A newly-married couple from Los Angeles quit their jobs to work on farms and wineries across Europe. Read it from the beginning...

Pasta: The Italian Way

Posted: August 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Italy, Recipes, Tuscany | 3 Comments »

In Italy, I’ve been cooking a lot more than other places. The best part is that I’m actually learning how to cook better which was one of my goals for this trip. So, for Devon’s birthday I set out to cook him a scrumptious meal. He wasn’t in the mood for a pasta with tomato sauce because we’d had a lot of that. He wanted carbonara instead – a pasta with an egg sauce.

My dad makes a great carbonara pasta so I just tried to re-create that. The result is the above pasta. When Devon, our host Ugo, and I sat down to eat my creation Devon and I were pleased. But, our host had a small suggestion. “For me,” he said, “this pasta is overcooked. The Italian way is to make it more al dente.” I thought I’d done that, but according to our host it still wasn’t the Italian way. So I asked him how it was done “the Italian way.”

He told me, the trick is to take the pasta out of the water before you think it’s ready. When you cook pasta you normally taste is until you think it’s soft enough to plate. In Italy that’s too late. You should actually take it out while it’s still a little on the hard side, just a little harder than you’d want it in the meal. The reason for this? The pasta continues to cook in the hot water while you get your colander ready, it cooks in the colander while it’s draining and it cooks in the bowl while you’re mixing it with the sauce. By the time it hits the table, it’s perfect.

I took his notes and applied it to our pasta the next day (making another dish my dad cooks). When I asked Ugo if the pasta was cooked more appropriately this time, he said, “Oh, I didn’t even notice. That means it’s good!”

Success!

For foodies out there, here’s the recipe for the carbonara I cooked. Note, I did this without a recipe, so the portions are not set in stone. If you want more prosciutto, parsley or parmesan just add it. It won’t kill the dish. It’ll just make it better:

Serves 4-5

1/2 a package of spaghetti (one of the smaller boxes or bags)
2 tbsp EVO
4 raw eggs
1/2 cup – 1 cup finely grated parmesan (depending on your taste)
1 cup fresh Italian parsley (English parsley will do as well)
6-7 slices of prosciutto (it’s kind of to taste, so you can do more or less)
4 cloves of garlic

Instructions:
1. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil (obviously, add pasta when it comes to a boil)
2. While that’s heating, finely chop the prosciutto, garlic and parsley.
3. In a small to medium sized frying pan, saute the garlic over medium heat. Move it around a bit so it doesn’t burn.
4. After 2-3 minutes, add the parsley and prosciutto to the garlic and EVO and saute all together until the prosciutto is cooked.
5. Meanwhile, find a large serving bowl (what you’d like to serve the pasta in) and crack the 4 eggs into it.
6. Mix the parmesan in with the eggs and beat together.
7. Once the pasta is almost ready to be strained add the prosciutto to the egg mixture.
8. Strain the pasta and without washing it add the hot pasta to the egg mixture. Mix all together fully. As the hot pasta mixes with the egg, it’ll cook the egg onto each strand of pasta. Timing is of the essence so don’t let the pasta cool and especially don’t wash it with cool water.
9. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread, if you’re so inclined.

P.S. Message to dad – you’ll probably go and look in your recipe book for this dish now and see my portions are a bit off, but it’s the best I could do while in Italy without your cook book and guidance 😉


I’m A Red Girl Now

Posted: August 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Italy, Tuscany, Umbria, Wine | 1 Comment »

Red wine was never favorite of mine. It was usually overly strong, heavy and sometimes too “in your face.” Being in Europe though, I have grown an appreciation for red wine and now enjoy it quite a lot. In fact, I’d even say, in some situations, I prefer red wine.

The reds we tasted in France were wonderful, especially from the Bordeaux and Bergundy area. What’s finally pushed me to the other side, though, are the reds in Tuscany and Umbria. We’ve had multiple reds that really impressed us. In Tuscany, we bought a bottle of Rosso di Montepulciano, which uses two grapes I wasn’t familiar with: sangiovese 90% (the primary grape used in Tuscany) and canaiolo nero 10% (which has a distinct violet flavor). It’s probably my favorite red I’ve had on this trip so far.

The wine is also incredibly cheap. It was reasonable in France for American standards, but in Italy, it’s dirt cheap. Devon and I went to a wine bar and I was served a Tuscan red which cost 2.50 euros (around $3). Those are serious happy hour prices and it was 9:00 p.m.! I’m going back to the states with a much greater appreciation for red wine. You won’t hear me say “I prefer white,” anymore. Because in Italy and France, I’m a red girl.


Devon’s Birthday

Posted: August 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Italy, Tuscany | 2 Comments »

Devon’s 29th birthday was on August 18th and we spent it at a little restaurant in a nearby hill town of Tuscany called Castelmuzio. We had a delicious meal. It started with bruschetta mista (mixed bruschetta) as an antipasta that had toppings of eggplant, sausage, peppers and tomatoes. As an entree, Devon had gnocchi with mushroom sauce and I had stuffed eggplant. This was all washed down with a bottle of water (they don’t serve tap here) and 1/2 a liter of house red wine.

For dessert, which we obviously couldn’t skip, Devon had his favorite Italian sweet, tiramisu, and I had a chocolate pudding with mascarpone sauce. The tiramisu was by far one of the best I’ve had and Devon said it’s the best he’s ever had. The tiramisu was served with a candela and all the waitresses passed with birthday wishes, “Auguri!”


Under The Tuscan Rain (Video)

Posted: August 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Italy, Tuscany, Video | 6 Comments »

Under The Tuscan Rain from Devon DeLapp on Vimeo.

A rainy afternoon at Podere Trove, near Petroio (you can hear their church bells), in Tuscany Italy. Shot with the Canon Rebel T2i and cut in that great and deeply respected stalwart of editing, iMovie.


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