Category Archives: Food

Fun With Food ~ Chocolate Salami

I had the pleasure of first sampling this rich and tasty dessert at a friend’s house over the holidays.  After my first bite I was hooked and inquired after the preparation of the dish.  Luckily, everyone here is happy to share their secrets and pass on tips.  First, let me explain, chocolate salami is not salami at all (even though Greg wolfs this dessert down, he has a hard time getting past the name).  This simple, no bake dessert only resembles salami.  This Italian favorite was originally served around the holidays but now is acceptable any time of year.  I think it’s the perfect dessert to serve while entertaining.  The best part is that you can prepare it ahead of time and store it in the freezer.

Voilà!  A salame di cioccolato (chocolate salami)
Voilà! A salame di cioccolato (chocolate salami)

INGREDIENTS  (serves 8 people)

>One (1) cup of biscotti or dry cookie broken into pieces
>Eight (8) ounces of dark chocolate.  I used 70%
>One (1) stick of high quality butter, softened
>Two (2) eggs, very fresh
>Half (½) cup of sugar
>Quarter (¼) cup, freshly brewed espresso
>Confectioners’ sugar, as needed
>Chopped nuts optional (I didn’t use them but I think I will try next time) Continue reading Fun With Food ~ Chocolate Salami

You “Massa” Check Out This City (Massa, Italy)

Man, do I love the bad puns in my titles or what?  Probably about as much as I love posing rhetorical questions to my readers…hercules__bad_puns_by_masterof4elements-d75obi2

Roughly twelve days ago, I was as proud of myself as Arvind Mahankali when he successfully spelled knaidel to beat Pranav Sivakumar and secure the championship title during the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee (apparently, this particular Indian-American knows a thing or two about Jewish comfort food).  Why was I so pleased with myself, you ask?  Well, I thought that I had finally caught up with our stories on the blog.  And then a whirlwind of activity commenced in a flash as Jen’s sister arrived for a visit with her boyfriend.  We had such a nice time traveling and eating with them (really, is there anything else you would want to do in Italy?) that now I have a ton more to write about.  Additionally, we left them to their own devices while we embarked on a rewarding road-trip, which I cannot wait to tell you about.  So, now once again –  I am behind the times again faster than you can spell prosciutto.

An accurate portrayal of me as I struggle to keep up with the blog
An accurate portrayal of me as I struggle to keep up with the blog

When I was looking ahead toward the next 5-8 posts, I realized that I would be remiss not to step back and mention our visits to Pisa and then Massa in northern Tuscany.  When I last wrote, I detailed our trip to Lucca (HERE).  During the drive home we detoured to marvel at the Torre pendente di Pisa (Leaning Tower of Pisa) before getting back on the road.  We hadn’t traveled too much further when our perfectly timed Italian stomachs told us it was time for lunch (at first I thought our three stomachs growling in unison was a tractor-trailer honking furiously at me).  I was more in the mood for a leisurely lunch than a quick stop at an AutoGrill (picture a rest-stop along the NJ Turnpike with better food and espresso).  I turned to my trusty “TripAdvisor” cell phone app and searched for a restaurant near us.  I discovered Il Fatty (yeah… you guessed the translation; The Fatty) in the city we were approaching.  With a name like, “the fatty” – how could you go wrong?!  I took the exit toward Massa and headed into the center of town. Continue reading You “Massa” Check Out This City (Massa, Italy)

Fast and Tasty Shrimp Scampi Recipe

On a particularly warm and sunny day this week, Greg and I and decided to ditch the pasta and opted instead to share a lighter lunch.  We all love shrimp (especially Julia) so we decided to try our luck with Shrimp Scampi.  I have never made this dish before so I did some research and looked at a few different ways it is prepared.  After evaluating the ingredients I had lying around the house, I came up with a simple recipe for my first attempt at this classic dish.  I have to say – we were all pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. 

Buon Appetito!
Buon Appetito!

I was pleased to see Greg fare la scarpetta, or “to do the little shoe”.  This is a term the Italians have come up with that I adore.  When you have a delicious sauce that you can’t stand to leave behind, you can use a piece of bread to mop it up.  I would encourage you to be sure that you have plenty of good bread for you or your guests to do la scarpetta! Continue reading Fast and Tasty Shrimp Scampi Recipe

Some Great… “Qsine” on the Celebrity Silhouette

If you’ve been a reader of this [travel] blog for sometime, I may have convinced you about the benefits of cruising.  You might even think that I’m lobbying for a job with one of the major cruise companies… and seeing as how I’ll need to resume gainful employment sooner rather than later, you may just be right.  If I haven’t yet convinced you to book your next vacation on a massive floating wonderland, let me quickly state my case once again.  Cruising offers you the opportunity to be pampered day and night while visiting far-off locales in multiple countries without unpacking more than once.  You can soak up culture, splurge on shopping, enjoy theatre, gamble in the casino, relax in the spa or simply sit in your room and enjoy room service while taking in the most magical of views.

Julia is no stranger to being pampered.  It scares me that two year old now hands me the phone and tells me to "order dinner"
Julia is no stranger to being pampered. It scares me that my two year old now hands me the phone and tells me to “order dinner”

On top of all that, you will enjoy delectable cuisine any time of day or night.  In my opinion (which, I’ve found is more fact than opinion since I’m right 98.8% of the time… just ask Jen), one of the best things about cruising is the food.  I once read that the weight gain for your average cruise-goer can be up to a pound a day (do the math for a two week cruise).  If the food can be the star of the show, truth be told – it can also be the downfall of your vacation if you’re served meals that are no better than bad banquet food (and you thought you had a lousy meal at Moritz Rosenstien’s bar mitzvah?).  That is why careful research about your cruise line (and more importantly, the specific cruise ship) is of the utmost importance.  We  chose our most recent Mediterranean cruise on one of Celebrity Cruises newest ships, the Silhouette based on the itinerary and overwhelmingly positive reviews of the food.  We were not disappointed.

"Tell me more, Greg"
“Tell me more, Dad. Give me the ins and outs of it all!”

Continue reading Some Great… “Qsine” on the Celebrity Silhouette

Christmas in Italy… Your Taste Buds Will Thank You, Your Stomach Will Not

If you are notoriously known for having eyes that are bigger than your stomach, then Italy is the ideal place for you during the holidays.  You will eat some of the most delectable food known to man… but you will certainly eat far too much of it!  If you possess a willpower stronger than mine and think to yourself, “nonsense Greg, I always stop eating when I am full” then you are mistaken.

A table like this means it’s impossible to pace yourself
First, it is impossible to “budget” your intake.  You will definitely want to sample all the delicious and unique treats on the table.  The courses come in waves bigger than Australia’s Gold Coast and there is no telling when they will stop crashing on the table.  So even if you simply try a little of everything, you’re still going to eat three times more than a normal meal.  But that’s hardly the main reason.  If you are a visitor in someone’s home, the hostess is absolutely going to give you the largest portions.  And before you’re even done, you should expect seconds.  This will continue over and over until a cold sweat starts to break above your brow.  The trifecta of being force fed occurs if:

A) you are a man (and therefore expected to eat copious amounts of food)
B) you are a visitor from another country (Italians are very hospitable and eager to show off their regional specialties)
C) you are in a house where a nonna (grandma) is present (as if the hostess herself wasn’t enough, a nonna is guaranteed to guilt you into taking another several portions of food) Continue reading Christmas in Italy… Your Taste Buds Will Thank You, Your Stomach Will Not

Adding Italian Flavor to Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Since Thanksgiving is tomorrow – here is a suggestion of something you can do to dress up your leftovers.
Risotto is a favorite of mine; winter, spring, summer or fall.  While cooking risotto, I like to use fresh, seasonal ingredients – and with fall comes all things pumpkin.  So, this was my chance to combine one of my favorite dishes with one of my favorite fall flavors.
Risotto con zucca (Risotto with pumpkin)

However, when it came to the Thanksgiving dinner we just had, I knew it would be too much for a first course.  While risotto is relatively simple to prepare it is time consuming and requires my undivided attention for at least 20 minutes.  I decided instead to create a new family tradition.  My plan was to serve pumpkin risotto the day after Thanksgiving, along with all of the other delicious leftovers.  I think it’s a perfect way to add a new element to a meal we’ve already eaten a couple times over by lunch the next day.  I had plenty of left over zucca (pumpkin) from the soup course, which worked out perfectly.  I have officially converted Greg into a pumpkin/squash lover.  If you want to add some Italian flavors to your holiday meal this year, check out my simple recipe.  I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do.  Continue reading Adding Italian Flavor to Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Vinegar and Ice Cream – A Delicious Combo!

It’s likely that you may think I’ve gone off my rocker.  Vinegar on a salad – of course.  Vinegar on french fries – sure.  But vinegar on ice cream?!  Greg, you must be crazy?!  I assure you, I am not (well, at least when it comes to this point).  Provided one very important detail is in play… that the vinegar used is aged balsamic vinegar from Modena.  This dark, delicious treat becomes sweet and thick (almost, syrupy) once it has been aged 12(+) or 25(+) years.

Old fashioned equipment used to make vinegar now stands as decoration

I have been a fan of all things vinegar for as long as I can remember.  Admittedly, a strange condiment choice (above ketchup or mayonnaise) – but the heart wants what the heart wants.  Although we use apple cider vinegar every single day, I have always been quite fond of balsamic vinegar.  Just the right amount can add the perfect hit of acid to round out a caprese salad.  However, I recently learned that I have become accustomed to eating the equivalent of a McDonald’s value meal when a readily available filet mignon was just around the corner.  But let’s back up and find out how I discovered this… Continue reading Vinegar and Ice Cream – A Delicious Combo!

Loosen Those Belt Buckles – Some Serious Eating Ahead

Before I’ve even written the first word of this post, my OCD brain is trying to figure out if this post should be categorized under the “Food” or the “Travel” sections of the blog.  I will be taking you along with us on our travel adventure to go eat some of Italy’s best food.  It’s quite the dilemma…

A selection of salumi (cold cuts), formaggi (cheese) and the cinghiale (boar) that gave his life to the cause

You may have read about part of our visit with Aunt Deb and Uncle S where we ventured into the wine region of Piemonte during the first portion of their visit.  Their two week sojourn in Italy included a mission to explore the best of what the country has to give.  It was no coincidence then, that their adventure had been neatly divided into three of the country’s best offerings.  Part I was Vino (wine).  Party II was Cibo (food) – the subject of today’s post.  Lastly, Part III was Storia (history).  Since they experienced the rich history of Pompeii and Venezia on their own, I will let them tell you all about it at their next dinner party.  I’ll simply report on the parts during which we were present… and luckily for us, we were present for a three day trip into Italy’s richest “food region”, Emilia-Romagna. Continue reading Loosen Those Belt Buckles – Some Serious Eating Ahead

Don’t Buy The Jarred Stuff!

I know this is Jen’s Kitchen, but I’m sorry to report that you’ve got me (Greg) writing this one. This area of the blog is Jen’s domain – but she was having trouble getting her writing juices going, so I offered to give her a hand (her timing in the kitchen may be pure perfection, but if I don’t get this post going, it’s sure to be over-cooked).
Jen shows of her tomatoes

I may not know a lot, but I have learned two things while living in Italy:

First, every home has two types of olive oil.  They all have the generic store bought one (that’s still delicious) for cooking and salads as well as the “special” olive oil that is pressed by someone’s nonno in some small town in the mountains somewhere… Continue reading Don’t Buy The Jarred Stuff!

Come Here, You Turkey!

In my most recent blog post, we embarked on a cruise throughout the Mediterranean.  I’d love for you to continue the adventure with us as we head to Istanbul, Turkey and the beautiful Greek island of, Lesbos.  I’ll finalize our voyage in an upcoming post that will include the final ports of call and some more stories about our shipboard life.

“Oh, tell me… tell me all about it!”

When I last left you, we had visited Venice, Olympia and Athens.  By this point in the cruise, we really hit our stride and had fully immersed ourselves in everything Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam had to offer.  We were overeating delicious food (and then trying to work some of it off in their state-of-the-art gym), spending time in the casino (maybe too much time… literally every casino worker knew me by name), taking in shows and making friends all over the ship.  We found a couple of other families with small children, but for the most part – we were in the minority (not fitting into your typical “cruise-goer” demographic).  I’ll tell you what… if you ever want affirmation about your kids cuteness – go on a cruise with thousands of grandparents missing their grandkids.  They were all so happy to pay us compliments about Julia that it made us excited to take her anywhere on board. Continue reading Come Here, You Turkey!