rome

Wild saithe fillet stuffed with mortadella

It's away from the church bells ringing, in the secure retreat of a kitchen in Rome that this dish was born. I got to the market late in the morning, so I could get the best bargain before the fishmonger stall would shut down. What's gratifying about this fishy creation is the nutty pistachios contrasting with the crispy mortadella filling.  They say fish is good for you, but for me, it's the indulgent accompaniment with cream and mortadella that makes it excellent. The origins of Mortadella Bologna are to be found in the territories of the ancient Etruscan area (nearby Rome), rich with oak trees that provided piquant acorns to the many local wild pigs. The Bologna Archaeological Museum houses the first evidence of what is claimed to be a producer of mortadella : on a Roman pillar are depicted on the one hand seven grazing piglets and on the other a mortar with a pestle . The mortar was used by the Romans to pound and knead the pork with salt and spices. This suggests that the name of the sausage comes from mortarium. This dish is sweet succulence perfectly combined with salty freshness.

The video below was made in collaboration with a French production. Even though the instructions are in French, it wouldn't hurt to follow the video when making this recipe, especially for the step where the mortadella filling is involved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1QGRFIribY

Wild saithe fillet stuffed with mortadella Ingredients: (serves 2 people)

  • 100 gr. creamy soft spreadable cheese
  • 30 gr. fresh whipping cream
  • 50 gr. dairy unsalted butter
  • a sprinkle of ground pepper
  • a sprinkle of fine salt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 gr. mortadella Bologna
  • 50 gr. pistachio nut kernels
  • 200 gr. saithe or coley fillet
  • 50 gr. crispy babyleaf salad

In a bowl, place the creamy cheese, add the whipping cream, a hint of salt and the olive oil. Whisk until obtaining a smooth preparation.

Make an incision down the centre of the fish from the head to the tail, then make a cut in order to create a pocket for the filling. It is important that you don't break the fish, so take your time and do this process delicately.

Cut the mortadella into thin slices. Fill the fish with mortadella and cover it. Plant a pic to maintain it still. Dust with the pistachios and add the salt. In a pan, melt the butter and cook the stuffed fish 2 minutes per side. Serve it with bubbles of cream cheese and the salad.

With love and pistachios,

Eleonora

Breaking Meatballs

Take one Italian and one English woman. Together on a day smelling like chestnuts. In a Roman kitchen. The idea was outrageously simple. Meeting up at Testaccio local market after coffee, which more or less corresponds to the civilized Roman early morning hour, that is 11 a.m; getting our heads and spirits lifted and spinning around grocery shopping with overchatting attention to the selection of delicious ingredients. Later on, run back home to an authentic Testaccio apartment block - with walls painted in orange, just like the colour of those unforgettable Roman sunsents - where I'm sure I've seen the shadow of Pasolini walk past us (but at the time I must have been too taken into considering whether going for a in bianco or rosso - white wine or tomatoes based sauce - for our main course).

I wanted to share a secret with Rachel. This ginger hair, delightfully tall girl from Britain, mother of a tiny 3 years old munchkin boy named Luca, runs a spectacularly well written blog called Racheleats. There, she basically goes through the pros and cons of Italian food traditions, letting the reader have full access to her palpably genuine lifestyle in the Roman neighbourhood of Testaccio, let alone her IG celebrated sink. She also managed to get messy in a few of the most renowned kitchens of the boot, thus embracing the most genuine Italian gastronomic culture. Away from the emotionally constipated view some have of the modern Brits and more in line with a contemporary version of a character issued from Austen's "Pride and (no) Prejudice" Rachel Roddy tries it all. And she tried mine too. I'm talking recipes of course. On our morning together and following her recent article on the Guardian, where she gratifies the reader with the, oh so many versions of the italian polpetta, of which we can find thousands of reinterpretations (I already mentioned in a previous post that each one has their own madeleines, haven't I?), I told her about my own Nonna's meatballs. We made them on a white Formica table veined in green just like Gorgonzola cheese, that Rachel purchased from a nuns' community. Couldn't get any more Roman than that. What a difference between the wine used for cooking, so called vino sincero (sincere wine due to its tendency of making you drunk undoubtedly cheaply) that makes for some fantastic meals and the one usually served in trattoria's tables, slightly more refined and delicate to the stomach.  An up tempo people pleaser and scrumptious, comforting food. There is something dangerously addictive about these mouthwatering pops. Just try to believe, until #foodhappiness kicks in.

Ingredients for 6: - 250 gr. pork twice minced meat - 250 gr. fracosta beef meat - 1 garlic clove - 150 gr. extra virgin olive oil - 100 gr. Parmesan - 150 gr. breadcrumbs - 1 fresh parsley bouquet, finely chopped - 2 fresh free range eggs - salt - pepper - 50 ml. Whole milk - 230 ml. Of white wine

In a bowl, bring together the two different meats with the eggs, the parmesan, the parsley, half of the breadcrumbs, the milk, a tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of both salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients roughly with your hands in order to form a big mountain.

Place the remaining breadcrumbs on a big round plate, and have another ready beside it. Form small meatballs rolling them inside your hands, then cover them with breadcrumbs and position them one by one on the clean dish.

Warm up a pan with  100 gr. of oil and the garlic clove. Once it browns, pour in all the meatballs and let them cook for about 3 minutes each side at medium fire. Close the fire. Prepare a dish with some absorbing paper on top, and let the meatballs off the pan and on the scottex in order to get rid of the excessive oil.

Then, pour the wine of in the pan and let it warm up for 1 minute a high fire, then pour the meatballs in again and let cook for 5 minutes vivaciously. Serve warm and covered with parsley and its sauce.

With love and a mountain of meatballs,

Eleonora

* photo credits @Rachel Roddy

A day at the bakery

The morning was crispy and fragrant, like fresh bread, when I headed to one of the oldest bakeries in town in order to learn the secrets behind the Italian essential for excellence: il pane. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

5:30 a.m. A ray of light touches Piazza Del Pantheon and, as the breeze caresses my, brrrrrr!!!, too summary outfit (there’s still quite a temperature shift from night to day) giving me the shivers, I realized, once again, that Rome in the morning holds the most dazzling of secrets: it looks like it’s been built a moment ago, for your eyes only. Oh my, what a bliss.

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As I walked by the narrow roads, the Roman cobblestones, i sanpietrini, leaded me to the most sumptuous tiny squares, as greeting as a lively living room. I went through the Ponte Sisto and found myself in the bohemian Trastevere district. Having been an authentic Roman for my entire life, I still find it quite hilarious to get lost in the melting pot of side streets to the point that, after my first coffee and with my head clear enough, or so I thought, I still couldn’t’ quite find my way to the oldest baker in town, turning flour into bread with lievito madre (sourdough), which makes it fluffy and lasting for over a week.

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But then Gina appeared: imagine a lady dressed in black, all frowned and focused while peeling potatoes, who told me, unflappable: “You obviously got lost my dear, it’s the most wonderful thing I can tell you”, which only added to my feeling of inadequacy in front of Rome, a city where one always feels either too big or too small.

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Abandoning myself to that overindulging feeling, I finally found my way through the most iconic of senses: smell.

Dusty, floury, and oily, bread is usually to be found in every Italian table, a synonymous of hospitality and prosperity. Back in the old days the well to do families would consume nothing but white bread, as a symbol of their accomplished wealth, whereas the brown bread would be left for the agricultural working class.

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The head baker Giampiero is an institution at one of the very few last bakeries in town. He and the boys treated me like an equal for the entire shift, and that included handling packages of 25 Kg. flour and bite the pizza dough to make it flawless and crusty. I felt as happy as ever when I finally got my hands on my first filone (Roman style loaf of bread) ever, even though I burnt a finger in the process, since it was too irresistible and I simply couldn't resist. But that's part of the game, I guess.

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I brought a bunch of bread loaves on my basket, they look like a well decorated bouquet of flowers. I jumped on my bike, thinking about the millions sauces that will accompany it for brunch tomorrow. Let the weekend begin.

With bread and tulips,

Eleonora

Viva la pappa col pomodoro!

At the end of what has been a boiling hot week in Rome, let me wish you a very joyful weekend through a couple of videos displaying the Italian attitudes for excellence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ5Zwrcvvaw

"Viva la pappa col pomodoro" is a very popular song interpreted by Rita Pavone, a sort of "enfant prodige" back at the day, who acted as Gian Burrasca in one of the first tv-series:"John Gale, the bad boy". This nickname, which the family gives to him because of his restless behaviour (more for exuberance than malice), has become proverbial to indicate an unruly kid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNjdrzBYzOk

"Che Bambola" by Fred Buscaglione is the epytome of the Roman piacione, a guy who would typically go after all pretty girls by assuming a forced captivating attitude. A typical experience for any gal going around an Italian town.

Off to an Italian weekend, enjoy yours!

Eleonora

Scenes from a Japanese tea ceremony

Amongst the things that remind me of what a great deal of life is dedicated to celebration is the Japanese Tea Ceremony, also known as The Way of Tea,  which tradition has endured for over 1200 years. No wonder why the #foodhappiness transmitted during my cooking workshops rings a bell to many.

In Paris, I took part in this Japanese cultural activity which revolves around both the preparation and presentation of matcha (powdered green tea). It's such a solemn performance that the art of its ceremony can be studied in universities and colleges all over Japan.

The tea gathering I literally bumped into, took place in a marvellous shop located in the Rue de Seine and wholly dedicated to this sublime art, Jugetsudo. Jugetsudo means “the place from where one looks at the moon.” At the time it was established, in the 1854, its founder Maruyama Nori had in mind this sentiment towards nature so particular to the Japanese heart of deeply savoring the existence and the passing of the seasons. From ancient times, the Japanese have been attuned to the worship of nature, knowing how to savor its beauty, as for example, the view of the moon rising in the sky and glowing onto the mountain slope, reflecting in the water. While contemplating this backdrop, they would write poems and have tea, and present offerings to the full moon at harvest time.

With love and matcha,

Eleonora

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #8

Once upon a time I was grocery shopping on a vintage Vespa. As I jumped on it, I realized that the colours and smells of this incredible city that is Rome were way more vivid. I could touch the walls as I escaped a tiny street to get into the wonders of yet another square glorified by historical monuments. Rome is truly an open-air museum. So I decided to tell you about the flawless feeling of flying through it. Ladies and gentlemen, here is a #romanity tribute to our favourite Roman means of transports, and madness. vespa8

First, there was the bicycle. Coloured in pale green, blue or red, originally it had no speeds, so it was a courageous and awesome act to climb on the seven hills of Rome on one of those. I am always amazed at the wonderful baskets, that I love to fill with groceries, and the magnificent flowers that go with them. Those means of transport, as simple as they may be, become sumptuous when laying by the side of a Roman column. And the poetry begins. Buy or rent it at Collalti (they will also fix it for you at any given time), either way you'll look terrific!

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Then came the Vespa. 500 Special. Oh If that's something.

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Often found side by side, these two means of transports are the epytome of #romanity. They make a significant part of the charm within the city.

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Running through the city on one of those helps reviving those images of daily life that would go otherwise unnoticed. Try the Trastevere neighbourhood on one of them on a peaceful early afternoon, then tell me your daydreams.

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When I say everyone uses them, I mean it. Priests and monks alike can be seen playing among the urban traffic before reaching the Vatican City, the state within the state of Rome.

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Talking loud in the city is a measure for affection. Enjoy those discussions that stop the traffic of an entire city. On a Vespa special they can sound justifiable.

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But, ehy, there's nothing more fun than strolling around the city with a special 50 that drive your fears (and hairs) away.

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Among solitary roads and spacious angles, a very Italian means of transport is always going to be a safety nest.

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Have a lovely weekend,

Eleonora

Amazing photos, right? Look no further, it's the de-lovely Cucina Digitale

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #7

In a world where opinion leaders /development leaders, even impatient leaders thrive to handle worldly opinions, being a cauliflower leader is as near to #foodhappiness as #romanity can lead me to. That's the state of the art, for me at least. Do you get the message?cauli1

And so, I often find myself giggling through the eternal city's narrow streets, in search for the perfect spot to stop by for a well deserved crowd-rescuing moment.

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The best places in Rome to find solitude are the least visited. Look for them outside the beaten-track, just like the arty and sooo ever-green Caffè della Pace, only steps away from Piazza Navona, yet totally inserted in a bohemian and exclusive atmosphere. Don't mind Dolores, the cuckoo lady who stops by , her entertaining stories, fire red lipstick, as well as her decadent allure are part of the whole charm.

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In a city where the past comes as a glorified and refined definition of the eyes who see through it, finding yourself can be as easy as climbing the Roman symbol for excellence: the Colosseum. You might even be taken for one of its inhabitants, if you don't pay attention at details like closing the door before leaving any kind of space. You would otherwise be shouted at: "Ehy, what is it with you? Do you live in the Colosseum?".

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The most inspiring place to reflect and observe the moveable feast of our life (as Hemingway would put it), is the church, any church in Rome really, the city has over 900 of them. Their history define the artistic, religious and intellectual soul of the city. Between many abbeys, 4 papal basilica, the Medieval, the Gothic, the Renaissance or the Baroque styled, the choice is huge, and always a corner away from anywhere in the historical centre of town.

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And as the situation calls for it (in Rome as in life more in general), always stay grounded, but with your eyes up!

Eleonora

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #5

It's Sunday. Finally. The day ahead is for us only, no tough projects or serious intentions allowed. Sunday in Rome, particularly, is truly a treat. Walking through the eternal city as if it belonged to you, when the purpose of noise is to make silence resonate. A typical Sunday in Rome would involve, of course, looking for the perfect lunch. There's no better way than doing it in one of the city markets. The Campagna Amica one offers a choice of products coming from the Roman countryside and 100% naturally grown.

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Once the selection of  the tastiest ingredients is dealt with, it's time to think about the perfect table sparks. Other than being a grace for the eye, flowers can also be poured into caster sugar and make for a wonderful cake decoration.

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Every Italian table would have at least one loaf of bread, to be considered a respectable measure of conviviality.  Most of us opt for a "scarpetta": after overindulging in your Sunday's lasagna, you take a piece of bread and clean the rest of the plate off the delicious leftover sauce. Strictly with your hands. Beware of all imitations.

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As my friend and partner in this project Cucina Digitale would put it - whether the weather - Sunday lunch is a sacred event.

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Taking long walks with a #romanity attitude and your favourite Sunday paper are likely to make you stumble upon Locandas and Trattoria. The typical sunday specials around here are: Lasagna, bucatini all' Amatriciana, Vignarola, Roast Lamb with Potatoes. And #foodhappiness as a cherry on the cake. Can you read it on my face?

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What's your favourite Sunday treat?

Happy thoughts to you all,

Eleonora

Blown away by the images? Blame it on Cucina Digitale amazing sight.

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #4

What If I told you that we could go back in time, exactly between 1957 and 1975, just by walking in the narrow streets of Rome? 500one

It is possible, with the first ever and surprisingly elegant city car of all: the one and only Fiat 500. But that is not all. Think about all those producers that bring you joy: florists, groceries suppliers and "pasticceri" alike, they all use a three wheels minivan, the Ape, to get around the city. And often run in the risk of parking it abusively. But ehy, that's #romanity, too.

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To indulge or not to indulge? That seems to be the question, even though the answer is so frequently: yes, come on, it's only a little pastry. "Pastarelle", as we call it in Rome, are those sweet delights filled with cream and fruits aromas that men bring back home to their wives for Sunday lunch. When it comes to traditions, some are just better kept up, wouldn't you agree?

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Whether in front of the most secluded and splendid fountain,

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or among the ever wonderful, ever green cypresses along the Via Appia Antica,

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Rome lets you find pleasures that allow you to get exclusively at ease with yourself. Finally again. The smell of fresh coffee (taken religiously standing up at the bar),

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accompanied by a doughnut, can make you rethink the concept of doing a u-turn, either it being a spiritual or a practical one. It is true, as they say in Italy, that not all doughnuts come with a hole - not everything can be perfect. As long as there's #foodhappiness. Fashionably so. Thanks to Renato Balestra.

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On a sweet tone, I leave you to make the most of the rest of the week!

Eleonora

All pictures are taken by the extraordinary eye of Cucina Digitale

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #3

The Tiber river flows at a speed of 876 litres per second. The human body is composed by water for more than 60%. Experts all agree in suggesting a daily intake of water of 2 litres. acqua5

No task could be easier when in Rome. Water in Rome is good for you; actually, it's the best you could find in Italy, due to the hygienic safety guaranteed by the absence of microbiological indices. In other words, it's filled with minerals and excellent for fastening up that methabolysm! acqua4

Water is an ever present element in many Fellini's movies scenes, celebrating La Dolce Vita, its excesses and its fragilities. For example, in the most celebrated 8 1/2 movie its protagonist, interpreted by Marcello Mastroianni, is looking for fountains all over Rome in a quest of lost purity.

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When it comes to private affairs and their disclosure, all Italians agree on one thing: you don't air your dirty laundry in public.

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There's nothing better, on a sunny sunday, than taking my bycicle and hop on a regional train with destination: the sea - il mare!

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When it comes to #romanity, acqua6

it's always best to combine together something old, something new, something borrowed. A fountain, a fabulous Fendi outfit, a bunch of grapes ( like Bacchus would have loved them). And just like that, it's #foodhappiness time!

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Happy sunday folks!

Eleonora

All pictures are taken by talented Cucina Digitale

My tasty week...Singing in the rain

It rained cats and dogs here in Rome, for the entire week. Hence I've been "singing in the rain", as Gene Kelly would have rightly put it. And amazing flowers blossomed just right. I purchased a bunch of parfumed buds to use them in some recipes over the next days. SingingInTheRain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ZYhVpdXbQ

I was able to grasp a unique ray of light early yesterday afternoon, which gave my South Tyrol apples (which I talked about in a previous post) a glowing appeal.

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I'm trying to cleanse up my whole metabolysm by eating loads of seeds and veggies. Also Potassium Citrate tablets help. This fennel salad (pictured below) with parsley and almonds took no time at all to make and was incredibly delicious with its lemon and poppy-seeds vinaigrette.

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I couldn't maintain all my greens fresh for these long and rainy days if it wasn't thanks to the invaluable vacuum-sealing machine which keeps my food from going soft and soggy for over 5 days.

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I was lucky enough to enjoy a winter sea storm, which inevitably puts everything at its place, inside out. I couldn't refrain from purchasing a couple of tempting mullets. And then I asked myself: should I spoil their sparkling colour? No way! Still, I had to turn them into dinner...Therefore I cooked them plainly with extra virgin olive oil and let their gorgeous self be the protagonist of one of my clandestine dinners.

On the importance of chocolate. The picture of this handmade scrumptious cake talks for itself, and for all of our food cravings, which shall be indeed indulged during the coldest winter evenings.

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And, on this sweet note, I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Eleonora