My husband, Ed, and I are not your typical schmoopy Valentine’s Day couple: no candlelit dinner with roses and wine, no balloons and definitely no stuffed animals. There’s really no acknowledgement of this commercial holiday except a “Happy February 14th” to one another and take-out for dinner. Why wait until this one day of the year to celebrate with the obligatory masses when we could celebrate any other day? On any given day–no occasion needed–he may bring me a special treat: Vosges chocolates or cookies from Alessi Bakery are especially exciting. If it’s a really special day, he might bring me my favorite–a croissant. I wrote this piece unbeknownst to Ed, and this morning, I awoke to freshly squeezed orange juice, a cafe au lait, and a package of warm croissants, brioche and a scone from my favorite bakery. Apparently, I spoke too soon. Is this his way of breaking our non-Valentine’s tradition? Or is he just teaching our son, Everett, the ins and outs of this lovey holiday?
Category: Making it count
Simple. Fresh. Honest. Humble. These four words summarize the food that my husband, Ed, and I ate on every leg of our journey through Italy 14 years ago. We hit seven cities in ten days. Our tour gave us so many culinary firsts and “bests”: from the potato focaccia in Cinque Terre; to a foot-long calzone in Rome; to my first aglio y olio pasta in Sorrento; to our grilled, fresh mozzarella in Capri; to the crunchy, cheesy, sweet sfogliatella in Naples; to our daily breakfast of little toasts with jam alongside the best coffee on the planet; and finally, to our multi-daily trips for gelato. These food memories are still fresh on my palate and despite the years that have passed, I can recall all of them vividly. Ed and I are always on a quest to find these items again stateside, just to see if anyone can match what we found in Italy so long ago.
There is one additional item that has had the most lasting impression on the two of us: the pizza we had in Naples. Our first bite of Margherita pizza at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele was like no other I had had before. The crust was so thin and crisp; one person could easily eat an entire twelve-inch pizza. A scant amount of fresh tomato sauce was spread so thinly that you could still see the crust underneath. Fresh mozzarella cheese was sparsely placed and used as a topping as opposed to a covering—the other version offered had no cheese at all and was topped with a few strategically-placed basil leaves. After many years, many mediocre renditions, and a few winners along the way, we finally found a place in our own backyard that is a close second to our Neapolitan favorite; the restaurant is Tuttorosso Pizzeria Napoletana. How have we not found this place sooner?
Let’s talk dining out–it’s one of my favorite things to do. But, how many times have you planned a meal out, only to be disappointed by a mediocre experience? To top it off, you find yourself saying, “We paid how much for that food?” Sadly, since I became a vegetarian, I find that this is the case for me more often than not. Not only are the vegetarian offerings at many restaurants a letdown–or at times even non-existent–but also it feels as though the spontaneity of dining out is gone. If I want to ensure a good meal these days, I now have to check a restaurant’s menu before I can even consider it an option. This has rendered me somewhat inflexible and a bit neurotic.