Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Slice of Heaven

Unlike the heavier meal experience of the North American pizza, the authentic Neopolitan pizza is usually folded and eaten on the run, or enjoyed as a tasty appetizer to a lengthy meal. The crust is paper thin and typically crisp on the edge and soft in the centre, with each bite an exquisite taste sensation. Few toppings are added, and the pizza is usually individually sized and irregularly shaped. All in all, the flavour is sweet, smoky, light and fragrant: a flavorful experience! Here's my friend's recipe for a classic pizza:

Pizza Margherita
(Named after Queen Margherita, this favorite has the colours of the Italian Flag: Red-tomatoes; Green-basil; and White-Mozzarella.)
Basic Pizza Dough
6 oz. grated mozzarella cheese, buffalo is preferable
¼ c. Italian olive oil
3-4 Tbsp fresh basil
4-5 fresh Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
-Preheat oven to 500 Degrees F
-Roll out pizza dough and brush evenly with olive oil.
-Spread mozzarella on pizza leaving a ½” border for crust.
-Top with tomato slices and basil.
-Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned.
-Remove Pizza and let cool on wire rack. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


When I was twenty one I stayed with my parents' friends in Chianti, Tuscany. Every evening after a busy day of churches, museums, and piazzas, we would motor back to their four hundred year old farmhouse built in the middle of a working vineyard and olive grove. As dusk fell, everyone would gather in the courtyard for an evening ritual of apperitifs and antipasti. Invariably, we would munch on pinzimonio: a colourful array of fresh, crisp, and fragrant vegetables. Fennel, radishes, celery, peppers, carrots and delicately steamed artichokes or white asparagas - all of these would be dipped into a flavourful homegrown olive oil, sprinkled with coarse salt, and then devoured with unpretentious pleasure. Sometimes a dip of hot crushed anchovies and garlic would be added, but I preferred the aromatic olive oil.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Porchetta Food Experience

One of my earliest Italian food memories is savouring a a porchetta panini dripping with pork juice and flavour. I was eight, and our housekeeper had promised to take me to the marketplace to buy the daily groceries and indulge me with a snack. This was a huge treat because my mother disliked street food. She thought it was dirty or germ ridden, and in the mid 60s, it was bad manners for British ex-pats to eat on the street. I'm sure that my taste buds were super charged that afternoon because of the forbidden nature of my first porchetta experience. Our housekeeper knew my mother's rule, but could not resist the allure of roast suckling pig turning on a spit in the hub of the marketplace. Trastavere was one of Rome's more colorful neighborhoods at that time. Its market was a kaleidascope of culinary gems, artisanal foods, and regional specialties. The focus point for us, however, was the porchetta stall where all the locals were gathering. I think what I remember most about this porchetta experience from all those years ago was the texture of the meat. It was fall apart tender, so soft that it melted in your mouth. The fragrance of the porchetta was a mix of roasted crisp crackling, garlic and onions, and a faint lingering scent of juniper, rosemary and lemon. The overall taste sensation took my breath away. It was like nothing my English mother had ever created in the kitchen. Even our housekeeper, who prided herself on her culinary arts, was made speechless by this simple peasant meal.