Thursday, June 4, 2009

Life on the outside ain't what it used to be.

Well, its 4:12am, my cab is picking me up in about 48 minutes. It's been a long day, enjoying a beautiful day in the park, saying my goodbyes, having farewell lunch/dinner/drinks, packing up, buying gifts, and developing blisters on my feet. I realized while walking along the viale that while contemplating my plans of leaving, bologna, for the first time, felt like somewhere that I had been living for the past 5 months, and not just visiting as a student until i would inevitably leave, but as an inhabitant who developed relationships and bought groceries and frequented favorite locations.

Despite the nagging feeling that I haven't done nearly all the things that I wanted to do while being here, I have made lots of amazing friends, learned a great deal about good food, and how to fully submerge myself in completely new territories. With that said, I'm super psyched to get home, although I'll have to brace myself for a serious drop in commercial food standards.

No.1 favorite unused blog title post: to salsicce his own.

Monday, June 1, 2009

that's wierd.

I always thought my grandpa was crazy for mixing coca-cola and wine, breaking out into laughter without prompt, and watching lifetime original movies, but it turns out, it's quite a popular thing in many areas of the world (i'm talking about the coke and wine mix). At dinner one night, i mentioned it to Paola, and she said that In Spain it's a popular drink known as Calimocho (from the basque Kalimotxo), in Chile it goes by jote, in South Africa its called Kotemba, and in many eastern european nations it is referred to as bambus. Apparently in China they mix redwine with 7up, thats just silly.

Seems like the whole world has a word for this concoction with the exception of italy and north america, Reminds me of the Lemonade-Beer, called 'Radler' that i had during my 2 hour layover in Munich. I tried redwine n' coke that night, and on a seperate occassion, and i gotta reccomend trying it, just make sure the coke is from a good year.

And did you know, that you can make pizza dough by substituting yeast and water with beer? I tried a piece that Amos, a fellow brown in bologna student, made, and I was surprised by how good it was. The crust came out a bit browner and the taste had a great little bite to it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Under the Toscolano sun

I spent this past weekend as a guest in the warm hospitality of the Russonello family, at their retreat, tucked away in the verdant rolling hillsides of central Umbria. When we weren't watching the godfather trilogy in their very spacious and welcoming open-plan livingroom, dining room, kitchen space, we went on driving tours of the small [very very small] hilltop villages of the area. In the summer, many of these villages have festivals, one of which featured a black sabbath cover band. Out of all the delicious food, drink, and gelato, I gotta say the one that stayed with me was the cinghiale, which is wild-boar in Dante's language, and flavorful on a different level.

The dish itself was of a soupy consistency with large chunks of wildboar crowding throughout. I don't think I could describe all the tastes that went on in that dish, but i'll try. Most prominently there was lemon which gave the meat broth a unique bite that i'll have to experiment with, the rinds that were left over were soft and delectable as well [i do so love lemons], then there was the juniper leaves, there was a hint of it in the broth, but when you suddenly had a chunk of boar with juniper on it, the flavor punched your face, in the face, with gin-tinged delight. Next was the olives, small black olives with flesh barely covering its enormous pit [which often threatend to break my teeth] and they hid in the soup like little landmines, but the saltiness was definitely a neccessary compliment to the pork. I had to tell the waiter to aspetta for a few minutes while i mopped up the last bits of sauce with some saltless umbrian bread. We washed this down with a bottle of Montefalco, which had a very abrasive taste, but seemed different after each glass. I'd contend that it tasted really sweet when directly following a bite of cinghiale. I'm not going to feign a comprehensive knowledge of wine, but i do know that a san giovese can be bought cheap and never lets you down.

ma dai!!

hrmph. I'm torn. I feel my cooking career reaching a premature demise, it will be euthanized by a lack of european grocers. I sense this because of a bad omen, my world famous lemon cheesecake, came out completely bland, after spending 6 hours making 3 of them, one of which is going into an end of the year potluck being held at the paglietta apartment.

In my defense, [against my own criticism] the ricotta, cream cheese, egg, and flour cake batter tastes exactly how it sounds, light and delicate with just the right cakeyness that i was searching for. Even the crust came out as terriffic as it did originally. But i forgot to add the one thing that makes dessert a dessert and that is sugar.. how'd i forget this? a culinary mishap due to a rushed single handed operation and a disorganized workspace, and i was so proud at the time..

well i suppose my hubris will be rewarded with a lesson of some sort.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Things I can accomplish while waiting for an Italian professor to show up for a final exam:

-take my final exam
-recite every line from yacht rock in my head
-hunt unicorn
-consider a lemon
-bitch about my professor being late
-forget all the material I crammed the night before
-count to infinity
-get wine drunk to improve my spoken italian

thinking about an Italian showing up on time to something is almost as ridiculous as thinking that an Italian would consider forming a line for something, rather than a mob of wild hand gesticulation. I'd also like to take this time to contemplate why Italians, unlike other people around the world, use their alternative methods of transportation in order to obtain a slower speed, like the bus [which only comes on time when i don't need it, and in that case it will come in fleets] which only travels around or obliquely through the city, so its really no more convenient than walking. On one occasion I actually saw someone sitting on a vespa and using their feet to move forward,they will stop at nothing to impede my use of the sidewalk. I'm not so sure I'll miss these absolutely charming aspects of Italian culture.

this is also my first non food related post, wowzers.

C.R.E.A.M. sauce

the other evening, before I embarked on thinking about studying for the rest of the night, me and some cohorts decided to have a little dinner get-together. We purchased a ton of spaghetti, although spaghetti has a pretty loose definition here, it looked more like really thin tagliatelle, but i'm not quite sure what the difference is. Anywho, i whipped up my very first cream sauce, and it was deliciously subtle.

Get a pot all hot and bothered:
-melt some buttah, by some i mean as much as you can look at without making yourself sick.
-add in some milk and flour, this is what makes the entire base of your sauce, so use as much as neccessary for the amount of pasta your making, and you want enough flour so it gets kinda goopy.
-some concentrated tomato paste all up in there so it turns a nice orange
-let that bubble for a little while, stir it so it doesn't get burned to the sides of the pot.
-add in yer spices (i used white pepper and salt)
[so far, it should probably taste like nothing]
-throw in some diced up cubes of Spicy Sausage/pepperoni, this mixes in with the sauce and creates an amazingly light spicyness,
-also add a bunch of rucola, which has an amazing flavor all its own, you'll smell it, and you'll smell it good. now this is where your flavor comes from
-I also threw in a bunch of cubed baby tomatoes, but i don't really remember tasting them, so that's your call.
-just stir that for a few minutes, its done.

its really simple and delishus.
-for your health.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Risotto Hypothesis

While enjoying an amazing dinner prepared by/with 4 of my favorite ladies in Bologna, in a spacious apartment, high up (relatively speaking) 6 floors above Via Boldrini on the northside of the city, an idea for a dinner experiment glittered in my eye.

The Dishes for this meal would be:
-Bleu cheese Risotto, sounds wierd, but i haven't met a wierd risotto that i didn't like. (small portion)
-Buffalo style Chicken cutlet. While at Mambo (see below) Gio tells me that Buffalo sauce is just hot sauce with butter, I'm sure the lovely folks at the Anchor Bar would note there are some subtler nuances.
-I'm not sure what drink would go best with this dish, how about we ask you! the audience!... Beer you say? huh, that just might work.

- break for a quick food coma -

-Apple/pear,cinnamon/raisin crumble with redwine(a combination i dub sultry)
[note: Sofia wanted to do a cheddar apple/pear crumble, but cheddar is a rare commodity in this country, and i think it sounds silly. I'll have to get to the lab and study that combo.]
[[doublenote: Sofia redeems herself by adding potato skins as a side for the main dish, excellent!]]

MAMBO: Apperitivi time

Italy is home to a terrific little philosophy of pre-dinner eats known as apperitivo. Which translates into appetizers! Thanks, Word Reference! The process is simple, you walk into any bar, order a drink, and a full buffet of finger foods is layed open, vulnerable for your big fat American mouth to binge on.

The apperitivi at Mambo, the Museo d'arte moderna di Bologna (1000 internets to the [wo]man who translates that bit of Italian trickery) is especially dazzling to the senses. The food was great, pretty typical appertivo fair, lots of rice(with bits of steak), cous cous, pasta, even some chick peas with tuna. What made it for me was the cocktail selection, Watermelon!(hooray summer) and the continuous playlist of obscure songs covered by obscure artists.

The Cocktail I had was thus:
Real Mule (quickly punned with "as opposed to the fake mule? *eyeroll*")
-Ginger Beer
-Triple Sec
-Big ol' orange slices
-garnished with an orange wedge dusted with ginger

The combination of orange and ginger was just absolutely refreshing, a potent potable suited for summer consumption for sure.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


So I've discovered that not all citrus fruits were created equal. Within the species of lemons, there exists a Lemon, this Lemon comes from Sicily, and it is amazing. Much sweeter than a normal lemon, even the rind is completely palatable and easier to chew than your average lemon(and I've done my fair share of rind chewing, aka free lemons and sugar at applebees). The amazingly friendly and often socially awkward grocer explained to me that they are similar to meyer lemons, from california. These Lemons are ugly on the outside, usually scrawny and dark, but you'll notice the superiority in taste without needing to test it against another lemon. Having said that, I've been taking this opportunity to make many a lemon based dish.

Lemon Risotto with rucola and onion
Lemon Cheesecake with biscotti crust
Candied Lemons (for cheesecake)
Lemonade (spawned from the left over syrup from the Candied Lemons)
Lemon Icee (i accidentally freezed the lemonade, turned out pretty good)
Pasta La Vista (an experimental pasta dish that became amazing, it's in my 'Great Job' post)

the lemon cheesecake took the most effort, i got the recipe from here yea i made the biscotti crust (actually daniel did, but i made sure to take credit for it at dinner) and it made all the difference. I used limoncello instead of lemon zest. It came out not completely solid, didn't have that slightly crumbly cakey consistency that I was hoping for, but the taste was all there, absolutely delicious. You should not be daunted by creating cheesecake, the effort is definitely worth the reward.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Risotto is great for many reasons, some being; it is thick and hardy, fills you up, it goes very well as a side or a main dish, it holds for a long time, and tastes good cold. You can also get very creative with risotto. The only problem is that it requires constant attention for about a half hour. This recipe is all thanks to Sofia, who taught me to scrape the bottom of the pot, and frequently reminds me of the size of my head.

this is the main formula:
in one pot:
-boil up some broth, what kind depends on your tastes
in another pot:
-sautee up some stuff, i would reccommend diced onions and sliced mushrooms, spinach is also really good, but i've also made it with sicilian lemons (an article is coming on those), tomatoes, whatever your imagination fancys. [note: if your using frozen spinach, put it in at the end, lest it get soggy]
-Add rice and lots of olive oil, let that sit for a hot second
-Add broth to rice slowly, stirring constantly and forcefully
-Add some wine at the same time, give that some time to cook in and burn out
-Once you think its done, you can add in some cheese (pecorino, parmesan, etc.) or even some yogurt (whacky)

Thanks Sofia!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tequila Mockingbird

Drink No.1: Tequila Mockingbird
If a drink of this title already exists, it doesn't matter, this is an original, i call tabula rasa on all literary themed cocktails.

peach schnapps
>All of the above ingredients, shaken with ice, strained into a glass, then
Rose's Lime, Stirred in
Sink Grenadine in the shape of a mockingbird

the ingredients are supposed to represent the southern roots of the novel and perhaps the theme of the drink is the stingy, sticky, o-so-good taste of justice. If done correctly, all of your friends will be wowed at how much it actually tastes like a mockingbird.

Drink no.2: The Imperial

Gin (not gonna show any brand loyalty)
Chinotto soda (specific to italy , might be able to find it in america)

this drink mixes the spicy complexity of gin with the spicy-sweet and dry (and decidedly not like dr.pepper) taste of chinotto soda. Together, it tastes like you have money.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


This is a weblog full of amazingly delectable recipes that all share one common ideaology: they are [mostly] very simple recipes that end with very complex, or at least very delicious, tastes. I suggest you explore the site on a full stomach, lest you drown from salivation:

They're all comfort foods from my childhood, except I've never seen any of them before. I'm going to be using this site on an alarmingly frequent scale when i get back to New York.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Great Job

Yesterday, in a gloriously successful attempt at dinner, an amazing sauce was created by not myself but my guest.

If i remember correctly, this is what went down in a frying pan:
olive oil and butter (butter butter butter), add lotsa rucola, halved cherry tomatoes, and some cubed salami. Let that cook then add enough white wine to create enough volume that it could actually sauce something (if sauce isn't a verb, i still suggest its use). At the last minute, throw in some bits of mozzarella, once they get gushy and melted, just throw it over some pasta, we used 'maccheroncini' which is just big fat hollow spaghetti, a bigger bucatini if you will (my italian roommates looked at it like it came from space), although i think it'd also go well with farfalle or ziti.

I'm assuming some spices (salt n' pepper etc.) were added during the cooking process, but I was busying myself with some lemon chicken cutlets (which also came out deliciously).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Dough

That's right, like some kind of brilliant (or mad) scientist, a freak culinary mishap in the attempt at making some late night crepes ended in a concoction that tastes exactly like some gooey primordial cinnamon toast crunch.

how did this happen? observe the simplicity:
flour [a bunch]
eggs [2]
Cane/Brown Sugar [enough]
Water [a little soupyness]
Milk [some]
Butter [a chunk]
-Whisk until thick and delicious looking
-Heat a pan with butter, make the cakes thin by pouring a little batter at a time and then tilting the pan in different directions to move the batter around.
-Cook until not gooey [to flip, since you only make one massive cake at a time, try using some wrist/elbow action and flip the pancake through the air, it's very satisfying]

Cinnamon Toastyness - Quickly fry up butter with a bunch of cane sugar and cinnamon, drizzle this toasty topping all over the cakes themselves after they've been lightly buttered.

nom nom nom
~For your health

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Da Streets

Haven't updated in a while, to which i'm sure all of my readers are devastated (hi mom).
Pithy summarizations of the [street] food in the cities i've visited this past month:

Cork: potato wedges and chicken baguettes washed down with 2.75 euro beamish
London: Expensive and delicious gourmet foods next to meat pies
Prague: really thin churros, cheap beer [under 2 euro], cylindrical pretzels, and potato latkes type things that all of my friends found eating more than one disgusting (they offered all of theirs to me, i accepted)
Munich: schnitzels not my fave, bar pretzels are crunchy and delish, crazy lemonade beer
Athens: gyros and souvlaki [for 2-2.50 euro!], and lots of different things baked into pie crust

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Burger Hypothesis

While spending last week in the UK (lodging in cork and london provided by some wonderful friends) I had postulated the formation of what could be a perfect burger. Perfection being in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder being me, i ruminated for a solid 2 minutes on the ingredients. they are as follows

Bun: Toasted, first primed with some olive oil, basil, mozzarella and tomato

Topping: Sauteed; spinach, sliced mushroom, and some onion (rings preferred), throw in some mozarella (UPDATE: almost forgot the lightly fried pancetta slices)

Patty: Beef, add: 1 egg and breadcrumb (as adhesive), then bits of mushroom, some salt, some basil, some pepper, some diced onion. Medium rare of course.

The Side: peeled and sliced potato, some diced onion, salted, peppered; pan-fried with ketchup/mayo/ranch/hotsauce added post according to taste. basically hashbrowns.

Wash it down: Plain vanilla milkshake or a deep irish stout (introduced to beamish while in Cork, Thanks Daniel!)

Attempted to make this the night i got back, in the company of a few friends, had to substitute the milkshake/stout with wine, but the burger was lauded by my company as my best burger attempt to date. No photos unfortunately.

post-rationalization: This burger is pretty italian, i think i'll call it a pretty italian.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Arancini Fail

Hey, I haven't posted in a while. I've been busy sipping espresso's and walking really ridiculously slowly with large groups of people who also enjoy taking up the sidewalk with their lackadaisical strides. In truth I've started up classes for this semester and took a weekend trip to Venice for Carnevale, good times, but mostly just walking around the beautiful city with crazy costumed people while drinking boxed wine (.69 eurocents, i still don't suggest consuming more than 2 liters in an evening) with a straw. The bellini, a persecco and peach juice (and also some soda that is particular to venice as some bellini vendor told me) cocktail, was also in abundance.

I've also been doing a lot of cooking, mainly experiments with Crepes, vegetables, hamburgers, and others. but without my camera i'm still attempting to collect those photos. One photo that I do have is of my failed attempt at making Arancini.
They're basically a rice ball with mozzarella and some meat or peas or whatever inside then rolled in breadcrumb and flour and quickly fried. I'll give you the scientific breakdown of my cooking process: Make some rice (you might want to make a bunch of rice if your serving a crowd, or planning on having the arancini as more than a side dish); the rice should be somewhat sticky so you'll probably want to use risotto as its thicker and fluffier, and not as much water. Drain the rice, put it in a large bowl and mix in an egg and flour (for stickyness and also taste). Then mix in whatever you want inside it, i used some ground beef that i had quickly fried up before hand, mozzarella fresh from the mercato dell'erbe, and some grated parmesan. I also suggest peas, and i also wanted to try using spinach, but you do not want to use too much stuffing, the rice keeps the ball together, to much additional ingredients and you will have sad looking arancini, similar to mine. After you make the mixture, roll it in a batch of breadcrumb, flour, some basil, a pinch of pepper, light dusting of salt (all measured to tast), and any other nonsense you want. Then throw a few quickly into a heated pan with plenty of olive oil and move them around, you want the pan to be really hot so that once they hit the bread crumb will bind, then you roll them around in the oil so that they evenly fry, once they're golden, toss them into plate. If you let them sit, like mine, they flatten out and explode a bit, still delicious, but sad.

tip: Arancini are typically fit comfortably in a hand, like a small orange, if you're having trouble making the balls stay together, just make them smaller dummy!

Arancini is italian for little-orange, which is what they look like... or should look like, after they've been fried.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


The food in Bologna is excellent for two reasons; freshness and inexpensiveness. These two things make my cooking excursions much more practical, and delicious.

So far I've been mainly frying stuff up, which leads me to believe that either everything tastes good fried or i'm a better cook than i realized. I've successfully made eggplant parmesan twice, once without ricotta, which turned out better than i thought, chicken parmesan, lemon chicken cutlet, and one time i fried up a whole mess of chicken and had too much egg left over so i just threw it in and made scrambled eggs with chicken breast. These recipes I learned from watching my mom cook for me pretty much every day of my growing up, Thanks Ma! The last time i made eggplant parmesan , it came out so good that Paula asked me to teach her how to make it!

The picture to the right is of Emory, Me, and Claire (claire is one of my American roommates from Georgetown, Emory [the super enthusiastic one pointing at the plate of incomplete eggplant parm] is an ol) . I have to take a picture of the food completed next time.

I also experimented with some recipes which injected me with enough america to keep on going through this peculiarly grey bologna winter, including cheeseburgers (using parmesan, egg, breadcrumb, basil, and paprika in the meat), and even a steak marinated in Jack Daniels (with helpful chunks of butter and garlic). So far I have met success, but perhaps these have not been challenging enough, i want to attempt to make some deserts, or maybe a full meal, consisting of some courses or something. I really want to make a sauce too.

cultural note: many italians have never heard of chicken parmesan or alfredo sauce, despite its plentiful existance throughout Italian american restaurants and homes.


Like most things i do, this is ill timed and poorly calculated. But now i've finally decided to start a blog for some reason, after a month of being in beautiful Bologna, Italy.
Right now I'm sitting in my beautiful apartment just outside the city to the south, in the hills, sipping some espresso. I must admit that I love this city for more reasons than just the amazing food, beautiful people, and way of life, and i'll let you know those reasons when i discover them.

I share my apartment with 5 others, including 2 excellent Italians; Paula and Matteo. The reasons for why they are awesome are many, but include that they put up with my atrocious spoken italian. My Italian language partner (provided by brown university), Pietro, is a Bologna native and shares surprisingly similar interests, not academically or hobby wise but in the areas of drinking and women. I even rode on the back of his skooter one time, and i enjoyed it, grinning like an idiot the whole time no matter how immasculating that seems in the states.

I don't have a camera, as mine was stolen from my architecture studio desk last semester (I'll find you). So any pictures i post will be stolen from facebook, thanks friends!

almost forgot to mention that the hard c at the end of Marc is too difficult for most italians, so I introduce myself as Marco.