Apr 062012
Feasting with Leopards: An Unordinary Cooking Lesson

On a recent morning in Palermo, I found myself a guest at the historic Lanza Tomasi palazzo, where Nicoletta Polo, the Duchess of Palma, was planning a cooking lesson for American students who would arrive after breakfast. I first met Nicoletta some twenty years ago when she was living in New York City. Originally from Venice and an excellent cook, she versed me on the food of the Veneto for research on a book I was writing then, which includes some of her recipes. Today the Duchess lives in the ancestral palace that her husband, Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, has restored. […more…]

Mar 032012
Luxurious Penance: Italian Fast Day Potato Salad

The Italians love good food, fast days or not. All kinds of special dishes have popped up over the centuries to get around papal restrictions designed to curtail excess (sumptuary laws), for Lent and other holy days. Take the fast day salad. There are many resourceful variations on the theme. What all have in common is that they’re meatless. This one is a composed warm salad of creamy boiled potatoes, canned tender Italian blue fin tuna filets, hard-cooked eggs, and asparagus. Italian tuna, called ventresca (stay tuned for a future  post about this as yet under-appreciated delicacy), comes from the belly […more…]

Feb 062012
About that Stracotto: Italian for Very, Very Slow-Cooked, Sublime Stew

And for which I promised a recipe in a recent post (December 15). Just the remedy for February’s chill.  Go to RECIPE> After I finished off producer Piero Catalano’s bottle of Suavis, the aged vinegar from Sicily’s desert island (“The Other Face of Balsamic” [December 15 post]), a small flask of Modena aged balsamic vinegar took its place in my cupboard. Unlike the Suavis, a souvenir from my September in Trapani (I drank it as a cordial, an “amen” to the day, blissful thimbleful by thimbleful and it was gone by January), aged Modena balsamico can be more easily replaced. […more…]