Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Sicilian lunch in the shade of the fig and carub tree ...


On the tail end of an epic Italian road trip {following roads less traveled from Toscana through Campania and Basilicata to Calabria} we eventually boarded a ferry to our final destination ~ Sicilia!
After a day of exploring Mount Etna's lush green valleys {& savoring the ultimate pistachio gelato in the pistachio capital Bronte}, we took in Catania, wandering its amazing fish market and exploring its baroque sights.

And in Catania we met up with our friend Luca for an exploration of Sicilia's South, stunning Siracusa and the Val di Noto, slowly making our way West - and eventually arriving at Il Paradiso, his family's enchanted summer house outside his hometown Mazara del Vallo ...


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Making Gnocculi con Pesto alla Trapanese in Mazara del Vallo { recipe }

Pesto alla Trapanese Recipe

I have to admit, if there is one thing that always intimidated me in the Italian kitchen, it's handmade pasta. For some reason I always associated it with a high maintenance dough, special tools, tricky timing - but, most of all, with very little cooking fun.

While cooking with Silvana Mannone & her family in Sicily earlier this summer {photos here}, I was finally converted! With just two ingredients we made enough Sicilian gnocculi to feed a battalion! And while Silvana shared the secrets for the perfect gnocculi, her husband Giovanni was kind enough to let us in on his interpretation of a classic pesto alla Trapanese - so both of these recipes I am happy to share here ...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Italian road trip & finding gems along the way {Il Mulino del Porticello}

Mulino del Porticello Capo Vaticano Ricadi

A last minute search for accommodation in Calabria turned into a favorite highlight of this summer's Italian road trip

We were en route from Basilicata to Sicilia, only looking for an overnight stay along the way, when we spotted this incredible family compound near Capo Vaticano on AirbnbAfter browsing just a few photographs we booked for the next day. And after an exhosting day of driving and sightseeing along the way we found our way down a rugged country road to the grand surprise that was Il Porticello

Airbnb Mulino del Porticello Capo Vaticano RicadiIl Mulino del Porticello Capo Vaticano Ricadi

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Il Gemellaggio Toscano {part 2} & an enchanted garden in Montalcino


If you have been following this blog, you may recall another Tuscan dinner earlier last month, part one of a so called "gemellaggio" - a twinning of sorts based on the European concept of connecting two regions, sharing experiences, recipes and making new connections along the way.

We full heartedly embraced the concept with our friends Clelia and Andrea of Agriturismo Il Baciarino when we accepted the invitation to a dinner in Raffaella Cova's enchanted garden outside of Montalcino.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Il Gemellaggio Toscano, a seafood dinner with {mostly Italian} friends

Cucina di Andrea Vetulonia Il Baciarino

I have to admit I am a late adapter to Instagram, for years rolling my eyes about the concept of snapping photos with a cell phone - and therefore not realizing how exciting a community I would "meet" until finally joining last year.

After a year of connecting virtually with a like minded group of people from around the globe, this dinner was an exciting first ~ organized by the amazing Katja Meier, who I had met last year via Instagram when we realized we both had a connection to a tiny agriturismo in Maremma:  Il Baciarino, the host of this memorable dinner ...


Monday, April 13, 2015

An classic oven and an ancient taste of Rome in San Francisco { Montesacro }

Montesacro SF Pinseria
A first sneak peek at one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in San Francisco this spring, at least on my radar ~ say Benvenuto to Montesacro Pinseria Romana e Enoteca !

Montesacro is not only the first pinseria romana* to open in the United States, it's also a striking restaurant space: classic tile, peeling paint, rustic chairs and the dining room's centerpiece, a gigantic vintage bread oven, make it feel like the space has been there forever. Crazy side story: not even the landlord was aware of the15x15x8ft oven, excavated during renovation and over 100 years old, that was hidden behind solid walls of sheetrock for the past decades. It turns out the oven was once part of a restaurant operation at one point spanning 20+ venues all across the city.

at Montesacro Pinseria Romana in San Francisco - photo by Julia Spiess

Follow along on Instagram ...

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all photos © dinners with friends

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