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Strascinati con pomodoro e basilico

I’ve decided that I’m going to master making pasta completely by hand. This thought first came about a few weeks ago when I was trying and (mostly) succeeding in making a Puglian dough out of water and semolina flour, but was cemented when we finally sat down to watch the season two premiere of Master of None. Earlier that evening I had been feeling rather vulnerable and grouchy but thought that a solid workout and some soothing yoga had calmed my nerves. Then Aziz Ansari has to go and make a big, soaring love letter to classic Italian cinema and show this sequence:

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Spaghetti all’amatriciana

This past weekend was lovely, if it also went by too quickly, because we were able to cook at our own speed and please only ourselves. While I’m grateful for everything we’ve been able to do and thankful for everyone who came ’round last weekend to celebrate Michael, I was sorely in need of a return to a more normal weekend schedule. The kind where we wake up, I read for a bit, and then Michael eventually gets up and makes us bacon and eggs and we figure out what we’re going to do for the rest of the day. If there’s a plan to head around the harbor to Fells Point or Harbor East I’ll get my workout in before we go, and then we while away the rest of the afternoon over long walks, a couple of beers, and either some bar food or barbecue (and occasionally an oyster or six). We’ll grab provisions for dinner at the Whole Foods nearby before making the walk back over to Fed Hill, and then we’ll shower and make dinner and chill out for the rest of the day. Read More

Busiate with pesto trapanese

Fall is here, and already I’m unimpressed because I feel like it’s been nothing but grey and cloudy days since the Equinox. And now we’re expected to get buckets of rain for the next four days or so! How are we supposed to enjoy all of those fall things that are so amazing people start yearning for them at the beginning of summer if we all have to be cloistered up inside?

It’s nonsense, is what it is. Read More

Fedelini with Creminis, Guanciale, and Sage

This post marks the start of a series of experiments that can be credited to none other than Mimi Thorisson of Manger. A few days ago I came across her most recent post in which she chronicles foraging for porcinis to make the most beautiful homemade ravioli I’ve ever seen, and while initially I wanted to make the recipe she posted, I realized there were some issues:

  1. The only porcinis I can find are dried. (Not a dealbreaker, but they aren’t really in the spirit of the recipe.)
  2. The recipe also calls for pork cheeks. Pork cheeks, sadly, are not readily available near us, at least in a way that would make them easy to transport home.

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Fontana della Bollente, Acqui Terme, Alessandria.

Fontana della Bollente, Acqui Terme, Alessandria.

Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, ‘nostalgia’ literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.

–Don Draper, “The Wheel,” Mad Men

It’s appropriate, I suppose, that I write this on the same day my madeleine mold tray arrived in the mail, if for the classic literature reference alone. But today isn’t one for cakes to be dipped into tea; no, it’s for listening to Nino Rota’s score for La Dolce Vita for the umpteenth time, and maybe drinking a nice glass of Barbera d’Asti with dinner. It’s about figuring out where in Stamford I can find the freshest eggs possible to make myself a plate of delicious carbornara and portioning out what is likely the last of the sage leaves from my balcony plant for some veal saltimbocca.

You see, our friend and innkeeper during our stay in Acqui Terme has formally announced that she and her husband are in the process of selling their B&B, and while I had a feeling that something like this was going to happen sooner rather than later, the finality of the news struck me with an overwhelming sadness that even threw me off-guard. We visited them just over five years ago on our honeymoon and spent an idyllic week there, walking around the northern Italian countryside, cooking little meals in their gorgeous kitchen, trespassing in their neighbors’ vineyards, and exploring the spa town that was a few kilometers down the hill from their property. I’ve written snippets about our trip over the years, but like most of our travels that have particularly resonated with me, I can never bring myself to write more than a few words at a time about how the trip affected me.

Forgotten Nebbiollo grapes.

Forgotten Nebbiollo grapes.

To be honest, I’ve struggled to understand this since-growing reticence of mine to write at length about these experiences, either here or even in my private journal; I mean, I’d assume I’d be just as quick to want to capture the words that described everything I’d seen and tasted and experienced in a place just as much as I whipped out my camera to photograph seemingly everything in sight while I was there. But I think there’s something to be said for not putting it to page, however private that page may be, because then perhaps once it’s released from the depths of both the heart and the mind, the urge, the yearning to revisit those feelings in person again could go away.

Or maybe I’m afraid of putting the experience into words lest they cause that experience to plummet from the profound into the trite. Isn’t that what can hurt about nostalgia the most—that our memories, no matter how fond we are of them, aren’t that special after all upon closer examination? Read More

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