On the IWR on the other hand, I've posted tasting notes for R, a wine made by the father of one of Daughter C's classmates, and also notes on several Emilian wines sent me by Paola Rinaldini of the Azienda Moro Rinaldini -- A Lambrusco Rosato, several inky Lambruschi including one that is bottle-fermented, and also some still wines made with the grapes used to make Lambrusco. Quite enjoyable, and a refreshing change of pace with respect to Sangiovese, which I taste a lot of as it's the major Tuscan red varietal.
Moving to Cosa Bolle, Valentine's Day is a time for sweets and confectionery and whatnot, and at Florence's Fiera del Cioccolato, which is -- how convenient! -- taking place this week in Piazza Santa Croce, you will find all sorts of delights that make fine gifts for that special someone, from chocolate truffles to candied orange peels dipped in chocolate, to white chocolate mice that drew a crowd of photographers, all clicking away. There are about 40 chocolatiers, and it was a fun event that will, I expect, take place again next year too.
The other upcoming travel-food related thing of interest is Pitti Taste, a food festival that will take place in Florence's Stazione Leopolda (between Porta al Prato and the entrance to the Parco delle Cascine) from March 6th through March 8th. You'll find excellent foods, fine wines, and more, and the Stazione, a superb example of mid-19th century industrial architecture that is now used to host all manner of shows and events, is well worth visiting in any case.
Insalata di Aranci e Finocchi, Orange and Fennel Salad
The goal of a Valentine's day meal is to set the stage, as it were, for dallying with one's Significant Other, and for said dalliance to be enjoyable, it's important that one not weigh one's self down. Bulb fennel and oranges are both light and refreshing, and work quite nicely in this salad.
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 2 heads of Belgian endive
- 1/3 cup (about 80 ml) plain unflavored yogurt
- 2 succulent oranges
- 8 walnut meats, halved or quartered as you prefer
- The juice of half a lemon
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Begin by washing the fennel bulbs and discarding the outer ring of leaves if they are dinged or discolored. Cut the fennel bulbs in half lengthwise and finely slice them crosswise, separating the rings.
Wash and pat dry the endive, and slice it finely crosswise too.
Peel the oranges, removing all white membranes, and slice the oranges crosswise, separating the cut sections into pieces.
Combine the fennel, endive and oranges in a salad bowl.
Mix the yogurt, mayonnaise, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad. Add the walnut meats, a good grind of pepper, salt to taste, mix well, and serve.
Portafogli di Viterllo - Veal Wallets
Portafogli are similar to involtini -- both are made using cutlets, veal in this case, but whereas the involtino is spread with a filling and rolled up, the portafoglio is simply folded over the filling, making a wallet. These will be a nice variation in a family meal, and could also -- if you halve the recipe -- be nice for a romantic occasion.
- 4 lean boneless veal cutlets weighing about 3 ounces (90 g) each
- 4 slices prosciutto (if you must, you could use good cooked ham, but prosciutto will be better)
- 4 thin slices of Fontina cheese
- 4 small pickles, chopped
- A strip of pickled bell pepper, chopped
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon paprika, or more to taste
- A lemon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter or oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by putting the cutlets between two sheets of oven parchment and pounding them with the flat of a broad-bladed knife to thin them.
Beat one of the eggs in a bowl, squeeze the lemon into it, mix well, and add the meat, turning the pieces to coat them uniformly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate the cutlets in the egg for 4 hours.
In the meantime, hard-boil the egg, remove it from the water, and when it has cooled enough to be touchable, peel it. Mince the pickles and pickled pepper, and cop the egg. Mix the three together.
Come time to assemble the wallets, drain the slices well and lay them on a flat surface. Put a slice of prosciutto on each, and then a slice of cheese, and then spread the chopped pickle mixture over the cheese. Fold the wallets up, using toothpicks to hold them shut, and dredge them in the bread crumbs.
Heat the butter or oil in a skillet large enough to contain all four wallets in a single layer. Cook over a fairly brisk flame for 5 minutes, flip, and cook the other side for 5 more. Darin the wallets on absorbent paper, Dust them with the paprika and serve.
The wine? White, and I might be tempted by a lighter dry bubbly here, along the lines of a Prosecco.
The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken
Laura Schenone and I follow the same food list on the web, and at some point she mentioned the book that grew of her search for her family roots, which revolve in a fascinating way around ravioli.
Her great grandfather Salvatore was a uomo delle montagne, a dirt-poor resident of one of the craggy mountain villages above Genova, where if the ground isn't sloping up it's sloping down, and too steep to plant much of anything while her great grandmother Adalgisa was from Genova, and a free enough spirit that she married the mountain man rather than the husband her family had hoped for. But times were tough, and with little in the way of opportunity in Liguria he headed for North America, and when it became clear that he was staying, Adalgisa got on a boat and joined him.
This Laura knew, and also that Adalgisa had made, as a specialty, meat-filled Ravioli, and she knew about the relationships of the more recent generations, but she wanted to know more about the beginnings, and began to call elderly relatives, both to find out about Adalgisa and Salvatore, and to find out about the ravioli. Calls led to visits, which resulted in recipes and making ravioli, and also resulted in her wanting to know more, so she went to Liguria to find out how Adalgisa's recipe compared with what was made in the old country.
Not as much as one might have expected; Adalgisa used raw meat, whereas the Ligurian tradition for meat-filled ravioli is to use cooked meat, and Adalgisa used cream cheese, which is foreign to Liguria. Once home she tried to duplicate what she had learned, and as one might expect things didn't turn out right in the first try -- as with all manual tasks, it takes a while for the muscles to learn what they must do.
And in the meantime she continued to talk with relatives, do research in libraries, and think about her family and her past, returned to Italy with her husband and children, moved to a smaller house, came to an understanding with one of her sisters, from whom she was to a degree estranged, and made ravioli. Lots of ravioli, and by the time you finish the book you will have a wonderful understanding of her and her family, all woven in and around ravioli. One wouldn't expect the concept to work, but it does, and very well.
Recipes, you wonder? The last 50 pages, and Laura assumes that when you're starting out you have about as much experience as she did. So she begins by walking you through the process of making pasta dough and rolling it out (both with rolling pin and pasta machine), and then presents a number of recipes for ravioli stuffings, beginning with a simple ricotta filling "for beginners" and going from there to her grandmother's filling, a rich Ligurian Christmas filling, a simple every day greens filling, and more. And since one cannot live just upon ravioli (though it might be nice), she explains how to make tagliatelle and trofie, a traditional Ligurian pasta, and gives recipes for other Ligurian specialties, from pest sauce though Pandolce.
The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken
Laura Schenone, 2008
W.W. Norton & Co
New York, N.Y.
This time's proverb is from the Valle D'Aosta: Quan la rosà reste gran ten su l'erba l'est segno de be ten - When the dew lingers on the grass, it means good weather.
Editor, The Italian Wine Review
PS -- Please forward this to anyone you think would enjoy it! If you would like to read past issues (nothing in them really gets stale), you'll find them on the IWR site, through http://www.cosabolle.com.