Sharing – Food Glorious Food

I honestly dare anyone who lives here for any length of time not to become obsessed with food. In the morning as I munch my gluten-free toast with Calve All Natural Peanut Butter – how ever will I go back to that Kraft Krap I once loved – my mind is racing as to what we will have for dinner. Of course menus change radically when the almost daily visit to the butcher and vegetable stall reveal something that you just can’t resist or when an old favorite has come into its own and you want to grab the first of the season.

In a spirit of sharing I thought I’d provide a few more food photos and a few links to some wonderful food and foodies sites – some I check regularly and one that I hadn’t seen before.

Another antipasti treat from Osteria Piazzetta dell’Erba – they are going to have to put me on the payroll soon. Their tower of grilled vegetables was a marvel of fresh grilled eggplant, zucchini and yellow pepper with tomatoes and basil sauce.
Zucchini flowers are ubiquitous here in Italy. You will find most trattoria – or at least in the south – have Fiori di Zucca on the menu as an antipasti. Normally these would be zucchini flowers stuffed with a strip of anchovy and a small bar of pecorino, dipped in a batter and deep fried. Michelle over at Bleeding Espresso – or rather her husband’s aunt – has come up with a simple recipe for zucchini flower fritters which sounds delicious. And she has links to a few variations on the standard Fiori recipes.
On my trip up to see Il Trovatore at the Arena I stopped in for lunch at a family owned Osteria Casa Vino where we had enjoyed two meals in Verona last year. The train had been behind schedule and it was 2:45 when I asked about lunch – I was reminded that it was a bit late but when I said I had memories of their polenta antipasti I was shown to a table. Three slices of grilled polenta with Gorgonzola, Lardo and Salmai toppings – shear heaven with a glass of local white wine. And as I recall we had done on our first visit as they finished lunch the couple at the next table made reservations for dinner that night.
I mentioned in an earlier post that Laurent had a wonderful panzanella (bread salad) at Osteria Piazzetta dell’Erba last month. When visiting my friend Wendy Holloway’s The Flavor of Italy I was moved to click on one of her links which took me to A Stove with a House Around It and a quick, easy and tasty looking version of Panzanella using a minimum of ingredients. A nice dish to remind you of the tastes of summer as autumn comes upon us.
n the past three years I have acquired a taste for things that were never on the menu at our very anglo-post war home when I growing up. Nothing really drastically unusual but not your standard 1950s fare. Yesterday I had a very good Wild Boar stew at one of our favorite local restaurants and in Pesaro at the Bristolino sampled Bibo’s Octopus carpacio. Paper thin slices of perfectly cooked octopus dressed lightly with oil, peppercorns and green onions.

Wendy at The Flavor of Italy doesn’t post all that often – she has her hands full with her B&B, her cooking courses and a few other pans on the burners. But when something comes into season she passes on recipes to make the most of what’s become available. Her lavender crop was plentiful earlier this year so as a dolci – or just a sinful pleasure – she made Lavender-Honey Gelato. I’m not sure if I’ll try the recipe – I do have some lavender on the balcony – or just make the trip out to see her.

More traditional was the ricotta and spinach stuff ravioli at H2NO but being the sort of place it was there was a twist – fresh salmon in a light cream sauce. That man knows what to do with fish!

Moving away from Italy – about 9000 kms more or less – to the Pacific Coast of Canada and my old friend Dan Peiser sitting at the big picture window looking out over the Gulf in his beautiful home on Galeano Island. I can’t believe its been almost a year since he started posting IslandEat and I don’t think I’ve made reference to it at all!!! Some friend!! As well as food preparation and food talk Dan has been sharing a delightful series of recipes he found amongst his grandmother Jessie’s papers. In his What Would Jessie Dish series he mixes her handwritten – and often cryptic – recipes with family photos and reminiscences. The most recent recipe is for simple Brown Sugar Cookies – and as always with it comes a stream of memories of a lady I would have love to meet.

23 settembre – San Padre Pio da Pietrelcina

Sights, Sounds and Shares of Christmas

I love the fact that the big tree at Piazza Venezia, in front of the Vittorio Emmanuel Monument, isn’t quite perfect. It leans slightly to one side which is just fine and being Italian it leans to the left or the right depending on how you want to look at it!

For some reason this year has seemed busier than past Christmas seasons here and I haven’t put up as many posts as I would have liked or even had planned to. Perhaps it wasn’t so much busy as I am getting lazy???? However I did take a whole raft of pictures and had a whole parcel (slightly smaller than a raft???) of paragraphs to do with the holiday season. But I thought I would still share some of the sights, sounds and posts from friends of the holidays – after all we do have 10 days of Christmas left.

I find the Piazza Navona Christmas Market too crowded during the day time but in the evening – or at least last week when it was cold and humid – it was almost deserted. We wandered around for a bit and then headed over for one of Signora Paola’s home cooked meals at Der Pallaro – including her signature potato chips.
  • Once again Joe of the fabled Joe My God posted one of my favorite Christmas stories: The Dance of the Sugar Plum Lesbians has become a Seasonal classic. Each year I read it anew with added delight and it brings a smile to my face each time.

This wonderful display of teddy bears graces the window of a very upscale toy store in one corner of Piazza Navona. I was particularly delighted by the three kings and their camel. I’m glad the store was closed for the night otherwise ……
  • From his new digs in Palm Springs Jeff recalls for us an earlier time when network television still had an identifiable style and, yes, even a certain class. As he says “this little gem embodies the spirit of the holidays.”

The Novona market has a cornucopia of Christmas goodies – things for your presepe, decorations for the tree, Befane for January 6th, sweets and consumables. Much of it is cheap merchandise made in China but Laurent and our friend Jackie did find a few things to add to the Christmas trees.
  • Over at Japonisme Lotus Green has a wonderful series of posts – aural and visual – on roses and the return of light as the days begin to grow longer. Every one of them has something of interest and as always she astounds me with her wealth of images.

Just before Christmas we met with our friends Joe, Peter, Pino and Claudio for another delicious meal at what is fast becoming our favorite eatery in Centro, Antica Enoteca. It was raining that evening and after dinner as we walked over to catch the last Metro we found the area of Piazza Spagna and the Spanish Steps blessedly empty. Every so often it happens here and you understand the magic of this city. And that would be Laurent, Pino and I voguing in the rain.

  • Laurent featured a wonderful Christmas story from the Canadian Press about Fred the dog and his trip across Canada. Thanks to the good will of the people at VIA Rail Fred made the 4801 km trip from Vancouver to Montreal and was reunited with his family.

As I’ve mentioned before there are presepi throughout the city – in piazzas, churches and of course private homes. This antique one is half way up the Spanish Steps and depicts an 18th century Roman street scene complete with cavalry officer.

  • She does not write as often as she once did but as always when Big Ass Belle does it is always going to arouse emotions and get you thinking. Sadly Christmas for her revives memories of a 40 year old mystery that will live with her the rest of her life.

The carousel at Parco della Musica is a beautiful antique one from a circus and is part of an amusement area with a skating rink and cafe. And of course my favorite presepe in Rome – Emanule Luzzati’s magical vision of the nativity fills the amphitheatre. I am hoping to get back to take some daylight photos of his characters when we get back from Madrid next week.

Though not as grand as the one in Piazza Venezia our own tree holds memories for us. Ornaments given us by family and friends and that we have bought over the years in Chicago, Ottawa, Toronto, Hong Kong, Poland, Mexico, Egypt and Italy; the collectibles – the Wedgewood and Russian enamel medallions, the silver Christmas flower from Towle; and of course our sterling silver balls. Its eclectic and maybe even a bit gaudy but it says so much to and about us and the past 31 Christmases.
  • And finally our friend Wendy Holloway – who runs a wonderful bed and breakfast just outside Rome – included a traditional Central Italian Christmas recipe on her Flavor of Italy blog: Gobbo alla Parmigiana. I keep meaning to write a post on the great Sunday morning we spent at her cooking school a few weeks ago – an experience we intend to repeat at the end of January.

27 decembre – San Giovanni evangelista