Why do we love eating in this magical city so much?
WE HAD LUNCH in Manhattan one day early this year with Marcella and Victor Hazan, in search of guidance on our forthcoming travels to Venice, and on the special issue we hoped to draw from those travels. Marcella and Victor were both born in Emilia-Romagna, and they’ve lived in Florence, Rome, Milan, and Bologna (often considered Italy’s gastronomic capital).
After years of culinary philandering, we’re back to French
At SAVEUR, we must confess, we've always been more than a bit Francophile. Even when the trends flowed the other way, even when our heads were turned (temporarily) by Pacific Rim–ish concoctions—a sliver of this, piled atop a slice of that—we always asked ourselves the morning after: Yes, but can you remember what you ate?
A MID Manhattan’s water towers, high above the honking horns and car alarms and sirens, tens of thousands of diligent bees are busy reducing the metropolis to a sweet, fine essence: honey. An apiary publicity stunt? Not at all. Massachusetts-based bee-keeper David Graves insists that his rooftop endeavor is purely practical:
NOVEMBER 4-6 ABERDEEN AND NORTH EAST BEER FESTIVAL
NOVEMBER 7-13 NATIONAL SPLIT-PEA SOUP WEEK
NOVEMBER 7 & 14 LONDON EATS OUT
NOVEMBER 10 MÅRTENS AFTON
NOVEMBER 11 LA FOIRE AUX DINDONS
NOVEMBER 13-14 ZAO KOGEN DAIKON-GARI
NOVEMBER 20 RANCH HAND BREAKFAST
NOVEMBER 21-23 YIPENG LOI KRATHONG
NOVEMBER 23 Birthday: PROSPERO ALPINI
NOVEMBER 26-29 CHOCOLATE SHOW
NOVEMBER 28 Birthday: CLAUDE LÉVI-STRAUSS
On this day families all over Spain honor departed relatives by visiting their grave sites. It's a somber occasion, so the food afterward is familiar, comforting, and regional. In Castile and other parts of Spain, for example, huesos de santo, "saint’s bones"
THOUGH I try to merge anonymously into the crowd gathering near Magdalen Square in Abbeville, Louisiana—about 160 miles west of New Orleans—a large woman in bulging stretch pants correctly identifies me as a Yankee. Spontaneously, she offers me a bite of her crab and crawfish pie.
THE ORIGINAL feeds the whole town. For a more modest portion, heat 4 tbsp. butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 chopped, peeled onion and 1 chopped, seeded, and stemmed green bell pepper and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup peeled, cooked crawfish tails.
I’M LIKE Dr. Frankenstein," says Oscar Bassinson. “Food is dead. I need to give it life." A partner at Shadowrock, a Beverly Hills production company, Bassinson directs food-oriented television commercials, animating everything from maraschino cherries to mashed potatoes.
AN UNCTUOUS, shiny, intensely flavored dark brown syrup, the aceto balsamico tradizionale of the provinces of Modena and Reggio in north-central Italy is a gastronomic wonderment— about as different from the cheap balsamic vinegar sold in supermarkets as champagne is from wine coolers.
Upstairs at Chez Panisse, the food is wonderful, the compromises few
From the Saveur Cellar
IN MY corner grocery store late one night, I found myself agonizing over a tomato. It wasn’t organic, I knew, and it sure wasn’t local. I bought it anyway, but my conscience twinged all the way home. I don’t normally have these problems when buying produce, but I’d just read the Chez Panisse Café Cookbook, Alice Waters’s latest—written with the “Cooks of Chez Panisse”
1. Prepare the foie gras several days in advance. Let it soften at room temperature for about an hour. When it is pliable, pull the two lobes apart, grasp the veins, and gently pull to remove them. Don’t worry about disfiguring the foie gras; it will be pressed later. When all the veins have been removed, lightly season the two lobes with salt and reshape them into their original form.
Chinese-American Thanksgivings in Atlanta teach the author a belated lesson
MY PARENTS, who were both born in China, came to the United States—my father in the ’40s, my mother in the ’50s—for higher education. They met in Atlanta, married and settled there, and had two American children—my brother and me. In 1979, when I was 11 years old, my mother’s parents left Taiwan and joined us in Georgia.
1. For the duck: Remove any quills with tweezers. Rinse duck and pat dry. Remove fat from inside of cavity and discard. Cut off wing tips and (if attached) feet and set aside. (If duck comes without neck attached, leave long piece of neck skin intact and tuck skinned neck inside the cavity.)
In Spain, it's the name of a town, and of an irresistible, vigorous liqueur
JUAN CARLOS I may be the king of Spain, but in Chinchón, humble anise rules. Wandering down the winding streets of this tiny town about 30 miles southeast of Madrid, I'm confronted at every turn by anís, the anise-flavored alcoholic beverage that has been made here for more than three hundred years—and that has put Chinchón on the gastronomic map.
The holidays in Rome, New York, call for a different kind of turkey
IN 1921 four brothers by the name of Haritatos from Cephalonia, Greece, pooled their money and opened a restaurant in Rome, New York. They called it Candyland and, along with burgers and other soda-fountain fare, sold handmade candies—including a unique confection known as Turkey Bones.
A HEARTY MIXTURE of beef and vegetables, accented with peaches and festively served in a baked pumpkin, carbonada en zapallo (sometimes called carbonada criolla) is a South American culinary hybrid that dates back to colonial times. The Spanish found a trove of new-world foodstuffs—pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and corn among them—when they arrived in Peru and Chile in the 16th century, and incorporated these ingredients into dishes from home, including one of grilled meat in broth, called carbonada.
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Cut a lid about 6" in diameter out of top of pumpkin; set lid aside. Remove and discard seeds and strings. Replace lid and bake pumpkin on a heavy cookie sheet until just tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes.
IT SEDUCES US, THEN GIVES US SOMETHING GOOD FOR DINNER
SEEN FROM THE AIR, SET IN ITS MARSHY CONTEXT, surrounded by water and by a scattering of incoherent jigsaw bits of islands, Venice appears almost modest. Apart from the weather-vaned domes of the Basilica of San Marco and the city’s emblematic campaniles (bell towers), with their peaked-hat capitals, it is a comparatively low-slung city; its red-tiled roofs seem dullish in comparison with the red-tiled roofs of the southern Mediterranean, as if they were permanently veiled in Adriatic mist; the unrelenting sinuous narrowness of the city’s streets and most of its canals gives it a cramped, coiled-up feeling from above.
CAN YOU IMAGINE a market like this for a city of only 70,000 inhabitants?” Marcella Hazan asked us early one day as we walked together through Venice’s mercato del pesce al minuto, or retail fish market, on the Campo de la Beccarie, near the Rialto bridge.
1. Place garlic, oil, clams, and ½ cup water in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cover the skillet and cook, shaking skillet over the heat several times, for 3–4 minutes. 2. Add wine and ginger and continue cooking, uncovered, until clams have opened, about 3 minutes more, discarding those that remain closed.
1. Plunge a sharp knife into top of lobster’s head just behind its eyes (to kill it quickly); chop into 8–10 pieces. 2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lobster and any juices and garlic; cook, stirring and turning the lobster pieces, for 1 minute.
1. Pull off the tough green outer leaves of the artichokes until you reach the tender, mostly yellow leaves. Trim stems and slice about 1" off top of artichokes. Spread open leaves and scoop out fibrous white chokes with a spoon. Slice artichokes lengthwise into thin wedges.
1. Peel shrimp, cut off heads, then put heads and shells in a large heavy pot. Cut shrimp into large pieces and refrigerate. Add fish heads, bones, and skin, mussels, clams, peppercorns, tomatoes, onion, carrot, celery, and 4 quarts cold water to pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat.
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Tear bread into pieces and put in bowl of food processor fitted with a steel blade, then pulse to coarse crumbs. Transfer to a medium bowl and add basil, garlic, and grated cheese. Toss with oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
1. Wash cuttlefish under cold running water (defrost if necessary). Separate heads from bodies with a sharp knife, then remove tentacles and set aside, discarding the eyes and beaks with the hard parts around them. Pull out hard “bone” from bodies and discard.
VENICE REVEALS ITSELF IN WAYS BOTH OBVIOUS AND UNEXPECTED
PIAZZA SAN MARCO
AT THE WINE BARS
ART OF THE TABLE
VENICE IS A LADY with her petticoats provocatively on display. Peeking as you walk is a game—into half-concealed boats on watery boulevards; into open windows aglow with glass chandeliers. As you pass a furniture atelier, the light catches a girl holding a bit of gold leaf aloft (gold like this once covered whole palazzi).
IN VENICE, THE NAME STANDS FOR HOSPITALITY, AND GOOD FOOD
WE ARRIVE AT Harry’s Bar at one o’clock on a chilly, sunny January afternoon, pushing through the narrow saloon doors. Mario greets and leads us past the bustling little bar, dispensing its elegant prosecco-and-peach-nectar bellinis—a house invention—and its stiletto-blade martinis, to the banquette table at the end of the small downstairs room.
WHEN WHITE PEACHES are in season, you may want to make your own peach purée by passing the pitted peaches through a food mill, then passing the purée through a sieve. “Never use yellow peaches and never purée the peaches by machine,” says Arrigo Cipriani—though Harry’s Bar now only uses a bottled French white peach purée.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, make a béchamel sauce by melting 4 tbsp. of the butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and gradually whisk in milk.
1. For the sauce: Make a mayonnaise by putting egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, and a little salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl and whisking until foamy and thoroughly blended. Add ¼ cup of the oil drop by drop, whisking constantly. Gradually add the rest of the oil in a thin, steady stream, continuing to whisk as the mayonnaise thickens.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add vinegar and several generous pinches of salt, then plunge tripe in and allow water to return to a boil. Drain and rinse under cold water. Slice tripe into 4" × ½" pieces with a sharp knife; cover, and set aside.
MARCELLA HAZAN OFFERED US A LAST LUNCH IN VENICE, BUT GAVE US MORE
IN A VENETIAN KITCHEN
SCENES FROM A LIFE
RISOTTO HAS A REASON," she says in that unmistakable voice, paved by a lifetime of Marlboros and of speaking her mind. Drawing us out of her tiny Venetian kitchen into a small study, Marcella Hazan, now not just a legendary cooking teacher and indispensable author, but also a scientist with two advanced degrees, commands us to inspect three single grains of carnaroli rice:
1. Cook beans in a medium pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then drain. Cut cooled beans into ½" pieces, then set aside. 2. Meanwhile, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Reduce heat to low, add bouillon cube, and stir until dissolved.
1. Heat oil and garlic in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale gold, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add rosemary sprigs, turning them over several times, then set pan (with garlic and rosemary) aside.
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Discard any bruised or wilted outer leaves from radicchio heads and cut off discolored stem ends. Wash under cold running water and shake off moisture. 2. Cut each head of radicchio in half lengthwise, then make a V-cut in the root end, cutting half as deep as the root is thick and running the cut from the bottom to the point where the leaves join the root.
THESE TEN RECIPES, BOTH ANCIENT AND MODERN, DEFINE THE FOOD OF VENICE
WHEN THE INTREPID English gastronome Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis visited the restaurants of Venice for the 1911 edition of his Gourmet's Guide to Europe, he found such things as baccalà (which in Venice is the air-dried cod known elsewhere in Italy as stoccafisso), “calamai”
1. Mix cornstarch and ⅓ cup of each flour with 1 cup of sparkling water until it reaches the consistency of a thin batter, adding more water if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours. 2. Chill shrimp, sole, and squid together in one bowl of ice water and scallops in another.
1. Shell peas, reserving pods. Place pods in a medium pot with 8 cups lightly salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour. Strain broth into a medium pot, pressing on pods. Discard pods. Keep broth warm over low heat.
1. Cut liver lengthwise into four long pieces, then, using a very sharp knife and pressing the palm of your hand firmly against the meat, slice each piece crosswise into pieces as thin its possible. 2. Heat 4 tbsp. of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
1. Soak anchovies in ½ cup of the white wine and 2 cups water in a large bowl for 30 minutes. Gently pull anchovies apart into lengthwise halves from the head end and remove and discard spines and all tiny bones (see page 140). Wash anchovies in the soaking liquid, discard the soaking liquid, set aside 6 halves for garnish, then cut remaining halves into small pieces and set aside.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat all but 1 tbsp. of the oil, the garlic, and half the parsley in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 1 minute. Add clams, cover, and cook for 1 minute more. Add wine and brandy and cook, uncovered, until alcohol has evaporated, 2–3 minutes.
1. Rinse sardines and cut off heads and tails. Using a sharp knife, slice each fish open so that it lies flat, skin side down. Remove and discard bones using the tip of the knife or by running your index finger between backbone and flesh (see page 140).
1. Drain beans and put in a large heavy pot. Add pancetta, 1 cup of the olive oil, onions, celery, parsley, tomato paste, and 6½ cups cold water. Mince 1 clove of the garlic and 1 sprig of rosemary and add to pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender, about 2½ hours.
Historically, Venetians ate very little pasta, not as much rice as they do now, and acres of polenta—which is (unromantic as this might sound) basically cornmeal mush. This satisfying, versatile starch tends to intimidate cooks who haven't grown up making it, but is really quite easy to master—and worth the trouble.
1. Place stockfish in a large bowl or pot and cover with cold water, then place in refrigerator for 4–5 days, changing water at least 3 times a day, and more often if possible, until fish is rehydrated and soft. 2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
1. Beat egg yolks with a whisk in a medium bowl. Gradually add sugar, continuing to whisk until mixture is thick, smooth, and pale yellow. Gently fold mascarpone into mixture with a rubber spatula, then set aside. 2. Put egg whites in a clean, dry mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.
BEHIND ITS IMPOSING FAÇADE, A DELICIOUS CONTEMPORARY WELCOME
WE STEP OFF THE DOCK alongside the Metropole Hotel into a sleek, wood-hulled water taxi. “Palazzo Brandolini, per favore,” we say casually to the driver—as if motoring off to a Venetian palace were an everyday thing for us. The January sun glances off the water in bright confetti sparkles and warms our faces, and a salty breeze ruffles our hair as our boat purrs out into the Grand Canal.
1. Bring 5 cups water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Reduce heat to low, add bouillon cube, and stir until dissolved. 2. Heat oil in a medium heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until soft, about 10 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Butter an 11" springform pan with 1 tbsp. of the butter, line bottom with parchment paper; butter paper, then dust bottom and sides with flour. Melt chocolate in top of double boiler set above simmering water over medium heat.
IT COMES FROM VERONA, BUT TO US IT'S A PERFECT VENETIAN WINE
VENETIANS HAVE a reputation as Italy’s greatest wine consumers—and that’s saying something. "We drink so much wine,” locals sometimes joke, “because we have no water....” The traditional term for a glass of wine in Venice is ombra, meaning “shadow” or “shade"
We recently tasted a score of soaves, from producers both obscure and world-famous, ranging in price from $7 to $27 a bottle. The quality, needless to say, varied immensely—but the most expensive wines weren't necessarily our favorites.
IN THE ULTIMATE tourist city, every calle and canalside seems to have its hotels, pensiones, and restaurants: Some are dizzyingly overpriced (which isn’t the same thing as being expensive); some live off past glory; some just aren’t very good.
THE SPOT SEEMS SO LUSH that it’s almost primeval. My husband, Don, and I are near the point in central Texas where the San Saba and Colorado Rivers converge. The water is brown and swollen, and the overgrown banks are swathed in a veil of moisture.
1. For the crust: Sift together flour, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to work butter and shortening into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in up to 4 tbsp. ice water, stirring the dough with a fork until it just begins to hold together.
1. Line a clean work surface with a 4-foot length of parchment paper. Put sugar, cream, and salt in a 3-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir mixture over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then allow it to come to a boil without stirring. It will now take 15–20 minutes to finish cooking the pralines.
WE LIKE THIS recipe, adapted from Bill Neal’s Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990). Preheat oven to 325°. Melt 2 tbsp. butter with 2 pinches cayenne and ½ tsp. sugar (optional) in a small saucepan over medium heat.
IN FRANCE, SPICED ‘MEAT LOAVES’ ARE A SAVORY REMINDER OF HOW WONDERFUL FOOD CAN BE
FOREMOST IN MY FIRST ATTEMPT, some decades ago, at making a professional terrine were the hearts and livers of the quail. Given the size of that bird and the fact that I had to fill four rather large oval terra-cotta vessels, the number of organs was, as you might imagine, impressive.
1. Cut chicken pieces into legs and thighs, then remove thigh meat from the bone, remove skin, and cut meat into thick strips. Reserve skin, bones, and legs for stock. Mix together wine, oil, 1 tsp. of the thyme, 1 tsp. of the rosemary, and 2 of the bay leaves in a small mixing bowl, then add thigh meat, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Combine pork belly, pork liver, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, oregano, summer savory, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, wine, port, and cognac in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix ingredients thoroughly.
1. Pulse bread crumbs, garlic, mixed herbs, cloves, and milk in a blender until ingredients form a paste, then set aside. 2. Melt butter in a small pan over medium-low heat, add onions, and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
1. Remove meat from rabbit, keeping loins intact. Set meat (including livers) and bones aside separately, and put loins, white wine, and shallots in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
IT’S EVERY food-loving traveler’s fantasy: Actually buy some of those incredible foodstuffs you see in the marketplace and take them, well, someplace and turn them into a meal. Staying for a few days in a top-floor apartment on the ruga Giuffa in Venice, we realized that we had a night off from our restaurant rounds, so we did just that—filling our shopping bags at the Rialto fish and produce markets and from little stalls nearby.
1. If using fresh beans, bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat, add beans, and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside in a bowl of ice water. If using dried beans, drain soaking liquid, put beans in a medium pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
WE DEBONED piles of anchovies while testing our recipe for bigoli in salsa (page 96)— and were about to throw the spines away when editor Colman Andrews looked in and said, “Stop! Those are good to eat!” Then he showed us this recipe from his Catalan Cuisine (Harvard Common Press, 1999):
Beekeeper David Graves sells his rooftop honey at several farmers’ markets in Manhattan. Call his Massachusetts-based company, Berkshire Berries, for information. Or order direct (a ½-pound jar costs $5, plus shipping; 800/5-BERRYS).