Italian Cooking & Language Blog

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

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Serving of Food Literature?

Not only am I an Italophile, but I am also a writer and writing coach. Food, as you might imagine, finds its way into my poetry and memoir. To prepare for an upcoming (and now sold out) memoir writing class I will be teaching at Politics & Prose, a bookstore in Washington, D.C., I’ve been reading more examples of memoir. You might be interested in reading yesterday’s writing coach blog post on Garlic and Sapphires, the secret life of a critic in disguise by former New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl.

What food literature, memoir or otherwise, have you read and enjoyed? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Zucchini Flowers Take 2

Our neighbors have zucchini growing in their front yard. Every morning I see those lovely flowers open to the sun. Every morning I think about stealing them and bringing them back to my kitchen.

Of course, that wouldn’t be right. I just don’t understand how it is right for them to let the flowers bloom and die as if the only prize from a zucchini plant is the zucchini itself.

Last August I blogged about my mother’s zucchini flowers and shared her recipe. This September I simply want to remember the taste of the zucchini flowers my mother made this July. She grew the flowers herself, cleaned them (after the above picture with the bugs was taken) and fried them up.

Zucchini flowers are hard to find. When I do find them in a market, they are often wilted. I did see zucchini flowers listed on a pizza at Comet Ping Pong in D.C., but that seems like too heavy of a dish for such a delicate flower. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eataly, New York City

Eataly, a marketplace, restaurants and bookstore, is an amazing collection of Italian food and kitchenwares in New York City. Friends have been raving about it since it first opened about a year ago. Have you been there? I finally visited this summer.

The organic vegetables, cured meats, stark white cheeses, imported pastas and sauces, gorgeous four-color cookbooks, coffee bar, gelato stand and more reminded me of my time in Italy. I wanted to stop for lunch, then shop in the market and carry my prizes down to D.C. and re-create my Florentine life.

Wait. That never was my life. I never ordered a $95.00 Porterhouse steak for two at dinner or stocked my kitchen with an Alessi citrus squeezer.

Oh, well. I did enjoy a little food sight-seeing and being reminded of how some people lived in Italy. I left Eataly with a very cute tin of cinnamon candies that I bought mainly because of the very cute tin and I wanted a souvenir. 

Unlike Eataly, Italy taught me how to simplify. There are few things that a good kitchen truly needs. (Today I’d vote for a moka and a good knife.) It is possible to grow fresh vegetables, buy locally (not buying locally wasn’t always an option in a market) and make do with what we have. And wow, can we make do with a little flour, water, yeast and salt… 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Il Cantuccio in New York City and Florence, Italy

(New York) Storefront

(New York) Interior

(New York) Florentine schiacciata with prosciutto di Parma and cheese

(New York) Mixed cookies: "Brutti ma buoni" with almonds, chocolate, fig and apricot 

 (Florence) Mixed cookies

(Florence) Marta

A friend called recently to talk about how much she wants to return to Florence, Italy. Of course I agreed. While the streets of New York City might look more like Milan (in places),  Il Cantuccio is a portal to Florence on Christopher Street.

Il Cantuccio, with stores in both cities, sells the most delicious cookies (much like biscotti, but softer, so you don’t have to dip them in vin santo or coffee to save your teeth.) In the New York store, you can also try the most amazing panini. 

Read the New York Times review for more reasons to stop there.