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albiston

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by albiston

  1. Perfectly good point. On my part, I am fascinated by food in its many aspects, and comfort and junk foods definitely play a big role in giving character to any national/regional cuisine. Therefore, thanks for the "bad food" tips wgallois, very appreciated.
  2. I wasn't kidding, at least not that much , though I would rather have a go at the traditional neeps and tatties before trying out anything with pizza and haggis. Any good haggis producer I should not miss? Thanks for the tips and smoking ban info (personally, I'm all for it) naebody. If I get a chance to try Brian Maule's cooking I will write my impressions here. Just something that puzzles me after reading his sample menu available on the web-site; it seems to lack a bit of courage or at least that's the way it reads to me, with dishes that I have seen on the menus of many other "classy" British restaurants (crab tian, goat cheese tartlets, roast duck filet, lamb with puy lentils, etc., etc.). Are British (or Scottish) diner really that conservative or is Brian Maule only hiding his best cards?
  3. A rather simple version of the eggplants with chocolate dish from Amalfi can be found here. Not sure how authentic it is; never made the dish myself. On the other hand, I've eaten a few eggplants with chocolate and the varied quite a bit, from extremely simple (like this recipe) to rather baroque desserts. Probably the recipe above is a pretty good starting point.
  4. Doesn't look even half as bad as some of the stuff I have seen on sale here in Germany (just to name one: pizza with hot dogs, ketchup, dill pickles, crisp onion and sauce remoulade anyone?)... Actually, pizza with haggis might even be good and in the original spirit of using simple local ingredients as topping . Wouldn't buy the frozen stuff though, I would probably bake my own pie.
  5. After having spent the last few months looking for a more interesting job I had to give up my hope to move back to Italy and will instead be heading to Glasgow. While I can do nothing about the sun-challenged weather there (well, at least compare to Southern Italy), I am looking forward to making the most out of it foodwise, especially after having spent the last six years in a small, and gastronomically-impaired, German town. I have browsed through the past topics on Glasgow and already saved the useful tips found there, nonetheless I would be very thankful for any other tips, in particular regarding the following: Any new noteworthy restaurants? "Scottish" restaurants not to be missed out? Also, any tips for places that are child-friendly would be most welcome (at least till we sort out the babysitting ). Any good addresses for butchers (especially any specialising in game), fishmongers, kitchen equipment or Asian foodshops (especially Chinese and Indian)? I have already found out about The List and am looking forward to using their tips (any experiences from others?). I was wondering if the Herald has a food section and if it is worth the paper it is printed on. P.S. If any eGullet member living in Glasgow would like to get in touch or if anyone else would like to share non-food related tips regarding life in Scotland in general, I'd love to get your PM or e-mail.
  6. Kevin, you are absolutely right, they are pretty small so when you cook them there's a lot of waste shell-wise. Usually you would take twice the amount of clams compared to the pasta. Andrew, I am slowly coming to agree with your point on clams. For a long time I firmly held to the belief that vongole are the best clams, but as much as I like them, I think that telline have an even richer flavour. The tiella and some of the stuffed pizze made around Naples definitely seem connected, though tiella gaetana has a hicher stuffing to crust ratio. Hard to say who got the idea first. Yet given that the word pizza first appeared in a document from gaeta in the X century I would almost think the Neapolitans got the idea from Gaeta.
  7. A couple of food pics from two Southern Lazio meals I had: I happend to spend a few days off there recently. The cuisine of the area is more similar to that of Campania than Lazio, which is no surprise, given that till the early XIX century the area up to Gaeta was part of Campania. Still, since we have no Campania thread yet, the pics fit nicely here . Appetiser of Provola and Mozzarella bocconcini. Provola is smoked buffalo milk mozzarella. This one is from a pretty good producer in Fondi called Casabianca Roasted pepper salad, preparing and plating. Not necessairly typical of Lazio, more sort of pan-southern Italian. The peppers come from Fondi's MOF, Mercato Ortofrutticolo Fondi, i.e. greengrocers market, the largest in the south of Italy. Normal customers are only admitted after 11 AM and you can only buy stuff by the case, but it's a great bargain (and the quality is mostly high) if you have a few days of cooking before you. Telline (wedge shells), self-fished, and telline with spaghetti. These are small clams that are also called arselle in Veneto. They are a bit of a pain to eat, given the size, but I think the taste more than makes up for it: sweet yet packed with a good amount of iodine aroma. Finally something I did not make myself, but instead bought from a bakery (Chinappi) in Gaeta: Tiella. Tiella Gaetana, essentially a stuffed bread/pizza, comes in a range of flavours, though we decided to have the absolute classic, i.e. octopus tomato and gaeta olives.Other common fillings are escarole and olives, escarole and baccalà, anchovies, zucchini and sheep's cheese. I must admit that, although I knew the speciality by name, I had never had a taste before and that the input to do so came from William Black's very enjoyable book "Al Dente".
  8. albiston

    Homemade Pesto

    I've always said it: bakers rule ! I hope you didn't take my comment on weighing ingredients too seriously, I thought the smiley would have given a hint of the tongue in the cheek comment. I weigh ingredients a lot too, not because I am a baker (at least not a pro) unfortunately, but because I work as a biochemist and weighing everything sort of comes with the job. Yet when I cook Italian home-style food (i.e. almost every day) I don't even use volumetric measurements, I just use my eyes, hands and taste to measure stuff by feel alone, so there you have it. If you feel like experimenting a bit more with pesto you might want to try using a mix of parmigiano and pecorino as Franci suggested. It gives a slightly sharper and richer taste, though I wouldn't use Pecorino Romano – too salty, IMO – but any ripe pecorino from Tuscany or even Spanish sheep cheeses like aged Manchego works great. You could also do the traditional Ligurian thing and serve the pesto pasta with potatoes and/or green beans. For a pound of trenette (or, missing that, linguine) you could add 2-3 medium sized potatoes, cut to a medium dice, and about 4 oz green beans, topped and tailed and cut into 1/2 in. sections. Cook the vegetables in the boiling pasta water till nicely al dente, add the pasta and cook till that is al dente too. Drain and dress with your pesto and you have traditional Ligurian trenette al pesto. Another thing they sometimes do in Liguria is to mix a little ricotta or prescinseua to the pesto. Prescinseua, cow milk curds obtained through acidification instead of renneting, can be found only in Liguria unfortunately, but you can substitute with ricotta mixed with a little yogurt or quark cheese if you can find some. It's not the same but close.
  9. albiston

    Homemade Pesto

    Yes, I agree. I should have said flat-leaf parsley. Sorry for the confusion. I wasn't saying the Pesto my relatives made was the classic recipe - that was there version since they hailed from another area of Italy. I was just trying to say parsley shouldn't have been the problem. I still think it was the untoasted walnuts. I've gotten that bitter flavor from walnuts in other recipes if I didn't toast them. ← Rich, I am glad my reply didn't cause any bad feelings and that someone else thinks curly parsley can be bitter . I am intrigued by your basil/parsley/pesto: how many toasted hazelnuts do you use? Cheese? Maybe it was indeed the walnuts, yet walnuts per se should not be a problem either: quite a few Ligurian recipes have a few untoasted walnuts tossed in with the pinoli. Perhaps a bad one would be enough to make a whole pesto batch bitter, but unless Kris has some left we have no evidence for a thorough gastronomic Crime Scene Investigation.
  10. albiston

    Homemade Pesto

    Russ, that's definitely a good point. Yet two cups of basil does not seem that much to me, though it depends on how tightly packed they were. Why willl you Americans not learn to use scales ? Interesting. To me curly parsley tastes terribly metallic and slightly bitter. I wonder if it's just the German parsley or some freaky genetic factor which influences the way curly parsley tastes.
  11. albiston

    Homemade Pesto

    Rich, no offence meant, but Bari is not exactly the home of pesto. All the recipes I have seen over the year for "classic" pesto call for Genovese basil alone. That doesn't mean you cannot add parsley in there if you like, but it's not the way the Confraternita del Pesto (Pesto Brotherhood) would do that according to the Ligurian tradition. I would personally point to both parsley (and possibly the basil kind) and overheating for the bitterness. Parsley, especially curly one, can indeed be quite bitter. As others have noted, Thai basil could also be the problem. The basil used in Liguria has a particular aroma, lacking the strong anise smell off Thai varieties, but also the minty ones of southern Italian basil. Unfortunately, I have never managed to find the same basil elsewhere, even in other Italian regions so I use whatever "Italian" basil I can get my hands on. Overheating from the food processor can also turn basil into slush and bring out metallic/bitter flavours. Mortar and pestle is the best choice, but you can use a food processor if you take care. Here's a trick I learned from a friend in Genova: first, mash the garlic (one or two cloves per serving, if you want to stick to tradition) and nuts with the salt, set aside; put the basil leaves in the food processor and chop, at LOW speed, using short pulses with a few seconds of interval in between (you'll need a few minutes to chop the basil to the required size, but you definitely avoid overheating); once the basil is chopped nicely, add the garlic-nut mush, the cheese and whip in the oil by hand. I don't really care for intense green pesto, so I never blanched my basil, but I was wondering if anyone of those who blanch their basil has ever made a taste comparison between blanched and non-. To me blanching is the perfect way to loose a lot of the basil aroma, given the volatile nature of the aromatic oils.
  12. The classical thing would be to make fonduta valdostana with that, which you could eat as a classic fondue or use as a sauce with pasta, gnocchi or vegetables. A bit heavy for summer though, and you'll need quite a bit of cheese. Clearly you could just grate it as the others suggested. When I have only a little left, I use it to make pan fried chicken breasts with a white wine and porcini sauce, covered at the end with fontina slices and quickly broiled just get the cheese melting.
  13. Great experiment doctotrim, it was fun to read. Well done! I personally never use SRF for gnocchi, so I completely agree with your conclusions . I would say you are now ready for part two of your research project: the potatoes. you could test waxy vs floury and boiled vs baked... just in case you still have some free time to fill .
  14. In a sense you're right Richard. Unfortunately there are too many industrial interests on "balsamico" so distinguishing plain wine vinegar added with molasses and the real traditional stuff. The secret to finding the real stuff is that you have to look for one of these two names: Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena. There are a few people who use the traditional production method – which uses wine must as starting material and the famous barrel batteries for ageing– outside the two denominations, but almost all of the classic producers fall into one of the two. I have a bottle of traditional Balsamico from Reggio Emilia I bought directly from a friend who produces it. It is about 30 years old, and hence cannot be sold officially as traditional balsamico (only 12, 25, 50 years or longer of ageing are allowed). I never use it in cooking: it would destroy the incredible aroma. Instead I add a few drops just before serving. It is great on frittate (especially onion ones), carpaccio, parmesan, simple risotti, strawberries (but also other berries that are not too sour) and even on ice-cream, but not on salad. Or even better, I drink a small teaspoon as aperitif or digestive.
  15. And so I dedicate my first dish of Sardinia to Alberto : ← Thanks! Too bad I can't tatse the dish through the pic: licking my laptop screen doesn't seem to work . The dish looks great and I think your choice of cheese is spot on. Although Sardegna produces most of the Pecorino Romano out there, it is not used much there. I believe Fiore Sardo, less salty and subtler, is tthe cheese of choice.
  16. Lexy, the cous cous dish has a more recent origin and is connected to Genova's role in the Mediterranean. One of Genova's colonies on the Northern African shores at the times of the sea-faring republics was the island of Tabarka, inhabited by settlers coming from the ligurian Pegli. They remained there till the eraly XVIII century, when pirate raids and the mounting French influence in the area pushed them to move. They were granted a right to settle on the Sardinian island of San Pietro by Carlo Emanuele III di Savoia and founded the town of Carloforte. Carloforte remains a fascinating and unique place. The people speek a Ligurian dialect, their recipes have a strong Tunisian influence, hence then cous cous, and they are famous for their love for tuna.
  17. Andrew, the gnocchetti (and sauce) sound exactly like malloreddus alla Campidanese. I'd kill for a dish of these now !
  18. Moderator note: Let's please try to keep this discussion on topic, i.e. about new trends, chefs, etc. are big in Germany. Discussion about Wolfgang Puck or if it is desirable for a top chef to go in the fast-food business are certainly pristine to the eGullet Society's forums, but neither to this thread or particular forum. Thank you for your understanding.
  19. Oh, yes I quite agree. But how long does it take to make it a local product, if not regional? ← Good question, with deep cultural implications. Without wanting to sound definitive about it (I'm not sure I am 100% convinced about the reply myself), I would say that it has more to do with how much a certain dish/ingredient has become part of the local culinary habits than with time. For example: is a certain dish recognised as "own" by the locals? If yes, then I'd certainly say that the dish has become part of the gastronomical culture and hence is now part of the regional tradition. Take the preparation of rice for arancine in Sicily: nowadays almost all recipes call for the rice to be cooked risotto style. This is probably a relatively recent development (say the last 40-50 years), yet I think most Sicilian nowadays see this as part of the tradition and many would probably shake their head if you told them their rice preparation method comes from Northern Italy (others would not since some recipes call explicitly for riso alla Milanesa). On the other hand, something like limoncino in Liguria might become tradition or not, but to me it sounds more like a commercial idea aimed at exploiting the popularity of a product that is not part of the local tradition than something the locals would think of as belonging to their popular culture. Sure, it might change –if the limoncello trend holds on– and in that case it will indeed be a matter of time... a little bit more time probably .
  20. If it does, it must be a modern twist. The recipes I have for the cake simply call for lemon juice and zests. Limoncello comes from Campania (those from Amalfi, Capri and Procida are the best IMO), and there is no equivalent that I know of in Liguria. ← Click. Often labeled as limoncello, there are huge amounts of it sold in the Cinque Terra. If you are lucky you can also get Cedrocello. ← Adam, nice to see the Ligurians are using their traditional sense for commerce. Nonetheless, I would bet that they haven't been producing the stuff for more than 20-25 years. Before the 80s limoncello/limoncino was known only in Campania and in particular produced in the area between Neapolitan Islands (Capri, Ischia and Procida) and the Amalfi coast. I am pretty sure of that because my family has some very close Ligurian friends and we used to bring them limoncello whenever we visited a few years back because they could not find the stuff there. About mid 80s, Limoncello's fame boomed and it is now produced everywhere, from Sicily to... Liguria . Can't really understand why to be honest, the stuff is way too sweet for my taste.
  21. If it does, it must be a modern twist. The recipes I have for the cake simply call for lemon juice and zests. Limoncello comes from Campania (those from Amalfi, Capri and Procida are the best IMO), and there is no equivalent that I know of in Liguria.
  22. Andrew, fantastic topic. Neapolitan street food is one of the things I grew up with, so reading your post brought some great memories back. If you liked Friggitoria Vomero you might want to give Friggitoria di Montesanto a try next time you're in Naples: although topographically somewhat distant, both friggitorie are practically connected by the Montesanto funicolare. Just one thing that puzzled me: you mention Di Matteo as "Del Presidente". I am pretty sure these are two different pizzerie, although there is a link between them. Del Presidente is the pizzeria the former pizzaiolo of Di Matteo, the one who served Clinton, opened a few years ago after leaving his former occupation. The two pizzerie are about 50 meters away.
  23. albiston

    Pasta shapes

    Nonetheless, the Trattoria La Carbonara cooks penne for what it claims as its signature dish. When in Rome... ← Didn't know that, thanks for the info. Plenty of places that serve spaghetti alla carbonara in Rome though .
  24. What a coincidence, I finally opened the bar of Kamatavel I brought back from Tallinn just two days ago. It' has an interesting taste, definitely different from anything I have had before, very rich in nutty and tasted aromas and with a clear coffee note. Worth trying I think, though it won't be replacing my dark chocolate cru bars . I agree with Pille on the rest of Kalev's products, both the chocolates, marzipan and the "candy" (Russian toffee?) are very nice. I also tried the white chocolate with blueberries: although I'm not a big fan of white chocolate in general I found the pairing quite successful. I was only puzzled at the intensity of the blueberry aroma: either Estonia produces the most aromatic berries ever, or Kalev uses quite a lot of added aroma. Since I haven't had a chance to report from my trip I'll use the chance now. Tallinn is definitely worth a visit. It is a charming and beautiful city, in particular the center. I enjoyed just walking around the little streets without a map and letting the next touristic attraction surprise me. Food was also nice, at least in the three places we visited. Pille advised me to visit Maiasmokk to try some Estonian food, unfortunately there was a misunderstanding with our reservation so we ended up at Eesti Maja, which also serves Estonian fare, but, as far as I can tell, prepared in a more conservative style. Nothing breathtaking, apart the blood sausages maybe, but good solid dishes. The impression I got was of a cuisine with strong north German influences, which is maybe unsurprising given Tallinn's past as Hanseatic town, but also a cuisine with a few unique and original dishes. Not a light cuisine, and big portions: exactly what you'd expect, given the local winters. The next evening we headed for the Russian restaurant Trojka. It serves very good Pelmeni: we tried bot the mutton and country style ones, both good. The only slightly negative note was the service: friendly, yet I found the insistent offers for vodka a bit annoying. The vodka might seem cheap, but if you order as much as the waiters would like you to drink it will come up more expensive than the food. On our last evening we dined at Olde Hansa. I was very curious about this place, because all the supposedly medieval places I had tried till now had been a total disappointment. Not so Olde Hansa. The menu seems to make a real effort to bring you the real thing (although dishes come from different centuries and countries). Both our mixed appetizers and mains (game sausages for me, smoked fillet mignon for my wife) were well prepared and very intriguing taste-wise. Personally I found everything a bit too much on the sweet side, but it is just my taste: I would go back if I visited Tallinn again. I was also impressed by the level of cakes and savory pastries sold by the local cafes, which are a great option for a quick lunch. On top of that many cafes are lovely, so you can just sit back and turn into a bar-fly .
  25. Who hasn't? Yet, what seems like an unsupervised blogging adventure has quita a lot of work behind it. Keeping up with who is hosting next month and co-ordinating themes is the easy part (yet not screw-ups free), but whoever is hosting has quite a bit of work to do with those roundups. Sure the posts can be quite freely connected to the original theme for each event, but that was more or less the idea behind it from the start: let people have fun, just like our cook-offs. I guess it tickles that Italian part of me that loves sitting at a table with a bunch of friends eating AND chatting about food and wine without any constrain. I might let my hair grow, but I doubt I can do much about the body shape ! I'm not sure if you're asking about how to keep updated on the upcoming events or how to host one. Still, I no damage in answering both . The IsMyBlogBurnig.com website (which I do not run BTW) has a running calendar with all the upcoming food/wine blogging events, WBW included. If you instead wanted to know how to host one of these events on your blog, I suppose you should get in touch with Lenn at Lenndevours. I think he organises the hosting plan, like I do for IMBB?.
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