Before you put away your grills for the summer, you have to try these very simple but delicious verdure alla griglia (Grilled Vegetables). The combination of a few very simple ingredients helps bring out the flavors of the vegetables, leaving even the pickiest of eaters wanting more.
Jen, Julia and I spent a few days exploring France – from the French Riviera (blog post HERE) to Côtes du Rhône (first blog post HERE). I knew that the dining experience would be different than what we’ve grown accustomed to while living in Italy, but I think I underestimated just how different it would be.
I’ll point out a couple of the noticeable differences. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that I have made many references to pranzo, or lunch. While the literal definition is simply, lunch – it should be modified to be more along the lines of, large meal in which copious amounts of pasta are finished with meats and salads and where the act of gathering is as important as the meal. Wine and grappa are a must. Since lunch is usually the “big deal”, that means we partake in a very light dinner. Whereas in France, dinner was the star meal of the day. Although, many of our days in France we also had a big lunch, and so our stomachs questioned our brains when we sat down to a second coursed-out meal at dinner time. Continue reading And I Thought Italians Eat Big Meals!→
Our first award! I’m excited, honored and flattered. I would like to thank all the little people… namely Julia because she’s pretty little.
The Liebster Award was given to us by our good friend and fellow blogger, Michel. You’ll notice that his blog, Our House in Provence is one that I follow. I imagine if you spend just a few minutes reading some of his posts, you’ll be an avid reader as well. His attention to detail and plethora of knowledge about his subjects puts my posts to shame. Michel and his wife Shirley live in a beautiful home in wine country, California. Michel’s passions include food (he owns a restaurant near his hometown, Bistro des Copains), wine (he is an expert in French and California wine), his family (he has two beautiful daughters and four bright grandchildren) and of course France; the subject of his blog (he owns a beautiful stone village house in Provence).
Michel and Shirley
Michel received his Liebster Award from another blogger I follow, Sara in Le Petit Village. Sara is very plugged into the blogging community and has transformed her life in France into a successful digital collection of written word. Her blog is one I admire very much.
The Liebster Award [in a nutshell] is one that is given among peers within the blogging community. I found a blogger that spent hours researching the history of the award. She had done all the heavy lifting and all it took me was scrolling half-way down page one of my google search. My kind of effort. If you’re interested in the origin of the award, click HERE. The award comes with very specific rules and criteria, which I got from Michel’s post after he had completed all his hard work researching (I told you he was thorough). So, I did not need to spend much time looking around for information about the award since I luck-boxed my way into everything I need to know. Continue reading Sipping Espresso Got An Award!!→
I’ve got a lot I should be blogging about. Now that the spring flowers have arrived, I’ve decided Lake Como is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I’d like to feature the lake – specifically, downtown Como for you. I also need to do a piece on Alzate Brianza (the town in Como in which we reside). I would love to share with you images of our condo that we’re borrowing from Jen’s parents. If that’s not enough… we have had some wonderful experiences recently in Bergamo, Tuscany, Piemonte, Bellagio, Venice and more. And of course, we’ve had some incredible meals I’d like to showcase.
A scene in Tuscany – what I should be writing about
In order to share these stories I will need to take hundreds of new photos and sift through the thousands I have already taken. Then, I’ll need to re-create the stories and sprinkle in a bit of research about the towns.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love doing this. And I love even more that we have both devoted and casual readers of our blog. A highlight of my day is getting a comment from a new reader somewhere in the world. But, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer work of it all. I recognize that feeling stressed over such an unimportant task is comical. Or perhaps it just makes me look like an asino (you can translate that one on your own). But what can I say… I just want to do the best job I can.
So what do you do when you’re overwhelmed? Procrastinate, of course! And what can make you happy when you’re overwhelmed? Comfort food, of course! So this blog is a procrastination piece about comfort food!! Continue reading Bagels and Lox – Italian Style→
If you have never tried Risotto, I think it is a must. It’s delicious and a great way for us to change up lunch from our typical pasta dishes. Since this has been our first week of spring weather I wanted to make a spring risotto with beautiful seasonal asparagus.
Risotto with fresh asparagus
My mom used to make this for us a lot as a kid growing up in the spring and summer, so I was excited to make this for Greg and Julia. I was pretty happy with how this dish turned out. I served with a fresh salad of fennel and our meal was complete. Even Julia ate a huge plate. This dish is a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables. I hope to post some other risotto recipes soon (like pasta, there are many different ways to introduce new flavors). I hope your enjoy this as much as we did.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
>One (1) small onion (diced)
>Four (4) cups of chicken stock
>Nine (9) palms of arborio rice (two palms of rice per person, with one extra for good measure). This is roughly two (2) cups of rice
>Two (2) cups of asparagus, pre-cooked (best to blanch to preserve color and texture). Cut into 1″ pieces
>Between half (½) and a full cup of white wine (depending on taste/quality of wine)
>Roughly one half (½) a cup of grated parmesan cheese and then additional cheese for the table and garnish
>Third (1/3) stick of butter
>Salt to taste
>Heat chicken stock in a pot.
>On a separate burner, heat olive oil in a large flat pan with high sides. >Add onion until it is softened and translucent. While the onion is cooking, add a dash of salt. This could take a little over 5 minutes. Don’t allow the onions to brown.
>Add the rice and mix together. Stir until the rice is toasted (but not brown) about three – four (3-4) minutes.
Add the rice and continue to stir
>Add wine and continue to cook the rice.
>After a minute, add a ladle or two of the stock, stirring the rice continuously until the liquid is absorbed.
>Continue stirring and ladling the broth for approximately fifteen (15) minutes. Be sure to taste as you go and add salt accordingly. The rice should be al dente and creamy.
Ladle in the stock
>Before you add your last ladle or two of stock, add the asparagus and stir into the rice.
>Remove from heat and stir in butter and Parmesan cheese. Cover and allow pan to sit for five (5) minutes.
Add the asparagus…
>Serve right away and top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
PLEASE NOTE – Cooking risotto requires constant attention. Make sure the table is set and everything else you are serving is ready before you begin the rice. I have made that mistake before!
I recently realized that our “Home Cooking” section of the blog was growing the slowest throughout the entire site. I’m only partly ashamed to admit that the one consistent about our trip is that we’ve been indulging in some of the most amazing food we’ve ever had. However, my OCD recently kicked in when I noticed all our food posts landed in the “Restaurant” or “Jen’s Kitchen” sections. So, in an effort to right this wrong… here is one very memorable home-cooked meal we hosted a little while ago.
Eugenio brought a wonderful Champagne
Jen has a warm and wonderful family, with whom we love spending time. Recently, her cousin Eugenio drove from Torino to spend time with us and get reacquainted with Julia. He brought his lovely girlfriend, Barbara as well.
When we first moved here, we noticed that while many things are very much the same as the States… there are also many, many subtle (and not so subtle) differences. Early on, I did a quick post about things being different HERE but I didn’t go into many of the specifics.
Now that we’ve been here a while, it makes sense to go a bit deeper. You know, the kind of “hard-hitting journalism” you’ve come to expect here at Sipping Espresso. For this post we’ve focused on some of the differences that we find particularly charming, beneficial or just plain better. So here we go…
♠♣♥♦ ♠♣♥♦ ♠♣♥♦
Let’s start with the food. If you’ve been a follower of this blog for a while (or read more than one post), you’ll notice that many things here are cuisine related. This in itself is something amazing, but not an entry. Regarding food/eating, I’m referring to:
Get it while it’s hot! In the States, it is polite to eat only when all the food has arrived at the table. This means most of your dishes have been baking under a heat lamp anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes while your buddy-with-no-taste-bud’s extra well-done steak continues to char. Here, the food arrives at the table just after it’s been cooked – and it’s meant to be enjoyed that way. You can eat when the food arrives – in fact, people might think your pazzo (crazy) if you sit and let your food get cold. Admittedly, this takes some getting used to – but it makes all the sense in the world.
Gnocci Castelmagno and Papparadelle Cinghiale
This dish would lose texture/flavor quickly if allowed to get cold
Here is something my Mom, Greg and I all have in common…we love Pizza. And pizza in Italy is the best! Pizza originated in Italy and they have continued to perfect the art ever since. When my Mom was in town we decided to make our own versions of our favorite pizza’s at home. We had so much fun and Julia even got in on the action.
Rolling out her dough
When I told my uncle our plan to try to duplicate our favorite pizza’s at home he gave us a brief history lesson on the pizza. As it turns out, pizza started as a flatbread consumed by many people in Europe. In 16th century this was a common meal sold on the streets to the poor throughout Naples. It was an inexpensive dish that offered many different types of toppings. Credit for the first Margherita pizza is given to pizza maker Raffaele Esposito of Naples. The story is that in June of 1889 to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, he created a “Pizza Margherita” for the Queen (I had to get that from Wiki – History of Pizza) . This pizza consisted of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil to represent the colors of the Italian flag. Thank you Raffaele! Today people around the world enjoy this simple but delicious pizza.
Jen picked a wonderful restaurant in the heart of Verona, romantically hidden from site, lending the feeling of authenticity (as opposed to “touristy”). We were visiting the amazing city for the day (read all about our visit HERE) and had pre-selected, Ristorante Greppia as our place for pranzo (lunch).
The small street leading to Ristorante Greppia
We were instantly taken in by the charm and warmth of the restaurant. The wait staff elevated our excitement for the meal to come by extending great courteousness and hospitality (indulging me as I took photos with this blog in mind). Continue reading Eating Brains Will Not Make You Smarter!→
Our little bumblebee has been busy buzzing all over town – and we were right behind her with cameras and video rolling! Here are a couple of her recent adventures. Coincidentally, both stories fit in with the Easter theme perfectly; a fortunate blog occurrence given the upcoming Easter holiday.
Our little family likes it’s morning rituals. Jen and I enjoy drinking our American coffee (probably the one habit from home we don’t want to give up). Julia likes to chose her own breakfast and then eat it herself (even though half ends up on the floor). Continue reading Who Needs Petting a Zoo?→