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  1. Before I ask friends to go looking for him... Does anyone know if Mauro Berardi (the dried herb stand) is open at the Campo dei Fiori in August? I got several herb mixes 2 years ago (our guide highly recommended them) and they are fantastic. I have friends going to Rome and wanted to put in an order, but I know a lot of Italians take August off. If anyone has any particular mix they like, please let me know. I've tried the meat, the fish, the tomato sauce and the arrabiata.
  2. bills

    Italian Notes

    Notes from an Italian tasting 2004 Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo Nova Serra – this wine was now showing a bit of colour, had a nicely developed nose with almost none of the typical cheesiness of the varietal, and was soft, full flavoured and had good length. 2002 Jermann ‘Were Dreams, Now its Just Wine’ Bianco Venezia Giulia – also putting on colour, with a waxy floral nose, decent but not great. 90% chard, 10% pinot bianco 1995 Torracio (Cantine Colli Amerini) – Umbrian Sangiovese. Showing some age in the colour and nose, which was a bit rubbery, a whack of acidity and still pretty evident tannins. Not sure where (or if) this one is going. 1996 Virna Barolo Riserva (Lodovico Borgogno) – mellow primarily fruit nose, mature and elegant, drinking well now but will hold. To me, this was surprisingly forward. 1990 Lungarotti San Giorgio – another Umbrian wine, about half cabernet blended with sangio and canaiolo and released in 2000. A nutmeg, cocoa and cheese nose, full bodied and tasty with a long crisp finish. IMO this wine has peaked and will hold but not improve. 1997 Frescobaldi Mormoreto - a cab sauv can franc blend, but the franc didn’t come through too much in this vintage so none of the greenness one sometimes detects. Ripe fruit nose, simple and sweet on palate with lots of pepper and tannin 1999 Poliziano Asinone Vino Nobile – big fruit, and sweet, but needs more time to come together. 1993 Azelia Brico Fiasco Barolo – mature tar and rubber nose sweet entry, some tannin, good length, no tar in mouth. Drinks well now. I’ve been getting a lot of enjoyment from 1993 and 1994 Barolos. 2000 Piaggia Carmignano – the Incredible Hulk of Carmignanos. Like a Californian wine, international style very weighty with gobs of sweet fruit. 1997 Pio Cesare Barbaresco Il Bricco – mellow nose of cherries, carrying more acid than tannin but could use about 3 more years. Quite nice. 1998 Le Macchiole Paleo - this cab and cab franc blend has been getting good reviews and big prices in recent years. Dark wine with nice depth in the nose, cedar and fruit, sweet and elegant on palate, a modern style wine. 2003 Donna Fugatta Ben Rye – wonderful Sicilian Passito di Pantelleria. Muscat nose, not too sweet in the mouth – a very pleasant dessert wine.
  3. Interesting piece in The New Yorker. “Profits were comparable to cocaine trafficking, with none of the risks”
  4. I was eating in a regular pizzeria tonight in Florence (regular meaning not fancy, 85% pizza, no Wolfgang Puck frou-frou stuff) and I was once again struck by the fact that there was/were no black pepper mill(s) but there was a rare item in my experience, a bowl of red pepper flakes. Now, I'm older than your Italian-American mother or grandmother or greatgrandmother and I recall when the only restaurants in America that had black pepper mills were Italian; thus query 1, why did native Italians, opening Italian places in the US, feature black pepper mills when American, French, etc., ones did not? Second query, for years the primary delivery system for hotness (in my recollection) has been whole red peppers in bottles of olive oil, but tonight I got the real, un-oiled thing as flakes, just as one would, again, in the US, by those same Italian-Americam immigrants. On the France Forum this sort of ? would start a food fight, but I'm just looking for a calm historico-socio-cultural explantion. Thanks all (and it's not true that everything is closed in Italy in August, I'll report on my fantastic finds Monday) Ciao, John
  5. i'm using giuliano hazan's book, the classic pasta book, for this recipe but i'm still not sure when the sauce is ready. the recipe says to heat the tomates for 10-20 minutes 'until the tomates have reduced and separated from the oil.' but, i'm not exactly sure what that means or what that looks like. how do you know when the sauce is ready?
  6. I'm doing a major recipe re-organization and I'm finding lots of similarities between my recipes. For one thing, my Swiss Buttercream preparation (I mistakingly called it Italian in the title...the Horror!) looks suspiciously like seven minute frosting, minus the butter. I also have a recipe for safe meringue, which follows almost the same procedure as my swiss meringue. Do you think I could sort of average out all my meringue recipes and get one basic one that I can use for different applications. 1. 7 minute frosting 2. safe meringue, torch it baby 3. buttercream, with the addition of butter Seems like that would really simplify things? Anybody got a versatile recipe?
  7. I have been asked to prepare Chicken Marsala for 50 people. This is for a luncheon so I don't have much time to prepare in the morning. I must do it the day before the event. I assume I shouldn't cook the chicken completely through since they will be sitting in a chafing dish for a bit. I just want to make sure the chicken isn't tough. Any ideas? Thanks!
  8. I will be making gremolata for dinner tonight and would like to make it this afternoon. Will it suffer by sitting? I figured the parsley would darken but wondered if the lemon zest woud help keep it longer?
  9. Looking for bruschetta topping ideas that don't involve tomato, goat cheese, red peppers, or feta cheese. I would love an idea that incorporates hummus or prosciutto. Nothing that is hot or needs to be cooked. Open to all suggestions. Thanks.
  10. The time has come to bite the bullet. I have to buy a new stove. I have a 5 burner, with only 3 burners working, and they work at two levels: scorch and off. To light the stove, I have to uncover all the bottom panels, stick my head deep inside the oven with a lit match and pray a lot. Fortunately it's summertime, so I don't need the oven all that much. So, I'm looking for a little guidance. At the home chef level, I've found Lofra and ILVE brands. I've been told that ILVE is the 'superiore' brand. Anyone have any experience with either of these? And what's the correlation between WATTS and BTU's? I know how to think in BTU's, but gas WATTS?? I just want my Bluestar that I have back in NY!!
  11. I just learned my cousin's band is going to be playing at the Festival--a perfect excuse to attend--so what should I eat there? We'll be there on Sunday. I'm actually already trying to figure out how to eat two cheesesteaks and a sub along with everything else....
  12. Hey All, I was just watching Linea Verde on RAI and they showed some form of green leafy vegetable that I think was called Scropit (or something like that. Non parlo Italiano)? Has anyone heard of it, can you describe a taste? Just curious.
  13. Our last two regions to cover are Calabria and Basilicata, forming the “toe” and the “arch” of The Boot, respectively. As always, it should be pointed out that combining these two regions is not in any way trying to imply that their cuisines are limited or interchangeable. It’s just that there is little information on them both. There’s Cucina di Calabria by Mary Amabile Palmer, and cookbooks on Basilicata are nonexistent, as far as I know. Cucina di Calabria begins with a heartbreaking historical account of not just Calabria, but all of the mezzogiorno (the regions south of Rome: Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Sicily, and Calabria) and their generations of oppression at the hands of one group or another. She details the massive immigration wave from Italy to the U.S. in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, which included her grandparents, and the families torn apart and left behind as a result. Throughout the rest of the book are essays on the cuisine (coming closer to the end, when it would have made more sense to include it in the introduction), travel and geography of Calabria, and various traditions, songs, dances, and stories. At first I thought that a lot of the recipes were just the same old, same old, but then I realized they all seemed so familiar because Calabrians (Calabrese?) formed the largest percentage of Italians coming to America in that turn of the 20th Century Immigration wave. (Did I hear that here, on eGullet?) So a lot of Italian-American mainstays are Calabrese in origin. Two immediately recognizeable dishes claim to be calabrese: puttanesca, a quick-cooked pasta condimento of olives, tomatoes, capers, and chilies, and eggplant parmigiana. There is also some overlap with Sicilian dishes, though the Calabrese versions are a little more pared back. As for Basilicata, the poorest region with supposedly the spiciest cooking of Italy, there is very little to go by. Waverly Root's chapter on this region is less than 5 pages long, and he says that it is fairly similar to the cooking of Puglia. Stock up on chilies, then, and let's dive in!
  14. I have made some homemade pancetta following the directions in Ruhlman & Poleyn's "Charcuterie". The preparation, curing and rolling went fine and now its time to hang it for a couple of weeks. The authors recommends hanging it at 50-60 degrees. The problem is there is nowhere in my home that maintains 50-60 degrees; it stays at around 70 degrees. My question: Am I better off at hanging at the higher temperature, or should I finish it off in the refrigerator? Thanks, Don
  15. I'm going to New York City on business in a couple weeks and, like most tourists, I'm looking forward to some top-notch Italian food. Specifically, I'm looking for old-fashioned, unpretentious Italian-American establishments, the kind that serve good meatballs, braciole, osso buco, etc. What are your favorite old-line Italian-American restaurants in the city? I'll be staying and working in Manhattan but glad to travel to the other boroughs if the food is worth the trip. I'm sure you New Yorkers get tired of rubes like me asking "so where can I get some good Italian food?" so let me know if this request is not specific enough. Thanks in advance for any advice.
  16. I'm hoping someone can help me solve a delicious mystery . . . I just got back from a trip to Paris and Corsica. I was served a fabulous salad in Corsica that consisted of a simple mixture of endive, carrots, cauliflower, red onions, frisee, some lettuce greens. Next to the salad was a pickling jar propped open with a cinnamon stick. Inside the jar were three pieces of salmon pickled in olive oil, star anise, capers, thyme, rosemary, carrots, some other unidentified things. I hope I'm properly attaching the photograph. Does anyone know what this is? Where I can get a recipe for it? Maybe it was the setting, or the wine, but it was truly one of the great dining experiences in my life and something I'd like to serve to guests. Thanks for your help!
  17. I picked up a bag of Bel Aria Farina di grano tenero tipo "00". Can someone explain what kind of flour this is and what are its best uses. In what way is it different than flours generally available in the US? And more generally, perhaps someone can explain the system of classifying flours in Italy.
  18. Hi, Have any here tried to make parmesan broth using the rinds off a Reggiano wheel? I've read it many times in various sources and have tried it at home. It's not very good. It tastes like chemicals and well, waxy. Maybe I'm doing something wrong? I just boil water and drop a few rinds in. Thanks!
  19. So where does one go for great Italian in the Phoenix area? (any typeP And while we're on the subject. What about Mexican? (preferably Sonoran) any and all help will be greatly appreciated.
  20. I have a very vague knowledge about Italian cuisine and is limited to several dishes like spaghetti bolognaise, napolitana, alio Oglio, cabonara, some pasta, tiramisu and others. I certainly wish to increase repertoire of my Italian regional dishes and specialities of the different region of this vast, beautiful country with rich culture?
  21. This is fun. While the cyclists go through different parts of Italy, I am finding and trying recipes, wines, and chesses of the regions they go through. So far, I've done Capri/Sardinia, Frascati and Tuscany. Yum!
  22. I'm going to a friends Italian wine tasting. He says I don't need to bring anything, but I'd like to bring an appetizer to share. I don't have much experience with Italian food, so I could use some help. Any ideas?
  23. Since spring is becoming summer and there are so many regional dishes we've prepared that are wonderful served at room temperature, I figured this might be a good topic and useful when making plans. Nothing wrong with fried chicken, watermelon and bacon-laced potato salad with radishes and celery seed, but sometimes pizza rustica, olives, salami and figs sound just about right. So, please consider this a place to report inspiring menus or document what you've done. Ask for guidance or make suggestions. * * * I'm asking for advice since I promised to bring a vegetable dish to a potluck picnic. Haven't made it for years, but the beauty of one local farm's escarole inspired me to decide to prepare the escarole pie in one of Marcella Hazan's cookbooks in which piles of the green are flavored with garlic, olives, anchovies, capers and pinenuts. Well, there is someone coming who is allergic to nuts and a whole mess of other stuff that may prove difficult for everyone to accommodate. I don't want to omit the pinenuts and welcome any excuse to bring just a little something else I've never tried before. So....I came across a Ligurian recipe for Polpettone di Fagiolini, a torte-like dish that is somewhere in between a pastry-less custard and a vegetarian meatloaf. Green beans are cooked and puréed. Garlic, marjoram, Parmigiano and reconstituted dried porcini provide flavor; milk-soaked bread, bulk; and eggs beaten with a soft, creamy fresh cheese, the custardy element. Sounds like perfect picnic fare. Here's the thing. The list of allergies includes green beans, too! I figure that while green beans may be traditional, the dish sounds versatile enough. Any thoughts? N.B. Anna del Conte, my source, also has a recipe for a torta di zucchine from the same region that I'd prefer not to make because it involves filo-like pastry and I like the idea of preparing something coated only in bread crumbs. Zucchini, onion and uncooked rice that swells in the eggy filling. Sounds like a great combo, but not necessarily easy to integrate with first recipe since the light touch of rice makes sense with zucchini (vs. bread) and I suspect the porcini that complement green beans would drown out the more delicate squash.
  24. So, what happens when you mix regions? We've spent the past 2 years exploring the regional cooking of Italy. And it's been a fantastic exploration; any of us who participated learned many, many things. So, what happens when you mix regions? There is hand wringing from town to town, let alone whole regiosn. What got me thinking about this was something that I made for lunch today. Sliced tomatoes (could be anywhere in Italy), layered over some tallegio (Northern Italy), with a sprinkle of dried orgegano (southern Italy...the mezzogiorno). I stuck it in the oven long enough to melt the tallegio. The result was excellent, cheesy goodness that was completely balanced by the acidity in the tomatoes, with the oregano adding a herbal note. Much more savory than combining tomatoes and mozzarella. Did I cross the line? Is this not Italian? Does such a thing as fusion Italian exist?
  25. The other day someone asked me the difference between crostini and bruschetta, and I realized that I don't know what it is. I've been told that it's a matter of size -- that crostini are smaller, bruschetta are larger. But I've also heard that with bruschetta, the bread is grilled, while crostini are toasted. Can anyone give me the real story?
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