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Maureen B. Fant

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Posts posted by Maureen B. Fant

  1. Is this the same sort of al dente texture you get from dried durum pasta or that sort of bouncy, almost gelled texture you get in well made, high egg content fresh pasta? Al dente texture is not normally associated with this type of fresh pasta.

    I'm pretty sure you couldn't get an "al dente"' texture from a fresh flat pasta made from soft wheat flour and eggs alone, so I wonder if the egg content and skill of the pasta maker is the key?

    Right. Al dente is not really relevant to Emilian egg pasta, which is quite tender. It is made with soft wheat flour (tipo 0, I am told on good authority, is actually preferable to the more common tipo 00) in the proportion of 1 medium egg to 100 grams of flour, and no water if you get the flour and eggs in perfect balance. It has to be rolled out with a wooden rolling pin on a wooden board, which give it a grainy texture. The steel rollers of a machine are too smooth for a perfect result. Roman fettuccine are chewier, and some people like their rusticity, but nobody has ever suggested they were a superior product. Hard wheat is used in the industrially made tagliatelle, but not the handmade Emilian ones. As far as I know.

  2. Hey Maureen, I just discovered you joined the society. I gave the folks at Gambero Rosso in Bagno di Romagna a copy of your English-Italian food terms book. They want crazy!!!! I found another copy for myself. It's indispensable.

    Thank you! Unfortunately Dictionary of Italian Cuisine is quite hard to find now, but Howard and I have plans.

  3. My main reason for wanting to know this was to see if Il Latini (where I had at a minimum, a few dozen meals in the 1970's) was the recipient of a Bib Gourmand, because I saw that it had one several years ago, and I have also heard from many sources since then that it has gone way downhill.


    If by the question, "I hope your reasons for wanting this info have nothing to do with wanting to know the best places to eat", you mean that you're willing to suggest the best places to eat, I would very much appreciate your suggestions - I am charged with recommending restaurants to some dear friends of mine who are about to leave for a trip to Florence and Rome, and though I've eaten extensively in those cities, that was many (many) years ago when I used to spend the summers of the 1970's in Italy, and I would appreciate any suggestions you're willing to offer.

  4. I hope your reasons for wanting this  info have nothing to do with wanting to know the best places to eat. :-)

    Not to be the least bit argumentative, but rather I'm merely curious... why do you own a book whose recommendations you don't tend to agree with?

    Many reasons. For one, I don't know whether I agree till long after I've bought the book. Then, I use the Michelin practically as an address book; their info is good and accessible. For traveling around Italy it's handy in a pinch. I also have professional reasons for keeping up with the guides. Finally, I'm not anti-Michelin at all -- I often agree or at least see their point -- but this morning looking at the Bibs in the brand new book for the city where I live and another I know my way around, I was pretty appalled.

  5. No matter how many bookstores I try, I can't find the red Michelin Guide to Italy.

    If anybody has one and would be kind enough to reply, could you tell me please if there are any restaurants in Florence (or environs) or Rome that have the "Bib Gourmand" symbol?

    If there are, I'd just like to know.  If there aren't a lot and somebody might care to reply with the names, that would be an extra added bonus.

    Thanks in advance.

    I have the book.

    Florence and province:

    Pane e Vino

    Il Santo Bevitore

    Trattoria Cibrèo-Cibreino

    Il Latini

    Del Fagioli

    Tullio a Montebeni, Fiesole

    Il Camino, Marradi

    La Casa di Caccia, Vicchio

    Ruggero (which I love, but haven't been to in years) isn't even listed.

    Rome and province:

    Mamma Angelina

    Il Grottino, Sacrofano

    I hope your reasons for wanting this info have nothing to do with wanting to know the best places to eat. :-)

  6. I'll be headed to Rome on the 26th of January, and a friend has recommended a restaurant called Ferrara.  Has anyone been there? I'm curious about everything from anything that you found particularly tasty, good, bad, etc.  I've only got a few days in Rome and have explored the existing posts about dining in Rome, but certainly if there are any new spots that I should know of that would be fantastic.

    Enoteca Ferrara, in Trastevere, has a shop, a wine bar, and an upscale restaurant. It gets consistently good marks from the Gambero Rosso guide, and is the only place in Rome on which I disagree with them strenuously. I liked it the first time I went, but the second time, maybe 2-3 years ago, I thought it a major ripoff, bad food, high prices, and my husband was outraged. A number of friends agree with me.

  7. I need a great restaurant, not too austere, price is no object.12 people (all food professionals) are in the group

    Here are the top scorers for Milan in the latest Gambero Rosso; asterisks are Michelin stars:

    Cracco (92 points) tel +39-02-876774 **

    Joia www.joia.it (84) *

    Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia www.aimoenadia.com (86) **

    Sadler www.sadler.it (84) **

    Il Teatro de l'hotel Four SEasons www.fourseasons.com/milan (83)

    Trussardi alla Scala www.trussardiallascala.com (84) *

    I can't really advise about austerity, but I can tell you that Aimo and Nadia personally radiate warmth. The one time I went there, years ago, with my husband, I was writing an article but was not telling the restaurants. All evening Aimo was all over us, try this, try that, sweet as pie, while there was a movie star, Renato Pozzetto, who is huge in Italy, in the private dining room next door. Finally, after we'd paid the check, I asked him if he knew I was writing for the NY Times in that we had gotten more attention than Pozzetto. Aimo looked hurt and said, oh Renato comes here all the time, but you were new and I wanted to introduce you to my cuisine. He sent us home with our petits fours, which we'd been unable to eat, in a doggy bag. And yes, the food was fabulous. Sadler is a cooler cuke, but his food is very good and he's perfectly nice. Don't know Cracco at all, but hope I get the chance to try it.

  8. I'm helping some friends plan a trip to Florence to visit their daughter, and the dates they must arrive on March 20 - 24, and depart on the 25th.  And that apparently coincides with Easter.

    So - will anything at all be open in Florence (or anywhere drivable to nearby) for any of those dates?  Can anybody tell me what the rules of open and closed will be for things - restaurants and other things, for Good Friday (3/21), Easter Sunday (3/23), and Easter Monday (3/24)?

    Many, many thanks.

    (Myself, I've been places, like Germany at Christmas, where the only way we had Christmas Eve dinner was to stock up on Burger King before it closed at noon and heat them up with the hair-dryer at night, and we were staying in a luxury hotel!  But that's another story, and in the past.  I'm trying to get a sense of what to advise my friends to expect.)

    Good Friday is a normal working day, Easter Monday a holiday. Since Easter is a big travel weekend for Italians, and Florence and surroundings a major destination, lots of places will be open, but do book.

  9. We have been invited out to eat tomorrow night by friends. They are taking us to a fairly new Italian place.  I looked at the menu online and saw this:

    "Extra wide fettuccine pasta tossed with prosciutto, mushrooms, green peas and a hint of cream"

    It's that hint of cream that has me worried. Not the cream itself, but that description.  How many ounces in a hint?   Is that supposed to be clever? It certainly is not original.

    I sure hope the cooking is better than the writing.

    I am fearful of this place already.  Anyone agree?

    I would not be fearful of the place on these grounds alone. The dish has the ring of authenticity. As an experienced translator of Italian food lit, I can tell you this is not that bad, and the description is quite accurate. A hint would be approximately equal to a splash and, as others have pointed out, the writer wished to communicate that the cream is very much in the background. The dish, very retro, is still served in some trattorias of Rome. The small quantity of cream used to be needed (or such is my reconstruction) as a medium for distributions of the solids in non-tomato sauces. This used to be accomplished with large quantities of oil or pork fat or else cream. Today we have super designer pastas with wonderful starchy water to mix with the condiment and don't need these other aids so much. The writer was really just telling you to relax.

    I doubt very much that the writer sought either cleverness or originality, nor would either even be appropriate in the sort of place that would serve this. The correct spelling of "fettuccine" -- or did you edit? -- more than cancels out the awkwardness of the hint.

    I can't think of an Italian word being translated here unless possibly "una suggestione". The Italian would be more likely "un goccio," a drop (but not a literal drop, which would be goccia), and might well be omitted from the ingredient list. Nowadays Italians are just as obsessive about cream as anyone else.

  10. We will be in Rome, Spoleto Parma & Milan. We would like to dress casually and we are looking for restaurants that serve food from these regions.

    Any help is appreciated. We will have a bus & driver for the week so we can venture outside of the cities. We will be traveling from Rome (2 nights) to Spoleto (2 nights) Parma (1 night) and the final night is in Milan


    In Rome at least, yours is not a difficult request. Assuming by "casually" you mean cleaned up and reasonably spruce but without jacket, tie, silk blouses, jewelry, etc., almost any place in Rome will welcome you. Nor is it such a big deal to book for 12, especially if you don't wait till the last minute. Some restaurants have private rooms. Il Sanpietrino has a small one that might hold 12; Checchino's I think is larger; Paris, in Trastevere, has three dining rooms, so could put you somewhere out of the way. But lots of places could handle you.

    If you want textbook traditional Roman food, I would recommend Checchino for the urban meat-based cuisine (e.g., coda alla vaccinara), including the Quinto Quarto and what I call the Gang of Four pastas (carbonara, matriciana, gricia, cacio e pepe), and good vegetables, depending on time of year, or else Paris, especially for the Jewish repertory, but also good coda and trippa alla romana, and fish. I know that Il Sanpietrino has been making its menu more traditional but I haven't been in a while; it's a very attractive, comfortable restaurant in the Ghetto. Checco er Carettiere, in Trastevere, could be another idea. If you go to Checchino, don't get the tasting menu. Choose your own, and don't miss tonnarelli con sugo di coda, square-cut spaghetti with the tomato sauce in which the oxtail stewed for six hours.

    There are lots of places outside Rome. Traditional-based but individual cooking (wonderful) is La Briciola di Adriana in Grottaferrata. Osteria di San Cesario in San Cesareo is getting a lot of attention. We thought it was great the first time we went, less exciting the second time, but it does offer traditional dishes that can be hard to find in restaurants. Le Colline Ciociare is an upscale (don't worry about the clothes) fabulous restaurant (brilliant chef, somewhat minimalist dining room). There are many options outside Rome. If you're interested in fish, we can talk about that too.

  11. Problem is anything goes with touristy restaurants. It could and possibly is an old plain lentil soup. give it a special name and tourist rave about.

    Palatium is absolutely not a touristy restaurant, except for being located near Piazza di Spagna. It's the one place in Rome that has all hard-to-find Lazio-produced ingredients and dishes not found elsewhere. It's a bit sleek and chi-chi-looking, but it's excellent.

    I've never heard of minestra brigante, but next time I go to Palatium, I'll interrogate them about it.

  12. Freeze it raw, individual pieces wrapped very tightly in plastic wrap. Thaw it out slowly in the fridge a day before you are ready to use it again. It will be better than cooking and freezing it.

    Thanks so much. So even though the pieces have been washed, it's OK to freeze? That was my main concern about freezing it raw, which is certainly easier.

  13. Yesterday I was given a serious free-range chicken, which I thought I was going to serve tonight but can't. This morning the maid cut it up and washed it, so I hesitate to freeze it raw (is that right?) and am exploring options for freezing it cooked.

    I had wanted to make it with tomatoes and/or peppers or, because peppers are not in season despite being available, pan-roasted with white wine, garlic and rosemary, or (super recipe) with anchovies and capers. I could just stew it with garlic, rosemary, and wine and freeze it like that. I could combine it with tomatoes when I thaw it. Everybody is telling me not to freeze tomatoes and not to freeze the cooked chicken in any kind of sauce. I confess I have been freezing tomato sauce for years without noticing any problems.

    I've already made broth from the head, back, wing tips, and various other things, unfortunately not including the feet, which had already been removed.

    This chicken has me intimidated, so I'll be much obliged for any tips.

  14. I had my parents bring me the "essenza di senape" from Italy a few years ago as i was going to make mostarda. It has to be bought in pharmacies as a number of people have said, but i do not believe it is an oil, in fact, mine evaporated.

    Basically i thikn you need to have someone get it for you from Italy.

    Yes, "essenza di senape" is the correct term. "Senape" tout court is what you put on your wurstel. It is the essential ingredient in mostarda and is hard to find even in pharmacies, I believe, but that is where you start looking.

  15. The if-Ducasse-uses-mozzarella-is-he-doing-Italian? question nagged and nagged until I finally remembered that I had actually addressed this question about three years ago when I wrote a little piece about the new Ducasse hotel in Tuscany. Just as a parenthesis, here's what I wrote:

    "Was the food French or Italian, my friends asked when we returned to Rome. Italian, but it's not that simple. No hyperbole can do justice to the superb local ingredients -- garden-fresh vegetables, but also rabbit, octopus and Maremma pecorino cheese. The chef, Christophe Martin, a pupil of Mr. Ducasse, is French, and his elegant but unfussy approach was respectful of the local food mores. But the brief menu, which changes daily, is a little quirky -- wonderful, but not exactly native, as though a keen intellect and sensitive spirit had determined to do right by Tuscan food, then do it one better. Thus, for example, food is grouped by provenance (garden, sea, countryside, plus pasta) rather than by courses, though it's not hard to compose a normal Italian meal in sequence. The results are a mix of creative inventions and interpreted classics.

    "The creative group would include superb tomatoes with a filling of more tomatoes, or zucchini, their attached flowers filled with zucchini. The classics included ethereal potato gnocchi with a lamb sauce, and an interpretation of the familiar Tuscan squid and vegetable stew, calamari in inzimino, composed of squid and octopus, with chard replacing the usual spinach. It managed to be light and hearty at the same time.

    "As did the amazing vegetable cocotte (perhaps the only French word we saw on the menu), slow-cooked vegetables served from a small cast-iron pot. There were fennel and tiny turnips, and delicious bright-green beans as long as spaghetti, which were identified as fagioli di Santa Anna. ...

    "Pony-skin-covered divans and woven-leather chairs, terra cotta sculptures, warm lighting and sponged ocher walls contributed to the charm of the stylish and cozy dining room. The friendly and competent staff did the rest, explaining everything at length and never leaving us without something to eat until the first course arrived. This could be a board of paper-thin Parma prosciutto with just-baked small breadsticks, or a mini-Caprese (mozzarella and tomatoes), or a marinated fresh anchovy. In front of us was always a little dipping dish of superb extra-virgin olive oil (again, the partners' production), not an Italian practice but welcome nonetheless."

  16. Further to my point about international haute cuisine not being particularly French, I'd like to make a few examples:


    I would argue that the only dish that seems connected to France and French cooking is the last one.  The first two could easily have come from fancy restaurants with an Italian name.  But they're sort of not Italian either.  Which is to say that they don't seem like they are "from" anywhere except being out of the kitchen of a very expensive high-end fine dining restaurant.  For some reason, however (probably because they more or less invented it) we don't have any difficulty calling dishes like these "French" when they come out of a restaurant with a French name on the door, but many people would have some difficulty calling the same dishes "Italian" -- despite the fact that I don't see either of those two dishes as being any more connected to France than they might be to Italy.  It's this sort of thing, I think, that can bias people against the idea of Italian restaurant cuisine that moves as far away from Italian cooking as these dishes do from French cooking.  For some reason we're more protective of Italian cooking in our minds -- or less protective of French cooking, take your pick.

    Good. You've said out loud what has (IMO) been underlying this entire discussion. There is a double standard afoot according to which French (or French-derived) cooking is "allowed" to wander, innovate, be as fancy or avant-garde as it likes, while Italian is expected to keep on cranking out the comfort food and not get uppity.

    From the things tourists to Italy say, I believe many people begrudge Italy even the use of nicer table linens ("too formal," "not authentic"), as though only peasants and the urban poor have any claim on being truly Italian. And I think reasoned analysis of specific cooking techniques can go only so far to explain the phenomenon. It's not about stocks and sauces (though, pace Fat Guy, I think that is a fundamental difference). It's that the world wants Italian food to stay recognizable, yummy, and associated with the lower socio-economic echelons. "Protective" is probably right, but isn't that condescending and/or presumptuous?

    The photographs illustrate dishes that have little or nothing to do with national traditions, just some national ingredients with a few allusions to (citations of?) dishes diners might have had in the past. This is the 21st century. All these chefs are exposed to influences from everywhere and don't think there's anything wrong with it. At that level, the main differences between a French, a German, a Swedish, and an Italian meal, I think, are the extensive, but not exclusive, use of local (or at least national) ingredients and allusions and that the Italian menu still has rice and pasta as a first course (and may that never change!).

    BTW I thought the risotto comparison was great.

  17. I would say that the most obvious difference in technical prowess between French and Italian chefs is in the preparation of sauces (and in particular of the underlying stocks). Here in London, and in Italy too, it is even possible to go to rated Italian restaurants that make a cuisine essentially without stocks. Scandalous. It is stocks/sauces where the French excel technically, and I believe it is the incredible refinement in the art of their preparation that has made French cuisine, for better or for worse, the leading one internationally.


    I will agree with you that the making of stocks and sauces is a big difference, but does it really matter? (Unless, of course, an Italian chef is trying to do things the French way and fails.)

    There is a huge difference in approach between the two cuisines. Italian food is not conceived as food + sauce but as food --> sauce. Foods create their own sauces in the pan. Salad dressings are (mostly) created right on the salad. Pasta sauces are properly called condimenti, emphasizing that the pasta is the main attraction, not a vehicle for a sauce.

    I think French stocks and sauces, for all their wonderfulness, have sometimes had a sinister influence, causing the sauce to be more revered than the underlying food to the point that people are no longer able to perceive the subtle tastes of, say, good pasta and white-fleshed fish.

    Italian brodo isn't even trying to be the same as stock, and a well-made Italian brodo is a broth and is a thing of beauty that need apologize to no one.

    Further thoughts: As must be obvious, I make no claims to know French technique, so fill in the disclaimers and apologies. My question is really why should Italian cooks be penalized for not making stock when the French inability to cook a plate of spaghetti (or "spaghettis" in French) is shrugged off as something they would do better to avoid. Isn't it enough that Italian cooks can cook Italian food? And are we still talking about the cutting edge? And what, specifically, do we mean today by the cutting edge? still foams?

  18. “Pizza bianca is not an ambiguous term in Rome. You cannot consult a book about Naples to find the meaning of a term in Rome.”  Point taken, except that I also specifically refer to David Downie whose book IS on Rome, whose mother is Roman, and who has lived there himself a fair bit.  He says, “Anyone who visits a few Roman bakeries soon learns that there are as many ways to make pizza bianca as there are Roman bakers.”

    Downie is being hyperbolic and in any case he is not talking about the definition of pizza bianca but ways to make it. What he illustrates is pizza bianca. Everybody thinks their local bakery is the best. It's an artisanal product and will vary somewhat in taste, texture, and color, but what is meant in Rome by "pizza bianca" is a particular flatbread in its natural state, not something with cheese or other toppings on it.

    With regard to Checchino, you said that “it is simply not done to have pasta after soup” and that “I always advise people who insist on bucking tradition to be very clear about what they want.”  We’re tourists.  How are we expected to know what tradition is and isn’t?  My research notwithstanding, this little tidbit didn’t come up.  If the obvious fact that we were tourists wasn’t tip-off enough, I don’t know what else we ought to have done.  If our waiter was uncertain, would it not have been reasonable to expect him to clarify?

    I would love to know if you are talking about the owner (tall guy in a suit) or a waiter (white jacket). In any case, you are expected to know about tradition because it is really not that hard to know that the primo piatto is soup OR pasta OR rice. This must have come up in all your research (which, I note with chagrin, did not include anything by Maureen B. Fant or you would probably have known this :sad: ). As for the waiter pursuing the subject, this is Rome. You're on your own. You know things or you don't, but don't expect any help. Now, as I write I realize I'm contradicting myself, because a few days ago I wrote an encomium to Italian waiters and said how much I had learned from their advice and correction, which is also true. But unfortunately the default position in this town is caveat emptor.

    As to “wild strawberries in November?” I can only offer the evidence of having had them at Piperno.  In addition, although admittedly only in my original LTHForum post, there is a photograph I took of boxes of them for sale in the Campo de'Fiori.
    Yes, but they're from a hothouse. The real ones come out in summer.
    In any event, thank you again for your generous post.  It’s precisely because people who have knowledge and experience and are willing to share that we all benefit.

    Thank YOU. Next time work on HOW to eat as well as WHERE to eat. You're well on your way to becoming a good gastroroman.

  19. Since this excellent, perceptive, and detailed report is likely to be downloaded and passed around for years to come, I think it's worth commenting on some of the content. I recommend reading Gypsy Boy's last paragraph first, about feeling that he missed something. He did great, but a Roman palate isn't built in a day either, and he'll do better next time. He has grasped some important concepts, notably that fewer ingredients are often better.

    A few specifics, not in order:

    - arista is loin of pork, maiale is pork, nothing to do with beef

    - Piperno is not "one of the best" restaurants in the Ghetto; it is THE best of the restaurants in Rome serving the traditional Roman Jewish dishes. Second best would be Paris, in Trastevere (the owners used to work at Piperno).

    - Pasta, saltimbocca, and puntarelle IS a full meal.

    - In Rome puntarelle are not "usually" served as a salad with an anchovy vinaigrette, they are ALWAYS served, cut in the special way (a dying art), as a salad with an anchovy-garlic-oil dressing, sometimes with vinegar, sometimes not, depending on the taste of whoever is making it.

    - The season of artichokes: the carciofi romaneschi globe artichokes begin to appear in February and disappear with the first warm weather of late spring. At the moment Rome is full of artichokes from warmer parts of Italy, such as Puglia.

    - Pizza bianca is not an ambiguous term in Rome. You cannot consult a book about Naples to find the meaning of a term in Rome. Pizza bianca in Rome is a flatbread, about six feet long, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. It is sold by the slice to be eaten straight, wrapped in paper, or is split horizontally to make a sandwich. In early summer the sandwich contains prosciutto and fresh, peeled figs.

    - Pizza al taglio, rectangular and made in a pan, is not the "usual" way pizza is sold. It's a very important local kind of pizza sold from small shops in the day time. Pizza tonda (round pizza stuck directly in the oven with a pizza peel) is served at tables in the evening. Sit-down round pizza is creeping onto the lunchtime scene but is not traditional.

    - Bruschetta. I'm glad you liked Armando's, but the fact that it met GB's expectations is of no importance. His expectations are influenced by international fashion in this case, not Roman tradition. Like pizza, bruschetta is a generic word (though pizza more so) that covers a lot of ground. If a bruschetta has tomatoes, this is specified in the designation: bruschetta al pomodoro. The tomato is extraneous to the definition of bruschetta, which essentially just means toast. I will grant you that Checchino's bruschetta al pecorino is not exciting, but it is what it claims to be, toasted bread with melted pecorino cheese, and it's quite pleasant.

    - I have no explanation for the service at Checchino since I have always found both Mariani brothers to be graciousness itself. However, since it is simply not done to have pasta after soup, it was probably assumed that LDC was indeed not doing it but just talking about the pasta, not actually ordering it. (People who have lived in Rome will understand this syndrome.) I always advise people who insist on bucking tradition to be very clear about what they want, as in Yes, I know it's unusual but it's what I really want. BTW, what was the pasta?

    - Bucatini alla gricia. Admittedly I'm not up to date on what the checkered-tablecloth joints are doing, but last time I looked they had never heard of la gricia (or even bucatini) and would in any case never make it with real guanciale and imported pecorino romano. Checchino's is good. It's a simple dish, not for everyone, but it's dish that has something to say about traditional Latian cooking.

    - Gnocchi. In Rome practically every traditional place serves gnocchi, potato gnocchi, on Thursdays. This is what people here think of as gnocchi, not the flat gnocchi di semolino, aka gnocchi alla romana. The flat ones are regularly sold in gourmet shops for cooking at home but almost never are they found in trattorias. I will have to find out why. They are not even on the radar of most Romans today.

    - wild strawberries in November?

  20. Hello,

    I recently bought a sausage I think is called cottechino without acquainting myself with it beforehand. I think I remember seeing somewhere that it is made with... pork trotters? That would concur with my first impression, which was that it smelled and tasted very porky, and not necessarily in a way I like.

    - Is this sausage normally very porky, and is this caused by the pig trotters?

    - Are there any recipes you recommend for this sausage that go well with/ mute its porky nature?

    - What is this sausage usually purchased for?

    Thanks for any help you can give to an annoyingly curious person.  :biggrin:

    And do you not like fish that tastes fishy? Italian food is considered good if it tastes like what it is. Thus a pork sausage is going to tasty porky. I assume you're talking about a good, fresh smell, not anything spoiled.

    Cotechino (note spelling) contains pork rinds, information contained in the name (as in fagioli con le cotiche, beans and pork rinds). The reason you are thinking of trotters is that the same sausage meat can be stuffed into a trotter -- i.e., the trotter is used as casing -- and in this case it is called zampone (zampa being the trotter). Both are treated about the same, and both are native to Emilia.

    I gather you don't have the precooked kind, in which case you would follow the directions for boiling in its bag. Otherwise, you simmer it in water for two or three hours and let it cool in its broth. I cook them at New Year's and every year need to be reminded whether you poke holes in it or wrap it in a cloth or what. The Volpetti store provides instructions with it and recommend wrapping it in paper (which they provide) and string, and I think you don't pierce, but others here, such as Diva, will surely know. It throws off an inordinate amount of fat and gelatin, so it's all a bit messy, but not prohibitively so.

    Once boiled and somewhat cooled, it is sliced, about three eighths of an inch thick, and served with mashed potatoes or lentils. It's also a fixture of the Emilian bollito misto.

  21. Many thanks for your reply Maureen

    Sorry, I cenrtainly didn't want to knock Heinz Beck, it was simply a question of "when in Rome"...

    I am very intereested in the Piperno suggestion and may well opt for there but could you just tell whether you would describe L'Altro as Roman (or even regional Italian based, or is it more sort of "internationalised" high end cuisine as at Enotecca Pinchiorri in Florence?

    L'Altro Mastai is not Roman. It's definitely Italian, but creative, nothing regional. I haven't been to Pinchiorri in nearly 20 years so don't know what they're doing. There is nothing at the top you could call really Roman. I think Piperno is probably the best of the upscale classics along with Checchino. Roman food just isn't the sort of stuff you look for in a high-end restaurant. Al Ceppo could be an idea too for something upscale, unboring, and not off the wall creative.

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