Saturday, May 31, 2014

Romesick

Not a day goes by where I don't have a pang of longing for the city of Rome.  There have been a handful of cities that have captured my imagination and called me back over and over;  New Orleans, San Francisco, Manhattan, but none have the gravitational pull of Rome.  Sitting here at my computer and thinking about walking out of my apartment door down Via Giubbonari into Campo Di Fiori with the morning's first light, makes me well with tears.  The memory of a taste of cappuccino and cornetto at a local cafe each morning resonates in my memory to the point that I can recall the flavor of the coffee and sense the crunch of the crust and sticky glaze on the outside of the pastry.

One of the great things about living in the orbit of Manhattan is that we can take advantage of the amazing dining and entertainment options that are available.  As you might expect, you can find almost any food of every possible ethnicity in the NYC area.  Cornetti however, proved to be a challenge.  Luckily for me, my husband is a top notch researcher of such things and he found out that there is a restaurant that makes true Italian style cornetti (Pastry similar to a croissant) and bomboloni (The most amazing doughnuts,ever.).  This heavenly place is called Tarralucci e Vino, and the parties are so authentic that you can close your eyes and feel transported to Italy.   As the only known purveyor of these baked delights,  you need to get in early if you want to to be able to choose from the full array of pastry.  Arriving at 10:30 on a Sunday, we found ourselves taking the last three cornetti that they had and none of them were the ones that are filled with the faintly lemon scented pastry cream that is the hallmark of many Italian pastries and my personal favorite. Lesson learned.

That one location, while an option, is still 60 miles from my front door and unfortunately, there is no other bakery closer to home that even knows what a cornetto is.  I knew there had to be another way to get a taste of Rome that didn't involve burning a full tank of gas. It was this very conundrum that got me baking.

Naturally, I took to the Internet to find a recipe.  What I found out pretty quickly is that if you want a recipe for traditional Italian Cornetti, you need to find a recipe that is written by an Italian, in the Italian language. This presented a tiny challenge as my mastery of the Italian language is limited to menu Italian (I can pronounce the hell out of Bucatini all'amatriciana) and "Where is the bathroom?" (It's a survival skill.  I  believe that this is the one question that you should be able to ask in every language.). But I was undeterred by my lack of fluency and luckily, there were many print and video recipes available.  I must have watched 15 videos of Italians in their kitchens making cornetti.  All of them different, none of them seemed to yield a result that looked like what I was craving.  Finally after another dozen or so print recipes and a few more videos, I found what looked like a good one.  The cornetti looked well browned, plump in the middle and flaky.  Bingo!   Armed with plenty of butter and a couple of pounds of good, Caputo 00 flour, I set out to translate this video recipe:



What happened after about 100 viewings was this:






If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, tasted it with my own mouth and felt the crunch under my teeth, I would not have believed it was possible. A little taste of Rome, right in my own kitchen.   I even made a batch of pastry cream to fill them with, which was even more authentic tasting than the cornetti themselves. And while nothing cures Romesickness like a trip to the city itself, this mutes the longing and helps to make the time between visits pass a little more sweetly.





2 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

Lin said...

Well, that helps, I'm sure! They look wonderful!!

My daughter is most likely going to study in Rome next Spring. I hope you can give her advice on the good places to eat!

Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Lin, I would love nothing more than to share any information about Rome that I have. On our next trip, we will be staying in Trastevere, which is the neighborhood near many of the colleges and where all the bars and restaurants that are frequented by students are. I hope to have some good info coming out of that trip.

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