Archives for posts with tag: italian

I’m milking the “new in town” angle before the “I’m a poor intern” reality sets in, and went out for lunch and dinner yesterday. Lunch at Homegrown after yoga and before nannying in Queen Anne (which is becoming my favorite ‘hood) and dinner at much-hyped Bar del Corso with much-missed Genia in Beacon Hill. It was pouring (not raining, POURING) all day, and I was starving after yoga, and as luck would have it, Homegrown was right across the street. Meant to be. Got an avocado breakfast sandwich: grainy whole wheat bun, habanero sauce (pow!), greens, avocado, and a fried egg. Good choice. Spicy, salty. Yolky. Yummy.

Then a few hours playing with my 2 little charges (You can call me Nanny Annie) and their new favorite thing (…and my new favorite thing) in the whole wide world:

Then later on to Bar del Corso. In preparation for interning at Seattle Met, I’ve been doing Seattle food scene research, and everyone is all about Bar del Corso. So we trekked on down to Beacon Hill to see what it’s all about. It is so nice to have foodie friends, friends who get equally jittery about the prospect of a good meal. We arrived to a full-ish restaurant, full for a Wednesday night, and took a couple spots at the par, peeking over into the small open kitchen.

We ordered one of the irresistible specials: deep-fried roman artichoke, then grilled octopus and the requisite margherita pizza. Artichoke… deep-fried, elevated. Crispy leaves made into arti-chips, the heart salty and soft. The octopus was smoky and not chewy, the twirly little tentacles atop a generous handful of warm peperonata, which I of course schmeared on the crusty white bread with joy.

Soon our pizza arrived: thin thin thin, chewy, and charred. That dreamy light sauce made milky by mozzarella. Just enough wrinkled basil. Mmm. I ate my half before Genia even finished her first modest slice. And then, in celebration of Genia’s return from Auz and my relocation and really just becasue we wanted it: buttermilk panna cotta with huckleberry compote. I have a special warm little place in my heart for: A. panna cotta, B. huckleberries. Served simply in a little bowl, with just a touch of buttermilk tang and that special huckleberry magic of sunshine and Idaho mountains and achy backs and stained fingers from a long day picking.

Things I like: really good Italian food, weekday visits, and the Canadian drinking age. Last night Stuart made the northward trek up to Vancouver and we decided to go wild, break a long standing tradition, and go out for something other than sushi. I’d read and read about Campagnolo Roma; the perfect pizza, the dreamy pasta; so we made the long and slightly sketchy journey over to East Van.

Where we were royally rewarded. Pretty empty on a Tuesday night, we sat right down and I started the long and painful process of deciding what to order. Settled on margherita pizza (classics, man) and tagliatelle with artichokes. And two glasses of Italian red wine, to celebrate this sensible ol’ country and their friendly policies. Entering the starvation zone, we requested a bit o’ bread– turned out to be the best request I’ve ever made. If I’m ever on death row, Campagnolo bread is my last meal. Marvelously charcoaly on the outside and unbelievably doughy and light and moist and a tiny bit sweet and a tiny bit salty on the inside; this bread shot up into Top Five Best Things Ever Eaten by a Human. Lordy. Almost canceled our order and just begged for a couple pounds of bread.

Thankfully, we stuck with Plan A, and soon a beautiful margerita came our way. That real-live thinner-than-thin crust, incredibly bright tomato sauce, milky mozzarella, little flashes of basil, and mounds of fresh spicy arugula. And the pasta, wide ribbons of fresh tagliatelle and soft salty artichoke hearts, layered with bright lemon and salty Parmesan. Lordy. Joy abounded. Too full for dessert, we (perhaps foolishly) refused dessert: affogatto… honey panna cotta… Next time.

Kate has been telling me for ages that I must see Big Night, and finally, I’ve seen it. (And loved it.) It’s a sweet foodie movie about two Italian brothers running a restaurant, one back of the house, the other front. Primo, the chef, is heartbroken by the general American ignorance of real Italian food; he and Segundo’s restaurant on the brink of ruin while the glitzy spaghetti and meatballs, fake opera singer joint across the way flourishes. An opportunity for them to save the restaurant with a famous customer throws the two into preparations for the ‘big night,’ the namesake feast. They have a dreamy kitchen, high and open with a grand stove and butcher’s block at its center, copper pots dangling and clanging overhead, salamis hanging from the walls, baskets by the door overflowing with fresh leafy produce. The day leading up to the big night, the kitchen is full of helpers, chopping and stirring and sauteing with great anticipation. Flour and eggs and oil are transformed into smooth sheets of pasta, tomatoes turn into simmering sauces, a majestic timpano is carefully crafted. The big night itself is a ridiculous feast, the table a temple to food, its worshipers swooning with bliss by the last course. I’ll leave the rest out, so you all will have to watch it for yourselves. (And brace yourself for the perfect loveliness of the last scene. Might have squeaked out a few tiny tears.)

And of course you can’t watch this movie without jonesing for Italian food. And that combined with homesickness resulted in a deep, real need for meatballs. (My mom makes the best meatballs on earth, if you weren’t aware. Coming home to momma meatballs is perhaps one of the best feelings ever.) And then combine that with an aversion to reading The Aeneid, and you get caramelized fennel and onion, focaccia-crumb veal balls. Veal was the same price as pork at le Whole Foods, and fancy food gives me joy, so. Really good meatballs resulted. Patiently caramelize fennel and onion while watching 30 Rock, dry out focaccia in toaster oven, combine all with egg and oregano. Reflect on the sweetness of Big Night. Enjoy.

I’m in Portland! Land of chunky spectacle, Dansko clog, Patagonia puffer jacket wearing peoples and a hundred funky, fancy, food carty restaurants to explore. First one: Ken’s Artisan Pizza. To celebrate Gabey’s eleventh birthday we ventured to this packed little pizza place, lauded as the best pizza in P-town. The entire kitchen operation is right there in the open, slightly sweaty kitchen folk packing hotel containers with soon-to-be pizza toppings and dodging spinning wheels of pizza dough in front of a big ol’ blazing wood-fired pizza oven, the ground scattered with errant bits of prosciutto and kindling.

After a not so long wait our four much-anticipated pizzas showed up; two margheritas, a soppressata, and a fennel sausage. All thin and bubbly and a little deliciously burnt around the edges, tasting of Italy, the charred crust and the milky mozzarella reminding me of little cobbley plazas and dark waiters, their arms loaded with piping hot pizzas. The margherita was of course topped with the traditional simple tomato schmear, dots of stretchy snow white mozzarella, and wrinkled basil. The soppressata a margherita plus thick, chewy, house-made sopressata, spicy slices of something infinitely better than pepperoni.

The last pie topped with that classic base again, this time alongside fennel-heavy sausage and soft onions, the fire engine red and fuego hot Calabrian chilies on the side in a tiny, inconspicuous little bowl, inviting you to pile on some of the enticingly crimson bits and burn the inside of your mouth out. Then a delightfully citrusy Caesar with gigantic croutons, ordered out of neighbor envy. Then a second Caesar, for we loved it so. And then, so full and content we could hardly bear it, we managed to order a dessert to top off the birthday dinner; butter pecan ice cream that tasted of straight fresh heavy cream, dotted with the occasionally sugary pecan crunch, layered with soft sweet caramel, topped a generous dollop of airy whipped cream, a couple perfect pecans, and a birthday candle.