Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Memoir Writing Workshop (Prose & Poetry)

I will be offering an online creative writing workshop this May. The subject is memoir writing, which can easily be *all* about food! I know I remember what I was eating during important moments in my life. Hope you will be able to join us! Here are the details:

Memoir Writing Workshop (Prose & Poetry)

In this workshop we will discuss the meaning of memoir, how to choose a moment in your history when your life shifted in some way and how to best present it in an essay or poem.

You will write and workshop your original work with published writing teacher Chloé Miller for two weeks. She will present writing prompts and exercises, links to short online readings and lead discussions around your work. You will receive individual feedback from her on your two longer assignments. Through group peer editing sessions, you will hone your editing abilities and receive additional feedback on your work.

Short assignments will be posted every day. Your longer assignments will be due each Friday. It is suggested that you spend 30 – 60 minutes per day on the class. No assignments will be given over the weekend, although the lively discussion and writing will continue.

All levels welcome; beginners encouraged.

The class will be held for two weeks from Monday, May 17 – Friday, May 28. Class enrollment is limited to ten adult students. It will be held in a private Google group that will be available 24/7. With a free Gmail account, you will be ready to start.

The cost is $200.00 payable by check. Chloé’s current and previous private writing students receive a 10% discount. To register, email Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

For daily writing tips, please visit Chloé’s writing blog.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email: Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

For more information on Chloé:

Chloé Yelena Miller has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA in Italian language and literature from Smith College.

She has taught writing at a number of places, such as Fairleigh Dickinson University, NJ; Northampton Community College, PA; Hudson County Community College, NJ; Maplewood South Orange Adult School, NJ; Recreation and Education, MI and presented at a number of writing conferences, such as The Association of Writers and Writing Programs; Sarah Lawrence College’s Conference Women’s Stories, Women’s Lives; Rochester Writers’ Conference in Michigan; Ann Arbor Book Festival’s Writer’s Conference; Writer’s Center of Indiana’s Conference; and Winter Wheat: The Mid-American Review Festival of Writing.

Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Cortland Review, Narrative Magazine, Alimentum, Sink Review, Storyscape and Lumina, among others. She currently reads poetry for The Literary Review and was previously an editor for Portal Del Sol and Lumina.

Her writing was a finalist for the Narrative Magazine’s Poetry Contest and the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. She has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center, A Room of Her Own’s Retreat in New Mexico and Summer Literary Seminar’s program in Prague.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Francesca Calloni’s Sausage Pasta Sauce

Thank you to Francesca Calloni for this wonderful pasta sauce recipe from Emilia Romagna. Her mother learned to prepare it while she was living there as a young woman. According to Francesca, it is a part of the Italian “poor man’s cooking” that has become quite fashionable. It is filling and delicious, but not necessarily fancy. You’ll see how easy it is to cook! Francesca adds, “it's usually a winter meal or a summer meal with siesta included ;)”

Sausage Pasta Sauce

1 small onion

2 crushed, dried chili peppers (Francesca’s addition; not a part of the original recipe)

Extra virgin olive oil or good quality olive oil

500 grams of fresh Italian sausage (Francesca includes this link to show what the pork sausage should look like.)

1 can (4 oz or 425 ml) of crushed tomato (Francesca usually puts it in a blender first, but you can put it also just as it is)

pinch of salt

1/2 glass of white wine

To prepare the sausage, remove the casing and chop the meat.

Finely chop a small onion and sauté it in extra virgin olive oil (4-5 teaspoons should be enough). It should become quite golden. Be careful not to burn it.

Add the sausage and stir constantly. When it's almost cooked, add the wine and let the alcohol steam off.

Add the crushed tomato and 1/2 cup of water. Francesca usually rinses the tomato can with a bit more water and adds that to the pot. Let everything cook on a light heat for at least an hour. Don’t let the sauce boil.

It should be ready when you start to see the oil and grease separate from the tomato. At this point, the sauce should be fairly reduced. Francesca recommends to loosely cover the saucepan with a lid or your stove will quickly became a CSI scene because the tomato sauce will splatter. Be sure to allow some of the steam out or it will never properly reduce.

Optional: Add some heavy cream to the sauce at the end.

Serve with tagliatelle cooked al dente (egg pasta) with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Thanks again, Francesca!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Silver Skillet in Atlanta, Georgia

A northerner with sharp edges in my accent, I ordered the “Southern Breakfast” at The Silver Skillet in Atlanta, Georgia. The waitress slowly answered, “Sure, honey.” I smiled and waited patiently for my incredible dish filled with two center cut battered and fried pork chops, two eggs, grits and white gravy with a side of biscuits.

I ate the whole thing and was full until dinner.

I *love* biscuits. I made them from scratch once from the New York Times Cookbook and while they were tasty, they weren’t restaurant quality because of their denseness. As you know if you read this blog regularly, I lean towards the salty, rather than the sweet. The biscuits at the Silver Skillet had just the right amount of salt and butter.

Thank you to my friend Amy and her son for bringing me to this classic southern restaurant. If you are a better fan than I am of the Food Network's program Diners, Drive-Ins' and Dives, you might have already known about this spot. They aren’t the only ones who have found this wonderful space that opened in 1956. The website has a long list of movies, commercials, videos and print ads.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is not my friend. I have been allergic to it since I was about 12, long before it became cool to hate it. This inexpensive sweetener is in almost everything commercially produced, from the obvious sodas, candies, and donuts to the less obvious breads crumbs, salad dressings and tomato sauces.

It is a simple sugar (unlike the more complex maple, honey or other sweeteners) that is often blamed for our country’s obesity problem. Corn syrup is inexpensive to produce and plentiful in this country. As it has been in the news more and more, companies are finding alternatives and more obviously labeling products that do not contain corn syrup.

Every year, it gets easier and easier to buy products without corn syrup or artificial sweeteners like sorbitol or saccharine. For example, Trader Joe’s has a wide selection of sandwich breads, at least two ketchups and shelves of sauces (meat marinades, sundae toppings and more) without corn syrup. These were the kinds of items I’d either have to make myself or forgo.

I learned how to cook out of an effort to recreate the corn syrupy dishes that other people were eating and I couldn’t. Almost any dessert made at home can be made without corn syrup. For example, a pecan pie can be made with rice syrup instead of corn syrup. I haven’t mastered candy making (caramels or caramel sauce elude me and ruin my pots), but I’ve made many successful cakes, brownies and cookies. Most Kosher for Passover products do not contain corn syrup (marshmallows, jelly cookies, etc.)

How do you avoid corn syrup?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Culinary Institute of America Cooking Demonstration

The Culinary Institute of America offers cooking demonstrations and tastings. A few years ago, my husband and I attended one at Greystone, their California branch. We loved the professional setting and clear explanations. Many food demonstrations skim over the details and are more of an afternoon out than a class. Not so at the CIA.

While I only really remember the white gazpacho soup, I still look at the book On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee which was recommended during the demonstration. This book offers clear explanations of food science and relates it to food and cooking techniques. While that might sound dry, chefs, poets and scientists are quoted throughout. Accessible and fascinating, I highly recommend it. Recently, I’ve been reading about heat and fish texture. Cooking fish well is no easy task and this section helps to explain why.

If you are lucky enough to be close to one of the CIA campuses, I recommend stopping by for a demonstration, taking a full class or just tasting their creations at their restaurants.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Carving a Roasted Chicken

A former vegetarian, I remain squeamish about raw meat or meat on the bone that resembles where it came from. That said, I do love eating meat. This presents quite a conundrum.

I was determined to not only roast a chicken, but properly carve it. My father has given me countless lessons on where to place the knife, but without practice, it is impossible to remember.

I used this helpful, instructional video from the Culinary Institute in New York. The best part of the video is that the chef is carving a small chicken and you see how he moves it around on the cutting board. A larger bird, like a Thanksgiving turkey, is easier to carve.

To prepare roast the chicken, I followed the recipe in the New York Times cookbook. I brushed olive oil and spices on the bird.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Food Gifts: Wedding Anniversary Cake

For my parents’ anniversary, my husband and I ordered them a cake from Made With Love: Organic Bakery and Café in Jersey City, New Jersey. Celeste, the wonderfully accommodating chef, listened to my description of their uncommon wedding cake and recreated it. As you can see from the cell phone picture, the cake was designed like a ying-yang to represent their union thirty five years ago. The strawberry and pineapple fruit toppings set off the dark chocolate flavor of the cake. My parents “oohed” and “aahed” over the beauty and taste of this organic cake.

Made with Love is a member of Weddings by Artists, a community of artists providing original, creative services for weddings and other occasions.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Food Gifts

If you love to cook, why not make edible gifts for friends?

This holiday season (which happily lasted deep into January!), my husband and I made limoncello, salarom and chocolates for our friends. With some labels from Staples, we were able to dress them up a little, too. In an effort to be green, we used recycled bottles that we collected the last few months.

Limoncello is an Italian lemon-flavored vodka. We actually made two batches. The first one, with a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis, had entirely too much water and tasted terrible. I salvaged it by boiling it down and making a lemon syrup for cakes, teas, etc. The second batch called for less water and less sugar. Limoncello should be served cold and after dinner.

When you make limoncello, you inevitably have batches of lemon left since the recipe only calls for the rinds (sans pith.) I squeezed the lemons and saved the lemon juice. I froze some in small batches and made lemon pasta and lemon muffins with the rest.

Bolognese salarom is an Italian salt mixed with dried rosemary and garlic. I didn’t follow a particular recipe, but instead looked at the jar I had and mixed the ingredients until it looked right. This salt is great for an olive oil dipping plate, meats or really anywhere else you use salt.

To make the chocolates, I crushed candy canes and flavored the lollypops. The ducks were decorated with yellow colored sugar. It was very easy to melt and mold the chocolates. Wilton has an easy guide on their website. I purchased the lollypop sticks, plastic covers and decorating tools at Michael’s.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Private Italian Cooking and Language Class

Saturday night, I led a private Italian Cooking & Language Class for six adults. We met at one student’s home and cooked a four course meal while learning the words for the objects we were using and food we were cooking. There were lots of laughs, eating and new phrases being spoken.

Here’s the menu we followed:

Antipasto: Frittata con le zucchine

Primo piatto: Spaghetti dell’ubriacone

Secondo piatto: Saltimbocca alla romana con spinaci

Dolce: Cannoli

The recipes came from a variety of sources. The Frittata and the Saltimbocca came from the Silver Spoon cookbook. The antipasto (appetizer) was a sliced zucchini omelet and the second piatto (meat dish) was a veal dish. Saltimbocca is veal rolled with fresh sage and prosciutto cooked in a white wine sauce. The name of the meat dish relates to its tastiness - “saltare” means “to jump” and “bocca” means “mouth.” Therefore, the dish is tasty enough to jump directly into your mouth!

The primo piatto (pasta dish) is based on a dish served at Osteria dei Benci in Florence, Italy. To prepare it, a bottle of inexpensive wine is reduced and then garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil are added. The cooked spaghetti is mixed into the sauce, which it absorbs, and is then garnished with grated cheese, red pepper flakes and olive oil.

The student who invited her friends for the lesson is moving to Italy next month. (I’m jealous!) This lesson allowed her to get more comfortable with the language and help her friends to learn a bit before their visits.

The best part of a private Italian Cooking and Language Class is that it helps to make a possibly daunting task – learning a new language – fun and community based. Together, everyone works on the language, cooks and eats. What’s better than that?

If you are interested in arranging a private Italian Cooking and Language Class, please contact me directly at chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com. We will develop the menu together and I will create a language lesson appropriate for your needs, interests and level. Usually, the classes are held in your home and last three hours. I will provide the recipes and handouts.

Buon Appetito!

Friday, January 15, 2010

France in Atlanta: Maison Robert

The chocolate and pastry shop Maison Robert is a little bit of France right in Atlanta, Georgia.

The chocolate aroma broke through the surprisingly cold, southern air, and warmed us before we started drinking an authentic hot chocolate.

My friend Alethea kindly bought me a mixed box of chocolates. I’m a hoarder, so I’ve been trying to limit myself to one a day. So far, my favorites are the dark chocolate ones with flavors like cognac truffle and mocha truffle.

Katia, working above, joined her parents' business. She is now the fourth generation in the family of pâtissiers-confiseurs. In response to my corn syrup allergy, she carefully marked which chocolates I could eat in the mixed box. I decided the few that had corn syrup in the decorations or the marzipan were reserved for my husband. Otherwise, well, you get the picture.

If you are in the area, I hope you’ll check out this lovely little store. Living far up north, I think I'll be ordering online.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chef Interview: Dan Richer from Arturo’s in Maplewood, NJ

I’m always jealous when my parents tell me that they’ve had chef Dan Richer’s tasting menu from Arturo’s Osteria and Pizzeria in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Recently, my mother, photographer Melabee Miller, documented a few of the courses that made me want to book a flight from Michigan. Here are some details on the pictures above:

Salad: vegetables from Zone 7 (all NJ sustainable farms). Butterhead lettuce, curly cress, red oak lettuce. It is dressed only with black sea salt from Cyprus, organic extra virgin olive oil from Puglia that my friends from Equus Foods import, and 25 year old balsamic (tradizionale) from Modena (Dan brought it back on his November trip).

Pasta: handmade pappardelle with Pennsylvania grown mixed mushrooms and parmigiano reggiano.

Rabbit: Braised over farro.

Dan, who you can find not only cooking in the restaurant, but blogging and on Arturo’s TV, very kindly agreed to an interview about his experiences, local New Jersey produce and his dream meal.
Thanks for your time, Dan! I look forward to my next visit to your restaurant.

The first time I came to your restaurant, it was for an amazing tasting menu. You write on your blog that the tasting menus “are determined by market availability.” How do you craft such authentically Italian dishes from an American market?

The tasting menus are determined strictly by market availability. As I'm sure you know, the ingredients are the most important part of any great dish. The techniques used to prepare the food are always secondary in importance. It is the quality of ingredients that matter the most. Most of my job as a chef is searching for the best ingredients. The rest of my job is to make sure that I don't ruin the integrity of such perfect raw materials by trying too hard to create a perfect dish. Technique often gets in the way of a great dish. As a cook, I try to back off as much as possible and let the ingredients shine. Maybe I'm lazy, but I think the ingredients should do all of the work! Any authentic Italian cook would tell you this same story. Find the best ingredients, treat them with respect. It doesn't really matter where your physical location is (Italy, NJ, etc) as long as you spend the time in finding the best ingredients, your food will be great. Obviously, it's much easier to find great ingredients in Italy!! They are everywhere!. The great thing about being in NJ is that we are so close to NY and there is a quickly growing demand for great products. So, it’s becoming easier to find great ingredients. And, I suspect in the near future, it will become even easier.

What markets/farms do you primarily rely on?

Let's talk about produce...

99.9% of restaurants use a produce distributor that delivers 6 days per week. This company takes orders from the restaurant at night, then early the next morning travels to the nearest produce market (hunt's point, NY or PA). They buy the produce from another intermediary (definitely not from the farmer who lives in CA, FL, or Mexico) and then he delivers to the restaurant. Meanwhile, the produce has just made a 2000 mile journey over days and days time. Not to mention that the specific seed varietals that the farmer chose were to ensure its transportability, not its flavor. Also, the vegetables usually are harvested well before they are fully mature, leaving them lacking in flavor but ready for their long journey ahead. The restaurant receives their sub-par vegetables after very little effort on their part. This mentality is unacceptable and I'm really trying to not be a part of any of this.

So, I've worked directly with farmers in trying to bring their sustainably grown heirloom vegetables to our dishes, but it's a lot of work! Between trying to run a restaurant and the farmer trying to farm, it was so hard to physically get the produce from the fields to our kitchen. This summer I worked with a local woman who started an urban farm in downtown Newark. This is such a revolutionary method of bringing fresh produce to the areas that really need it. The city of Newark lent her an abandoned plot of land to farm on. She used Earthboxes (self-watering planter boxes) which enabled her to grow sustainably and to employ people who are not trained farmers. It was a really great idea and I can’t wait to start working with her again when the growing season starts. You can read more about her on her website.

After that, I started working with an amazing company called Zone 7. They are that missing link between farmer and restaurant. The owner, Mikey, has relationships with sustainable farmers throughout NJ. He emails me Monday with a list of products that are available and delivers them on Thursday. It has been really amazing so far. We are actually getting great vegetables in Dec. Obviously we are not getting tomatoes or zucchini but the beets, radishes, potatoes, lettuces, carrots, etc are amazing!! We are one of 35 restaurants in NJ using this great company.

The tasting menus change from week to week depending on what products we can find. The format is usually standard: antipasti (cured meats/veges of some sort), salad (market driven), soup (market driven), pasta (always handmade), secondo (fall/winter=braised meat while spring/summer=fish or fast cooking meat), then a simple dessert.

What are some of your favorite dishes to prepare?

I love making pasta. I am a freak about fresh, handmade pasta. When I travel through Italy, it’s all about the pasta. Nothing else really. I am obsessed. I also love preparing/marinating/pickling vegetables that I have sourced from great farmers. It’s very rewarding in many ways.
Your menu includes house-cured pancetta and duck prosciutto, you blog, create regular tasting menus and continue to grow your business. How do you do it all?

Time management is such an important thing in my life/business. I delegate as much as I possibly can, this is easy for me because I hire the best people I can find. My staff takes care of 100% of the day to day business. They do payroll, ordering, scheduling, cooking, among everything else. I focus on keeping the business on its proper course. We are in a great place right now.

How did you first become interested in cooking Italian food?

I started working in an Italian restaurant when I was 15 as a busboy. After that, I worked as a waiter and manager at other restaurants. I skipped my graduation ceremony from Rutgers in 2002 and flew to Italy. I traveled with my cousin, who had an apartment in Trastevere (Rome), for two weeks from Lugano, Switzerland to Salerno, Campagna covering much of the in between. I came back with a passion that has rapidly grown into what it is now. I have no formal training as a chef, just the constant desire to be the best at what I do.

I started my personal culinary education with Molto Mario. Mario Batali is an incredible teacher (even though I have never met him).

What main advice do you have for the home chef who wants to learn more about cooking authentic Italian food (particular book, tv show, class, etc.)?

Practice is the best. I used to cook 6 course meals for my friends and I learned so much from that.

If you could eat anything and anywhere right now, what would it be and where? (Your dream meal!)

This is a hard question. My dream meal? I love cooking for myself and for family/friends but I'd say that my dream meal would be in Tokyo. No specific restaurant, but a multiple course meal where you can expect to be completely surprised and blown away by just about everything. I spent several weeks in Japan just before I bought Arturo's. The Japanese have such integrity, tradition, and ingenuity. I love the culture.

For more information, visit the restaurant’s website or just stop by and eat:

180 Maplewood Ave.,
Maplewood, NJ 07040

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eating & Buying Fish

My husband and I recently visited the Georgia Aquarium and were reminded (perhaps ironically!) about the importance of eating fish.

They had pamphlets put out by the Monterey Bay Aquarium about how good fish is for your body. We are reminded that “it's often rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other ailments. Omega-3s are especially important for pregnant and nursing women, and young children. Unfortunately, some fish carry toxins that can become harmful when eaten frequently.”

Here are the fish from their Best of the Best list:

*The Best of the Best: October 2009

• Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)

• Mussels (farmed)

• Oysters (farmed)

• Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)

• Pink Shrimp (wild-caught, from Oregon)

• Rainbow Trout (farmed)

• Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)

• Spot Prawns (wild-caught, from British Columbia)

You can also print out their Seafood Watch list. This list doesn’t only consider what is good for you and your body, but also the fish and our oceans.

Happy eating and shopping!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Silver Spoon Cookbook X2

The Silver Spoon Cookbook advertises itself as the “Bible of Authentic Italian Cooking.” While that’s a lofty goal, I don’t think anyone could complain with the outcome.

My husband gave me the English version as a gift a few years ago and I received the Italian version as a wedding present. I love having both copies depending on my mood, company and measurement tools.

The Italian one comes in a great orange plastic case. Both copies are heavy and carrying it around could be a substitute for going to the gym. They are worth it – for good cooking and keeping your Italian skills up to par.

You can browse some of the recipes online. I’ve enjoyed looking up an item – like pork chops – and discovering a new way to make them. From the cookbook, I made a perfect Pappa Al Pomodoro (Tuscan Bread Soup with Tomato) and a few calazoni with ricotta, mozzarella and ham.

Why have cookbooks if you can look things up online? As a writer, I love the feel of the paper. As a chef, I like sitting with a cup of coffee and browsing through the book for inspiration as I make my grocery list for the week.

I’ve mulled over the idea of slowly making everything in the cookbook like Julie did in Julie & Julia, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never be cooking “Pig’s Liver in a Net” or a few other “exotic” sounding dishes, so I think I’ll still to what interests me.

What’s your favorite cookbook?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Alimentum: The Literature of Food

If you regularly read my writing blog, Chloe Yelena Miller, you know that I am not only interested in food, but also writing. The pocket-sized literary magazine Alimentum combines both of these loves – good writing and good food – in one place. They have everything – poetry, essays and even Menupoems.

I recommend them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Petite Provence in Portland, Oregon

If there is a choice, I’ll choose something savory over sweet. When I saw my husband’s “savory French Toast,” at Petite Provence Alberta in Portland, Oregon, I was smitten with a breakfast idea I hadn’t encountered before. I tend to put salt on my French toast or pancakes instead of maple syrup. I know, weird, right? But if there is already asparagus, ham and cheese and on your French toast, it seems justified.

I ordered an arugula omelet with avocado on top. My side potato pancake had some other vegetables mixed in (carrots and leeks.) I’m a purist on some things and I didn’t like it as much as my husband’s order. (Good thing he is open to sharing.)

We drove by this very French Boulangerie and Patisserie on Alberta Street and decided to try it for brunch. It was bustling with business, breads and pastries. With wood panels, cappuccino foam that matched the décor, it was simply adorable. Sometimes you can tell a book from its cover.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chocolate Truffle Makine Class at Sweet Gems

I love to plan menus. The next one on the horizon is Valentine’s Day. I prefer to eat a luxurious meal at home instead of going out and facing the crowds.

As I start to ponder what to make next month for my husband, my mind goes directly to chocolate. I can’t help but remember the chocolate truffle making class I took last summer at Sweet Gems in Ann Arbor, MI. You can read all about the amazing class here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Willamette Valley, Oregon: Wine Country

The Willamette Valley in Oregon is Wine Country. One afternoon during our visit to Portland, we took a drive and visited a few wineries. It didn’t take more than an hour to arrive.

Our favorite winery was De Ponte Cellars. We tried a few Pinots, the grape of choice in the region. These wines were fuller and more developed than the other wines we tried in the area.

Ok, I’m not sure if that’s true. I’m a terrible wine taster. I know what I like and what I don’t like, but I’m not sure that I can really explain why I like something or describe the taste properly. I remember taking a cooking class at Trattoria Zibibbo in Florence and the final class included a wine tasting led by a sommelier. When he started talking about the complex flavors in the wines that disclosed that the vines ripened close to wildflowers, I scrunched up my forehead. I couldn’t taste it and couldn’t imagine that anyone else could (he announced that the “americana” didn’t know the words in Italian and needed a translator. In that case, the words were not the problem.)

Regardless, it was a great afternoon driving through the valley. The scenery throughout, if you put aside from the large, beautiful Northwestern trees, reminded me of Tuscany.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stumptown Coffee

Ever since living in Florence, Italy, I crave the perfect coffee. It isn’t an easy craving to satisfy.

My husband suggested that we go to Stumptown Coffee in Portland, Oregon. He’d read about it and thought it sounded like something I’d appreciate. He knows that a happy marriage includes good eats and drinks!

I used to regularly drink a “macchiato” when I was in Italy, but it can be hard to find stateside. The word means “stained” and a macchiato is just that: an espresso stained with frothy milk. You know you are somewhere special when the barista can pour the milk so it combines with the coffee below to form a lovely design. Take that, Starbucks!

My husband had a French Roast, which he enjoyed. If you are interested in recreating the perfect French Roast experience at home, they have a Brewing Guide on their website.

They also have a location in NYC. I look forward to visiting the next time I’m in town.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pine Street Biscuits

Visiting my in-laws in Portland, Oregon over the holidays, I received a text from my food-savvy father. He was telling us where to eat a biscuit-breakfast in Portland, a city he has never been to, clear across the country from his home. My father knows good food and good food television shows (he saw it featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.)

Pine Street Biscuits is a hole-in-the-wall storefront with only a few seats. We got there a little early for lunch and were able to squeeze into a table with an accommodating couple. When we drove by later, the line was literally out of the door.

I had the “Reggie Deluxe” – a biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, egg, bacon, cheese and gravy. My husband had the more traditional biscuits and gravy. Both were perfect. I daintily ate mine with a fork and knife (how could I have picked up that monster?) and enjoyed every bite of each ingredient. Perfectly creamy on the outside, crunchy one level in and then tender chicken in the middle. Wow. With some added hot sauce, it was perfect.

New Jersey, while perhaps not known for biscuits, is the state for a greasy spoon diner. This hip spot that also showcases at the local Farmer’s Market isn’t exactly a greasy spoon, but it is close. We haven’t been able to find the equivalent in Ann Arbor.

Someone prove me wrong? Please? Breakfast comes everyday and I’m hungry.