 6 months of the year, and there it is THE preferred jelling ingredient, as many people are vegetarian and gelatine usually isn't. But food taboos aside, I think it makes much better desserts. In Italy, I would use Colla di Pesce to make pannacotta, with equally fine results. On the whole I am not a great fan of gelatine, I think it's the equivalent of using supermarket cooking wine instead of a Sauterne or Chablis in cooking.
  20. Abra, no matching glasses, not enough room in the fridge.... hmmm, who are you working for? Panna Cotta is the easiest thing in the worl to unmould - if you chill it in a loaf pan, go the oil and plastic wrap way, it can't fail! But generally I much prefer making panna cotta with agar-agar (remember that it needs simmering in the milk or milk/cream or cream/buttermilk ot milk/cocnut milk mixture) for 5 to 10 mintes). It's guaranteed to unmould effortlessly!
  21. P.S.: Recently in an Italian restaurant here I had Dulce de Leche parfait with black Sambuca added to it. It was to die for - but then, I adore liquorice!
  22. Here in Buenos Aires the supermarkets devote whole aisles to Dulce de Leche, and it caters to all tastes. The best are Havanna and Parmalat. Making it at home from scratch is therefore undesirable, as it is extremely time -consuming. The best method is to boil tins of condensed milk - from 2 and a half hours to 4 hours. the longer it cooks the darker and fudgier the Dulce de Leche. The tins can then be stored for very long periods. Here it's used to make icecreams, fill layer cakes, put between cookies (alfajores), and as an ubiquitous dessert ingredient. Eaton Mess is a very traditional English parfait, probably invented by the chefs of Eaton school. It consists of layered strawberries, meringues (or almond rochers), whipped cream and drizzled with Creme de Cassis. Dead easy, and easily varied with other ingredients. Panna Cotta is also extremely easy, and extremely versatile as far as ingredients are concerned. In Italy it's often served sliced, like cassata, and drizzled with an incredible variety of coulis/sauces. I would think chilling it in a loaf pan wouldn't require that much space in the fridge..
  23. I think a good selection of liqueurs and/or top quality bartender syrups are essential for preparing a wide range of sophisticated desserts - and I would think "Italian" for great ease. Panna Cotta is wonderful made with coconut milk - add fresh sliced mangoes. Eaton Mess is a great and versatile dessert, try it with different coulis and liqueurs. Tiramisu can be made with the trad choc/coffee/vin santo, but also with almond paste, tropical fruit and Midori. Or, try it with a combo of crushed "ice" mints and black Sambuca. Dulce de Leche (homemade) is also very versatile: a dollop of it, drowned in a parfait glass with Kalhua, and candied orange peel. It's also good for stuffing Choux, fast and easy.
  24. maremosso

    I dig figs!

    I don't know what varieties of fresh figs you get where you are. But in Italy, where I am from, fresh figs come in th green (when fully ripe), "black" (actually a very dark purple), and purplish brown variety. This last seems to be a bit of a cross between the first two, and not always very sweet. Its skin tends to be tougher too, so it's best to peel it off before eating. The green and black variety usually have a very tender skin that doesn't need peeling off. Figs should be eaten very ripe - and they should be ripened on the tree for the best flavour and sweetness. Try them with prosciutto, or simply cut open and eaten in very fresh Italian bread - absolute heaven, and our typical picnic food back in Italy.
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