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.





Friday, May 23, 2014

Milestones A-plenty

Milestone is an ugly word to me.  Not because I don't appreciate the key events in life that are significant enough to be considered milestones, but rather the fact that I work on projects in my professional life and milestones are the goal posts of my work.  Given that analogy, I would very often like to kick something through them or better yet, kick the people that prevent me from getting to them on time.

This time of the year is a big deal in terms of personal milestones.  The stretch of time from April through June sees all of our birthdays, my wedding anniversary, mother's day and father's day.  If the Hampton's "season" kicks off on Memorial Day, our family "season" starts April 1st and goes through June with barely a pause.  Dress me in white and call me Diddy.

This year, the month of June takes on additional significance because the milestones that we are celebrating are on steroids.  So roided out in fact, that if they were an athlete, they'd look like this:

Photo Cred: cracked.com
This June will see the following major events:

  • An 18th birthday
  • A High School graduation
  • A 50th Birthday 
  • Senior Prom
  • Senior Wences (Just kidding.  Making sure you were still paying attention after that somewhat distracting picture above.)

One of those events is mine, but I am not going to tell you which one because I am a little embarrassed that it took me this many years to pass gym.

I know that there are people who think that there is some kind of shame involved in turning 50.  I couldn't agree less. The fact of the matter is, I've never felt better, loved life more or had a more adventurous spirit. I find the question of "How do you feel about turning 50?" to be ageist and sexist coming from certain people.  I know that their agenda is that they expect me to be filled with self-loathing over the prospect of getting older.  Sadly, it only exposes their own fear and shallowness as they try to project it on to someone else. I feel bad for people like that, because some day they too will be this old, but they won't be nearly as awesome.

Now I am off to wrap favors for one of the many parties that lay ahead in the month of June.  Here's a small reminder of how good it feels to hit that certain milestone.




Sunday, May 11, 2014

Never too Old for a Poop Joke

One thing that I am certain of as I approach my next birthday, which has an alarmingly big number associated with it, is that I am never going to meet anyone's definition of mature.  One of the things that I am fond of saying (only because it's true) is that I have the sense of humor of a nine year old boy.  There seems to be no limit to the entertainment value that I can mine from a good fart or poop joke.

Two weekends ago my husband and I found ourselves without plans on a Saturday night.  We sat down in the living room and started the evening innocently enough, watching videos of vacation rentals in Rome and dreaming of our next trip to Italy.  About an hour in, the tone of our searching and viewing changed to Japanese game shows.

I was somewhat familiar with Japanese game shows because I remembered seeing clips of them in the past and a report on a news show about how the Japanese like to really push the envelope in terms of participant stunts, to an extreme that leans toward torture.  But even knowing that, I was not prepared for what we found or to laugh so hard that tears streamed down my cheeks.

This may be the most hilarious/sadistic thing I have ever seen.  I think I lost a few IQ points when I watched this, but the sacrifice was well worth it.  This was the best laugh I've had in a long time.  Enjoy...