Results tagged ricotta from David Lebovitz

RAP Épicerie

RAP Italian Epicerie

Due to our closeness to Italy, it’s fairly easy to find an Italian épicerie in almost any Parisian neighborhood. (Although locating an authentic Italian espresso is a little more elusive.) I’m fortunate because there are two excellent Italian épiceries (speciality food shops) close to where I live, but most of the places get their items from a distributor, which means the selection is somewhat narrow. Few places have farro, and I’ve never seen anyone selling farina polenta taragna, the mix of polenta and buckwheat that I first had in the mountains above Milan, and I’d never seen it anywhere outside of Italy. (So I’ve been making my own.)

RAP Italian Epicerie

That’s not a complaint – it’s great to be able to find Sicilian salumi and pasta from Tuscany. And Cooperative Latte Cisternino, an excellent Italian dairy cooperative, is a terrific place for Italian cheeses and other products. (Although they always seem to be closed when I go there.)

RAP Italian Epicerie

But artisanal products, items from small producers, are a little more challenging to find. So I was charmed when my friend Terresa and I took a field trip to discover RAP, which offers rarely seen Italian foods, imported directly by Alessandra Pierini, who curates the selection in her jammed-to-the-rafters shop in the 9th arrondissement.

RAP Italian Epicerie

I haven’t seen such a varied and curious selection of products all together outside of Italy since, well – ever. (Eataly, eat your heart out.) Granted RAP is tiny; imagine if someone pushed eight phone booths together, and you’ll get some idea of its size.

RAP Italian Epicerie

Yet I was incredibly excited to be surrounded by shelves and shelves holding many of the foods I love from Italy, including unusual chocolates, citron soda, and pure, unadulterated pistachio spreads, which were in danger of being eclipsed by things that I’d never seen or tasted.

RAP Italian Epicerie

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Modica (Sicily)

Cannoli

The good news about my trip to Sicily is that it wasn’t all eating almond cookies and cannoli, looking for parking spaces in Palermo (and paying one of the fellows lurking about to keep an eye on the car), gorging on fresh ricotta, and wiping and everything you possible can in generous drizzles of the amazing olive oil produced there.

There was “pasta” – made from almond paste, a plate that’d fool even those with sharper eyes than I. We had the aforementioned spleen sandwiches, which I was relieved to hear were not made from pancreas, and we ate salumi (charcuterie) because it was so good that it would have felt like a crime not to. (And I didn’t want to get into trouble in Sicily, if you know what I mean.) Since I only had one week on the island – two days of which were travel days, and two other days were dedicated to work that landed in my Inbox right before the trip – we managed to make the time for a quick trip to Modica.

Sicily pictures-76

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Sicily

Sicily

I’ve been living in what is arguably the center of Europe for a while now (and I’m certain someone will get out their ruler and argue that technically, I don’t actually reside in the precise center of the continent – but let’s just go with that for the sake of the story), I don’t visit other countries as often as I’d like. It’s so easy to just stay home, not worry about airline tickets, packing, making sure you bring enough socks and don’t forget shaving cream, getting to the airport on time, the stress of unpacking everything to pass through security, and being herded onto, then cooped up in, a tight plane for a few hours in a seat that’s just barely big enough to hold a small child.

persimmons

The reward, however, is arriving somewhere, leaving the airport, and realizing you’re somewhere magnificent. Even if you have to nearly blow-up like a smoldering Sicilian volcano to get there.

Sicily

Sicily has been at the top of my list for a while now, but by the end of fall, less folks want to travel there. And because it’s not a popular winter destination, airlines heavily reduce their flights to Sicily and I had to do some sleuthing around to find out which one would actually take us there.

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Cotogna Restaurant

beef tenderloin at cotogna cotogna pizza maker

I’m going to get this out of the way right off the bat: I worked with Mike Tusk at Chez Panisse – he was a cook upstairs in the café and I was downstairs in the pastry department, and although I knew he was a good cook, I was blown away the first time I ate at his restaurant, Quince.

Quince restaurant in San Francisco warm ricotta with figs

I went there shortly after it opened, when it was in a residential neighborhood in San Francisco. The kitchen was nice and rather large if I recall, and he explained to me that he was figuring out how to do everything that he wanted to do in that space. I had dinner later that week in the dining room, which is run by his wife, Lindsay, and was really delighted at the wonderful meal I had, especially the pasta dishes.

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Rome, Again

Today, I’ve had gelato for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And as I write this, it’s only 3pm in the afternoon.

lunch

It all started on this bright Sunday morning, when I made the onerous hike up to Prati, to Fatamorgana for their daring, wildly-flavored gelati. If you weren’t looking for the place, you’d probably keep going. But being the trooper that I am, in the blazing heat, I pushed past the crowds at the Vatican and trudged upwards toward my goal.

fatamorgana gelato

To say the walk was worth it is putting it mildly. This compact address scoops up some of the most astounding gelato I’ve tasted. I wasn’t quite sure what to order, as there were literally three kinds of frozen zabaglione and nearly ten various riffs on cioccolata.

I decided to go for it and had Kentucky, flavored with chocolate and tobacco, ricotta-coconut, and pure zabaglione. When I took my cup outside and spooned in my first bite, I almost started crying. In fact, I did cry a bit—it was so good.

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Herbed Ricotta Tart

ricotta tart

I don’t think I’ve ever made a savory tart, until now, which marks the mid-point in my life. And after this one, I’m wondering-what took me so long? I also sometimes lie awake at night and wonder if this really is the mid-point in my life. But that’s a whole nother post because it has nothing to do with baking. (Although that hasn’t stopped me before…)

Neuroses aside, this tart may look fancy, but it’s one of the simplest thing to make that you could imagine. True, it does require a bit of chopping and cooking, but there’s no mountains of long-cooked onions like pissaladière, it doesn’t call for an artery-busting even-handed pour of cream, and it’s wonderful served warm or at room temperature. And it’s even better the next day, when the top gets crusty-brown during reheating. What’s not to like?

sauteed bunch of allium

I made this tart on the spur of the moment after leafing through the excellent book, Local Flavors by Deborah Madison, which explores all of the magnificent produce from the diverse greenmarkets and small-scale farms spread out across America.

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Making Ricotta, at Simply Recipes

It’s easy to make your own cheese at home. All you need is a bottle of milk, a scoop of yogurt, a touch of vinegar, and a few minutes over the heat.

ladling milk

Don’t believe me?

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Noël

bûche de noël

I couldn’t let the year end without a little reportage about Christmas this year. You heard about my last-minute scramble to find the World’s Most Expensive Pastry Bag, which is now safely stored away in my Safe Deposit Box for next year.

cheese Christmas dinner

There’s a joke that the only bad thing about Paris is that it’s full of Parisians. I’m not going to comment on that, but Paris pretty much empties out, and is glorious time to stay in town. Also Christmas is taken pretty seriously around here. It’s considered a close, family holiday and even though the big department stores have spectacular window displays, Christmas hasn’t been overtly commercialized and kids are content when la grande-mère hands them a bag of fresh clementines, and don’t throw tantrums if they don’t get the latest version of the impossible-to-get video game. At least in my French famille.

The only tantrums being thrown were by me, making my Bûche de Noël, which I’ll get to in a bit.

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