Sep 262014
 

After four days in Rimini for the Gelato World Tour Grand Finale, about which you will soon get a full report, my companions and I headed for Bologna. Ravenna is about midway between the two cities and we decided to stop here overnight. If its cuisine is overshadowed by those of other cities in the region—Bologna, Modena, Ferrara, Parma—certainly its art is world-class. The seat of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, and of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century, Ravenna’s 5th and 6th century mosaics are considered the finest in the world outside of Istanbul.

Early Christian mosaics in the Church of San Vitale and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe:

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Photographs by Julia della Croce

 

Sep 242014
 

….Not from the Rimini museum where I recently photographed them, but from Facebook. I’ve been trying to post a story I wrote about the drawings from his dreams yesterday, but Facebook has been blocking the link. Could it be because of his surreal images of naked women? To get to the post, click here.

Drawing from Fellini's Book of Dreams in the City Museum, Rimini. Photo: Julia della Croce

Drawing from Fellini’s Book of Dreams in the City Museum, Rimini. Photo: Julia della Croce

Sep 222014
 
Rimini. Falling into Fellini

This is where the Gelato World Tour landed after sweeping through four continents. I’ll be reporting on the results of the contest that brought me here for the “world’s best gelato” in an upcoming post, but here’s another side of this splashy seaside town on the Costa del Sole than its appetite for gelato, famed night life, and nine miles of beaches. Rimini is where the  journalist, illustrator, script writer, and finally, legendary film director, Federico Fellini, was born. He never forgot this ancient Roman town on the Adriatic, and it never forgot him. Everything from the airport to the piazzale, [...more...]

Aug 242014
 
Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Pickle, in Ten Minutes

Pickling hasn’t been this hot in America since covered wagon days when being able to preserve food for the long cold winters meant the difference between life and death (remember “Little House on the Prairie”)? Besides anything else, pickling is downright fun. If you know how to, you’re ahead of the game, but if you don’t, did you know that you can “quick pickle” in the time it takes to boil water and vinegar together? Here’s my latest article in Zester Daily for doing just that with the one crop that everyone always seems to have too much of, zucchini. Why [...more...]

Aug 102014
 
Readers Write: About that Peppery Steak Salad Scented with Olive Oil...

The recipe in my last post for a quick and easy steak and potato dish (read here) seemed to be especially popular, and some of you sent me comments and variations. I’m passing some of them along here. One more thing…do wash it all down with a nice Pugliese red. Salute! Great recipe, Julia–reminds me of Tuscan tagliata di bistecca. And perfect for a no-nonsense meal on a hot summer night. You reminded me that the great teaching chef Bill Briwa from the CIA (you know which one of those I mean) experimented with beef and olive oil and found [...more...]

Aug 022014
 
Steak and Potatoes Take on New Meaning Doused with Bold Olive Oils

After my recent travels to Puglia, Italy’s southernmost region, I’ve had its big, bold olive oils on my mind. The province of Bari, founded well before the 8th century BC when it was absorbed by Magna Graecia, has lived on olive oil for millennia. Today the area still makes most of Italy’s olive oils. Drive past places with names like Cassano delle Murge, Bitetto, Bitonto, Bitritto, and Binetto, and you see nothing but forests of olive trees and billows of sky, interrupted now and then by towns undisturbed by tourism. But where once, production was geared toward quantity to meet Europe’s [...more...]

Jul 242014
 
Going Italian at the Fancy Food Show

Summer Fancy Food Show, New York, 2014. The Italians always come bearing cheeses and prosciutto, impeccably dressed and wearing the latest eyeglass styles. If you want to sample some truffles or condimento, they’d rather huddle together in the back corner of their little booths and sip espresso than give you any. You have to wait until they’re good and ready to sell you something, or for those without importers yet, to promote something. That’s the the idea, isn’t it?—To sell you something? Even my “Press” badge doesn’t budge them. Still, the Italian pavilion is always my first stop. I like [...more...]

Jul 172014
 
Readers Write: Dr. Brownlee and His Pasta Prodigy

Every now and then someone sends me a message that’s a real charmer. Here’s one I received at the end of last summer about a recipe that appears in my very first cookbook, Pasta Classica: The Art of Italian Pasta Cooking. The writer, Dr. John Brownlee, and so many other readers, have raved about it over three decades, so I’m sharing the message and recipe here.  I am preparing to make lo Stracotto for the second time from your book Pasta Classica, which I purchased in 1988 in New Orleans. It taught me to make pasta, a gift which I have [...more...]

Jun 152014
 
Toritto, Puglia: An Afternoon in My Father's Land

My father left his native Toritto as an infant in his mother’s arms in 1909. With his young parents and grandmother, he sailed for Ellis Island in steerage. The family said that in those bleak times in Puglia, they had survived by eating the wild greens that grew in the fields where they had toiled. Although he returned to Italy many times as an adult, especially to the Carrara quarries to buy marble for his shop in America, my father never went back to where he was born. What kindled his memory was the food he was raised on. His [...more...]

Jun 102014
 
Love Me Tender: The Italian Way with Green Beans

Besides home-grown tomatoes, green beans from my garden are the vegetable I most look forward to in summer. Right after my beans seeds went into the ground and my thoughts turned to eating them, it occurred to me to write Love Me Tender, a story for Zester Daily, about how I like them best. You may want to know my favorite way to cook them if you love them as much as I do, and if you don’t, you might change your mind after you read  here.