Santa Margherita Ligura, tucked between Portofino and Rapallo on the Gulf of Tigullio, epitomizes the nostalgic Italian Riveria. Frequented by prosperous Northern Italians, the picturesque resort town features an inviting pedestrian zone, tromp l’oeil frescos, and old world elegant hotels. During a morning passeggiata along the palm tree lined marina one can watch luxurious yachts set amongst traditional fishing boats. The bustling morning fish market sources fresh catch for local establishments. Never being a family intimidated by dining on a whole fish, as a toddler La Levitt relished the sight of a well prepared head always eager to feast on the eyes (yes on not with), we first sampled Branzino some years ago dining al fresco in Santa Margherita Liguria….
Mio Marito has become quite the Italophile over the years, developing an appreciation and rather uncanny understanding of all things Italian, including yours truly. He has embraced the history, culture, customs, food, and wine. Did I mention the late afternoon aperitivi? A veritable master of that domain… Our early evening ritual when in Italy is to facciamo una bella passeggata (take a nice walk together) followed by an aperitivo before dinner. After years of experience, his preferred cocktail is without a doubt, the Negroni.
Apparently the Negroni came into being in Florence in the 1920’s when the nobleman Count Cammillo Negroni asked a local establishment to prepare an Americano asking him to substitute gin for club soda. Lucca Picchi, head bartender at Caffe Rivoire in Florence wrote a book about the colorful Count in 2008, available in Italian: Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni (On the Trails of the Count: The True Story of the Negroni Cocktail)….
Farro has long entered the world of food rock star. Once a humble grain, a staple in ancient Rome it is now found on the menus of every Italian restaurant from New York to San Francisco. There are actually some good reasons for this; farro’s distinctive nutty taste, delicate bite, and versatile nature make it perfect for adapting seasonal dishes. The instructions for preparing farro are universal. Once you have done so, it provides a blank palate for an infinite variety of dishes. This particular version is a family favorite and an excellent vegetarian entrée….
In searching for a simple cake, which used olive oil rather than butter, I stumbled upon Maialino’s straightforward rendition. Maialino is a gem of restaurant located in New York’s Gramercy Park area and part of Danny Meyer’s famed restaurant group; I think we will all agree that anything this man is involved with is worth visiting, starting with the Union Square Café. Maialino, features the essence of rustic Roman food including everything from Cacio e Pepe to Porchetta. No surprise since the English translation for Maialino is piglet.
Well, olive oil alone was not going to do it for me; I was searching for something that was nondairy to satisfy my dietary conscious daughter, La Levitt, as well as friends observing kashrut (which prohibits the mixing of meat and milk at a meal). Substituting almond milk for whole milk reflected my Calabrian roots, while increasing the amount of grated orange rind balanced the flavor nicely….