Friday, April 25, 2008

Finally Sprung

Spring has sprung in Aix en Provence after weeks of rain and continued cold temps. But hope...ahem...springs eternal and it finally paid off.

A few images to share the first signs from here.

While I wait to be "sprung" from my existence in and among boxes to new digs upstairs and have a guest in town who has touched down between adventures, I am not finding much time to be in the kitchen. I'll see you all in a couple of weeks!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Last Stop: Rome, Part III

I promise...this is it! The last stop in the Rome adventure...well...for now. Something may strike my fancy that may show up at a later date but for now, there is an additional restaurant recommendation and a recipe that I just had to share with you.

The last evening there, we headed up through St. Peter's square one last time toward Piazza Angelica. The destination: Ristorante Taverna Angelica. With an ambience of "modern cozy", we had great service and a really lovely meal.

Well-prepared and creative fare is served in a relaxed setting where one can take one's time and really enjoy the entire experience. Not to mention a stunning collection of Italian wines - and a sommelier who knows them all well. I know, I know: a sommelier is supposed to know them well...but still, it's impressive when the match made is such a hit! For our meal, it was an Argiolas 2003 Monica di Sardegna Perdera, suggested to accompany the eclectic nature of the dishes we had chosen. Indeed, it went beautifully with the shrimp, duck, beef...(yep, we tried it all!)

I would have to say the Smoked Duck Breast with Celery and Walnut Salad served with Chestnut Honey and Rye Bread was the hit of the evening! Paper thin slices of tender, melt-in-your-mouth smoked duck hugging a mound of chopped walnuts and celery. The sweetness of the drizzles honey added a lovely complement to the smoky duck. This was something special. I nearly dropped my fork on the first bite.

Having so enjoyed the recommendation of the Cul De Sac from The Professor, we thought he may well have enjoyed Taverna Angelica.

Speaking of The Professor, he put this little number together as a savory side dish to chicken and roasted potatoes after he had been inspired by a salad that he had enjoyed one day. Even if you think that you do not fancy anchovies, I would really encourage you to give this a try. The sweet/salty/bitter combination is a win/win/win in my book! If you want to soften the anchovy flavor, he suggests letting the anchovy filets "melt" in the hot oil before placing the endive halves in the pan. Try it both ways and see for yourselves. (I told him that if he didn't become famous for his groundbreaking work on the Pantheon, he might enjoy fame from this dish.)

Bon appétit!
p.s. Greg: As you can see, I didn't have any fun at all! Maybe next time... (Thank you!)


Ristorante Taverna Angelica

Piazza A. Capponi, 6
00193 Rome
+39 06.687 4514

Belgian Endives and Anchovies

Belgian Endives, cut in half lenghtwise (figure at least one per person)
Anchovies (one filet per endive half)
Olive oil
Pine nuts

Place the anchovy filets in a pan of heated olive oil, topping each filet with an endive half. Cook them over a fairly high heat for a couple of minutes until the bottom of the endives are browned.

Then turn down to a very low heat and cover the pan with a lid, so the endives cook (and soften) all the way through.

Serve them with the browned, achovi-ed side up.

As you are plating the endives, toss a handful of pine nuts into the same pan and toss quickly over medium high heat to toast. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts atop the plated endives. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rome, Part II

If you find yourself in Rome and you, too, crave pizza for breakfast, this is the other place to go.

Tucked away on a side street, the warm aromas of herbs and dough will lead you in the door. Watch out though! It's a hoppin' joint as daily deliveries are prepared.

Between Rosciola Forno and Rosciola Enoteca, you can put together a lovely picnic to pack away as you wind your way through the old streets on the way to any number of magnificent sights in this city.

As for us, we stopped to do a little shoe shopping ("When in Rome...") before we headed over to the forum and its surrounding museums and a piazza that became our favorite and drew us there for a second day, picnic in hand.

Be it flower delivery trucks or ruins or a picnic in the piazza or sculptures or frescoes or architecture get the idea. It's an easy city in which to be happy in the middle of it all!

And we were lucky to have that aforementioned professor to give us recommendations for what to see...and where to eat.

He pointed us in the direction of Cul de Sac, where, on the piazza that has the talking statue, we sat elbow to elbow with other diners on the little streetside terrace and had a lovely lunch!

Having seen someone a table away nibbling on this...

...I ordered it too and was not at all disappointed! Proving once again that "Simple is better!" Fresh broccoli and cauliflower, steamed in stock, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil with a dollop of fresh goat cheese that has been gently warmed and topped with herbs centered on the plate and I was in a little bit of heaven! The vegetables were tender to the tooth and the textures blended was very pleasing. The earthy pungency of the cheese softened in the heating a bit and was a lovely complement to the unique flavor of the cruciferous vegetables.

Definitely try this at home! (A note: I heated the plate as the vegetables steamed. After placing the veggies on that hot plate, I placed the cheese in the center and returned the plate to the oven for just a couple of minutes as the cheese softened. A drizzle of oil on the veggies only before serving and it was delicious at home as well!)

A little red wine to wash it all down...a little Italian coffee to perk up an afternoon wandering in museums...

...and then there was that little "run in" with the Italian police... kidding! The police seemed friendly were the Swiss Guards at the Vatican...

...but I did manage to chase a few priests (I don't know if there are rules about that)...

...and catch a bit of the street biz going on just outside of St. Peter's gates.

And while not intending to make this post of the Eternal City well...err..."eternal", I do have one more recipe that I'd like to share with you. A little something that the Professor whipped up for us one evening for dinner.

It was definitely something for La Fourchette but I'd like to have pics to go along with it. In that I'm preparing for a move, things are in a bit of flux around here. I think I've not yet packed a frying pan and a couple of white plates and certainly there is a fork (!) so I'll whip this up and post it on the weekend. Check back for the savory taste treat that came back with me from this Roman holiday!



Atelier San Pietro B&B
Via Cardinal Lualdi 6
00165 Roma
cel.: +39 348 2589047

Cul de Sac Enoteca
73 Piazza Pasquino
Piazza Navona
Italy 00186
Tel: +39 06 6880 1094

Roscioli Restaurant

Via dei Giubbonari, 21
00186 Rome
Tel: +39 06 6875287

Roscioli Forno
Via dei Chiavari, 34
00186 Roma
Tel: +39 06 6864045

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Did Ya Miss Me?!? (Rome, Part I)

I was in Rome! Yup - Rome!

An old friend (as in for a long time!) called to say he was going to be in Italy and would I please join him. After I hem and haw because I'm pinching centimes in a record-breaking currency crunch, I finally give in (give in and go to Rome...puhleeeze!) but plan to leave one day before him.

Then he cinches the deal with: "When you are lying on your deathbed you are not going to say, 'Whew! I'm sure glad I shaved that one day off of Rome!' " (He knows me so well!) And then he sits me down upon my arrival and tells me that my money's no good in that town...I'll tell you, that kind of thing can make a girl living in euros absolutely swoon!

So, there I was: in Rome.

We really made the most (read: "did only and exactly what we wanted to do") of our few short days together in the generous lap of this city at the knee of Italy's boot.

Take a look...

St. Peter's Basilica became the landmark for us to find our way to and from our Bed and Breakfast not far from there... (Atelier St. Pietro)

...and the piazza at St. Peter's received us daily as we made our treks to other parts of the city...

...once over the River Tiber...

...we would wind our way through narrow cobbled streets touched with a familiar charm...

...past ancient residents like Pasquino. He became the first talking statue of Rome and is still used for posting messages and claims...from political to poetic and things falling in between. (reference from

...then on to the Pantheon, where we were guided through the intricate details of the history of this structure by a friend of Greg's, an art historian who happens to be on sabbatical in Rome from his teaching position at Middlebury College in Vermont to work on his book on the Pantheon. Always good to learn the history of a place from one who offers it up with expertise and passion!

With each turn of a corner, we discovered a new piazza - each with its own character and activity...

After the first night had dawned into a new day, we headed to Campo di Fiori for a look at the marché and breakfast. We planned for rain but never really had to deal with anything more than a dramatic looking sky and a soft mist...

Once in the marché, we spent some time playing in the colors and light...

...until the need for a good Italian coffee got the better of us!

With just enough of a morning break, we headed back into the market.

Who knew that this magical slicer/dicer was also a bubble pipe?!?

When food becomes art...

...and for a few moments in golden light, our lives blended with those of the locals. (It made me think of my own daily market experience as I dodge the cameras of visitors!)

On the second morning we found the famous Italian bakeries that had recently been talked about in Mark Bittman's New York Times blog, Bitten...

They are not to be missed and made me want to eat pizza for breakfast every day!

Rome, Part II to follow...

(Blog biz: this is a transitional post as I change the publishing day from Monday to Thursday...a sign that I do pay attention to feedback from my faithful readers. To follow the weekly updates, please subscribe to La Fourchette using the link under the profile toward the top of the right sidebar or email me to be added to the email list...or simply show up on Thursdays starting next week!)


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