Disco Volante – Vienna

Life in Vienna is great! I’ve been here for a couple of weeks now and I am slowly settling down and adjusting to life here. To feel a bit more at home, tonight I had a pizza night with my friend MK. We went to Disco Volante, a cool pizzeria in the 6th district. The name literally means “flying saucer” and the decorations inside evoke a spacial ambient. The classic pizza oven, which is made as a mirror ball, is particularly original!

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IMG_6420The pizzas are really good, made by pizzaioli by Naples: a real warranty! Creamy mozzarella, tasty ingredients and thin dough! Bravi!

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Here you see some Italian bonding, they were so excited to see an Italian around!

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Disco Volante
Gumpendorfer Straße 98 | 1060 Wien (6. Bezirk – Mariahilf)

Brass Monkey – Vienna

So…I finally arrived in Vienna and here I am, writing my first post from here! The blog just turned one year, so it is kind of symbolic to start the second year of the blog from the new city I’m living in. I have already written about a Viennese gem, the Cafe Ansari, as a preview of what will be coming on the blog from now on.

Today I visited Brass Monkey with my friends MK and KK. This small bakery is run by a super sweet Greek girl and is furnished with style: stools are cages containing plants, light bulbs are hanging from the ceiling creating a fun effects with their black cables drawing lines around the space and the counter is decorated with cute tiles.

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1231572_10151888443325991_138437002_n We had different cupcakes, they have a very wide choice of flavours and toppings. More and more we find cupcakes in cafes as they are quite fashionable nowadays; however, this bakery has probably the best ones I’ve ever tried. The icing is not butter cream, as you would most commonly find, but it is made with cream cheese. This little secret makes the icing softer, richer, less heavy and more intense in taste.

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988283_10151888443635991_157265131_n IMG_6174On our way home we had some warm apple crumble with whipped cream: the spices added to the crumble made it very special!IMG_6176I say this was definitely a good Sunday treat: sweets, friends and laughs!
Try their cupcakes if you’re in Vienna (and if not, come visit!)

Brass Monkey
Gumpendorferstraße 71

U4 Pilgramgasse

Cafe Ansari – Vienna

In only 10 days I will move to Vienna, so I thought it was about time to write of some restaurants that I visited there in the past. Cafe Ansari is a Georgian café and restaurant, located in the second district, very close to the city center. It is run by a Georgian family who recreated an enchanting atmosphere: the rooms are furbished with style, combining modern elements of design with a traditional touch. The lamps made of paper bags, the tiles and the Georgian Samowars, for example, give authenticity to the decorations. Especially at night, the lightening makes the restaurant quite intimate and a perfect place for dining with friends, if you are looking for an easy and comfortable place with exquisite food.

We tried some Gerogian white wine: Pheasant’s Tears Saperavi 2009 Kakheti, Georgia:
A teinturier (red-fleshed) variety. Powerful, intense and structured. Beginning to open out a bit with good acid and vivid fruit.” It was definitely worth it to try local wines!IMG_2859We had different mains, all delicious and from the Georgian tradition, with some international influence:

Roast chicken fillet in cardamom sauce with pears, Kenya beans and Jerusalem artichoke mash.

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Lamb with barberry-hazelnut-couscous and honey-thyme sauce.

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Braised beef with spinach, pumpkin, prune and rosemary polenta

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We concluded the dinner with some dessert.

Créme Brulée with lemongrass and cardamom .

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Mixture of all their desserts: fruit sorbets, chocolate cake (with soft, liquid chocolate filling!), chocolate cake, créme brulée.

IMG_2865I warmly recommend this place: if you are around Vienna and want to try something other than the Austrian cuisine, this is the place for you!

 

Cafe Ansari

Praterstrasse 15, 1020 Wien

+43 1 276 51 02

Mo – Sa 8.00 – 23.00, So 9.00 – 15:00

http://www.cafeansari.at/

Round zucchini filled with risotto

My dear readers, I am so sorry about the very long silence! In the past month I have been busy studying and I recently graduated, so I hope this is a valid excuse for having neglected my blog. I am now spending some at the seaside, enjoying the summer, relaxing…and of course cooking!

Tonight I have prepared a classic recipe, risotto, served in a more original manner. Also the risotto was not the classic risotto made with rice, I used three cereals instead: a mixture of rice, barley and spelt. It is more healthy and a bit more interesting than the usual recipe of classic risotto. Also, I have not used Parmesan at the end for the “mantecatura”, but soft sweet red pecorino from Pienza, Tuscany.

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 servings)
- 2 round zucchini
- 1 normal zucchini
- 2 shallots
- 200 gr mix of rice, barley, spelt
- stock
- 80 gr cheese

DIRECTIONS
- Cut the top of the round zucchini and carve out the inside of the vegetable. Boil the zucchini and the tops in hot water for about 10 minutes. Try the vegetables with a fork to chek if they are ready: the fork should go inside it without going all the way through.
- Dice the normal zucchini in small cubes and mix it with the inside of the round zucchini and keep them on a side.
- Dice the shallots in tiny pieces and cook them for a couple of minutes with oil in a big and deep pot. Add the mixture of cereals and add stock slowly. Cook for 7 minutes, adding stock as the risotto absorbs it. Add the zucchini and cook for 7 more minutes, always adding stock when needed. Remember to always try the risotto as it might need a bit more or a bit less time depending on the cereals. Here comes the moment when the cook in you will show special skills!
- Turn off the heat and let the cheese melt in the pot putting a lit and leaving it to “mantecare” for about 5 minutes.
- Fill the zucchini with the risotto and cook it in the oven at 160 degrees for 10 minutes.

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Enjoy!
V

Luigi Taglienti – Restaurant Trussardi alla Scala

During the past months we had quite a few food festivals in Milan. The most recent was “Taste of Milano” whilst a previous one I attended was “Mi Gusto Tortona“, held during the Design Week. In both occasions, I had the chance to see the charming Luigi Taglienti presenting some of his dishes and explaining the philosophy behind his cuisine. Almost a year ago, I visited the Restaurant Trussardi alla Scala, just a few months after Taglienti had became executive chef there. I was very impressed by his twist on traditional dishes, you can read here about my review of the restaurant. Both Luigi Taglienti and his sous-chef Roberto Conti have been extremely friendly and explained very well to the public some secret tips of the haute cuisine!

Last Sunday he presented a show cooking named “L’evoluzione del magro“. The core idea of his philosophy is evolving the tradition into a contemporary concept, aiming at the future. Being originally from Liguria, he showed the evolution of one of the most typical dishes of the Ligurian tradition: pansotti (filled pasta) with nut sauce.

The pasta is traditionally filled with borage. A vegetable native of the Mediterranean region, particularly used in Liguria.

Taglienti used the whole vegetable, cooked it in salty boiling water, minced it and mixed it with oil and filled the fresh pasta with the resulting cream. For the nut sauce, he used nuts (that had been marinating in milk overnight), bread, garlic and marjoram. This was the most traditional version of the dish, although as you can see from the picture, by displaying the two elements in such a simple way, they were both enhanced.

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The second version of the same dish was made without one of the elements used in the previous one: the nuts. This allowed to focus the attention on the borage, the core element of the dish. Taglienti cooked the vegetable pressing them between two pots so that the temperature would remain constantly very high and the vegetables would not release any liquids. He did not mince the vegetables in this case. On top of the borage, he put the cream of minced vegetables used to fill the pasta as well as a raw leave of borage, marjoram and extraction of the vegetable. To finish, a layer of fresh pasta, to recall the pansotti, split in their individual elements on the plate. This further “evolved” version of pansotti, intensifies the borage cooked in different ways, and brings the tradition to an experimental level, blinking to the future.

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Earlier in April, I met him at the Mi Gusto Tortona where he prepared a typical soup from Tortona, called Panada again evolving this traditional dish into a modernized version of it.

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The main ingredients are stale bread and eggs, poor elements that remind of the people from the area around Tortona. The “richer” ingredient is the Zingherlino, a special ricotta cheese seasoned for two weeks in a crust made with black pepper, white pepper and juniper. Taglienti evolved this recipe by conceptualizing it without losing its traditional taste.

The base for the soup is prepared with onion finely chopped and olive oil as well as fried stale bread. To this base, he added broth made with chicken and onion. Subsequently, he mixed the soup, passed it through a sieve three times and obtained a cream of bread. He then put the cream in a siphon so that it would remain at 70°. This process only changed the consistency of the food, without altering the taste, especially due to the benefit obtained from keeping the cream in the siphon at a stable temperature.

As for the eggs, he divided the egg whites from the yolks. He cooked the white of the eggs with steam and then emulsified it with olive oil and sparkling water. This method of cooking allows to bring the eggs to a different consistency. Separately he mixed the egg yolks with lemon juice, oil and salt and emulsified it. The liquid obtained was poured on a baking tray and cooked with steam for 6-7 minutes at 180° until he obtained a film of boiled egg yolk and cut it in dishes of a size of a yolk.

Finally he caramelized the garlic from Vessalico (Liguria), cooking it in honey (miele d’acacia) to obtain garlic confit. The soup would require Parmesan but Taglienti used the Zingherlino cheese to enrich the soup. He didn’t use the cheese just freshly cut but he made a mash of it so that the spices were balanced, mixed in the whole cream.

Finally the dish was composed in the following way: egg whites, a disk of egg yolk, one clove of caramelized garlic, cream of cheese, bread soup from the siphon and finally fried bread, salt and olive oil.

This way of presenting the dish kept the various ingredients hidden, enhancing the taste that one would only discover by eating it. The garlic is the turning point of the dish: the contrast between the sweetness given by the honey and the pungent taste of the garlic itself really added a balance to the soup. The richness of the cheese and its spices counterbalanced the plain soup, that became more interesting mainly for its consistency.

This was a very significant example of how a good chef can evolve a traditional dish into a modern and more interesting version of it, enhancing the taste with the juxtaposition of different textures.

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A rainy weekend just for cooking

A few weeks ago, when I realized we would have had a rainy weekend ahead of us in Milan, I thought it would have been the right occasion to try some of those recipes that I had been wanting to cook for a while. My mum gave me a fantastic book for Christmas a few years ago: In the mood for food by Jo Pratt (Italian friends, you can find the version in Italian here). The book is divided in sections depending on your mood: healthy food, succulent and tasty food, need for food & cuddle, too lazy to cook, extravagant cooking, romantic food. After flipping through the pages and checking the recipes that I had signed some times ago, I picked a few, went to the supermarket to buy all I needed and finally let the cooking weekend start.

I tried two dishes from the healthy food section: herbs omelette with cherry tomato and crunchy ham; soy sea bass and tomato sauce with ginger. Finally on Sunday I tried something from the need for food & cuddle section: roasted chicken for two in one pot.

Herbs omelette with cherry tomato and crunchy ham

Ingredients (for 1 omelette):

6 Cherry tomato

2-3 slices of ham (prosciutto crudo)

1 spoon of Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1-2 teaspoons of herbs finaly cut (basil, chives, parsley, oregano, dill)

a spoon of milk

celery salt

Directions

- Put the cherry tomato (sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper) and the ham in the oven for 3-4 minutes. Turn the ham to make it crunchy on both sides. The tomato need to cook until the skin breaks, they might need a bit longer than the ham.

- Mix the eggs with the herbs, a little bit of milk (to make it softer) and celery salt.

- Melt some butter on a pan and pour the eggs. Use a rubber spatula to prevent it from sticking and fold the omelette.

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Soy sea bass and tomato sauce with ginger

Ingredients (makes four servings):

For the soy sea bass:

- 3 spoons of soy sauce

- 2 spoons of sugar

- 4 sea bass filets

- olive oil

For the tomato sauce

- 8 mature tomatoes

- 10 gr of freshly grated ginger

- 1 clove of garlic finely cut

- 1  1/2 spoon of sugar

- 1 teaspoon of white vinegar

- salt, black pepper

Directions

- Mix the soy sauce and sugar in a pot. Marinate the sea bass for 20-30 minutes.

- For the sauce: cut the tomato and put them in a pan with the ginger, garlic, sugar and vinegar. Bring it to a boil and cook for 20-25 minutes until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

- Warm up some oil in a pan and fry the marinated sea bass for a couple of minutes on both sides until cooked.

- Serve the fish with the sauce, vegetables and/or rice.

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Roasted chicken for two in one pot

Ingredients (makes four servings):

500 gr of spring potatoes

4 cloves of garlic

1 chicken

rosemary

olive oil

2 lemons

10 shallots

1 glass of sherry

1 teaspoon of honey

100 ml of chicken stock

150 gr of green peas

2 spoons of cream

Directions

- Preheat the oven at 200°

- Cook the potatoes in boiling water with salt for 10-12 minutes until they are almost cooked.

- Brush the chicken with the garlic and the lemon juice and fill the chicken with them the remaining garlic and lemon slices. Put the chicken with the rosemary, the shallots and the potatoes in a baking tray. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 hour approximately (depending on the size of the chicken).

- When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pan, as well as the shallots, potatoes, rosemary, lemons and garlic. Filter the sauce remaining in the baking tray and put it on a pot on the stove. Add the sherry and honey and bring to a boil. Add the stock and bring it to a boil for a few minutes before adding the green peas. Continue cooking and add the cream until it thickens.

- Serve the chicken with the potatoes, shallots and sauce.

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VO

Happy picnic – April 25

Today, April 25, is Liberation Day in Italy. On this day we remember Italians who fought against the Nazis and Mussolini’s troops during World War II, honoring those who served in the Italian Resistance in particular.

I decided to celebrate this special occasion and take advantage of the beautiful weather having a picnic with my friends EPT, MFL and MPG. The sun was shining when I woke up and that just put me in a very good mood!

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We had simple food: pasta salad, plum cake, fruit salad and biscuits! I baked Rachel Khoo’s plum cake with a variation: caramelized onions, pine nuts and gorgonzola cheese.

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It really was a lovely day, spent in good company enjoying good food! Get your basket, prepare some food and go to the park with your friends!

VO

 

 

La Fiaschetteria – U Fundu (Sestri Levante, Italy)

I visited La Fiaschetteria last January, just after New Year’s Eve, with WJT and our dear friends PL and EK who came to Italy for a trip during the Christmas holidays. We had a splendid night. I warmly recommend you to try this restaurant if you are around in the region of Liguria, it’s a real must of the area!

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La Fiaschetteria is a little gem of the Ligurian riviera. This “osteria con cucina”  (pub and kitchen)  owned by Nicola Tealdi faces U Fundu, a wine bar owned by his brother Oscar Tealdi. Their passion for good food and wine is reflected in the fantastic way they welcome their guests. The menu changes continuously, to better respect the season of the raw materials. Mauro Bassi, the chef, selects local products and creates dishes depending on what is available on the market on that specific day and season. Some dishes, though, are classic and you can find them on the menu pretty much all year. One of them is the testaieu (testaroli) with pesto: a sort of a crêpe, typical from the area of Liguria and Tuscany. They are traditionally served with pesto, the classic sauce from Liguria. We also had farinata, a sort of thin, unleavened pancake or crêpe of chickpea flour originally from Genoa and later a typical food of the broader Ligurian/Tuscan sea coast. With these antipasti we had some Pigato wine, one of the most famous Ligurian wines.

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As antipasto we also had a classic ham, salame and cured meat board.

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Shrimps, lentils and spelt soup. The shrimps were a perfect match for such a rustic soup, bringing the richness and fat needed.

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Ravioli filled with sea bass in oyster sauce. Quite an original combination of ingredients but very interesting!

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Risotto with pecorino di fossa cheese and nuts. Pecorino di fossa cheese typically from Sogliano al Rubicone in the area of Emilia-Romagna. Its name, which literally means “cheese of the pit”, comes from the process of ripening the cheese in special underground pits.  In 2009 it was granted Denominazione di Origine Protetta status, the Italian equivalent of protected designation of origin. This fat cheese gave the risotto an unusual sweet and pungent taste. As funny as it might seem, the wine we had with this dish was named Pecorino: it goes without saying that the match was excellent since the vines are growing in the same areas where the cheese was – and still is – produced.

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Pumpkin flan with gorgonzola cheese. This was probably my favorite dish! The sweetness of the pumpkin was very well balanced by the strong pungent cheese. This dish also had the best wine match: Cannonau from Sardinia.IMG_1723

Fillet of sea bass in potato crust. This is another classic dish of the restaurant and of Liguria in general. The potato cut extremely thin, once cooked, were very crunchy and make a good contrast with the fish that remained soft inside the crust.

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To finish up we had a semifreddo with Gran Marnier and fresh strawberry sauce as well as a white chocolate mousse and a traditional pear cake with zabaione. They make all of their desserts them self and you cannot go wrong with any of them!IMG_1728

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We ended the night at the U Fundu, where we had a tasting of amari that Oscar suggested us. Also all the wines we had throughout the dinner were purposed by him, specifically thinking of pairing each of the dishes and helping us finding some perfect matches with the food. The teamwork between Nicola and Oscar created the conditions for a remarkable gastronomic experience!

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La Fiaschetteria

Via Nazionale, 103

16039 Sestri Levante, Genova

340 238 9058

Cured sausage, pistachio and prune cake – Rachel Khoo

Here I am writing again about a recipe from Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen. Today it is a rustic savory cake from the “picnic” session – so this will come in handy for the spring season that is finally starting! It is extremely easy and quick to make. It is not only a perfect picnic cake, but also a party cake or an afternoon tea treat for those who are not fond of sweet cakes.

Now that I have tried this version, I would like to elaborate variations as well. You can play with many different ingredients other than cured sausage, pistachios and prunes, also depending on what you have available at home. Next time I will try it with caramelized onions, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese.

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Recipe from “Little Paris Kitchen” by Rachel Khoo

Ingredients

250 g plain flour

15 g baking powder

150 g cured French sausage or salame, finely chopped

80 g pistachios, roughly chopped

100 g prunes, roughly chopped

4 eggs

100 ml milk

150 ml cup olive oil

50 g plain yogurt

1 tsp salt

pepper

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 200° and line a 1 pound loaf pan with parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sausage, pistachios and prunes.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until thick and pale in colour.

4. Gradually whisk in the milk and yogurt, then add salt and season with pepper. finally fold in the flour, bit by bit. Try not to over mix. Undermixing is best for this recipe.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted int he center of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan.

Mucche e Buoi (Milan, Italy)

Today I want to recommend you a restaurant in Milan that I visited some times ago with my friend LC: Mucche e Buoi. We kicked off this all-meat dinner with a trio of bruschette. The first of the three breads was topped with mozzarella and friarielli, which is a vegetable known especially in Naples and Rome, also called rapini. It has many spiked leaves that surround clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli. It has a nutty, bitter and pungent flavor that goes very well with mozzarella. The second was with pepper and smoked provola, a full-fat cow’s milk cheese with a smooth skin, produced mainly in the area around the Po river in Lombardia and Veneto. The last one was garnished with lonzardo del Taburno, cured pork meat. They were all good matches and definitely an excellent way to linger whilst waiting for the main courses.

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And then the mains finally arrived!

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We had one of the classic dishes of the restaurant: Filetto Mucche e Buoi. Filet of a young cow covered with lard on a bed of spinach pan-fried with butter, Parmesan and cream of vinegar. The meat was extremely tender and the contrast with the crispy lard around it enhanced its savory taste. I particularly liked the pairing with the sweet, creamy and buttery spinach.

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The other main we had was pork chop from a black piglet from Caserta (Campania). This indigenous specie of pork is bred in the wild, therefore the meat has a particularly rich taste. Until a decade ago, this was the most common specie of pork, but more recently it has been substituted by animals bred with more modern techniques, which lack the old fashioned taste and flavor that the black piglet has. As a side dish for this traditional meat, we had oven-baked potatoes: quite an obvious match, but it always works.

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The overall look of the restaurant is cool and trendy, suiting the area where it is located, the Colonne di San Lorenzo and Porta Ticinese, where the Milanese nightlife pulses.

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Mucche e Buoi

Corso di Porta Ticinese 1, Milano
Tel. +39 02 72093863

http://www.muccheebuoi.it/index.php?sez=home

Price: 35€ for a full meal (wine excluded)