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  1. Can anyone direct me to a guide to regional Italian cuisine? I'm looking for a quick-and-dirty rundown of what identifies and differentiates Italian food in different areas of the country: not just northern vs. southern, but things like Ligurian, Tuscan, Pietmontese, etc. I want to understand better which foods are used in each region, and why. I've seen some of the overviews on About.com, which are helpful, but I'm looking for something that delves further into the regions and is easy to follow without assuming an in-depth knowledge of Italy and Italian terms (which I do not have). There's lots of great pockets of knowledge in this forum -- which I fully intend to read when I have more time -- but for now I'm looking for something that can get me up to speed fast. Thanks for your help!
  2. fellow eGullet-ians! i am about to embark on an exploratotory mission in order to discover all the vital details relevant to culatello di zibello my motivation is clear: i want to know enough so that i visit the right shops in E-R where can buy it, the perfect places where i can eat it, and the places where i can see part of the production process! your contribution is as always appreciated cheers
  3. My friend just presented me with a can of this tuna belly from Italy. Holy moly, is this stuff good. Now I need a way to feed my addiction, though my friend says it is difficult to find. Any ideas where in the city or surrounding area we can score some...
  4. I'm on my way to the Piemonte Thursday for a few weeks. Do any of our Italian friends have a report on what kind of year we can expect for tartufi bianchi? Grazie!
  5. Hi I will be in Italy in a few weeks - Roma and Naples. I am an avid bread baker and I was hoping to find a place in either of these two cities which would have the following items. One is a stamp to make rosetta rolls, also called michetta or sometimes bigne I think. They are nowhere to be found in the US. The other item is a pandoro mold, the real authentic ones are only made in Italy with tall sides. The ones in the US are not true pandoro molds and are pretty much portugese manufactured star shaped bread molds. If someone can steer me toward a place that may have these items - I would be very grateful. If there is a website to preuse before my trip - even better! If its in Italian, that is not a problem! Thanks for any help I can get!! Evan
  6. I've been committing the ultimate faux pas by serving up bollito misto without any mostarda di frutta and I want to rectify that. However, I have a few issues. First, I can't find mostarda anywhere so I'd like to make it. Does anyone have any good recipes for it? Also, what actually is the difference, if any, between mostard di frutta and mostarda di cremona frutta? Many thanks
  7. So, I recently went buy some Prosciutto San Daniele to have with figs. The butcher opened a new ham and trimmed the end so that he could produce nice slices. By the time he was ready to slice, there was a pile of large fat slices, with just a little meat here and there. I could see these were heading for the trash, so I asked and was given them as a bonus. So, I am now the owner of maybe 1/2 or 3/4 lbs of fine pig fat. Any suggestions as to what I can do with it? My fall-back plan is to season a pot of beans, but I have plenty more than that and it seems there shoule be something more interesting. Would it be a useful cooking fat, maybe for potatoes or mushrooms, if rendered? Other ideas? Thanks!
  8. After Chinese food, Italian is my second favorite. I haven't done much reading on the subject or visited Italy, so I can't speak with much authority, but I do know what I like to eat. Vespaio - Best overall. Contemporary, some experimental dishes like risotto with Wagyu beef, but nothing fusion-y at all. Varied and changing antipasti selection, highlight of the meal. Wood-fired pizzas big enough for two, priced at ~$14. Desserts are so-so. Ideal meal for two is three or four antipasti and a pizza. Crowded but very nice bar. Brick interiors, wooden chairs, dark, a bit noisy. Siena - Second best overall. Tuscan cuisine, very "safe" traditional dishes, upscale. Gigantic and spacious restaurant, one of the most romantic in town. Brick interiors, heavy linen and silverwear. The drive over 2222 is always breathtaking, try going around sunset. Asti - Third best overall. Best desserts in town. Contemporary fare, similar to Vespaio, but not as varied or as well executed. Excellent desserts, all very Italian. Chocolate cannoli and tiramisu both the best I've ever had. Gelato from La Dolce Vita next door. I've gone several times and skipped straight to dessert. Contemporary, reasonably lit interior. Best graphic design work in town with their logo and menus. La Traviata - Memory is vague, but food was pretty good. Tiny, very dark interior. Carmelo's - Upscale, gigantic, expensive. Lackluster food. Large dessert selection, but not very Italian -- i.e. indistinguishable from a dessert menu at an upscale steakhouse.
  9. As usual the season of Italian Restaurant guides has been opened by L'Espresso (Italy's leading weekly). L'espresso uses the 20 points score scale made popular by Gault and Millau, with 20 being the maximum. Here are the top restaurants according to the guide: - 19.5/20: 'Gambero Rosso', San Vincenzo (Li); 'Vissani', Baschi (Tr). - 19/20 : 'Hotel Cavalieri Hilton la Pergola', Roma; 'Le Calandre', Rubano (Pd). - 18.5/20: 'Dal Pescatore', Canneto sull'Oglio (Mn); 'Enoteca Pinchiorri', Firenze. - 18/20 : 'Gualtiero Marchesi', Erbusco (Bs); 'Miramonti l'Altrò, Concesio (Bs), 'Perbellini', Isola Rizza (Vr). - 17.5/20: 'Combal Punto Zero', Rivoli (TO); 'Cracco-Peck', Milano; 'Osteria la Francescana', Modena. - 17/20: 'Aimo e Nadia', Milano; 'Antica Corona reale-da Renzo', Cervere (CN); 'Antonello Colonna', Labico (RM); 'Colline Ciociare', Acuto (FR); 'Da Vittorio', Brusaporto (BG); 'Don Alfonso 1890', Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi (NA); 'Duomo', Ragusa (RG); 'Hotel Rosa Alpina St.Hubertus', Badia-Abtei (BZ); 'Paolo e Barbara', San Remo (IM); 'Sadler', Milano; 'San Domenico', Imola (BO); 'Taverna del Capitano', Massa Lubrense (NA); 'Uliassi', Senigallia (AN). - 16,5: 'Agata e Romeo', Roma; 'Al Sorriso', Soriso (NO); 'Antica osteria del Ponte', Cassinetta di Lugagnano (MI); 'Antica osteria del teatro', Piacenza; 'Caino', Montemerano (GR); 'Capriccio', Manerba del Garda (BS); 'Desco', Verona (VR); 'Dolada', Pieve d'Alpago (BL); 'Dolce stil novo', Ciriè (TO); 'Flipot', Torre Pellice (TO); 'Gambero', Calvisano (BS); 'Hotel Certosa di maggiano il canto', Siena; 'Il Convivio Troiani', Roma; 'La Caravella', Amalfi (SA); 'Locanda Arnolfo', Colle di Val d'Elsa (SI); 'Lorenzo', Forte dei Marmi (LU); 'Madonnina del pescatore', Senigallia (AN); 'Peca', Lonigo (VI); 'Pierino Penati', Viganò (LC); 'Rigoletto', Reggiolo (RE); 'Romano', Viareggio (LU); 'Symposium', Serrungarina (PS); 'Torre del saracino', Vico Equense (NA); 'Zur Rose', Appiano sulla Strada del vino (BZ).
  10. I recently got a serious urge for an Italian beef sandwich, but living in CA there is nothing close to Italian beef in sight, so I need to take matters into my own hands. Can you please help? I need to find a recipe for a great Italian beef. Thanks.
  11. ingbakko

    Italian wines

    Hy, I am a wine lover (not an expert or a prof.) I am Italian, travelling for business I have many occasion to taste different wines coming from all over the world (I can probably taste an averege of 5 different wines a week). I don't like to spend fortunes for wines, I fixed a limit at 50 Euros (70 USD) a bottle, I normally prefer reds to whites ... I change the kind of wine depending on my mood on the weather and normally I first choose the wine and then I copy with the food. Up to now I couldn't find international wines which can be considered as good as the Italians (of same kind - I mean Pinot with Pinot etc.), is it because the price limit I fixed? or just because I am Italian? or really Italian winemakers (a part the Supertuscans overpriced because American market) are able to produce excellent wines at good prices? Can you give me an alternative to 20 Euros "SFURSAT" from Negri or a 17 Euro "Shyraz" by Planeta from a not Italian winemaker? Ciao
  12. I have to admit that when I first read the teaser description of Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home on Amazon last fall, I was worried. Had Mario gone the way of Rachel Ray and FoodTV in general and surrendered to the “quick and easy” path that seems to plague the cookbook shelves at bookstores these days? As it turns out, there was nothing to be worried about. This is still the same old Mario, who can give a 5 second breakdown of Pugliese cuisine, make an obscure reference to a Rolling Stones song, and grill an octopus tentacle without pausing for a breath in between. So, while the subtitle includes the word “simple”, this is not the stuff of other FTV shows like Everyday Italian or 30 Minute Meals. You’ll find sweet and sour calves’ tongue, tripe, the aforementioned grilled octopus, and an anchovy and almond soup in these pages. In fact I’d say that “simple” is in fact a misnomer or at the least a relative term here: recipes do call for making the pasta yourself, or making your own mustard fruits, Cremona-style. The book is staggering in its scope and depth, and nearly every recipe has a beautiful, artfully composed full-color photograph by Beatriz da Costa to accompany it. It’s laid out in the usual Italian fashion, flowing from antipasti, to soups, to pasta, then onto seafood, meat, vegetables, and desserts. As always, his pasta recipes, both for dried and fresh pasta, seem to be the standout, and truly are “simple”, if you can get past making some of the pastas yourself. Peppered throughout are essays by Mario or other guest writers on Italian wine, the glories of cooking cephalopods, why ducks aren’t as popular in the U.S, and other varied topics, and Mario shares some of his dry, esoteric worldview in almost every pre-recipe writeup: when you break down a chicken, keep the thighs and legs and feed the breasts to the dog. That said, anyone familiar with his previous books will be a little dismayed at the number of recycled recipes here. Too, some recipes are only subtly different from one another, with only a minor variation in technique or ingredient to stand apart. The book starts with two fried cauliflower fritters, and there’s three antipasti recipes for clams on the half-shell. I’d rather have seen them rolled up into one master recipe, with variations listed afterwards, rather than blow a whole extra page and photo on them. Mario begins in the introduction by surveying his previous works as an overview of where he was at at each point in his career when he wrote them, and then continuing right up to this book, a summation of his total experiences with three cooking and two travel shows, and an ever-growing army of successful New York restaurants. It’s a look at the state of Italian food and cooking today, and he does indeed swing from Italian-American staples, to arch-regional specialties never dreamed of on these shores, to trademark, only-in-a Batali-owned-restaurant dishes. Mario’s strength has always been to walk the line between professional, restaurant-level cuisine and simple home-style cooking, and this is no exception. It’s hard not to argue that it doesn’t deserve a place on the cookbook shelf. Certainly anyone looking to get their first Mario cookbook should now begin (and almost end) here, but those with more familiarity of his previous works may have some misgivings. I gave a few of the recipes from this book a spin and made a weeknight meal for some friends. Here’s the menu: Antipasto: Prosciutto and Grilled Figs (page 100) Pasta: Spaghetti with Green Olive Sauce (Page 168) Main: Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with White Beans, Rosemary, and Mint Oil (Page 268) Vegetable: Asparagus with Citrus, Parsley, and Garlic (Page 418) Dessert: Peaches with Primitivo Syrup (Page 486) Total cook time from walking in the door to serving the antipasto: Almost exactly 90 minutes. No significant challenges or special techniques in making these items, the title gives almost an exact description of the ingredients. About the thing requiring an unusual technique was making the red wine syrup for the peaches, but seeing as how this was one of my first successful desserts back when I was learning how to cook, it can’t be that outlandish.
  13. Looking for a quick reccomendation. decent-not fancy Italian-WestOrange area. Oh with 6 yo daughter. Thanks Eric
  14. Where do you go for your baked ziti, eggplant parmesan, and lasagna? I'm getting really hungry and need some suggestions! Thanks!
  15. Not having been to this venerable restaurant, I am curious to hear others comments on its current quality or lack thereof. We are considering going for a special ocassion in the next few weeks with close friends and would welcome comments. I just scanned some of the older posts on this place and the reviews are decidedly mixed.
  16. I have been asked by friends to try to find excellent Italian pastries for a bridal shower? Any suggestions? Providence or any of the suburbs is fine.
  17. I have heard good things about "IFC," especially for lunch. Anyone ever been? Tangentially, any other good recs. for an inexpensive Little Italy lunch? thanks Kobi
  18. Classic Italian Wine Tasting Special Reserve June 16th 2005 Italy, the world’s largest wine producer, may be the first to suffer from the wine globalization process washing vineyards and wineries like an unstoppable Tsunami. The large amounts of wine produced and Italy’s reliance on export are driving tradition, character and variation into financial black wholes of no return. Small producers are blinded by momentary dollar signs flashed in front of their eyes in exhibitions like Vinitaly, and unique areas are abused by powerful investers with one thing on mind. Wine tasters are mislead to term wines as fruity, acidic or tannic; neglecting the geological flavors and the complexity of taste. The very basic ingredients of the Mediterranean cuisine flavors, spices and herbs, are pushed aside by seductive fruits to match modern yet one dimensional and often shallow nouveau wines. Magnificent flavors of spices, herbs, minerals and nuts are either neglected or ill matched. The new world wine making techniques are well aware of this convenient situation and are quick to abuse it. Following is a tasting of some wines that reflect a somehow surviving tradition of Italian classic flavors tasted June 16th 2005. Insolia-Chardonnay, Sicily, Pasqua 2002. Take the wines nearly golden color and write Insolia on the label, then try to sell the wine, Not easy. The Chardonnay on the label may have aided the sales of this wine but, luckily, had little effect on the Insolia. A medium bodied complex texture backed up by mild acidity and a pleasant roughness created by a combination of fresh Mediterranean herbs and soft spice. The aftertaste is dominated by mild spice and fresh green nuts. Not one bit of fruit is showing at this stage allowing a full expression of the Insolia and providing one of the best partnerships to Mediterranean fish. Drink 2005-2006. Costamolina,Vermentino di Sardegna, Argiolas 2002. Shifting from the third largest Mediterranean Island to the fourth largest, the resemblance is of regional character. Lighter and smoother than the Sicilian Insolia in the mouth, this wine is of a round character smooth gentle herbs and a rough spicy finish that seems to linger for quite a bit. May be less enjoyable on its own but proves wonderful with food. A fresh Plat de Mere on Ice would be a fine accompaniment for the Vermentino Drink 2005. Cervaro, Antinori 1996 The oak had finally subsided on this one and now proves as massive by all means. 7-8 seconds in the mouth and this giant explodes with plenty of gentle flavors of dried fruits, mild herbs and mild spice that creates the complexity of this unique wine. The oak was a bit dominant in the aftertaste and remained so for some time. This is a long complex, ripe combination of a more earthy Chardonnay and Greccheto currently achieving perfect Balance. Enjoy on its own or with an aged Pecorino Sardo. Drink 2005-2011. Valpolicella Valpantena Pasqua 2002 A medium to light bodied distinctively simple wine with just the right amount of green and spicy flavors to provide some interest and a food friendly combination. Fresh pasta in a creamy herb sauce will do very nicely with the Valpantena. Drink 2005. Barbera d’Asti Michelle Chiarlo 2001 Remaining in the North of Italy, Chiarlo’s Barbera may prove the exact opposite to jammy new world wines. Sharp distinctive flavors backed up by a massive acidity, soft barely ripening berries and a herb dominated finish. Medium bodied yet well expressed with enough acidity to keep this wine two more years. Tartuffe flavored Caciota, a fine Reggiano over 3 years old or a well-tuned Carpaccio are a good match to this Asti. Drink 2005-2008. Chianti Castiglioni 2000 A well structured and perfectly balanced Chianti with mild spicy oak, good acidity and complimenting dried peaches. The wine proves a bit soft due to age and should be consumed soon. Try it with pasta and basil. Drink now. Nero D’Avola Morgante 2001 This grape variety tends to have a fairly shallow first impression driving producers to combine it with shiraz or cabernet. Morgante’s small size and good marketing allows this expression of 100% Nero D’avola providing a soft medium bodied feel ending with some pleasantly bitter notes. Breathing allowed some more balance though a good steak with white wine mushroom sauce would have complimented the wine quite nicely. Rosso di Montepulciano Carpineto 2002 A fine creation by Carpineto providing character, strength and complexity wrapping this fairly medium bodied wine. The oak is standing out more than it should but I believe Carpineto intended it to be a part of the show with the correct oak used to join the roughness of the young Canaiolo. Beautifully drinking after proper breathing and will remain so a couple or so years. Enjoy with a good grilled steak. Brunello di Montalcino Campogiovanni 1999There are many reasons not to open a young Brunello but Campogiovanni seem to master the word balance. A beautiful nose with hints and refection of a great Brunello, soft spice, mild oak, fresh and dried herbs, all complimented by blueberry and raspberry juice softly immerging after a few minutes of air. The wine continued to evolve shifting from herbs to fruits and spice revealing layers and complexity. Amazing balance controls the explosions of flavors in the mouth. Layers of soft and hard tannins are complimented by soft spice, dried herbs, tobacco and traces of dried fruits. The fine acidity of this wine will allow further development of the ripe flavors until 2010. A long finish turn this enchanting wine even more enjoyable. Drink 2008-20012. I pray that ego and merchants will lead the distinctive flavors of the Italian wine to better-controlled smaller quantities with as little need as possible to profit from mass production
  19. "Dry macaroni is suitable for storing, trading, and transporting. The invention of the bronze press industrialized the manufacturing of pasta, making macaroni affordable. Present in Sicily since Arab occupation, macaroni became extremely popular in Naples in the 1700s. It is from there that dry pasta started its journey to conquer the world. Sicilian history is fascinating for all the different people that occupied the island during different times. The greatest influence was left by the Muslim occupation that lasted for two centuries. Muslims contributed greatly to Western cuisine with a variety of foods: rice, spinach, alcohol, oranges, lemons, apricots, sugar and more. And in Sicily their influence is still greatly felt today." http://www.annamariavolpi.com/what_is_italian_cooking.html If you have any more information on the Islamic influence on Italian cuisine, please feel free to share it. Thanks!
  20. Ciao, I am looking for a source for quality ingredients from Italy / EU. I know of a place in the Valley, I think it is called Domingos on Ventura Blvd. east of White Oak - but I am sure there are others... Where??
  21. devlin

    pasta salads

    My husband now and again gets a wild hair and decides he has to make pasta salad. He's not a cook. His repertoire is pretty much limited to pastas and grilled cheese sandwiches, but he likes to think he can cook. The other problem is he refuses to follow a recipe. The result, as you might imagine, is that nearly anything he does is generally bland, not good. And he knows it too. But still, he insists on trying it again, and again without a recipe. So, I know you can't help me with THAT, but can you help me out with a decent pasta salad? Something I might be able to do that would salvage the thing he ends up with? No meats here, just pasta, veggies and the seasonings.
  22. peppyre

    Seafood Pasta

    I really want to do a light seafood pasta tonight for dinner. It's about 30 degrees here and that's about as much as I can tackle in this heat. (Is there a melting smiley) I'm in the process of making a small batch of lobster stock for the sauce, but what on earth should I do with the squid? I would like to just toss everything together almost like a pasta salad. Anyone have any ideas? I have a very well stocked pantry, so I can add just about anything. My brain must be melting in the heat, I can't come up with anymore ideas.
  23. Please help this transplant find the best Italian Deli in Seattle!!!
  24. I wonder if somebody can suggest an appropriate ratio of meat to water for a prosciutto stock? I found something like 1/4 lb for 1 quart. Does it sound right? Also is a bone preferable or a boneless piece will do? Thank you. (fresh cranberry beans with escarole stew in the making )
  25. As we discussed in this thread from 2 years ago, I host an annual dinner party for the summer clerks in our law firm. In every year but one, we've done Italian food, and although the Louisiana feast was great last year, we'll be returning to Italy again. But this is no ordinary dinner party. Each guest is required to be involved in preparing or presenting at least one dish. I choose the menu, buy the ingredients, and do much of the prep work. I then just watch over the guests and give them pointers about cooking and plating. We generally have 20-30 attendees. Oh, we pair wine with each course, and we've traditionally had 5 courses plus some antipasti. It's a long night, but it's always a ton of fun. Hell, the lawyers in the firm try and bribe me to get an invitation! Go back to the thread above if you want to know what I've done before, but I'm looking for fresh ideas. There's really only one rule: the dishes pretty much have to be made and cooked after the guests arrive. Thus, I can't do any long braises. We can make pasta, and we might be able to get luxury ingredients. But the guests' tastes will vary wildly, so I generally stay away from anything that would be considered unusual, such as offal. So, suggestions?????
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