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  1. 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
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. Welcome to eGullet Cook-Off XLIV! Click here for the Cook-Off index. We've just devoted a Cook-Off to braised brisket, and we're turning again to moist, well-cooked proteins for our next adventure: ossobuco. You will see it spelled a number of different ways out there, but Marcella Hazan refers to it as one word in her definitive Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, so I'm going with that spelling. No reason to argue with Marcella, after all. Ossobuco is braised veal shank, named after the "bone with a hole" that used to be attached to the hind shank of a calf. (Let's all agree to stick to veal, and not have, say, halibut ossobuco. ) The classic Milanese version includes vegetables, tomatoes, wine, and broth, and is served with risotto alla milanese, perfumed with saffron, and with gremolada. Some of the versions out there are a bit wacky. In particular, The Silver Spoon Cookbook simmers the 2" thick shanks for 30 minutes atop the stove. Given that Hazan has 1 1/2" shanks in a 350F oven for two hours, I'm pretty sure the SSC is a waste of good veal. Indeed, I'd think that a much lower oven for longer would work wonders. There are more things to talk about here than just braising temps and times! For example, many other versions of ossobuco depart from the Milanese approach. In her out-of-print More Classic Italian Cooking, Hazan provides the recipe for Ossobuchi in Bianco, the white referring to a sauce lacking tomato. In The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, Giuliano Bugialli offers ossobuco Florentine style, with peas and pancetta, and Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Italian Country Table offers a home-style version with mushrooms, favas or snap peas, and more intense flavors such as anchovy, sage, and rosemary. We have one short discussion of ossobuco here, and an even shorter one on wine pairings here. Indeed, as is often the case with Italian food, the best discussion is the one shepherded by Kevin72, the Cooking and Cuisine of Lombardia, which muses on on the dish's origins and execution throughout. I'm wondering a few things myself. Some folks say that braised veal cannot be reheated, unlike other dishes that benefit from a night in the fridge. I'm also wondering what other sorts of sides -- polenta, say, or the Italian mashed potatoes that Hazan suggests for the ossobuchi in bianco -- would work and/or are traditional. So who wants to welcome the new year with some bones with holes?
  12. I picked up a copy of this while suffering a snow delay at SeaTac airport a couple weeks ago. I don't usually succumb to food magazines but the recipes in this one looked promising. Having read through the 12/08 issue I feel that this one might be worth subscribing to. The articles are interesting, the recipes look to be fairly true to Italian traditions (with some exceptions, but every cooking style evolves over time). There's also a good amount of (free) content including recipes available online. La Cucina Italiana
  13. ciao tutti.i wonder if anyone has tried to make gnocchi with beans (cannellini)instead of potato and if so how it turned out?
  14. I have been on a sformato binge lately. I have done all the usual, like artichoke, asparagus, fennel, carrot, cardoon, red pepper, spinach etc. but on Christmas Eve we are invited to go to some friend's house and I must bring something vegetarian along for a pot-luck dinner so I am looking around for some unusual combinations. If you come up with something really interesting and I will make it, photograph it and post it here... (If you don't already know: a sformato is basically just a savory flan)
  15. My grandmother made a chocolate pastry around Christmas time. It was a fried dough (may have been a stufoli recipe) with chocolate, chestnuts, pine nuts and citron inside. The looked like round raviolis and were fried then covered with honey. I believe she called them bastadella (sp?). Anyone know of any similar recipe? Thanks
  16. Hey all -- I did a search, and I must not know what I am doing with the search function.... anyway. I want to make the Fassone for my tartuffi, and I was wondering what to do - which cut of meat is best -- do I add anything other than olive oil and salt??? Any help is appreciated.
  17. hello everyone, I was just looking for a little help. I was wondering if anyone knew of any really good hole in the wall italian restaurants in central to northern nj. Something nice to go to but not exactly babbo if you get what im saying. Thanks for the help.
  18. A shop which I trust is selling white truffles from Alba for about $170/oz, which seems about right for good fresh white fungus. They also have, though, Italian black truffles, from Piedmont, for about a tenth the price. I generally go for French black truffles as they seem to offer the best value -- if such a word can be applied -- as compared to the much more expensive Albanians, and I've always been disappointed in "discount" black truffles: summer truffles, Burgundy truffles, Oregon truffles etc. But I'm thinking that Piemontese black truffles might be the exception that proves rule. Anyone have any experience with these?
  19. Canary Wharf mall gets first London Jamie's Italian Jamie Oliver is to open his next branch of Jamie's Italian in London's Canary Wharf, it was announced today. The first London branch of Oliver's first independent venture will open at Churchill Place Mall next autumn alongside branches of Roka, Canteen and Rocket. Camille Waxer, vice president of retail at Canary Wharf Group said: “In the next 18 months or so we have KPMG, Fitch Ratings and State Street all opening new office buildings nearby. The continued growth in the number of Canary Wharf visitors and workers requires the quality, quantity and variety of dining options to keep pace. “We have been very impressed by the success of Jamie’s Italian in Oxford and Bath. It will inspire more food lovers to visit Canary Wharf and offer our existing customer base an exciting new option.” The first Jamie’s Italian, - described as an "authentic affordable Italian restaurant" - opened in Oxford in June with Bath and Kingston rapidly following. Restaurants are also slated to open in Brighton, Cambridge and Cardiff.
  20. I picked this book up yesterday. I am a big fan of Carmellini's cooking, while he was at A Voce, it was my favorite restaurant. (I haven't been back since he left.) I am eagerly anticipating his next restaurant. I was very excited though, that in the meantime, I heard he was coming out with a book and when I saw it in the store yesterday, I couldn't resist. It starts out with a pretty good and interesting stories that influenced his development as a chef. As is the case with many people, as a young man he was surprised to discover in Italy that the "real" Italian food of America, was something quite different than that made in Italy. It features some of his signature dishes from A Voce, like the Duck Meatballs and his Gnocchi. After checking out the recipe, I now know why the duck meatballs were so good. He labels his gnocchi recipe "The Best Gnocchi", and at A Voce they certainly were. They were the lightest gnocchi I ever had and I have been trying to find a recipe like that for awhile. I can't wait to try it. Does anyone else had this book? Have you made anything from it yet? p.s. Over at the feedbaghttp://www.the-feedbag.com/ they've got Carmellini on video doing some of the recipes from the book.
  21. We had lunch a couple of weeks ago at the Locanda della Tamerice near Ferrara -- fabulous, but that is another story -- and tasted a squash that was so wonderful that we asked what it was and after lunch went straight to the nearby farm stand that it had come from and bought one to take home to Rome for our Thanksgiving dinner, in lieu of sweet potatoes (anybody want to address the topic of patate dolci too?). Now, if I make a mess of it, I can't run out and buy another, so any suggestions from you northerners? It is not that large, as these things go, about the size of a very small baby, and, of course, hard as a rock. I cannot find how to post a picture (imagegullet won't load), but it's sort of hourglass-shaped (violin, appunto) and has bumps all over. Many thanks for any tips.
  22. 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?
  23. 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?
  24. What is everyone's favorite Italian recipes? I was reading an article in More magazine about writer Ann Hood, who grew up in an Italian family that took pride in their culinary traditions. The article included a few of her family recipes that I am dying to try out- like Gnocchi in tomato sauce, and Polenta with Kale. Any other Italian faves?
  25. so, on one side of the cooker tonight I was sweating onions, then adding some chopped garlic before adding chick peas and roasted red peppers. and on the other side I was... sweating onions, adding chopped garlic before adding roasted cubed butternut squash. One was destined (in my mini-mind) for a pasta sauce; the other was intended as the base for a quick soup. To one I would add cream (maybe to both) and chicken stock or milk.... to the other... not much. Parmesan? oil? and then I started wondering "what really is the difference?" how far is either of these concoctions from being a soup OR a pasta sauce. What keeps a tomato-based pasta sauce from becoming tomato soup? Is it really just a question of thickness/thinness? or am I just missing something fundamental? (and for what it is worth, I think I know how to cook. I just don't think about it too hard.) Just wondering. I'll be curious to hear any thoughts. Peter
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