July 18, 2003

Summer refreshments!

We tried out our friend Sabina's new place in the old city of Certaldo.
Certaldo is still a sleepy medieval village.. where the locals hang out in the evenings and talk!!!
Next week there is the famous festival MERCANTIA, a weeklong street festival with actors, artisans, performances and food!

Sabina converted her father's workshop and garden into a new restaurant/bar.
Peaceful and quiet, the ANTICA FONTE has a fabulous fountain with fish, a covered area and tables under umbrella with herbs planted everywhere.
We had already eaten, and she suggested trying a new Ice cream specialty they are carrying to serve sundaes, milkshakes and fondue.
My husband had a sundae..which came in a huge dish!!! turns out it is a specially designed plate, with a ring of hot chocolate around ice cream with crushed meringues!
I went for the strange one.. a beer and ice cream soda ( wild berry flavor)...It wasn't bad... instead of using soda water , they used beer!!! light.... and foamy.. I will try with real ice cream and see if I like it!
Noticed she also served some nice bruschette, fresh tomato cubes with a pesto cream spread on the toast!

July 15, 2003

Roma Amore

Yesterday went to Rome on a field trip.
Object of the game was picking up a new series of regional Italian cookbooks, only available there.
I contacted Slow Trav friend to order them for me and we made it fun lunch meeting too. There were 10 of us!
First meeting in the Campo dei Fiori to go to Mauro, the herb guys where I always spend too much money.I bought the Salad mixture which is Sesame, chives and I add pink peppercorns from Madagascar,( which he had always put in in the old days!)
Lunch at one of my favorite wine bars, Cul de Sac We had quite an assortment of fabulous cheeses. pates and great desserts.
Couldn't leave Rome without stopping by Tazza d'Oro for a Coffee Granita before heading back!
I have always heard about Tre Scalini in Rome ( Piazza Navona) for their Ice cream Tartufo, but was really a restaurant so we didn't stop.
Next trip will include going to the new Gambero Rosso Culinary Center.

July 13, 2003

Attended a party last night in the hills above Chianti, about 70 people.
We had a sweet and sour, preserved bell peppers, cut into wedges and served with tonné sauce, pureed tuna with hardboiled eggs, capers and olive oil.
Two pasta's one with porcini sauce and the other with tomato and eggplant with basil.
The roast pork Arista from Dario's Macelleria Cecchini, and a fabulous turkish dish, Eggplant ( to make you faint) need to find the recipe, perhaps in Claudia Roden's books.
http://www.ummah.net/family/recipes/imam.html here is one online-
This looks like the same recipe, but my friend used mint!

It is eggplant time, in class I made a Sicilian Caponata.
It takes awhile to make but worth it! IT is fabulous cold and keeps well.
Everything is cut into bitesize pieces.

2 eggplants, 2 bell peppers, 2 red onions, 2 celery stalks.
2 tbs capers, 1/2 cup pitted green olives
2 tbs red wine vinegar, 2 tbs sugar
salt to taste.
olive oil for cooking.

I saute the celery first and take it out when tender and out in a bowl.
then I saute the onions and bell peppers together, when cooked , place in bowl with the celery.
SAute the eggplant in oil, it will take more as it absorbs.
When the eggplant is tender, add the ingredients in the bowl and stir to mix together.
It is very colorful!

Add the capers. olives, sugar, vinegar and salt.
Stir and let cook together for 10 minutes covered over low heat.
Taste and adgust the seasonings. Serve cold:
The best caponata I had was at a dinner arranged by Antonio of Carabe at the Sosta di Rosellina in Settingnano above Florence.
They served the caponata with a bittersweet chocolate sauce that was incredible!

July 12, 2003

Watermelon Ice!

Today I got watermelon that was just out of the field, fabulous.
I came home and made some granita which will help in this horrible heat wave we are having.

This is a Sicilian recipe which I have simplified for my taste. The same in "JELLO" gelatin form is called "Gelo!" solidifying the mixture with gelatin instead of freezing. Often in Sicily, the use cornstarch to thicken it traditionally.

Granita di Cocomero- Watermelon Granita
2 pounds watermelon, peeled, seeded, & cubed
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips

Heat sugar and water together until the sugar melts (simple syrup). Cool.

Purée the watermelon in a blender.
Add the sugar syrup. (At this point, it's called Aqua di Sandia in Mexico and you can drink it on ice)
Put it into a metal pan in the freezer.
After 1 hour, scrape with the tines of a fork.
Let sit and scrape again after another hour.
It should be firm enough to serve.
Scrape it a final time before serving and stir in the chocolate chip "seeds!"

If you want to make it ahead of time, let it sit out of the freezer to soften a little; it's easier to scrape. Another trick is to freeze it overnight in ice cube trays and then purée in a blender. You can also use an ice cream machine.

It works with melon, almond, fresh berries, lemon, Campari and soda, orange, and coffee. For breakfast, Sicilians like coffee granita with whipped cream on top. Try it at Gelateria Carabé in Florence or at Tazza d'Oro in Rome.

Looks like the crops in the south have been ruined by drought, and a couple of weeks ago the fruit crop up north was ruined by hail!
There was not the correct weather conditions this year and around where I live, looks like the olive harvest will be low!

Starting to Blog

I have often wanted to keep a diary of what I cook, what's in season, great meals, fabulous wines, out of the way trattoria's or incredible chefs and friends. My site is perfect for most things, but sometimes by the time I get back from somewhere and then have time to write it down, the inspiration is gone.

I am going to set this up and see if it can be a great way to keep my ramblings going!