Latest Posts
Top

pane nella pignata: bread baked in earthenware

For Christmas this year I was given a massive series of books dedicated to molecular gastronomy, which I read over the course of four days, 15 hours a day. The scholarship alone positions the books as unlike anything ever written before, as if NASA and Michelin had had a love child. Chapters on how to turn eggs inside out, solidify...

carciofi salentini: salentine artichokes

If you take the train from Roma to Lecce, just about everything you see the second half of the trip will be the gray-green shaggy plants that flash on the  other side of the train window. Field after field after field. For hours. And in fact, here in the Salento come late January each year, we find artichokes everywhere: the markets, sold in intersections from the backs of trucks, but no where more so that at the table, already prepared.

If you don’t know how to do that, well, here’s how:

Artichokes rust very quickly, so pour yourself a pot of tea or open  a bottle of wine and then toss a few cut lemons into your largest bowl of water.

 

From the point, you cut the artichoke about half way up, right in half. Then you start to peel away all the course leaves. Once you arrive at the softer leaves, you can clean it up with a knife, rounding any rough edges. Then you place that in the lemon water. They actual technique is easy. It’s staying entertained that’s the trick.

A good gossipy friend is the best, but if she has to work, consider Italian radio and ‘French Breakfast tea’ your companions.

il mio staff

  If you take the train in Italy, down away from the busier, more jaded parts, you'll find a place virtually untouched by international tourism, the part that is still so geniune as to charm completely. The food is excellent. The wine too. But it's the people that make the region special. Here are some of my favourite.   Giuseppe has been with...

la crostata col fichi secchi: dried fig tart

  Her tiny features appear in my cameras viewfinder as I focus, her self-consciousness something new between us. 'So, Anna, tell me what you're doing while you're doing it', I say, the tiny mirror in my camera clinking up and down. 'Hello, I am Anna, Silvestro's house keeper and I'm making a dried fig tart', she says, her neratino accent as thick...

buon natale da Lecce, Italia

.......the Christmas lights in Lecce, Italia.          We hope you can be with us next year, in our kitchen and around our table. Buon Natala da Lecce.  ...

li lampascioni: hyacinth bulbs

It used to be that when students booked, I'd ask them what they expected to find with regards to the food of the Salento. The initial answers back were always vague but every once in a while someone would put the foreign take on Italian food into a cozy sound bite: Cream in the north, tomato in the South. 'Don't you...

la cicoria lessa: boiled chicory

'So tell me, what is the biggest surprise about your job to those that don't work in the field', is the question I always ask when stumped for a good question at a dinner party, whenever there is painful lull. I like the question because it comes across as geniune, and because nearly everyone has to cock their head for...

La Cotognata (Quince Paste, Salento-Style)

  Come autumn time here in the Salento, a number of fruits and vegetables start to turn up in the markets, just like old cherished friends that have moved away but then came back again.Faces light up. There is lots of smiling, happy greetings.'We'll have to have you around for dinner, now that you're back and all', folks seem to say,...

eating the calendar: our tomato sauce, last year, this year and the next

'E mo' si balla belle mie', I say to the last three remaining bottles of tomato sauce in the back recesses of the storage shelves, 'It's time to dance, my beauties'.  I crack the seal on one of them and the castle kitchen fills with the tangy, saline blood-smell of tomatoes. But not just 'tomatoes', particular ones, distinct ones, ones...

lu ranu stumpatu al vincotto (wheat berries with reduced grape must)

Hemingway is often credited with the phrase, Dessert is for those that don't drink enough. Whether he said it or not, it's something that often saunters through my head when my eyes pass over the 'dolci' section of a dinner menù, the same way they do when I pass a women's shoe store or a barber shop: I notice stuff, but...