It seems since I learned about miller Fillipo Drago, I wanted to see him at work. I finally got the chance in my Sicilian pilgrimage this summer. Here are some of the sights and sounds at his mill in Castelvetrano.
For Italians, gelato generates as many hearty judgements as does wine. Take Domenico, my Italian food guru. Before even buying tickets to visit Italy, he emphasized the need to try Rome's Al Settimo Gelo for gelato. A hidden treasure Via Vodice, a non-descript street close to television studio's where Domenico once worked, I followed his suggestion to do tastings of every flavor. My friend proved, as he does often, to be right. I will always remember Al Settimo Gelo for its rich, fresh, clean taste and lovely space.
Grazie to Mirella Fiummano, the genius this wonderful place, as well as to Irina and Jasmine, our servers for a special treat!
An American friend (thanks Judy!) told me about Roscioli Il Forno, describing it as "among Rome's many food temples to visit" while... well, visiting. It's actually two different places a quarter block apart in Rome's neighborhood known as Campo de' Fiori. It consists of a wine salumeria restaurant and then a bakery (or "forno" ).
Judy's suggestion paid off with eye candy and tasty splendor. Despite typical Roman service - that can come off as rude or indifferent - if you're in Rome, try it. More precisely, try a pizza bianca with mortadella. Or order a savory porchetta sandwich. Then get a caffé across the way, and maybe even a cornetto. Here's a peek!
A stone throw from the Vatican, Romeo chef and baker is a sleek dining room serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, is well worth a visit. It features modern bread-oriented food pairings and a deli counter salumi from Roscioli and a a'la carte menu from Chef Christina Bowerman, a Bari native who worked American kitchens in Austin and San Francisco.
Here's what stood out for me; breads from Roscioli in Campo di Fiore, and chef Bowerman's pastas, salumi and pickled vegetables. How to capture it all? Sublime! The waiter serving us was also excellent, providing wonderful recommendations, explanations and service around both food and wine - all this while controlling a very busy lunch crowd. And still smiling!
Bagel troubles in California Is it the flour? Maybe it's my brother Felipe's unorthodox sourdough? The water is hard here, so there could be question of extensibility. Regardless, at the last minute - after preparing the dough, I realized there was no way to chill the bagels because the refrigerator wasn't available and space was at a minimum. Oh, and my brother had no baking soda to boil the finished product for that shiny bagel look. Going for a second test, here's my first effort.
After a recent NYTimes article about California bakers not being able to make great bagels, social media remarks directed my way (as well as my partner here, Jonitin) nudged me to write a response. Why? Because the truth is New York can not longer boast of great bagels, itself, whatever water we use. The problem are bad bagels crafted by those ignorant of the craft. Given most of the wisemen of this basic urban staple are gone (primarily elderly Jewish bakers) and their kids just don't seem to be following them into the trade of boiled bread, the world of bagels is suffering universally. Oy, vey!
That said, to say the gift of New York bagels is the local water is bologna - the metaphorical vs eating kind. How do I know? Because I've made great bagels in cities whose waters might make Californians cheer their own. Whether it was creating them in Istanbul or Montreal, great bagels are highly possible despite any murkiness in the H20. To prove this, I'm taking on a challenge sometime next month when I visit my brother on the left coast. Together we will bake bagels that will make Californians sing "oy," or better yet, le chaim!" More to follow.