I have a confession to make, as a child I thought canned soups were the ultimate. Not all soups mind you, there were a few favorites and Progresso Chickarina was definitely at the top of the list. Chickarina soup, with those tasty tiny meatballs was so different than any homemade soup I was accustomed to. I mean tiny meatballs in chicken broth with diced carrots, celery and pasta pearls – come on, it had to be good. Although prepared foods were certainly the rage in many households at the time, my Mom never relied on them. For some reason Progresso products were viewed as being acceptable; it wasn’t difficult to understand that the name, Progresso was an Italian name representing something familiar….
Salmon is not a fish that is native to Italian waters and something I had never seen until more recently when in Italy, mostly in upscale restaurants. The rich, fatty nature of salmon pairs perfectly with so many indigenous Italian herbs, produce and products. A grilled salmon steak with a drizzle of Balsamico; a freshly chopped tomato, garlic and herb topping; or perhaps simply set on a bed of wood roasted cannellini beans with a touch of Extra Virgin Olive Oil… Oh the possibilities are endless….
The flavors of the Mediterranean transcend international boarders, reflecting the history and geography of the overall region. Each country or culture interprets the bounty of their local harvest in a unique and special way. Citrus fruit, in particular lemon is indigenous to the Medeterrean climate and is incorporated into the foods of the surrounding cultures. Although preserved lemons are a specialty of Northern Africa, they pair nicely with Italian dishes. Simple ingredients such as lemons, olive oil, parsley and capers are fundamental to Mediterranean cuisine.
In keeping things simple, lets chat a bit about entertaining. We all strive to be enchanting hosts and hostesses, effortlessly gliding from guest to guest, sipping wine while cleverly chatting about this or that. On the flip side – perhaps more often than not you are standing over a hot sauté pan, filling the kitchen with so much smoke that the alarm begins to pierce the sound barrier, while at the same time that fabulous outfit, which you really should have covered with an apron, is splattered with hot oil. If that later scenario is at all vaguely familiar, Pollo al Limone Conservati is the absolute perfect secondi for you – it can be prepared in advance, comes together easily, is ever so delicious, and carries minimal risk of a 911 call….
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….