You would have expected the Romans to spend their Buona Pasqua at home, eating chocolate and Easter bread, and roasting lamb for dinner. After attending morning mass at one of the 900+ churches in la bella città. 

Well –

Certainly that is a bit of a cliche, but I did think I would find few establishments open – and rather empty streets.  Not so.  It was a stunning sunny day – in the 70’s – and thousands of people, Italians – not just tourists – were out and about. In the historic center anyway. 

But I thought this scene on a small side street of the Monti neighborhood was rather touching.  A family held their Easter dinner outside on a wooden table – here just a few members of their group were wrapping up their meal. 

Carina. Sweet. 

So, I set out for a lake adventure on this sunny Spring day in Italy – getting an “open ticket” on the ferry, allowing me to stop in one of six towns on Lake Como, including Bellagio. 

I realize once I am on the boat that wherever I start – I would have about a two-hour wait until the next ferry departure because it was lunchtime. That’s okay – I am going to need something to eat anyway. 

I make my first visit at Lenno – walk along the waterfront. See a few tourist places – and head up the hill to find the center (il centro) of the tiny little town. And a restaurant not for tourists – which, of course, I don’t regard myself as — but a place to eat for the townsfolk. 

I stop at a post office and buy some stamps (francobolli) for my postcards (cartoline). I ask the dude behind the counter – in Italian (of course: hey, I’m no stinkin’ tourist!!!) (which is ridiculous because I am. But I digress). 

Where can I find a restaurant, I inquire. Oh, we have hundreds of restaurants, tanti (many). 10 kilometri. 

I know enough to know I am not walking 10 kilometers to find a non-tourist restaurant. Pizza would be fine. At this point. Tic toc – lunchtime is almost over. My ferry departure is closer. AND I needed a toilette!

I return to the restaurant I’d  rejected. Order a nice salad and a glass of vino bianco and ask the waitress. Scusi. Dov’è il centro?  Oh madame, she answers: here! This is il centro!!

Ha! Serves me right. 

Lunch was perfect, by the way. 

It comes to the table – steam, redolent of garlic, warmly wafting from the plate. 

A mosaic of buckwheat pasta, melted cheese and green vegetables.  Where to start?  With a bite of potato? Or some kind of perfectly cooked green vegetable: the leaf of a romanesco cauliflower, a slice of – I don’t know – perhaps fennel. Subtle little greens – maybe broccoli – maybe spring vegetables. 

And that pasta! Humor me as I wax poetic over this pasto di pasta. A thick, not wide, noodle – with that hearty bite of buckwheat, delicately covered with sauce. 

It may triumph over Cacio e Pepe.

Maybe.  I haven’t spent any real time in Roma, yet. 

My very first pizzocchere. Accent on the second syllable: pea-ZOCK-uhree. 

Oh – did I mention dessert: la meringa con fragole?
Soft and crunchy. Meringue. With strawberry sauce and a kinda squishy, gelato-like layer. 

Burp!

Janet Eats, indeed. Better head out for una passeggiata up and down those steep and narrow hilly streets called contrada.

Italy awaits and I am venturing out of la bella città di Roma for the Lake District. A little village described as “if you want to do nothing, go there.”

Oh boy!

I am very excited to try this dish called pizzocchere – though it kinda sounds pizza-like – it is not. It is buckwheat pasta with melted cheese, potatoes and greens.

Yum!

I will be sure to report in.  More foods to explore, paths to walk, people to meet. More anon! 

 

 

Minnesota State Fair 2016

Every year, my trek to the Great Minnesota Get-Together is both the same.  And, absolutely different than years past.  But, always, consistently, fun and memorable.

Steve & I at the Fair

I always go to Day One of the Fair in Saint Paul with my “fair husband” Steve. We are particularly compatible as a fair couple because we like the same things, yes, but are also open to the choices of the other person. Plus, we share the food.

iron range meat

Iron Range Meat & Potatoes

So without further ado (because I know you are dying to find out) here is what we ate at the Fair:

  • Iron Range Meat & Potatoes
  • Pronto Pup®
  • Honey Sunflower Ice Cream, Honey Lemonade, Honey Lemon Sorbet (can you tell I am a big fan of the honey wing of the Horticulture Building)
  • waffle fries
  • birch beer
  • vanilla milkshake (only 2 spoonfuls; too creamy. Me, I like icey shakes)
  • blue cheese & corn fritz
  • candied bacon donut sliders
  • cup of coffee, flight of dark beer, Clown Shoes chocolate porter, lots of water
  • roasted corn
  • cinnamon banana dark chocolate Jonny Pop.

For more pictures and narrative, I invite you to check me out on Instagram @nyproducer

 

 

Quickie post to say that I am in serious training for the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  Yes, you can count on coming back here in just a little over 24 hours – to get the full list of what I and my “fair-husband” will have eaten, shared, and delighted over.

Time was (just look back at lists past) – that I could barely get all the items consumed on one page.  Now, really — who has the stomach to eat that much.  Ha!

In training means: not too much eating beforehand.  Taking good care of myself.  Making room.  And studying the list of the new foods.

This is at the top of my list:  Candied Bacon Donut Slider!  It IS a donut hole – so don’t go judgin’.  I’ll report back!candied_bacon_slider_lb

AIN’T LIFE GRAND!!!

 

Oh – late addition: how did I miss this one?

Candied Bacon BLT (sensing a theme here!)  I’ll let the fair description take it from here:candied_bacon_blt_lb

Crispy, thick candied bacon, rancher’s slaw and green tomato spread on a sweet egg bun.

YUMMY!

My favorite new veggie du stagione (that’s season in Italian, of course) is winter squash.  We’re talking much more than pumpkin.

I guess, like many others – I have a love affair with pumpkin through the fall season.  Yes, I know it is popular to trash pumpkin because it has become so darn ubiquitous (you know it’s a problem when Starbucks makes a latte out of it).

But, as a squash: pumpkin and its much more succulent cousins: delicata, Hubbard, kabocha, Blue Hubbard, butternut — it is a ubiquitous cold weather treat.

Easy as hell to prepare: half it (or, if really large: section it) and pop it in the oven to roast.  Lots of techniques on the sectioning part — because attacking any of these tough-skinned vegetables can be perilous.  Guy on the farmers market told me, hold it in your hands – at about waist height – and take it down to the ground/floor.  It cracks into cookable pieces.  I have found best to wrap it in a towel — the splunk can send seeds and stringy goo all over your kitchen.

My brilliant friend Victoria Granof, food style and cook extraordinaire, follows the advice of some television cook whose name I forget, who says put the whole squash in the over for 15 minutes at some degrees — probably 400-ish.  It doesn’t cook, but becomes super easy to cut.

What can you do:

eat it roasted as is, puree it and make recipes requiring pumpkin:

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal: 1/2 c. pumpkin puree, 3/4 c almond milk, 1/c oatmeal, cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice/dash salt/vanilla. I use a couple drops of the real-deal stevia and 2 t. brown sugar.  Cook for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, top with 1 T sliced almonds & 1 t. brown sugar – and cook another 10 minutes.  One serving.  And for those who are counting 7 WeightWatchers® points.

Squash soup.  Veggie boullion cube, 2 cups water, shallots & onions, some roasted kabocha (2 cups maybe?), a 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce – cook it up a bit – and have at it with a cook’s best friend: the immersion blender.  Zero WW® points.

And, the list goes on – use your imagination.

Oh by the way, the beautiful lady with the delicata is Signora Maria, straight from Bagnacavallo near Bologna — created by Italian artist Anna Tazzari – a beautiful woman in every way – and extraordinarily talented.

S Maria and Squash