Archive for the ‘Mangiamo 2007’ Category

Mangiamo 2007: El Brillante

February 25, 2008

On my way back to NY, I had a stop over in Madrid for a few hours. Marta and Jose whisked me from the airport to take me to a dream lunch of my favorite MadrileƱo dish- Bocadillo de Calamares. Basically, a sandwich filled with fried calamari. GENIUS!!! It truly is a priceless invention- nothing could quite quantify how happy this makes me. El Brillante, above, is famous for this dish, although you can find it at any bar in Madrid, more or less. But El Brillante’s tagline is “Los mejores calamares de Madrid”- translation: the best calamari in Madrid. So you gotta go.

Fluffy bread filled with fried calamari, nothing else. It’s gorgeous.

Little squid, battered and fried. This wasn’t as good as I was hoping, but maybe that’s just cause I was in bocadillo heaven.

Can’t leave Madrid without having a proper tortilla!

A pint, a smoke, a Marta

And that’s it- my trip to Italy and Spain in a nutshell. All good things come to an end, I suppose. Thanks for indulging me, and letting me go on about a trip I took months ago (I lost all my pics when my computer broke, I’m tellin ya!). I’m in California now- I’ll try to deliver my eats in REAL TIME- I promise.

El Brillante (3 locations)
Atocha, 122
Tel. 91 468 05 48

Eloy Gonzalo, 12
Tel. 91 448 19 88

Eta. Carlos V, 8
Tel. 91. 528 69 66

Mangiamo 2007: Da Enzo

February 24, 2008

In Rome we stayed in Trastevere, which is a hip, bohemian hotspot on the other side of the Tiber, near Vatican City. It’s a great neighborhood, sorta Williamsburgish, lively at all hours of the night- lots of bars, clubs and restaurants.

For my last supper in Italy, I wanted a typical Roman meal- and Trastevere is as good as place as any to get it. The place we had read about in some guidebook had a long wait, so we decided on this place instead. It turned out much better this way. Da Enzo was really unintimidating, with its tables and chairs out front, and kid’s crayon drawings covering the walls of the interior.

We snagged an outdoor table- it was a cool night, but always a treat to sit outside. I remember our waiter was a jolly dude- Romano to the core, as was the food here. No frills, really robust, simple but delicious.

We started with sundried tomatoes. Assuming it’s a roman thing to serve them this way, drenched in olive oil. Bittman would dig it.

Grilled veggies
This was pretty awesome- carbonara, but with huge bucatini pasta, instead of spaghetti. Also, this had guanciale, not pancetta, which really makes the dish more porcine. So good!

Matt got the pasta all’amatriciana, which we didn’t get a picture of, but is pasta with tomato sauce with guanciale, hot pepper flakes and onions. The pasta dishes were definitely only lightly sauced, letting the ingredients really flavor the dishes.

Dessert was vanilla gelato with little tiny strawberry-like berries. Again, simple but delicious:

Da Enzo was on the corner of Via dei Salumi! Street of Cured Meats! I want that address.

Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere- it’s a gem.
Here’s a great post about Da Enzo that I just found from the blog At Home in Rome (she lives in Trastevere, lucky lady). Next time I’ll definitely need to get the fried artichoke!

Da Enzo
Via dei Vascellari 29 (Trastevere)

Tel. 06 581 83 55

Mangiamo 2007: Bar del Cappuccino

February 22, 2008

There’s nothing like walking into a coffee shop that makes the best cup of coffee EVER. That’s what happened in Rome- we happened to walk into Bar del Cappucino, without a clue that the barrista is a middle aged man named Luigi Santoro, who has won countless number of prizes for his cup o’ brew– on TV no less! He’s a cappucino superstar!

He uses only Danesi beans- an Italian espresso brand that I never knew was so good. Little swirly designs decorate this frothy cup of goodness.

There’s Luigi in his little barrista corner. You see him over there? The other guy may have been his son. The staff were all really cute and funny.

Incidentally, they also make bombass paninis too. They steam this special flatbread and fill it up with whatever you want- bresaola, prociutto, salami, even pastrami! This panini maker, a cute sassy blond girl, had a loyal following of regulars who would taut her as she made the sandwiches. The banter was fun.

One of these days, I’ll edit the video clip of her making the sandwich- it’ll make your stomach growl.

We returned the next day for our morning coffee. Why fuck with a good thing?

Bar del Cappuccino
Via Arenula, 50
00168 Roma
Tel. 06.68806042

Mangiamo 2007: Enoteca Corsi

February 21, 2008

For not really having any premeditative restaurant agenda, Matt and I did really well in Rome. The city’s such a maze, that it’s best not to have your heart set on any one restaurant- you’d just get frustrated going around in circles looking for it. We were walking around towards the Pantheon in the afternoon and stumbled upon Enoteca Corsi randomly. This place was so neat!

You walk in, and it’s just a big bustling room filled with local regulars and when you go in the back, it’s this huge garage-like room with shelves full of wine (hence “enoteca”, or wine store).

Copies of the menu were handwritten with the daily offerings. It was Friday I think, so there were lots of seafood options (some Catholic thing about not eating meat on Fridays- what is that called? Fasting? Kidding).

To start off, Matt got the chick pea soup

I got the linguine with tuna (of course, you know I can’t say no to tuna)

As our secondi, Matt got the roasted veal with potatoes
I got this soupy concoction of squid with beans and escarole. It’s not quite what I had in mind, but it was heartwarming nonetheless
For dessert, we got some tart, and the proprietor came out next to us alongside the counter and just handed us this bottle of Vin Santo and two glasses. Love it! Romans really remind me of NYers- gritty, fierce, but really just good people who want to show you a good time.
Red and white wine on tap!

This meal only cost us like $25 each. It was definitely one of the more memorable meals we had.

Enoteca Corsi
Via del Gesu, 87-88
00186 Roma
Near Il Gesu church, right off Via V. Emmanuele

Mangiamo 2007: Campo dei Fiori

February 20, 2008

Located right next to the Jewish Ghetto, and near Piazza Navona in Rome, Campo dei Fiori is a glorious outdoor food market. I’m just reading on Wiki that it’s been open every morning, since 1869! Imagine that! Here’s Maria, founder of the market. Kidding (but you know she’s been here before you were even born).

Radicchio, NOT purple cabbage:
No matter how hard the Greenmarket in NY tries emulating outdoor markets in Europe, until they get a hottie butcher truck in Union Square, it will never reach its full potential.

Maruo Berardi- Campo dei Fiori resident spice man.

Mangiamo 2007: When in Rome, Drink a Bud

February 19, 2008

The best thing to do in Rome is to just walk around aimlessly. You’ll stumble upon Bernini fountains, majestic cathedrals, and random marble columns and arches that have been around for thousands of years. This is my little lunch on Janiculum Hill, snuggled between Vatican City and Trastevere. Just me, a Bud (I must have been craving some Americana by this point, or this was all that was around), a panini, and sweeping views of the Eternal City. Does it get any better than this? I doubt it. FYI- I love shamelessly drinking in public.

The Wedding Cake:

If you look really hard, you can see the Pantheon:

Mangiamo 2007: A Night in Assisi

February 11, 2008

Ok, I know this is ridiculous– even though it’s been months since I went to Italy, I still feel the need to finish blogging my fantastic eats (my computer with all my Italy pics died a few months ago, but we’re back!).

Probably one of my best meals ever in 2007 was in Assisi, at a little place called Taverna dei Consoli. I went on a pilgrimage to Assisi to see the Giottos in the Cathedral (mindblowing), and found this place tucked behind the main Piazza.

I went for dinner, then lunch the next day. Why fuck with a good thing? The night I went, the place was pretty empty, and they were about to shut down but took me in any way. Both chefs and waiter eagerly came to talk about why their food is the best in Assisi.

Fresh house-made pasta with tomatoes and artichokes. Fresh pasta really makes a difference!:

Pork chop with prune reduction- this was THE BEST. Tangy, vinegary and perfectly cooked. The meat was so tender! No joke people, I still remember this, 4 months later :

Next day lunch- I sat on the terrace overlooking the Piazza. It was a romantic lunch by myself:
Fresh pasta with mushrooms.

One of the chefs. He loved talking to customers!
Love for St. Francis- the Bay Area’s patron saint!

Next time you’re in Italia, don’t just make a pilgrimage to Assisi for St. Francis (or the Giottos, or Cimabues)- make one for the pasta.

Tavola dei Consoli
Vc. Fortezza 1
06081 – Assisi (PG)
Tel: (+39) 075 812516

Mangiamo 2007: That’s Amore!

November 15, 2007

When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie
That’s amore

When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine

That’s amore

Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling And you’ll sing “Vita bella”
Hearts will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay

Like a gay tarantella
Dean Martin

Ta-da! Now for the most important part of my trip- the reason why Erin and I hauled ass all the way to Italy to begin with– the WEDDING! Leslie and Alex met in Siena 7 years ago- and we were there! We were all awkward little people studying abroad, curious to explore a world outside ourselves– we became unlikely companions in the strange medieval town, and developed a friendship that is still strong today.

During that year in Italy, Alex and Leslie fell in love. Erin even witnessed their very first kiss! So yeah, this wedding was a pretty big deal– for me, it just reiterated how important that year was for all of us.

So to take it back to where it all started, the wedding was in Siena. It was so great to be there with them for the wedding, celebrating grand love Italian style- so much amore. They had a gorgeous 4pm wedding overlooking the Tuscan countryside, followed by one of the best meals EVER. The most outrageous part? It lasted 5 hours! Yes, 5 hours. Possibly the most logical way to start off a marriage, if you ask me.

So anyhow, here’s the meal, at a local favorite spot, Osteria Le Loggie. They let the party, all 40 of us, invade the 2nd floor– it’s a truly neat space and the food and service was excellent.

I think that Mirco, in the pink, is the owner of Le Logge. Molto gentile. He was a truly gracious host.

I absolutely adored the art on the walls. Many drawings and watercolors of animals- sorta dark and sinister. Check these out, they were my favorites. The pecorino one is brilliant:

We all got neatly hand-written individual menus for the evening’s meal (of course I took mine home as a souvenir). Very vegetarian friendly, as you will see- all fresh, minimally altered, very simple, very Tuscan.

I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves. Buon Appetito!

Carciofi al vapore con mandarino e olive
Steamed artichoke with mandarin and olives
(Very modern flavor and beautiful presentation-
the tartness of the citrus balanced well with the artichoke)

Parmigiana di melanzane
Eggplant parmigiana
(Really artistic- cheese elegantly wrapped in paper thin eggplant slices)

Ravioli di ricotta con pomodorini e olive nere
Ricotta raviolis with tomatoes and black olives

Rigatoni con funghi porcini
Rigatoni with porcini mushrooms
(Will never forget this-
pasta perfectly al dente, and the mushrooms were addictive)

Pollo farcito con prosciutto patate e spinaci
Prosciutto stuffed chicken with potatoes and spinach
(By far the best dish of the meal- have never had such succulently cooked white meat chicken, and the prociutto added just the right touch of saltiness)

Tanti auguri Leslie e Alex! Vi vogliamo bene!

When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool
That’s amore

When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet

You’re in love

When you walk down in a dream but you know you’re not

Dreaming signore
Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Napoli
That’s amore

PS: Here’s a neat gift from Alex’s Norwegian family- a cake box! I loved this thing!

Osteria Le Logge
Via del Porrione 33
53100 Siena
Tel: +39 0577-48013
Closed Sunday

All photographs by Erin Gleeson.

Mangiamo 2007 Archive:
The Best Gelateria
Spanish Home Cooking
24 Hours in Madrid

Mangiamo 2007: The Best Gelateria

November 7, 2007

Upon arriving in Siena for the wedding, one of the first things I did was visit my favorite gelateria right behind the Campo. It was where I had my very first gelato ever, having just moved there 7 years ago (not counting the very forgettable cone Erin, Leslie and I got in Firenze that cost a small fortune– warning: do NOT get gelato in Firenze, you’ll be so pissed off that you spent $10 for a cup of gelato to enjoy it).

This place is on Via Banchi di Sotto, if you go up the stairs on the right side of the Campo (when you are looking at the tower). I’ve been trying to find the name of the place, as I always just knew it as “Gelateria”, and I think it’s called Gelateria Bibo, although I can’t be sure.

You can choose up to 3 different flavors for a ‘small’ cone. The boys behind the counter are experts in vigorously scraping off the frozen cream from the small tubs and methodically balancing the individual little scoops onto a cone. I had nocciola (hazelnut), pistacchio e fior di latte (milk).

Ahhh, it was nice to be back in Siena…

Mangiamo 2007 Archive:
Spanish Home Cooking
24 Hours in Madrid

Mangiamo 2007: Spanish Home Cooking

November 4, 2007