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Everything posted by albiston

  1. Here's a link with more info on the book: Slowfood guides click on "L'Italia del pane" for more info
  2. Bill, I have. sadly, to agree with your observations on bread in Italy. As a bread fanatic I often can't understand why many fellow Italians can eat, as you perfectly described, bread that goes stale after 5 minutes and be even enthusiastic about it. There are a few exceptions. I love most of the pane cafone found in Napoli. If properly done, with the ancient method, it is a delicious sourdough bread, not dissimilar to a rustic pain de campagne. Pizza bianca, as balex said. is heaven. I have to admit I've been less lucky finding nice bread in northern Italy (except Genova and Sudtyrol/Alto Adige). As a rule I found that small villages often still have an artisanal baker who will produce rustic, old fashioned, and often delicious breads. The same is sadly very rare in big cities. There is, together with those you mentioned, another problem with bread in Italy. Till a few years ago par-cooked frozen bread could not be sold in Italy. This has changed through the EU laws. Therefore many bakers buy cheap frozen goods and re-heat them (a similar problem exists for pastisserie goods). This makes the work easier, less time consuming and more profitable, as you all can imagine. They can do this because many Italians (and sadly my parents among them) don't really know good bread. One of my grandads alway complained that after WWII all the bread except panini was disappointing... at the time I thought it was just age, but he was probably right. Slow food published ricently (in Italian) an "atlas" of typical Italian breads, with bakeries that still use the traditional methods. It is a quite good guide if you're travelling through Italy and want to taste the local specialties.
  3. Craig, about the rice: I thought it is risotto alla pilota because of the cooking method you described (in the oven), and the ingredients. I've seen my father's uncle prepare it a few times. A Rice "pyramid" in a pot with sausage, herbs , etc. and broth till about half the pot is full. The pot would then be sealed and would go in the oven. Considering how rich it is it could be a piatto unico without problems Still maybe it is some other rice dish I never tasted (which in that case MUST be tried sometimes in the future!) About ravioli/tortelli definition... I should have left that comment out, it was maybe a bit mean. After all the same dishes in Italy can change name if you walk from one village to the next. It was just that my granny's voice kept ringing in my head... TORTELLI .
  4. Craig, great article, it perfectly captures the spirit of gita. I have a question. All here seem so impressed from Autogrill shops. Now, maybe as Italian I'm spoilt, but don't you have the feeling that the prices are incredibly high at Autogrills? In most Italian cities you can find a decent Salumeria selling the same or similar products for between 25-40% less. Or am I stingy? I also wanted to add a couple of comments to the post: -tipping at autogrills may not be expected in Northern Italy but in the Southern regions, although not mandatory, it sort of "helps". Some small change does it, 10 or 20 cents. If you don't tip it might happend that your order "mysteriously" takes more time than those of people who came after you. -The rice you ate is probably "risotto alla Pilota", which is, as you mentioned, not a risotto in the classical sense. The ravioli are called tortelli in Mantova or actually turtei at'zucca. Not a big mistake... still my granny (nth generation mantuan) used to get mad at me if I called them ravioli
  5. Hi, I have to admit I'm not really sure what sugar pumpkin is, but I've seen several pumpkin in my local Supermarket (I live in Thuringia, eastern Germany): Hokkaido mainly and big Halloween ones. The big halloween hybrids have disappeared from the shops while there's still some Hokkaido on offer. Consider that in bigger cities the offer is probably better.
  6. albiston


    I hope I'm not off topic but what are biscotti? I'm Italian and biscotti (for us Italians at least) is just the general term for biscuits and cookies. You're clearly talking about some specific kind of biscuit/cookie here. From the baking description I would immagine they're variations of the cokies called tozzetti/anicini/cantuccini/etc (wine cookies if you like) which in one form or another are found everywhere in Italy. Am I right, or are they something else still?
  7. Hi there, I was considering buying a blowtorch (for creme brulee and similar) and noticed that the ones on sale at my local DIY shop cost almost half as the ones I've seen in home appliances shops. Are the two different? Could it be possible to use the DIY shop ones or are they too hot? Thanks for the help Alberto
  8. 'E curti is surely a great example of a trattoria campana. Went there a few times and was always happy. I also like La caveja in Pietravajrano, near Caserta. Only ate there once as they're always quite full. If you go there try to get a reservatopn for the caveja (cave), it has a very special atmosphere. Alberto
  9. Thanks for the tips. I should have maybe mentioned that I lived in Naples for about 20 years (till 1999) . Anyway I agree with the pizzeria tips, although I find the service at Trianon really unfriendly. I also appreciate the die hard purist attitude of Da Michele (only margherita and marinara) better. I've heard good about Da Dora from friends in Naples too but I never ate there. About Saracino: I'm really tempted to go as I've read good reviews on different italain discussion forums, although some don't think it deserves the tre forchette from GR. I'm not really sure I'll get a chance because celabrating Christmas with my parents will mean two (or even three days) at the table plus one day trip to eat at Minicuccio (in Valleseccarda, Avellino province) a trattoria doing wonderful traditional local food. I don't know if my belly will be able to take it all
  10. I actually wanted to but had problems with the link on the gambero rosso web site. Here is the list with only the food votes taken in account, which as you rightly point out cahnges the things a a bit: 56 Gambero Rosso San Vincenzo [LI] Vissani Baschi [TR] 53 Da Caino Manciano [GR] Le Calandre Rubano [PD] Combal.0 Rivoli [TO] La Madonnina del Pescatore Senigallia [AN] La Torre del Saracino Vico Equense [NA] Uliassi Senigallia [AN] 52 Ambasciata Quistello [MN] Antica Osteria del Teatro Piacenza Il Desco Verona Don Alfonso 1890 Massa Lubrense [NA] Hostaria Santa Lucia Jesi [AN] Paolo e Barbara San Remo [iM] Perbellini Isola Rizza [VR] Al Sorriso Soriso [NO] La Terrazza del Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni Bellagio [CO]
  11. Here are the restaurants that recieved the "Tre Forchette" awards from Gambero Rosso in their 2004 Restaurant guide: 1)Gambero Rosso - San Vincenzo (LI) 96 pts 2)Vissani - Baschi (TR) 94 pts 3)Ambasciata - Quisitello (MN) 93 pts 4)La Pergola de l'Hotel Rome Cavalieri Hilton - Roma 93 pts 5)Dal Pescatore - Canneto sull'Oglio (MN) 92 pts 6)Da Caino - Manciano (GR) 91 pts 7)Don Alfonso 1890- Massa Lubrense (NA) 91 pts 8)Antica Osteria del Teatro - Piacenza 90 pts 9)Le Calandre - Rubano (PD) 90 pts 10)Il Desco - Verona 90 pts 11)Enoteca Pinchiorri - Firenze 90 pts 12)La Madonnina del Pescatore - Senigallia (AN) 90 pts 13)La Siriola de l'Hotel Ciasa Salares - Badia (BZ) 90 pts 14)St. Hubertus de l'Hotel Rosa Alpina - Badia (BZ) 90 pts 15)La Torre del Saracino - Vico Equense (NA) 90 pts 16)Villa Crespi - Orta San Giulio (NO) 90 pts Combal.O falls short at 88 pts together with a few palces that have a very high reputation in Italy such as Miramonti l’Altro, La Tenda Rossa, Uliassi, Arnolfo, Al Sorriso. Anyone wishing to comment? Any places you feel left wrongly out? On a more personal level: I'll be visiting my parents in Naples for Christmas and was thinking (already some months ago) of trying La Torre del Saracino. Has anyone been there? Alberto
  12. Thanks for the replys, now I'll just show your messages to my wife and hope she keeps your tips in mind when christmas comes
  13. First of all hi from a fellow eGulleter new to this part of the forums. I was wondering if someone could help me with the following: I've been appreciating vietnamese cuisine more and more in the past few years and finally decided to get myself one or two cookbooks. Does anyone have any tips? Any good books? Any maybe with a bit of cultural/historic background? Pleaseee... Alberto
  14. Wendy, hope this helps, although I'm not very sure it will make things clearer. 1- On amaretti. There is no definitive amaretti recipe/kind in italy. The main problem is that there is no real unified italian cuisine but lots of regional ones. So you find that amaretti can be anything between little brittle 1/4 inch macroons to large 1 inch across moist and chewy ones (sometimes dipped in chocholate). They all have in common the use of bitter almonds in the dough mixture (therefore amaretti, from amaro=bitter). On the other hand the most widespread and famous amaretti (di Saronno) are brittle tasting at the same time quite sweet and quite bitter and ca. 1/2 inch across (maybe slightly more). 2- Regarding your almond chocolate cake I have to admit I don't know any typical italian recipe for something like that... very mice almond chocolate biscuits though, baci di dama. I've found the following on the net (http://www.dossier.net/cucina/eng/dess04.htm) and it is supposed to be typical of the abruzzi but I've never tried it myself. Or maybe you could look for a nice sicilian almond cake (there are quite a few delicious ones) and serve it with chocolate sauce... not traditional maybe but probably delicious 3- miny pastries: no real help there, i'm much better at eating them then at preparing them
  15. My impression is that the gluten in your dough did not develop properly, maybe because of the kneading time and humidity together. The humidity alone does not explain your problem; ciabatta dough, a really wet and sticky one, can be stretched a lot without problem and in many pizzerias i know in Italy the dough is kept really tacky and is dusted with flour only when it needs to be shaped. Next time you could try the so called windowpane test: stretch a piece of dough with index and thumb of both hands, trying to get a sort of dough square held between them (grrr... easyer to show than to explain). If the gluten in the dough has properly developed you should be able to stretch it so much that you can almost see through it without it tearing. Maybe, since you use all purpose flour which has less gluten, you will not get to this stage, but you should still be able to notice an improvement in the dough stretchyness by kneading it longer. Good luck alberto
  16. A little correction: bottarga di muggine is grey mullet salt cured roe. Tuna roe would be bottarga di tonno.
  17. I tried it, without knowing what it was a few years ago. We (my parents, brothers and me) were staying near Dorgali, on the eastern coast of Sardinia, on holiday and the family that owned our little holyday bungalow invited us one eavening for a Sardinian after dinner "snack", i.e. vernaccia wine and carta musica (or pane carasau) wetted and wrapped around a cramy pungent cheese, well yes... casu marzu. I have to admit that I liked it till I found out what it was, then could not bring myself to have another byte. The most curious thing is that my youngest brother, just over 4 at the time, loved the stuff and would have eaten a jarfull of it ifv he could have. I afterwards learned that there's also a version without the critters, i.e. the cheese that's left after the maggots have "left" which tastes more or less the same and has less "shock" value. All things considered I have to admit I would have no proble eating it again... it did taste good after all ;-)) p.s. for Alberts: we were offerd the stuff WITHOUT warning. I guess a joke to play on the tourists.
  18. Strega is not an amaro, although it contain herbs (and saffron). It falls, I think, in the category of "rosoli" i.e. alcohol infusions mixed 1:1 or close to syrup (as limoncello, nocino (walnut and spices liqueur) and so on), which were widely popular in Italy at the beginning of the past century and had a sort of resurgence in the 90's. They are, as you correctly say, digestifs, and to be honest my impression has always been that the distinction between amari and not-amari is mainly a taste one.
  19. Adam I'm not sure if the ones that follow are specialties of all of Liguria since my experience is mainly restricted to Genova and surroundings but I guess some of these are quite common throughout liguria. Now except the already mentioned focaccia al formaggio and Pesto (people in liguria take their pesto very seriously!): -Stuffed vegetables: zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions and so on. Each sort should have a different stuffing. I was lucky enogh to eat some made by a very nice and expert old lady near Genova... mmhhh. Dee-lee-cious! -Farinata, a chickpea flour flatbread (well sort of), together with focaccia the typical street food of Genova. This and the stuffed veggies are supposed to be quite common in the Nice area too. -Pansotti al sugo di noci. Herb ravioli with a velvety and time consuming walnut sauce... You wave to peel every single walnut !! If I remember properly the area inland of where you'll be (could be either on the tuscan or ligurian side of the border is famous for its chestnut products. Some sort of noodles made out from a sort of chestnut flour crepes cut in stripes is a remnant of the times when very little what was available, too bad I can't remember what they're called. Alberto
  20. In general, stuffing is for tourists, although, this may be a particular preference of the family and not a true cooking 'Rule', which seems to be very common in this part of Italy. Flour is mixed with egg and thinned out with water (I use sparkling for some reason) until it 'looks right'. To get the custurdy effect, more egg yolks are added so that you get a batter that has similar proportions to a clafoutis. Just a litlle cooment: My mom (from Rome) fries the flowers (with other stuff in a big veggie fry, only once a year sadly!) exactly as Adams writes. In Naples and Campania generally (where I lived till a few years ago) they are made differently. The batter is just flour and water and yeat (or beer sometimes), a sort of thick poolish bread starter, left to rise, actually bubble more than rise, for a few hours. The flowers are then often stuffed, cow milk mozzarella (fior di latte) and a tiny piece of anchovy is a common one. Alberto
  21. I'll be travelling through Ireland aroud mid July for two weeks and hoped some of you might sare their experiences and tips. Here's our planned tour : Dingle-Connemara-Birr-Kilkenny-Kinsale-Bantry-Kerry (probably Kenmare). I already have a few "goals" set: -Cafe Paradiso in Cork. I'm no vegetarian but I've read only good stuff about them -Ballymaloe house maybe, although since we're travelling with our son we might only be able to eat lunch there. thanks for any tips Alberto
  22. First of all thanks for the welcome messages Now about the topic.. be carefull when you read S. Marzano tomatoes. Those plum tomatoes (the original cultivar) are actually grown by very few farmers and in very small amounts in the area around Naples. What usually comes as S.Marzano is actually hybrids (which actually do not taste that bad); the big canning industry favours them as they peel much better and they have almost wiped out the original tomatoes out. If you do get real ones though they are longer than the avarage plum tomato, more seedy and as mentioned above they tend to peel badly if blanched. In Italy you find load of fancy pizzerias stating they use S. Marzano for their pizzas, I think that only a small fraction of them do. The main reason for this, as for the oil "problems" mentioned before, is the cloudy Italian legislation. For this reason I do not completely agree with macrosan when you/he state/s that AOC (or DOC and DOP in Italy) are foolish. I agree about pizza (or actually for most recipes) but I believe that AOC is just an instrument and as such it can be used badly or not according to who writes/applies it. AOC are IMO a good mean for small producers of local specialties to avoid wrong usage of their product name, after all they do not have the same legal/political power as big industrial lobbies. Also if properly used they can actually improve a product's quality if cleverly applied. On the other hand it can be used in very silly ways, such as some italian wines DOC that allow huge grape quantities per acre making careful producers disappear under a lake of cheap, maybe even techincaly good, bland wine. for macrosan: did you ever taste a VPN? I mean if you don't like it I'll accept it (maybe feeling deeply offended ) but if you haven't, just out of principle... come on give it a try, aren't you curious? Alberto
  23. This is my first post on the forum so I just hope I won't step on anyone's toes. Being an adoptive Neapolitan (I lived there 18 years) You might imagine that I'm quite touched by the topic. I agree with Britcook's reply about wanting to give proper information to costumers and I would love to defend the concept of Original Neapolitan Pizza (ONP) here, against the invasion of the evil Darth domino's etc. and so on.... but I just can't bring myself to do it. The point is: what the hell is ONP? I mean is there such a thing? NO F... WAY!!! There is neapolitan style pizza but even in Napoli there are loads of variations. Let me go a bit deeper: -The nice story about the Queen Margherita is actually bollocks. It was a nice marketing stunt by the pizzaiolo in question. Pizza with mozzarella, and probably basil had been baked for quite some time. He probably just added loads more basil (I mean just a basil top is not enough to resemble the colors of the italian flag!). -The traditional pizza should be made with a specific type of flour, tomatoes and mozzarella. Well even in naples there's many who sprinkle your pizza with just a bit of garted parmisan. And Mozzarella (buffalo milk) or fior di latte (cow)? Some even used Provola (the smoked version. I could go on talking about tomatoes and so on but let's leave it. Should these guys therefore not protect ONP? Well I belive not. After all they are offering something with a characteristic style which deserves to be at least known to pizza lovers. Now about the taste-style, takink a few points out of the PI article: - pizza (at least in Naples) was and partially still is a "cheap" food and toppings and so on have appeared quite recently. - neapolitan pizza is soft, you just don't eat wedges of it: you eat it either with fork and knife or fold it twice to have a so called "book form" and eat it so. - Since the number of ingredients is minimal (as for many southern italian recipes) you need the best ingredients: fior di latte (possibly from Agerola), sun riped plum tomatoes (San Marzano if possible, but there's very little of those available), nice and tasty EVO and most important of all the dough, long-rise, with very little yeast (or even better sourdough starter). Oh my what a pizza!!!! And yes I AM a pizza purist myself, though I don't mind the odd fancy topping pan pizza every now and then (no pinapple though ) there is a limit: if I just think at the caviar and quile egg pizza in one of michael rhulmann's books I see red . BTW if you ever are in Napoli and want to try the best simplst and tastiest pizza go to Michele a Forcella, they make just two pizzas but oh boy! alberto
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