Tag Archives: gnocchi

Down by the monastery for Lavello Street Food Festival

Bobson at Santa Maria del Lavello monastery

Food trucks at a villa, now this monastery (I like how they decked out the bell tower in lights) – what’s next? Well, I thought we had had enough of roaming kitchens, but the trend is riding a wave of popularity and spreading out to smaller communities like Calolziocorte. That’s less than 6 miles from ours, so of course, staying home was simply out of the question!

1. Gnocchi di bosco by Bobson. Potato dumplings smothered in a tasty berry reduction and melted gorgonzola. Pair fruit and cheese with anything and I’m hooked. This truck has been on my radar ever since I spotted this dish.

2. French Kiss by Basulon. Gimme some tongue, baby! Boiled beef tongue (lingua) and salsa verde tucked in a bun. It’s quite the delicacy (after tripe and brains) but this is the first time seeing it on a food truck menu.

3. Saffron risotto with licorice powder by ZafferanoInStrada. We could’ve gone with plain saffron or saffron with gorgonzola, but this was too intriguing to pass up. The licorice didn’t overwhelm the saffron flavor at all, but it’s definitely for gourmet palates.

They also sell saffron beer, saffron desserts, and work out of a cute teal-colored truck.

4. Arepa “Caracas” by El Caminante. Venezuelan in origin, arepas is a great example of how accessible ethnic cuisine becomes when it takes to the road. The unleavened flatbread buns (made with ground maize) are the perfect vehicle for whatever stuffs your fancy. This one has chicken cooked sous-vide, avocado, mayo, mustard and lime.

5. Mister Brown by Urban Fish. Grilled swordfish, thin slice of fried eggplant, and salsa verde between rye bread. Not sure of the reason behind the name? 🤔

Polynesian paralysis set in pretty quick afterwards so we called it quits (cold beer on tap for only 4€ will do that to you!) but not without dessert to go. Pistachio and chocolate eclairs by local pastry shop Pasticceria Corti. Wow. I should’ve gotten some for breakfast the next day.


There’s something about Alice

Screen grab
Alice Zaslavsky

In the show she had zero fashion sense, wore 80’s style glasses, and was the craziest of the lucky Top 10 to make it to Italy. She also made reference to Nietzsche upon meeting italian chef Massimo Bottura, and was the only contestant carrying an italian phrase book in Rome.

Screen grab
Alice Zaslavasky

She threw Jamie Oliver* in Gary’s face (oh what very doubtful lip action!) when he challenged that antipasti was not enough to satisfy the Italians for a village feast. C’mon…DID HE NOT READ her t-shirt? Veni, Vidi, Vici – I came, I saw, I conquered. Her antipasti was voted best dish by the Italiani. *Referring to Jamie’s simple yet flavor-packed style of great antipasti.

Alice Zaslavasky

But regardless of how crazy and quirky Alice Zavlasky was in season 4 of Masterchef Australia, I was really impressed by her Squid Ink Gnocchi with Artichokes in the Rome-on-a-plate cooking challenge. I’ve never seen gnocchi al nero di seppia on any restaurant menu here, and google revealed only 1 italian blogger who had made black gnocchi BEFORE the episode aired. I’ve read all sorts of nasty on what cuisine-challenged viewers thought of the ‘little black rocks’, but there’s nothing awful about squid ink in this dish. The soft gnocchi have a subtle hint of the sea that pairs well with the fried ‘chokes. A drizzle of lemon emulsion and the nutty, sweet-salty flavor of shaved parmigiano ties it all together very well. Squid ink is the new black!

Potato gnocchi, roasted cherry tomatoes and asparagus tips

Mezzago’s pink asparagus sagra is now something to look forward to next year and while my memory is still fresh, I’d like to point out a few things about the event that left an impression.
1: avoid the last Saturday seating. You can bet that procrastinators who missed the previous Saturdays will be there and it’ll be a bit of a wait to get in!
2: don’t bother making up for it by eating at the local restaurants either. The food will be half as good and you’ll end up paying more.

Pictured at left: Palazzo Archinti, location setting for the sagra event.
Below: the restaurant’s asparagus menu

Antico Borgo sagra menuLast week Saturday we had every intention of revisiting our favorites like the asparagus risotto and lasagne, but a long line put the kibosh on that idea and we found a restaurant just around the block. The menu posted outside looked interesting enough.

Gnocchi di patate, pomodorini e punte di asparagi. Doesn’t that sound delicious? What appeared on the plate was more like gnocchetti (little gnocchi), some tiny pieces of asparagus and chopped tomatoes. I couldn’t even tell if asparagus tips were in there, and while tasty, it wasn’t exactly the kind of gnocchi that I had in mind. Then the idea hit me – why not turn it into something better, like this?

10-12 ounces asparagus, ends trimmed, spears sliced on the diagonal into thin pieces
1 shallot, minced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
fresh thyme
potato gnocchi for 2 servings (lookie internet)
freshly cracked black pepper
sea salt
extra-virgin olive oil
a pat of butter
grated parmigiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Begin by setting the halved tomatoes in a baking pan. Season with black pepper, salt, a few sprigs of thyme and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until soft and caramelized.

Over medium heat, saute shallot in a couple tablespoons of olive oil until fragrant. Add the asparagus and cook until tender; about 4 minutes. Season lightly with salt and black pepper. Add roasted tomatoes and butter; stir to combine and keep warm.

Cook gnocchi and as they float to the surface, remove and add them to the asparagus and tomatoes. Toss pan to combine and serve immediately with freshly grated parmigiano.