10/04/2005

eating our way through the belly of italy. we drove through seven regions of italy this weekend and stopped through three (okay, two and a half). and we never ate so well. in the marche (on the east, above abruzzo and on the adriatic), we saw the marche is much more roll-y than piemonte, the hills stippled with vines from which the marchigiani make verdicchio, perhaps one of my all-time favorite white wines. here, they eat meat, meat and more meat. and sometimes fish. we stopped in jesi, where carla and emily went to cooking school and ate at chichibio, one of the local osterie: i think this pasta is called stagacci in dialect. this region (and many others, besides) makes many kinds of pasta without eggs, unlike piemonte (where 40 yolks to a kilo of flour is the norm). the pasta has a much chewier texture -- not unlike duk, those korean rice cakes -- gummy, in a pleasant way. if 'toothsome' really meant what it sounds like it means, this would be exactly that. this stagacci has a spicy (another thing you won't find in piemonte) cherry tomato sauce. i had the maltagliati with chickpeas and clams. this pasta is made with eggs, clearly. carla had (roasted tomatoes) and (pork). i somehow neglected to take a photograph of the greens we ordered as well. for whatever reason, the piemontesi aren't so into greens, so we were all totally stoked to get a bunch of beet tops, cooked with garlic. just like my mom used to do. on our way out of the marche, we stopped in to visit a former chef-instructor of theirs who just opened up a new restaurant/hotel, called coquus fornacis, that was formerly a brick factory. they've kept the giant kiln as an al fresco dining room. the place is beautifully appointed and so worth a trip. check this out: in the kitchen, they had these porchette sitting out for a 200-person wedding party they were doing the next day. traditional all over italy (but not really all that common in piemonte -- do you see a theme here?), porchetta is suckling pig that's prepared any number of ways, according to local tradition. any way you slice it, the shit is good. but we didn't get to have any until we got to tuscany (we'll get to that tomorrow). the fritto misto at coquus includes celery leaves, anchovies, peppers, apples, potato, stuffed olives and this odd pastry cream. some of it was SBP'd, but the best of the lot was battered almost tempura-like. the chef said it was made of flour, ice, egg whites and maybe something else. i had the zuppetta di cicerchia, which they've put in a pagnotta (roll, i suppose) made of farro (one of middle italy's favorite grains, seems like). the cicerchia is a chickpea-like legume. it may even be a wild chickpea. for primi, carla had the cresc tajat, another egg-less fresh pasta. con sugo finto, or "with fake sauce". or a meatless sauce that's made as if it were a meat sauce. and because i couldn't get enough of the farro, i got the malefatte di farro con broccoletti, guanciola (like guanciale, cured pig jowl, but more bacon-y) e pecorino. secondi: petto d'anatra steccato con lardo speziato. duck breast larded with, well, lard. not particularly outstanding, especially when compared with l'agnello e i suoi profumi. or basically, lamb, three ways. there's a grilled chop on the left, a sort of roulade on the top right and a braise of the offal on the bottom right. guess which one was my favorite. and even though i vacillated over whether to include this, doesn't seem quite right after all these savouries to go without a little dolce, yes? a mille foglie with apples and pastry cream (that was weirdly mustard-yellow). kumiko plated it into this cute little apple. don't you just love the japanese? (they're the ones who are really cooking back there in those italian kitchens, you know. they're like the el salvadorans of italy.)

3 Comments:

Blogger fwc said...

nice pics. what does SBP mean?

10/04/2005 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger winnie said...

standard breading procedure:
dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg, coat with breadcrumbs.

10/04/2005 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous daisy said...

i've heard about the crazy japanese working in italy -- my friend jeff (who worked pasta at via matta) used to talk about the japanese in his kitchens. he's the one who showed me how to properly sharpen my knife, japanese-style.

off to the farmers market now -- you've made me hungry.

10/06/2005 04:59:00 PM  

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