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Everything posted by tanabutler

  1. I wish I'd known about eGullet sooner. Damn. What a fantastic thread this one is. Varmint, I just attended an "Italian country dinner" themed meal at a farm in Hollister, California. The chef cooked the gnocchi in duck fat (duck was also part of the meal)—he didn't boil them. Then he tossed them with pesto and it was out of this world. If you send me an e-mail, I'll send you a link to some photos. Dinner for sixty or so. tana@tanabutler.com = e-mail address. Or should I just post the link? (I'm new—only started posting today and haven't even made my way through the entire Italy thread.)
  2. Mind if I contribute an item or two, as well? A friend who visits Italy regularly (four times a year or so) found a restaurant in Firenze called "Zà Zà's Trattoria." The first time he ate there (June 2002) he said it was perhaps the best meal he'd had in his life (this from a man of fifty). He found it by asking locals what was best, and that was their consensus. Not overpriced or overblown, just quality ingredients and simple dishes. It is located "in Piazza Mercato Centrale 26/R (zona San Lorenzo) 2 minutes from the Duomo and the Santa Maria Novella train station." My own best meal in all of Italy was in Siena at the Hosteria Il Carroccio. The bread soup is sublime perfection (especially perfect on the chilly day before Easter when we ate there). Their house dessert, a molten chocolate thing, is not to be missed. To find it, face the town hall at the Campanile: point out your right arm to one o’clock: head in that direction walk down the passage (Caseto di Sotto). You could probably just follow your nose; that's I found it. The owner opened the door to talk to someone, and the aroma hit me like those curled fingers of smoke in cartoons—the ones that lift you deliriously off your feet and float you to the table. Hosteria Il Carroccio Via Casata di Sotto, 32 Tel: 0577-41165
  3. When accompanying five-year-old gourmand Rowan to the eatery of his choice, one must be prepared to make sacrifices. The not-yet Michelin-rated Taco Bell, just a block from our manse in the middle of Santa Cruz County, was to be the destination for a capricious luncheon with the tiny taco titan. The brightly lit menu items above our heads gleamed with portent and promise. Brilliant green lettuce, grown and picked by virgins, tumbled sensuously from robust tortillas; steaming frijoles and gloriously grilled chunks of charcoal-emblazoned meats danced with cheese so voluptuous that it defied belief. Every single plate promised a fistful of dripping, smoldering oral pleasure. Rowan imperiously ordered, as was his wont, the classic Bean and Cheese Burrito, truly the test of any authentic Mexican chef—in this case, the challenge facing the cook was how to engorge the burrito with the requisite 1200 milligrams of sodium. I brazenly ordered a Chicken Supreme Gordita®, my mouth watering with anticipation. Alas, when confronted with the reality of the actual "meal" (a euphemism employed here only for the sake of continuity), despair set in. I bit deeply into my Chicken Supreme Gordita® (Spanish for "zaftig") and encountered only layers and layers of tepid tortilla. A second bite revealed a cavernous lack of carnivorous substance: the overwhelming impression one receives in this instance is that of lettuce, so browned and mangled and wilting as to slither from its captivity in the tortilla. Subsequent bites were even more unsatisfying, as I failed to detect the cornucopia of either cheese or pollo, and I glanced at my companion to see how he fared. Rowan was tearing his way through his burrito, oblivious to the discrepancies between the marquee and that in his hands: his "burrito" resembled nothing so much as the Mexican version of a cocktail weinie (made flatter with the use of anvils, no doubt). It is thus with a heavy heart that I must offer the direst warnings to those people unfortunate enough to select Taco Bell as a dining destination. Anyone who's seen the restaurant scene in the horrifyingly bleak film, "Brazil," will understand my bitter laugh, remembering Katherine Helmond sending her compliments to the chef over three piles of glistening emerald gunge. What you see is not what you get.
  4. Hi, all, a newbie here to this great forum. I blanch and coarse dice our homegrown tomatoes for the uncooked sauce, and sometimes lightly sauté minced red onion in EVOO before tossing it all together with the basil and other good stuff. Ciao for now...I'm just poking my way through the forums and loving it.
  5. This post is just sublime, and I am forwarding it to a friend who is traveling in Italy for five weeks (September-October). Mille grazie for the lovely details and thoroughness, Robert. Excellent work!
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