Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Recreating Tastes of Italy

We're still hoping to get to Italy this fall.  Over the weekend, the head of the European Commission said that American tourists who have been fully vaccinated will be able to visit starting this summer.  We have reservations and are ready to go spend another week at Hotel Villa Steno in Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, on the Italian Riviera.  What a truly magical place! 

But, even though we can't get there for a few months, we can create a few of our favorite dining experiences to remind us of Cinque Terre and other fabulous locations.

Before Easter, we spend a few hours making a Bolognese sauce (with ground beef, pork, and veal), then the next day a besciamella sauce.  We use both of those to make lasagna alla Bolognese (we understand that only non-Italians call it that - Italians say "lasagne al sugo di carne").  We start with a bruschetta made with brie and prosciutto (sprinkled with fresh chives), followed by the lasagna.  And, for desert, a small French influence:  profiteroles.




After moving from San Francisco to the Dallas area at the end of last year, we find to our great surprise and pleasure that there is an Eataly about 20 minutes away, where we can get Italian ingredients and dining experiences (Eataly was founded in Turin in 2007 and now has locations worldwide - we have been to Eataly in Bologna, New York, Las Vegas, and Dallas).  

We head over to Eataly to stock up on a few Italian items, such as speck, pancetta, and stracchino.  And, while we're there, we stop for lunch at their casual restaurant, Il Pastaio di Eataly, and share two bruschetta (al Gorgonzpol e Pere and Mediterranea), followed by two pasta dishes:  Trenette al Pesto Genovese and Malloreddus al Ragu di Salsiccia, accompanied by a bottle of Ligurian red wine.  A few weeks later, we return, starting with the same bruschetta (which again disappears before a picture can be had), followed by two different pastas:  Agnolotti del Plin al Sugo and Ricciarelli Alla Trapanese.  What a great excuse to get out!

Here's a guide to the dishes:
Bruschetta al Gorgonzola e Pere:  Housemade rustic sourdough bread, gorgonzola dolce, anjou pears, walnuts
Bruschetta Mediterranea:  Housemade rustic sourdough bread, sun-dried tomato pesto, almond, garlic, fresh herbs
Trenette al Pesto Genovese  (Liguria):  with basil, pine nuts, grana padano DOP (aged 18 months)
Malloreddus al Ragu di Salsiccia (Sardegna) (also called Sardinian gnocchi):  with pork sausage, mutti tomato, pecorino romano zerto DOP
Agnolotti del Plin al Sugo (Piedmonte):  in a beef reduction
Ricciarelli alla Trapanese (Sicilia):  with cherry tomatoes, almond, basil, pecorino romano zerto DOP

Shared pasta (Malloreddus, Trenette)

    Second lunch at Eataly (Agnolitta del Plin, Ricciarelli)

While at Eataly, we stop at the butcher shop and acquire a leg of lamb, which, cooked Renaissance style, becomes Easter Dinner, accompanied by a Milens Bordeaux from St. Emilion, one of our favorites.

Appetizers and wine

Leg of lamb

For a taste of Liguria (the region of Italy in which Cinque Terre is located), we prepare octopus salad (octopus acquired at Eataly) and trofie with pesto (and potatoes and green beans), bringing back more great memories and anticipation of things yet to come (in a few months!).

Octopus salad

Trofie with pesto

Dinner is served

We'll continue to enjoy the delights of other lands from afar and look forward to enjoying them in person soon!

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