When In Rome...
By Peter & Bob/ email@example.com
A recent trip brought us Foodies to Foodie Paradise: Italia!
In that boot-shaped land of mangiamo, we enjoyed
eight days of non-stop epicurean pleasure; each meal seemingly
was better than the last.
We lived and ate by the axiom When in Rome
and quickly fell into the routine of frequent espresso breaks
between meals enjoyed with lots of company.
Italians love of simple pleasures starts with food.
A midday meal at a Trattoria in Rome
a late night dinner
at one of the citys finest restaurants
of simple fare at a rural farmhouse in Salerno
had its high points, but all shared one common denominator.
The food was fresh, it was simple, it was plentiful, and it
was appreciated by these two adventurous Foodies. To the extent
that its possible, were working on recreating
the best experiences in our home kitchens.
Balm dolivia: The kitchen at Ristorante Vie Alla Due
Fontanelle was very cooperative with a slew of special requests.
We asked for garlic, fresh oregano, basil and red chili pepper
to create an herb-infused dipping sauce for the traditional
crusty bread. Bob went to great pains to explain what hed
need. Brows knit, our waiter listened to the request, and
declared that what he wished to make was a balm.
Heres the recipe: Slice two cloves fresh garlic, finely
chop several basil leaves and oregano sprigs. In a small bowl,
grind with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a few pinches
of chili pepper flakes, stir in about 1/4 cup olive oil. Spoon
a bit onto a bread plate and soak it up with a crusty bread.
You may never go back to plain olive oil again.
Red snapper carpaccio: In New York City, they call it crudo.
In Italy, its carpaccio; generally beef or lamb sliced
paper thin and served raw, it gets the name from an Italian
artist whose paintings tend to resemble the thin-sliced, pink-toned
meat slices. If the chef at Due Fontanelle thought we were
pesky about our balm dolivia, he rose to the challenge
when we asked about a pesce carpaccio. The menu offered salmon
sashimi, but that nights chef had a just caught snapper,
which he sliced paper thin atop equally razor-thin lemon slices.
It barely floated in a slightly buttery sauce of olive oil
and lemon with a few dots of green basil sauce for color and
Want to try it at home? The key is a sushi-grade fish
snapper and sea bass are favorites sliced paper thin.
Mayonnaise-based sauces are common and easy to experiment
with; the ultimate topping is a dusting of white truffle shavings.
Pork loin medallions with bay leaves and bacon: From the restaurant
in the mountainside city of San Giacomo in the Salerno region,
we enjoyed a VIP feast. It began with antipasti: prosciuttio
and saprocetta, local olives and fresh mozzarella di bufala
or buffalo milk mozzarella. Even the veggies were delicious
grilled baby artichokes and grilled marinated eggplant.
Like an exclamation point to a fantastic parade of delicacies,
our waiter circled the table with a platter of skewered meat.
The scents of bacon and bay leaves mingled as the plate grew
closer. On a single skewer were a trio of pork loin medallions,
each encircled with a layer of bay leaves and a skin of bacon.
Grilled with a slight hint of lemon or perhaps a vinegary
wine sauce and pepper, it was a simple and spectacular main
This was the first dish attempted at home and the simplicity
of its preparation assured it was pretty successful. Start
with a 1- to 1-1/4 lb pork tenderloin. Marinate an hour or
more with white wine, a squeeze of lemon and fresh ground
pepper. Slice into 1-1/2 inch thick medallions, or about the
thickness of a bay leaf. Overlap bay leaves along the edge
of each medallion about halfway around, then wrap a slice
of bacon all the way around the edge, securing with a toothpick.
Though its not Italian, we used applewood smoked bacon
and might even add apple cider to the marinade next time.
Run a long skewer through three medallions, edge to edge,
and pan grill or broil until the internal temperature reaches
You wont want to eat the bay leaves, but you will enjoy
the sophisticated flavor they add to this simple dish.
Finis: If theres anything to be learned in Italy, its
that a cup of espresso is the perfect finish to any meal.
If you cant take it straight, froth up some hot milk
with a whisk and enjoy something sweet with it. Perhaps well
do desserts on the next trip. Until then