Sunday, January 24, 2010

When vin santo is not on hand...

Vin santo, one of the liquid joys of Italy, can often be expensive here in the U.S., if you're able to find it at all.

And when we travel to Italy, we tend to load up on regular wine, not after-dinner drinks so we typically only have one bottle on hand.

What to do? Buy a bottle of what Il Nostro Inviato calls Spanish vin santo.

That would be sherry; we like the kind you see in the photo, Lustau Solera Riserva Deluxe Cream.

To be sure, it's not the same as vin santo.

And publications like the Times will often sniff at sweet sherry as something unsophisticated, but for the purposes of dipping the cantuccini cookies, which are a key part of the vin santo ritual, and enjoying an after-dinner drink (see photo below), it does the trick.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I' Che C'è C'è

Trattoria I'Che C'è C'è is a small restaurant in Florence not far from where I used to live and surprise, surprise the chef and owner will be teaching a cooking class at the Cook's Warehouse here in Atlanta next month.

I say surprise, surprise because the restaurant is a real neighborhood place on a tiny street (Via de' Magalotti) that's not easy to find; you need to know the short, narrow streets near what was once the Etruscan center of the city.

In other words, who knew they had a little empire going?!

Anyway, I can vouch that the chef knows Tuscan cooking. The restaurant takes its name from a Tuscan expression that can be translated loosely as "Be happy with what you have."

(I always thought whenever I ate there that, given it's the name of a restaurant, the expression could also be translated as, "What we have is what you'll get," though with the proviso that Tuscan cooks can make something wonderful with whatever's on hand).

Here's the info:

What: "Authentic Italian Via Florence," featuring Chef Gino Noci
When: Sat., Feb. 6, 12 p.m.
Where: Decatur location (on Ponce, in downtown Decatur)
Cost: $50

For more information, visit

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Crema di zucca con baccalà

Slowly but surely, I will be posting photos from our Christmas culinary extravaganza.

Staying in Atlanta for the holiday meant Il Nostro Inviato could go to town in the kitchen -- so to speak.

Here's the soup we had on Christmas Day: squash soup with salted cod.

I suppose I've had salted cod before but it was a revelation this time around.

Salty and soft and just right. I could've eaten bowl after bowl!

Buon appetito!