Archive for May 2015

Corzetti

A while back Adri Barr Crocetti was blogging about making Corzetti, a pasta shape that has been made since the middle ages. Well…once I clapped eyes on those beautiful disks of pasta imprinted with designs that reminded me of ancient coins, I just knew I “needed” to make them!

DSC_7294 nx2Here’s the thing…Corzetti stamps are a specialty of Liguria and I wasn’t going to be in Liguria. Here’s where Facebook friends came to the rescue. Adri suggested the stamps could be ordered from Terry Mirri a guy in Sonoma, California who makes artisanal stamps that are works of art! Or you can order stamps on-line from Fante’s.

During the Facebook sharing about the Corzetti, Judy Witts Francini posted the name of a shop in Florence called Gioia della Casa near the Mercato Centrale who sells them. Well, as luck would have it, we were going to be in Florence in a couple of months! Thanks to Judy Witts Francini, I came away from Gioia with four stamps…woo hoo! Two were for us and the other two were bought as a gift for our good friend and chef, Andrea Carlson, owner of Burdock and Co.

Now, this is Vancouver and I am pretty sure that Corzetti pasta is not a pasta that Vancouverites had ever been introduced to. Well, thanks to that gift, they now have, as Andrea has been putting Corzetti pasta on her menu ever since we gave her the stamps. Apparently, the chefs like making them and sometimes customers ask about them where others just take for granted that Chef Andrea always has unusual items on her menus. Check out her menu here and look down the menu items for the spring time version, it sounds amazing (like the rest of the menu). And…if you live in Vancouver, make a bee-line to Burdock!

I might not have been Columbus discovering the new world…but it’s kind of cool to think I played a small role in introducing to the local food scene this Ligurian speciality that they probably have neither seen or eaten before!

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Tomatoes

There is not a hope in hell that I can’t blog about tomatoes. Where in the world would I be without them or where would the world be without them?

My husband says we have tomatoes in some form or other every day…hmmm…he’s probably right. I can’t help it. I have always been addicted to the taste of tomatoes before I even knew of all their health benefits.

When I was growing up, my parents always grew a veggie garden. They didn’t have much money so this was super important. And as they both grew up on farms, were very resourceful. There were always tomatoes grown. A favorite snack was buttered toast with freshly sliced tomatoes, warmed by the sun, sprinkled with salt & pepper. So simple but sooo wonderful.

I was still living at home when I got my first job. The deal was that I had to pay room and board. My Mom asked me what foods I would like her to buy me every week. Thumbs down, no deliberation, tomatoes and butter. We always used margarine (yuk) except for special occasions/holidays and for tomatoes on toast. In those days I knew our own tomates were fantastic but I didn’t care if they were in season or not!  Shocking, I know!

Of course, to feed my desires, I grow tomatoes every summer. For years my Mom used to start them from seeds in her greenhouse . Now I have to search for the heirloom varieties (a lot easier these days with the farmer’s markets having a wide selection available). Last summer I grew San Marzano’s from seed; not a great experiment, probably due to the weather. I wouldn’t dream of not growing “Sun Golds”,** my desert island cherry tomatoes and “Super Sweet 100’s). As we all know, you can’t grow tomatoes if you don’t grow basil too! What’s summer without pesto?

I often roast a number of pounds of roma tomatoes.** Tossed with EVOO, garlic and basil then roasted; and stored in the  freezer for use during the rest of the year. They make a great pizza topping, or pasta sauce or even on crostini with a bit of goat cheese.

**If you would like to see a fabulous spaghetti recipe using Sun Gold tomatoes, please see Spaghetti With Sun Gold Tomatoes And Basil.  If you would like to see how to roast tomatoes, please go to How To Roast Tomatoes. For an excellent pesto, click here. 

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Lunch In Firenze

On our second morning in Florence a few years ago, we visited the Mercato Centrale, a totally amazing place. We were amazed at the fabulous fruits and veggies available; it’s a cooks heaven! The selection of fish, meats, fresh pastas and breads was outstanding. There was a stall devoted to nothing but selling offal! I thought the Mercato made our Granville Island look like a corner store!

Next stop, the Academia di Belle Arte Firenze to see David. There was hardly any line-up, only about a 10 minute wait, a miracle. Not like the huge line up at the Uffizi! The Academia was not crowded and as we headed through the gallery towards the untimate goal at the far end (David), were absolutely blown away by Michelangelo’s four unfinished marbles that were commissioned for a tomb. They were, in our opinion, breathtaking, as if the carved figures were trying to claw their way out of the large pieces of marble, staggering.

Still haven’t made it to the Uffizi!

We needed to find a place to have lunch. We always need to find a place to have lunch!

We “needed” to find a little place called Osteria de Pazzi. So we are off. Now, I don’t know about you, but even with a map clutched in our little paws, we seem to get lost, especially in Italy. I think it’s the way the addresses are done. The residential & business addresses are in no way related to each other even if they are next door to each other! Gotta love the Italians! Have since bought a GPS to walk around with!

Finally, we stroll past this place and think this must be it. It was!

The first thing the wait person does when we are seated, is hand us “tourist menus”. We say a big NO GRAZIE to these! Bring the regular menus. I am pretty good at reading Italian menus. Those Italian classes must be paying off! We have a little consultation with our friendly waiter and make our choices. Something we like to do is share, that way we can taste more things.

Antipasto: crostini with fresh goat cheese and tapenade for our antipasti. I hate anchovies, so even if there were some in the tapenade they were well disguised!
Primo: casalinga specialita spaghetti, “house special spaghetti”. A tomato sauce with lightly browned slices of garlic, chili flakes, EVO served with parsley scattered on top. The spaghetti was quite al dente and absolutely delicious. Considering how simple it was. Our waiter said that it was not traditional to have the spaghetti with Parmigiano, so not wanting to appear unwilling to go along with custom, had it that way too. Yum, Yum.
Secondo: rare cooked grilled beef, served with raw, fresh artichokes, very thinly sliced, topped with shaved Parmigiano, wild arugula & drizzled with plenty of EVO. A terrific combination, especially as it was artichoke season, seemed the right thing to have!
Dolce: strawberries from Sicily, awesome! To drink we had a good house red.

Part of the entertainment was the singing of both the waiter & the osteria owner. Lunch was delicious, so fun, so relaxing, could have sat there all afternoon. Oh well had to tear ourselves away to go up to Fiesole for a view of Florence!

Because we were so enthusiastic about the food, I think, the waiter gave me the recipe for the pasta. You can find it by going to Osteria Pazzo Spaghetti With Tomato Sauce.

This  is a view from our apartment window across to the Santa Maria Novella church with the piazza below. Every night when we returned we would throw open the windows, pour a glass of vino and look at the sun going down. Sigh.