#31: Italy

Mi Amore,

In celebration of my mother on her birthday, we dedicated this weekend to her favorite country/food which is Italy! A very wise Italian sayings goes, “Anni e bicchieri di vino non si contano mai”. This translation is: “Age and glasses of wine should never be counted”. So ageless and a enjoying the drink of the gods is how Italians prefer to live… and we got on board with that mantra this weekend!

THE DINNER: In the words of our favorite Austrian Chef, Wolfgang Puck, “Italian food is all about ingredients. It’s not fussy and it’s not fancy.” My mom’s favorite Italian chef is Lidia Bastianich (if you haven’t checked out Lidia’s Kitchen, you’re missing out, seriously). I mean this woman, makes Italian cooking so accessible and fun. She’s delightful. The recipes that mom pulled for the weekend was one entree, as normal, and then a surprise bonus meal that I alluded to at the end of last post, which was a breakfast meal! We have yet to explore breakfast on ATWI-195-S (that’s cool kid short hand for the blog, btw), so we were really stoke to venture into other times of the day for Italian cuisine.

In Italy, like so many European nations, the sensibility is to eat a good breakfast, followed by light snacking or wine at lunch, typically crudite; and then a large dinner/supper type meal around the early evening. This is something we do most often in Brovskyland actually, so it’s sort of the normal around here. The breakfast, is also a Brovsky staple, it’s known in England as “toad in the hole” and in Italy it’s called “egg in a basket“. For a pop culture reference: Please refer to the movie Moonstruck to see Olympia Dukakis make this for Cher.  It’s topped with sweet Italian peppers and it’s delightful. The main course she picked was one of Lidia’s recipes that we had never made before: Paccheri with Seafood. It’s interesting because though it’s seafood, the base is not cream like so many dishes but tomato. A trip to the Italian market was a bonus but not a necessity for this week’s adventure also. Italian cooking is nothing if not accessible to everyone.

Italian Egg in a Basket Recipe: http://www.sargento.com/recipes/1172/italian-style-eggs-in-a-frame/
Paccheri with Seafood Recipe:
http://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/825

 

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five for Breakfast /// THREE Stars our of five this Dinner.
BREAKFAST: This one is pretty simple. Eggs –> bread –>hole in bread –>fry –> top with wondrous fried sweet peppers and cheese and parsley and basically go straight to heaven. This one is super easy and basic. It’s so easy, in fact, you’ll have the problem of eating them faster than you can make them… real talk.
DINNER: This one was a hair trickier. Maybe just due to the seafood being of several different varieties. I mean, you have shellfish and non shellfish items cooking together and that can cause timing issues. You want the clams/muscles to open but you also want the meatier items like shrimp/scallops to cook all the way without being rubbery. Beyond all that, it was very simple as far as ingredients… save the surprise ingredient of saffron, which is typically more of a Portuguese or Spanish addition. It was really clever and fancy, but make sure you have some on hand before undertaking!

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE and out of five for breakfast // FOUR & HALF stars for Dinner.
BREAKFAST: This was amazing. I can’t explain in enough detail how warm and comforting eggs and bread and cheese and crispy fried awesomeness will make you feel, so honestly you’re going to just have to try this one for yourself. It’s yolky, rich and satisfying– and a MUST. All breakfast should be like this. I think I dreamed of these eggs. Twice.
DINNER: The dinner was tricky, but overall was just lovely. I really enjoyed mom’s pick of rigatoni! I have never had the ones that size before– i mean they were massive. The great thing about those were their ability to sustain the seafood. The noodles were strong enough to be significant next to the meat and that was a trick. The sauce was spicy and really a great departure from the typical cream based seafood dishes we see so often. We called an audible and added some basil too, which I would highly recommend. We also served it with some of that lovely Italian bread from the morning and a nice Chianti (no Hannibal Lecter noise effects needed…).

Next week we head farther north on the same continent to the very often forgot about nation of Luxembourg!! It’s sort of melting pot for so many of it’s neighbors so it sounds like it could be completely interesting!

Till next week, Ciao Bella!!
– L & K

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