Advertisements

Archive for the ‘Italian food’ Tag

Uncovering the Past   2 comments

36097619

The Tuscan Child is a book that makes you hungry for Italy, especially its food. Rhys Bowen’s story alternates between two different time periods: 1944 and 1973.

The former recounts British pilot Hugo Langley’s efforts to survive after parachuting from his stricken plane over German-occupied Tuscany. The latter, and bulk of the novel, picks up with his daughter, Joanna, following Hugo’s death. She discovers an unopened letter addressed to Sophia in a small Tuscan village. The letter includes a reference to their “beautiful boy.” With little else to go on, Joanna travels to Italy learn more about Sophia and the boy, who could be her brother.

The chapters involving Hugo answer some of the mystery; others are left to Joanna to solve.

Sophia discovers the wounded pilot and helps keep in him hidden in a bombed-out monastery. She’s limited by scarce resources and the inability to leave home without raising suspicion among the townspeople and Germans. Although it is only a month, Hugo and Sophia fall in love.

Joanna is unable to learn anything about Sophia and none of the old timers in the village knew anything of a wounded pilot. Still, shortly after her arrival, one man suggests he has information for Joanna. Before he’s able to share anything, he’s murdered and Joanna becomes a suspect.

Bowen has crafted a double mystery: one involving the boy and the other the murderer. In the process of unearthing secrets, Joanna is treated to meals lovingly prepared by her guest house owner.

The Tuscan Child
Four Bookmarks
Lake Union Publishing, 2018
336 pages

Advertisements

Comfort (food) Italian Style   Leave a comment

teroniredpasta

I’m not Italian, but that’s my go-to comfort food and pasta tops the list. At Terroni in downtown Los Angeles, the pasta is made fresh daily on site. There’s little else that can offer such solace when it comes to food.

Terroni is located in a cavernous space that once housed a bank. The ceiling seems to reach several stories. Sculptures hang overhead, a boar’s head and art adorn the wall, the open kitchen surges with activity and the dining room is very contemporary given the historic roots of the building.

Bread is brought to the table in a brown paper bag. It’s old world and clever at the same time. Plus, the bread is soft with a chewy crust. We start with Arancini di Modica. The spin on these rice balls, besides the artful way they’re plated, is the cheese and hearty ragu. There are three of us and four arancini. We’re polite about it, but wish we didn’t have to share the fourth.

teronipasta

I order Maccheroncini Geppetto, which was difficult to say, but easy to eat. The rigatoni-like pasta was suffused with a tomato-based sauce featuring homemade sausage, garlic and fontina. The sausage had a nice spice kick easily absorbed by the pasta. I tasted the Spaghetti al Limone, which was like a lemon grove. Olive oil and parmigiano were part of the mix, but lemon was the overwhelming essence.

teronipast

The restaurant is beautiful and likely to be noisy when busy; fortunately, it wasn’t on our visit. I enjoy good conversation with my comfort food.

Terroni Downtown
Four Plates
802 S. Spring St.
Los Angeles

No Reservations About the Food   Leave a comment

paravizalamThe first thing to have at Paravicini’s Italian Bistro is a reservation. We did and were seated right away. The vantage from our table clearly illustrated the wisdom of calling ahead. It’s no wonder this is a popular eatery. The menu, albeit extensive, is creative, the atmosphere is charged, and the food warrants the crowd.

There are plenty of Italian standards: various pastas and several spins on veal and chicken preparations. The surprises come in the form of what are billed as “Paravicini Originals” and the Seafood offerings.

Entrees are served with a house salad. We didn’t realize it was served family style until a bowl too large for one, but not quite big enough for four arrived at the table. The focaccia-like bread was perfect for sopping up olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

paravichicken
The Chicken Valeria falls into the “Originals” category. Two lightly-breaded chicken breasts are cooked with lots of garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a subtle mushroom sauce. It was all served over a bed of angel hair pasta.

The Lasagna was traditional and apparently satisfying since my husband happily cleaned his plate. I didn’t sample my friend’s Grilled Salmon, but it looked delicious. We all shared an order of Green Beans cooked al dente shimmery with olive oil and speckled with copious amounts of diced garlic and chunks of pancetta.

paravibeans

The servings are generous, so much so that three of us each had plenty for lunch the next day. It’s possible people are still waiting for a table.

Paravicini’s Italian Bistro
Four Plates
2801 W. Colorado Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO

Bella Bellissima   Leave a comment

Most Italian restaurants go in for overkill in the dining room: red-checkered table cloths, Chianti bottles coated in streaming tears of wax, accordion music playing in the background. At Bella Panini, however, the emphasis on all things Italian takes place in the kitchen – where it should.

The friends who introduced us to Bella warned us that on a Friday night we’d be in for a lengthy wait to get a table. Somehow, we timed our arrival just right and were seated immediately. Although our companions are regulars,  we all received a warm welcome.

The restaurant features an impressive beer and wine menu, but it’s the food that commands your attention. An array of pastas and Paninis are available, as are soups and salads. The thin crust pizza was tempting, but I was more attracted to the Stuffed Pasta Roll and the nightly fish special: Sea Bass Topped with Etouffee over a bed of Linguini.

The pasta roll is stuffed with sausage, spinach and mushrooms covered with a sun dried tomato pesto sauce. It’s lasagna gone round. The fish was equally creative. Who would think of Etoufee in a place called Bella Panini? The classic Louisiana stew made with shrimp and crawfish was just piquant enough to make sure I was awake to enjoy it. The mild, flakey sea bass was the perfect neutralizer.

The one nod to the décor is in the subtle murals evocative of rural Italy. That’s easy enough to dine with. Mangiare!

Bella Panini
Four-and-a-Half Plates
4 Highway 105
Palmer Lake, Colo

From Italy to Eternity   3 comments

I love receiving books as gifts, especially when it’s obvious the bearer has
decided it’s something I would particularly enjoy. I try to do the same,
but am not – admittedly – always successful. I’m pleased to say my friend,
Esteban, was on the money in giving me Tracey Lawson’s A Year in the
Village of Eternity.

Lawson writes of food and Italy  (two of my favorite things) and longevity.
The secret to a long life has nothing to do with a fountain of youth. Instead,
it is a cascade of fresh, organic, seasonal food augmented by family, friends
and an active lifestyle. That’s Lawson’s premise as she describes Campodimele,
Italy, where the average life expectancy, for men and women, is 95 years!

Lawson provides a month-by-month account of a year in Campodimele, thus
sharing seasonal experiences that coincide with weather, festivals, crops and
food preparation. The village is located between Rome and Naples in the
mountains above the Tyrrhenian coast. The focus is on the people, individuals
who shared their kitchens, produce and recipes, but it’s their lifestyle that is
particularly intriguing. Numerous studies have been conducted linking longe-
vity to the Campomelano diet which is low in salt, includes moderate amounts
of wine, and is  full of protein-rich beans, fish and chicken. All this in addition
to fresh produce, which is canned, dried or otherwise preserved to last through-
out the year.

A bonus, besides Lawson’s vivid, sensual imagery of the landscape, people and
meals, is the collection of photographs and recipes.

A Year in the Village of Eternity
Three and a half Bookmarks
Bloomsbury, 2011
374 pages