Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pici all' aglione

One of my favorite dishes in Tuscany was the Pici Aglione (Pici with Thick, Garlicky Tomato Sauce or as it was translated on my menu once Pici strongly flavored with garlic)

The following recipe is from Buonconvento's restaurant Da Mario... not the one I ate at but one that was recommended...

2 cups canned, peeled Italian plum tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound pici

Drain the tomatoes. Cut them open to release inner juices. Chope and drain again. Smash 2 of the garlic cloves, cut them in slivers, and put them into a heavy pan with the oil. When the oil begins to bubble around the garlic, add the tomatoes and a good amount of salt and pepper.

Coarsley chope the remaiing 2 cloves of garlic and add to the sauce. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the garlic is softened and the sauce nice and thick. Add more salt and pepper to taste. 

Cook the pici in salted boiling water until just al dente, drain, and mix with the sauce.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Some food adventures from my traveling life...

I am excerpting the food section of a post I did in February 2010 about the best and worst things I've experienced while traveling! For the whole post, please go here.

Best meals in foreign countries:Side of the road from Boguila to Bangui, Central African Republic, March 2007A piece of freshly caught fish grilled over a charcoal flame with hot peri peri powder and tomatoes and onions, washed down with a cold coke, eaten with fingers. It might have been made better by the fact that I was on a 10 hour land rover trip squashed in the front seat with another person and with a big barrel that reeked of oil behind me.

Beirut, Lebanon, August 2006:
Everywhere we went, we would get some sort of street food and it was ALL divine - from zataar filled croissants to labneh to zataar pizzas with fresh goats cheese on them to the Arabic and Italian ice cream parlours where we conducted our meetings. At night, we went to divine little bars and drank "Malcom Lowry's" and ate fresh Ceasar salads prepared by beautiful men while listening to the latest lounge music. All war zones should be so gorgeous.

Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek, South Africa, October 2003: Freshly caught salmon trout grilled and served on a plank of wood accompanied by a divine South African Sauvignon Blanc by the glass in a beautiful old French Huguenot farmhouse overlooking a vineyard. Downside: My traveling companion had a stomach virus and couldn’t even eat her broth although she tried valiantly.

Califa del Leon in the Colonia Condesa neighborhood, Mexico City, Mexico, May 2006: My first Taco al Pastor - roasted pork served with cilantro and pineapple on a fresh tortilla. All you can eat until you can’t eat anymore. Washed down with a cold beer and eaten on the street corner in a beautiful neighborhood in Mexico City on my first night there.

Camel Market, Khartoum, Sudan, December 2005:Freshly slaughtered lamb purchased and then brought to Sudanese women who stir fried it over charcoal briquettes with salt and pepper -served with a leafy green like arugula, tomato salad, freshly baked bread, and peanut sauce. Washed down with lukewarm plastic bags of water while sitting on plastic garden chairs and swatting flies away in the mid day heat of Sudan. Sometimes the setting isn’t that important.

Malabar House, Fort Cochin, Kerala, India, January 2010:Seafood Uttalpillum (?) – a spicy 
mix of freshly caught Sea bar, tiger prawns, and squid cooked in a spicy tomato curry sauce with tapioca mashed potatoes served with sparkling water and a Kingfisher beer in the courtyard of the Malabar House next to a Sitar and tambla concert under a full moon. I sat under a mango tree next to a pool of water.

Somewhere outside of Saint Johann in Pongau, Austria, May 1998: I fell off the meat wagon and was trying to get back on. My boyfriend at the time wanted to stop at a famous place for Frankfurters dipped in mustard and grated horseradish. Even though I was a vegetarian, I couldn’t resist. It was delectable and I’ve never looked back since.

Pave d'Auge in Beauvron-en-Ange, Normandy, France, July 2009: A Michelin 1 star – foie gras,  a chilled red Sancerre, divine fish, vintage calvados, exquisite service

Castelmuzio, Tuscany, Italy, August 2009: 
My first taste of pecorino cheese dipped in 
truffle honeyserved with a Vino Nobile. To die for! Eaten in a small little apartment overlooking the hills of Tuscany, an olive grove, and the abbey from an English Patient.

The Royal Thai restaurant at the Cinnamon Lake Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, September 2005:Thai Seafood Green Curry with Joel. “Make it how it should be made” he answered in response to do you want it spicy. We sweated and ate and sweated and ate until we almost passed out and had to stagger back to our hotel rooms. We came back the next night for more.

Hotel La Cayenne, Les Cayes, Ha├»ti, 2001-2003 :
Poisson au gross el or Lambi Kreyol for dinner. Served with a big boiled plantain and spicy rice and beans and cold Prestige beer. Or Spaghetti with avocado and hot sauce for breakfast. Something about that hotel and the food brings back good memories.

Little restaurant near a great small Fado joint in Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal, February 2008: Grilled sardines, a bottle of vinho verde. Divine!

Worst Meals in a Foreign land:
Saclipea, Liberia, December 2004:Boiled cow head with hard rice in eaten out of a communal bowl with five Liberians and a Congolese. “That white woman can’t eat that hard rice!”

ICRC party in Nyala, Darfur, October 2004: Ate nothing but rancid “La Vache Qui Rit” cheese and sandy bread for three weeks, came to a party at the ICRC rooftop and lined up for the barbecue. My mouth was literally watering. The par-cooked goat meat that I swallowed almost without chewing was bad. I had to decide whether to make myself vomit then or hope for the best. I hoped for the best and got food poisoning. That’s when I learned about Oral Rehydration Salts thanks to my friend Mamie and the MSF clinic.

Most Monotonous Diets in foreign lands:
Everything at our hotel in Pretoria, South Africa, March 2004:All you can eat buffet. You had to fight off hordes of German tourists to get to the food and then it was bland, over cooked, and sauced with what seemed to be paste. Terrible in its nothingness particularly compared to what I knew South Africa was capable of.

Traveling through Kinshasa, North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, DRC , May 2005: Almost every day we ate beef brochette, pommes frites, and a beer. By the end of three weeks, I was dying for vegetables and was pretty convinced that I had “trigger finger” from gout.

The MSF Cafeteria, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2007-2010:Every day you have your choice of dried out breads, processed mystery meats and cheeses packaged in plastic wrap or odd salads such as canned beans, celery, canned corn, and olives in mayonnaise or red peppers, canned black olives, fake tofu/feta, celery, and raw onions swimming in olive oil with no vinegar. Deep fried cutlets that when cut open are made of spaghetti. Soups that are either grey or brown and taste vaguely like paste or canned beef flavor. Buttermilk or milk to drink. “But it’s free!”