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  1. Ciao, My girlfriend and I recently moved to Sicily and we are looking to purchase some items for our kitchen (she is a professional chef). We're living in a small town that doesn't have much to offer for kitchen supplies. We are going to take a trip into Palermo on Saturday and I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on where to shop for kitchen supplies. Specifically, all we can find in town are non-stick pans, and she would like a regular pan! Thanks in advance for your help!
  2. I have a wealth of oysters from LI Sound and would like some new ways on cooking them. I see many recipes from France but few from Italy. I would love to hear of some Italian preparations for oysters. Thanks, Rob
  3. Could someone enlightens me the history behind these 2 Italian eggplant creation namely "Egg Plant Parmigiana", and "Gefuellte Auberginen"? Ringraziarla molto Alex
  4. Jamie Oliver has just opened his second "authentic italian" in Bath. We went last night and had a mixed experience which we will put down to teething problems during the first week. We are going to give it another go, but it needs to get a lot better even at this price point. Hopefully it does because it has the makings of a cheap place for some simple food. Generro (Jamie's mentor) was superviseing but the kitchen stumbled a few times. First a very heavily salted truffle pasta with a watery sauce, second a burnt bitter sausage swimming in polenta, and finally a carpaccio of beef made with Bresola rather than raw beef (are the punters scared of raw meat?) We had soldered on with the pasta rather than send it back, but the sausage did go back, and the manager said the carpaccio title was misleading (although he seemed to think carpaccio means "sliced thinly"). We did let the staff know about the problems and they seemed OK about the complaints. The sausage was replaced without to much fuss - although they did start to tell me it was simply what chargrilled was like. They promised to check the pasta cooking water, so it will be interesting to see if it improves, although I think there was poor cooking as well as the sauce was so thin. The one thing we will avoid is the wine. We tried four, the cheapest and most expensive) and all were dire. Not much fun to drink and a banging headache (reminiscent of student excess) the next day. One comment: the Oxford branch opened to universal approval from all the usual critics. Is the Bath branch less good, or is there something wrong with their critical skills? Anyone else tried the Bath, or the Oxford branch? (Kingston opens next then Brighton).
  5. I want to make a panforte but can't find a good priced citron, nor a citron not filled with preservatives. Is there a way to simulate candied citron?
  6. Is it considered rude in Italy to consume pizza with the hands? Should a knife and fork be used? I got into a debate about this last night; me advocating the use of hands and my dining partner insisting that cutlery is the way forward. Opinions?
  7. I'm a long-time consumer of DeCecco pasta, not because I think it's the world's best pasta (brands like Setaro are markedly better) but because it's the best affordable pasta available at the market where I do my regular shopping. A year or so ago a new species of DeCecco pasta in ugly green boxes started to appear -- an organic line. They make it in very few shapes and the supply, at least where I shop, is inconsistent. But it is so much better than regular DeCecco. To my novice pasta palate, it tastes like the expensive imports that cost $5.99 a bag. I'm guessing the reason it's better is that the flour has not been tampered with by enriching it with niacin and all that (it likely has nothing to do with it being organic, which would probably not affect flavor or texture). Does anybody else have experiences and observations about this product?
  8. So, I'm looking for recommendations for an Italian restaurant for next Sunday. For four adults, and I'd like it not to break the bank.
  9. An online business travel newsletter I subscribe to (Joe Sent Me) recently wrote about off-airport eats and one of the places he recommended was totally unfamiliar to me: Bomb Bomb BBQ Grill & Italian Restaurant at 1026 Wolf. A really strange-sounding combination of red gravy and bbq. But I figure any place that has fried shark as an appetizer along with calimari can't be that bad. Anyone been or care to comment?
  10. I've recently started buying raw milk here. It's sold at little self-serve shacks -- sometimes found standalone in the middle of nowhere, sometimes in grocery store parking lots. They're quite simple to use: You can buy 1 L plastic bottles from a dispensing machine that's identical to those used for snacks (or you can bring your own). Pop in €0.20, and out comes a brand-new plastic bottle instead of a Twix. The milk costs €1/L, considerably less that the going rate of about €1.50/L here. Drop in the coin, and a window opens. Some machines have you hold the bottle under a spigot while filling; with others, you set the bottle on a shelf, the window closes and the bottle is filled (these machines then automatically rinse the dispensing area between each use). There are paper towels available to wipe of any drippage. Signage prominently advises the buyer of the delivery and expiry dates, stating that the milk should be consumed within 48 hours (I've kept it a day or so beyond that). And there are the usual warnings to boil the milk before consuming, which likely anyone buying it understandably ignores. The milk is delicious. It makes for a very creamy cappuccino. I used my first L to start a buttermilk culture, which I've kept going for about a month now. With buttermilk, I can make (in addition to the usual suspects) sour cream, which is utterly unavailable here – it's incredibly easy to make and it completely blows away anything I've had from U.S. supermarkets, even the pricey stuff at Whole Foods. There are over 1,000 of these machines all across Italy. You can find a local distributore at Milk Maps (the map wasn't working too well for me this morning, but then again I'm only getting 28.8 kbps on my dial-up right now). And FYI: for making buttermilk and sour cream from raw milk, try here.
  11. I am currently in the Azores, which is pretty isolated so I have to order many ingredients, but I have found some Semolina. Is it necessary to buy flour from King Arthur or can I make my own blend of pasta flour, their shipping prices are rediculous. I have seen recipes with only semolina and I have seen some combinations. I tried making papperdelle with the local cake flour but turned out pretty dense.
  12. It's only coincidental that I'm from Philly and like Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I buy it here all the time, use it for schmearing on toasted pane sale with a bit of jam. It costs about € 2.50/tub (really not a bad import mark-up), and when I find it on sale, I stock up. So it was that my eyes widened when at my local Standa this evening I checked the dairy case for Phill-Wee and found, replacing the standard item, the Yo!(.) There was an obvious insert beneath the plastic cover but over the foil wrap, so I figured it was a markeing gimmick. As I tossed two tubs into my basket, I thought "Thank you, Marketing Guy from Kraft Foods. That's a brilliant ad campaign." Yo, as anyone from Philly knows, is the (now fairly cross-cultural) standard greeting. Get home, make myself a schmear, and -- lo and behold -- it's a "YO-gurt-fied" version of the perennial household favorite. "Scheit!", I thinks, "This is, like, sour cream cheese -- not bad, but not good either." Check the label, and sure enough, it's the Philly Cream Cheese version of yogurt. And it's sorely lacking. I checked the Kraft Foods website, but "Yo!" gets only four unrelated hits, and three of those are recipes (from the Love to Hate city, undoubtedly). Anyone out there tried it? If so, opinions?
  13. File this in the 'waited til the last minute' box. Today is our town's annual chocolate fest. I've done a chocolate ravioli filled with white truffle infused ganache. Tastes great, looks cool, and i've figured my boil time at 8 minutes. But, here are my questions: First, until you bite into the creamy center the flavor is kinda bland. I didn't salt the water. I did try a sugar boil which was a bit better. Any suggestions to improve the outer taste which will be the first impression? Second, I have to do 240 of these so I feel like I need to pre-boil then do a last second revive. I've never had to do this in a mass production setting. What's the best technique to keep it from getting soggy and bringing it back quickly? thanks
  14. The most recent addition to my library of italian cook books was Giorgio Locatelli's "Made in Italy," and while it is a magnificent book, it set me off on to a hunt for another book... Is there any sort of definitive, penultimate, authentic book of Pasta? In my mind, a book like this would really be two parts: pasta and sauces. The first part, pasta, would be alphabetical and describe all of the different shapes of pasta, and include such information as basic details--size, shape, fresh/dry?, where it is from, and what its made of; what the traditional sauce for it is and WHY; a basic recipe and suggestions for close variations; and what wines are regionally had with it. The second part would be the sauces.... again, to match the pasta with such details as traditional ingredients, loose recipes, history, etc... Am I dreaming this up?
  15. To make a long story short, I need a restaurant to take my kosher/pescetarian (non-seafood) father to this Friday night which is in walking distance of my apartment. (I'll arrange to prepay.) Given that he's also a conservative eater, I thought Italian would provide some good choices. Here's what I know of in a 30-minute walking radius from Ledru Rollin. The place should take reservations and be at least reasonably good--doesn't need to be fancy or particularly expensive. Would be grateful for any feedback/recommendations. The northern 11th/Oberkampf area is a possibility as well, but it's not really my 'hood. Thanks, Shira Sardegna a Tavola, rue de Cotte (seems quite expensive--are the portions huge?) L'Amis de Messina, faubourg St Antoine Gli Angeli, rue St Gilles Fuxsia (the one on Francois Miron) Amicei Mei , the pizza place on rue St Sabin (don't think they take reservations, though) that Sardinian place on rue de roi de Sicilie
  16. I first came to Venice in December 1981 while visiting my then girlfriend (later wife and ultimately ex) in Austria. She dragged me there despite my reluctance to go due to the overwhelming Saccharine sweet cliché that is Venice. 19 years old; w/o a pot to piss in. $150 budget for three days in Venice incl. the cheapest hotel we could find. Suffice to say I also learned that a 4 course meal in what appeared to be a hole in the wall can really torpedo one's budget during that visit. Still I fell in love with Venice- her reality far exceeds any cliché especially if one is willing to wander just a few meters off the beaten path. As it turned out my relationship with the city far outlasted the one with her. I was and remain enthralled by this city. I was fortunate to be able to visit frequently during the '80s while I was living in Austria. I moved back to the US in1990 and took a 14 year hiatus mostly due to having taken a great many financial steps backward when I returned to California. Nothing like a recession to put the brakes on any number of plans. Fast forward to 2004 when I returned to Venice with my wife Carrie for a little over a week- since then we've been back three times and will endeavor to do so for the foreseeable future. We booked this trip mid December since we had cash to pay for it and it seems that this is a great time to travel assuming one has steady income and the means to pay for it. The fact that we are here during Carnivale is purely accidental; we just looked at our calendars and picked a window that worked out for us both. Generally speaking I avoid this period like the plague since the omnipresent tipsy tourist lunacy is only magnified this time of year. Still, Winter is my absolute favorite time to visit Venice. Our last stay unexpectedly was in an apartment (the hotel said “you are here for 10 days why not stay in one of our apartments?”). Tough choice- small hotel room with iffy hot water vs. a 2 bedroom apartment with a full kitchen and an altana, a sort of rooftop deck/balcony that I believe is peculiar to Venice. Obviously a no-brainer to take the apartment. That trip was fantastic despite the fact that we kind of lost track of what day it was and managed to miss our flight home altogether. So we had a “bonus” day to enjoy which cost us 1,200 Euro each in airfare plus an extra night in the apartment. Worth every penny really! (ouch) The apartment we had last time was unavailable but adding “apartment” as a search criteria on expedia worked out just fine (more on that later). I've decided to put an account of this trip up mostly because I've been dying to write about Venice for years and hopefully won't bore you all to death with my ramblings. I'll probably not be posting on real time instead updating every couple of days as time allows. There will be a few pictures; few if any *in* restaurants most taken with my Iphone which is a blessing and a curse- the camera is low res and sometimes has interesting artifacts due, I believe, to slow shutter speed. I'll be tweeting as well- feel free to look me up on twitter (jonsavage). I'll also be not naming names for the most part as far as eating/drinking establishments are concerned. I'm a firm believer in the “figure it out as you go” school of thought and feel that targeting one place over another without foreknowledge unselfearned is folly. Instead I prefer a random walk stopping only where a place “calls out” to me. Screwy logic at best I know. Still this has served me well for a bit and applies even to where myself and friends from work have lunch. Think beginners mind and you'll be on the right track. Thanks for reading; any EG folk that might be in the neighborhood please also feel free to give me a shout via PM if you want to grab an umbra or whatever with us (usual disclaimers and EG legalese apply). Day 1 13-14 Feb (lost 8 hours in transit). 0300 wake up – off to freaking work but glad to have a job especially in this economy. 1000 Carrie picks me up in a taxi and off to LAX we go, Free at last! LAX is showing its age. The last major renovations I recall happened in preparation for the 1984 Olympics so traffic and passenger volumes are increased straining what infrastructure is there. I hate flying not due to fear but rather as a result of not being able to move around much for 10+ hours at a stretch. We go checked in with mercifully short lines. Maybe Friday the 13th is a good day to fly or perhaps the current recession is really making a difference as far as discretionary travel is concerned. We did a little duty-free shopping and were happy to discover that there was Udon available in the int'l terminal. While not haute cuisine it certainly represents a refreshing alternative to most other airport food. We found free wireless at LAX as well and duly got our last EZ internet fix for the next 2 weeks. Internet access in Venice is spotty at best but is improving (more on that later). 2 or three cocktails later we grabbed a quick smoke and braved our way through security. This line was also the shortest I've experienced since 9/11. The TSA folks were actually really friendly (is that a good thing?) and after a brief crisis when the conveyer belt inside the scanner thingie ate my wife's glasses we were finally on our way. The flight itself was uneventful and boring in the extreme. We arrived in Frankfurt with almost 2 hours to spare and were pleased to find Camel sponsored smoking spots (sort of like a well ventilated aquarium). Nicotine fix resolved we went through passport control and got tagged for excess cigarettes to the tune of 3.80 Euro/pack. Good thing he did not look in my carrry on bag 'cos the cigars nesteled in it would have probably gotten expensive as well. We found our gate and grabbed another smoke prior to boarding. Those smoking booths are kind of odd in that there is a very subdued atmosphere in them with very little if any conversation taking place. I felt tempted to ape a monkey in a glass cage but (fortunately) my wife suggested that that would probably not be a good idea. Still the temptation to do so remains strong; perhaps I will be able to get away with such behavior in a few more years when I reach a certain age. in any case the atmosphere in the cubes was funereal at best (puns intended). We arrived at VCE right on time, no more passport controls oddly enough, and made our way to the water taxis/Alilaguna. The Alilaguna service runs frequently and runs around 13 Euro, quite the bargain as compared to the motoscarfi where the going rate is 95 Euro. We like the Alilaguna as we can ease our way back into the city with hardly a ripple. The weather was beautiful in the way that only a Venetian Winter can have. Approaching Venice. Eventually we arrived at Arsenale where we were to meet the apartment person at 1630. When we reserved the apartment the language was non-specific, only allowing us to choose the general area it would be in and also some amenities. We chose Castello because that district is a little less crazy than say San Marco or San Polo and generally seems more sane and down to earth. We'd stayed there before as well so had a reasonable comfort level re: getting around, supermarkets bars etc. as well. 1630 came and went. No sign of our apartment contact. A few minutes later my phone rang and it turned out Giulia was at the other Arsenale stop. We sorted ourselves out and walked to the apartment which was just 50m away. The stairs were a bit of a challenge after having been awake for 28 hours;– the apartment is on the 3rd floor (2nd for american readers) – the stairs are a straight excruciatingly steep shot. Coming home twisted or leaving the apartment even slightly tipsy for that matter is clearly not a safe option unless we wish to test the limits of our health insurance. Imagine a gangway up the side of a container ship at high tide and you get the idea. The apartment itself is lovely. 4 burner stove with adequate BTUs to do the job and a nice externally vented hood. A dishwasher (why?) but no oven. Guess I'll be braising rather than roasting this trip. Some apt. rental paperwork completed we took a quick inventory of what was on hand in the flat and ventured out to buy some groceries before the stores closed for the day. Markets are generally closed on Sunday's here so this was a fairly important task. My knife roll made the trip intact so +1 to luck. We headed down a random street; a few moments later we were at the coop market I knew from our last trip and stocked up on a few essentials (Havana Club Anejo Riserva (a rare and illegal treat for US citizens), pasta, coffee, bread, cheese, Vino Novello (kinda late I know but I love this wine and it was on sale, garlic, eggs and some assorted salumi to tide us over until Monday. On the way back I noticed a new bulk wine store where wine is very nearly cheaper than water. At 2 Euro on average per liter they have several varieties of very passable table wines. Apropos table wine- don't discount the 1-2 Euro tetra pack per liter stuff until you've tried it. Yet another reason to love this place. Funny thing is I get lost everywhere but in Venice. I'm capable of losing my way while on the way home from work just a 3.7 mile drive but here I never do. Odd since I don't lose my way in the one place I really should. To balance that out my wife never loses her way at home frequently runs into a spot of bother here. Go figure. We were both starting to feel wiped out and grabbed a bite at a place on on the waterfront right by the Aresnale vaporetto stop. The food was OK but not memorable but then again it was not the sort of place we'd normally eat at and it certainly fulfilled its purpose. We fell into bed and I hoped that having been awake for the better part of 30 hours would ensure that I'd not be up at 0 dark thirty and wandering the streets as I am wont to do here. Don't get me wrong I love wandering around when the city is asleep but sleep is a good thing. More to follow tomorrow. I'm already 4 days behind (writing this on the afternoon of 18 Feb.). The view from our apartment on the evening of our arrival.
  17. I just read an intriguing article about the city of Lucca in Tuscany which declared a ban on non-Italian restaurants in its historical center. It can be found here. I understand the rationale to preserve a place based culinary culture in the same way that I understand the preservation of historical neighborhoods and buildings. I even believe that the two can go hand in hand in a small section of a city (e.g. Lucca's historical center). On the other hand, the idea of legislating these things is slightly repulsive to the other side of my brain and I would probably turn to activism if such a ban were to affect a whole city. What do other eGulleters think about this idea?
  18. I can do this right? Or is there a reason I should not? Any precautions or particular method to getting a smooth dough? Talking about a stand mixer BTW.
  19. I've left all my Italian cook books in Italy....which is killing me, but I just can't carry the full library around with me....although my husband is completely convinced that I DID carry everything. I digress. I'm looking for a real, true, sort of like cookie crumb crostada recipe. The kind that is 3 or 4mm thick, dry, crumbly. Grazie mille!
  20. I'm looking for more information about a type of biscotti apparently made only in Aidone. The biscotti contain wine and are understandably called biscotti con il vino. Their shape is suppose to represent a dove and they are a specialty for Easter. I have seen pictures of them and their shape is strange, hardly bird like. Has anyone seen these special biscotti from Aidone and/or know anything more about them?
  21. jende

    Baked pasta dish

    I'm making a cheesy baked pasta dish for a potluck dinner on Thursday. I'm basing the recipe on one from Giada which mixes ziti with marinara and ricotta, and is topped with mozzarella. I'm leaving out the meatballs in her recipe and serving Italian sausage on the side, in consideration of the vegetarians in the group. My plan is to assemble the dish on Wednesday and refrigerate it until it's time to bake it on Thursday. This type of dish should hold ok in the fridge until it's time to bake, shouldn't it? Any recommendations for other similar recipes to look at would be appreciated, too.
  22. We had an amazing lunch at a fabulous restaurant called Palatium (via Frattina, 94)in Rome a few weeks ago. My wife had an amazing thick, hearty, lentil soup called "Minestra Brigante" which, like everything else at Palatium, is apparently a specialty of Lazio. I've looked all over, but can't find a recipe for this dish. Anyone have a recipe? Thanks much! - S
  23. In "The Invisible Ingredient in Every Kitchen," an essay on heat that's one his regular food science pieces for the NY Times, Harold McGee writes, I've never heard of this pre-soak method before, and McGee doesn't say anything more about it. Does anyone do this? Results?
  24. Since our trip to Italy I have been giving my manual pasta machine a real workout and we are enjoying wonderful homemade pasta. To save myself time, I would like to make a large batch of dough and freeze what I am not using right away. My question to those with more experience than I: Can I freeze the dough just after it has been kneaded but not rolled into thin sheets...just as a ball of kneaded dough? Or does the dough have to be rolled into flat sheets first? I have successfully frozen the flat sheets, but would prefer to freeze the ball of dough and roll out on the day I want to prepare it. Any comments or suggestions?
  25. I was thinking about scaloppine with marsala and as I looked up recipes online, I found it described both as scaloppine AL Marsala and scaloppine ALLA Marsala. Which is the correct Italian spelling? Or are they both correct but mean different things?
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