Archive for March, 2010

March 30, 2010

Vacanze Romane

Roma - pantheonI recently had the opportunity to spend a very short break in Rome. It is hard to find words to describe la città eterna. Actually, Rome has a weird image among Italians, being famed for its traffic, its chaos, and the loudness of the inhabitants. I am not claiming any of this to be false, but what we often do forget in Italy is the pure beauty of it. This is a very Italian attitude: we tend to get used to beauty, take it for granted, and not fight to keep it. In Rome you can literally breath history and every corner has a million little details to lose yourself into. Italy is a country with an amazing density of history and art, but Rome manages to be denser. Stendahl syndrome‘s apart, Rome is actually more than just its history or its monuments – in case they were not enough. My family comes from very close to  Venice so I know it quite well. While Venice, with its unique beauty,  is basically an open air museum, and its soul has been a bit lost and faded in the centuries, Rome is still a big centre of power – the Italian state and the Vatican might not be as powerful as they used to (I’m quite grateful for that actually ) but still there is an impressive number of power administration buildings and persons, and you can easily feel it while you walk around. And in Rome there is a huge amount of people living there, studying there, coming there for its cultural and entertainment attractions. There is a lot of people who choose Rome, for a reason or another, and this reason is not always work, like it is for Milan.  To add even more to its charm, the light is already the bright one of Southern Italy, the climate is mild, and the city, although full of traffic and noise, offers a lot of parks, piazze, and fountains to enjoy.

What I did there was basically walking. And walking, and walking. I was motivated partly  by the inevitable public transport strike – how come Italy manages to be always so Italian and meet all prejudices in one go? I also managed to visit this exhibition – if you go there, be prepared for a long queue and some overcrowding also inside, but apart from that, I strongly recommend it if you have any interest in art, even if you are not a huge fan of Caravaggio’s period or of painting.

Of course I had a few food addresses to try out.

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March 26, 2010

That’s cheating

I previously mentioned how sometimes you can, and actually should, cut corners when cooking. I also previously mentioned how much I trust this blog. It is one of those blogs whose recipes have all the wow factor you may want or need, are clearly explained and are 100% reliable.

This blog recently posted a recipe for puff pastry. I tried it. Not only did it work, not only was it easy, indeed, drop dead easy, indeed, almost as easy as walking to the store and buying puff pastry. Not only all of these, but also, the result was better. I mean, not only better than store bought stuff, but better than the results you get when you don’t cut any corners at all. I am not scared of challenges, when it comes to cooking.  And I did try once or twice to make puff pastry, on very special occasions. I hated myself for my stubbornness and cried on broken pastry and butter everywhere in my kitchen. You know, just the regular puff pastry experience. After all that effort I was then of course ready to swear that my puff pastry was the best one in the whole world, and you know, it was not exactly  bad – the point is that in the end, all in all, puff pastry is definitely – let us face it – definitely not worth the effort.

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March 21, 2010

Sushi party

The winter semester is over. This means that also my German classes take a break for a while, and so we had to have a party to celebrate, natürlich!

My Japanese friends offered to organise a sushi party, that turned out to be  as fun as it sounds. Also from the food point of view, I am won over by Japanese cooking. In Italy sushi was extremely hip a couple of years ago, and is still quite popular because, well, if you are that cool, what else can you eat without getting fat? As it often happens, there is much more to Japanese cooking than sushi (of course I advise you to have a look at these beautiful sites, if you don’t know them; and for some great pictures and entertaining reads, if you read Italian, go here). And also in the world of sushi, there is much more than raw fish.

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March 17, 2010

My daily soup

Did I already say how much I love this place? And how much I love this cookbook? I love it so much that I could not contemplate closing it in a box, and it is the only cookbook that made the move with me.

Their cooking can be summarized – their words, not mine – in ‘garlic and lemon’. Love it or hate it. I had a chance to try the cookbook because it was in the library, after reading this recension. I fell in love with the recipes, and obviously, first time I went to London for a trip, I basically choose the hotel because it was just a few meters away from their Notting Hill shop :). It was no disappointment, also on subsequent visits.

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March 6, 2010

Not exactly pretty

carrot macadamia cakeOften to obtain outstanding results you need to make a considerable amount of effort. In cooking, especially at home, this is not necessarily true – there are so many corners you can cut shamelessly and without anyone noticing. However there are a few occasions where a lot of work is involved. A lot of concentration, organisation, preparation, and dishes to be washed. Some recipes are not worth it, some of them are. This cake is definitely one of them flavourwise. If you want to try it, be prepared for a lot of work – nothing difficult, but there is a lot of work, and it takes longer than most other cakes.

On the other hand a lot of home cooks will know that often you can get a very high ‘wow’ factor, leaving people to think you are a culinary genius, with relatively little effort, presentation wise. Of this particular recipe, maybe you can get something that looks ok – I did not succeed this time – but this will never look as good as it tastes. It looks like basically any cake does, not very fancy. I tried baking it in cupcakes, the lazy girl’s trick to a fancy dessert, but some of the moisture was gone, so I ‘d advise you against it. From a commitment point of view, this is a ‘special occasion’ cake, but it does not look like one. It may not look like much. But let your guests taste it – you’ll have all the wow factor you may want and even some more. By the way, for added chic factor, it is a recipe by Pierre Hermé.

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