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Posted 01/20/2015

Branzino alla Vernaccia

I am the product of Tuscany’s inland, red wine runs through my veins. Along with Olive Oil it has been part of our family business for many decades, until severe weather damaged our vineyard twenty years ago. It really never mattered what kind of food was going to show up at the table, unsalted bread and red wine always arrived first. Well, actually the open flask of wine never, ever left the dining room table; always available to quench somebody’s thirst.

But my grandmother was born in Venice and in her repertoire she had some glorious fish recipes and yes, she used white wine.  Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/13/2015

Linguine with Red Snapper

When I was a kid I remember spending wonderful summer moments fishing with my dad. When I was about 8 years old, he bought “the family” a raft with a 75 hp out-board Evinrude. I will never forget how does it feel to explore the coastline from the sea side, and not from shore. The amount of wonderful and mainly inaccessible spots we were able to reach and discover, indeed some of my best family memories ever. My father, brother and I would spend endless hours fishing with our spears, and most times we cooked our pray right on the beach. Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/13/2015

Smoked Trout Salad with Horseradish and Caper Vinaigrette

Growing up I ate smoked fish only once a year, at Christmas. My father is a doctor and I remember observing the piles of bottles and smoked salmon accumulating under the Christmas tree. Then my mom would have us binge on Tagliolini with Salmon for almost two weeks straight… I tried to complain a few times about the fact that “Babbo” would re-gift all the pork that was arriving to the house from his patients. I will never forget the first time a whole Prosciutto entered our house, “There is Hope in this World!” I told myself. That same evening the Prosciutto left the house and never came back. I know who my dad gave it to, and I still believe “that guy” owns me one. Continue Reading…

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Posted 05/13/2014

Octopus Salad

Octopus is one of those ingredients that’s present in the Mediterranean diet wherever you go. In Italy, during the summer, it’s really easy to find octopus salads or pasta with red octopus sauce. They’re really hard to catch because of the camouflage, but I remember catching them with a spear when I was a kid. I like the animal. It’s very smart and it tastes good. All you need here is a glass of dry white wine and a slice of toasted bread!

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Posted 08/18/2013

Cozze Alla Tarantina (Spicy Mussel Soup)

Fish markets fascinate me! It is something that happened to me since I was a kid, spending my summers on the coast of Tuscany with my family. There is something very rigorous about the way fishermen display their pray, about the way they solicit shoppers, and the way they loudly negotiate or call for your attention. The key element to me is that whatever you come across at a fish market that exists close to any coastal region is the fact that what you are buying is “prey”! Every day is different, every catch becomes a fisherman’s story, something to romanticize about it… a sort of “added value” to your meal. Continue Reading…

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Posted 08/11/2013

Linguine with Santa Barbara Spot Prawns

I grew up in a mixed Jewish/Catholic family, no big deal really… At least unless you had the fortune of sitting at the table with us for a holiday celebration. Because of my father’s Kosher’s restrictions our menus have always been kind of unconventional, especially at Christmas: no Cotechino, no cold cuts, no seafood, no lasagne… I know, it sounds a bit depressing. As I think about my youth, when my grandfather (he was jewish too) was alive and performing his duties of “Master of Ceremony” during our family’s Christmas Lunch, a few details pop straight to my head: his salmon appetizer station, his smile getting bigger and bigger as he opened one bottle of champagne after the other, and my aunt teasing my father with pork jokes… and my father always getting bent about it. Continue Reading…

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Posted 06/18/2012

Branzino Al Cartoccio

Branzino is one of the first fishes I ever caught when fishing with my dad. My dad and I would spend the whole day fishing, scuba diving and catching fish and then we would clean our catch right on the boat with our feet dangling in the water. When we got to shore we would collect wood, scraps and whatever we could find, start a fire and roast them right there on the spot. Continue Reading…

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Posted 08/01/2011

Lionfish Safari!

“Vegans, freegans, locavores – meet invasivores,” proclaimed the New York Times in December 31, 2010.  Down here in Miami, and all up and down the eastern seaboard, we have a lion of an invasive fish. Literally, the lionfish.  The species was allegedly released into the wild in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew, which devastated Miami, destroyed a fish tank.  Since then, the non-indigenous lionfish have had no problem multiplying for the troublesome reason that they have no natural predators in the Atlantic. Continue Reading…

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Posted 06/06/2011

Grouper Ceviche with Mango, Citrus, and Cilantro.

Fortunately, mangos grow on trees.  Unfortunately, we have to wait all year, watching over our heads and threatening squirrels under our breath, while the little green mangoes turn red and yellow, and take over the air with their intoxicating smell.

Well, summer is here, and with it the South Florida mango trees are being coveted like parking spaces on Lincoln Road.  Thanks to mass international transit, mangoes have been arriving from the tropics to our grocery stores for months.  But any Miami local will tell you that they have their usual tree, in their grandmother’s, friend’s, neighbor’s, or – for the lucky ones — their own yard. At our restaurant in Grand Cayman, the kitchen is bombarded with them, making for happy chefs.  When that first mango falls from above, it is the start of something wonderful, albeit short-lived. Continue Reading…

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Posted 03/20/2008

Pesce Spada all’ Isolana

Today’s recipe comes straight from the Western coast of Italy.
I remember eating it in Livorno and Isola d’Elba when I was growing up, the smell and the color of it (yes, the taste too) make me think about the old Medici Harbor…the noise of the fishing boats, the continuos mumbling (and hard core cursing) in dialect of the workers at the dock. My father used to keep a small boat there when I was growing up, and he used to drag me with him for “week-end-scheduled-mantainance-and-cleaning”…I used to ask myself: “Why is Mom staying home?”.
I eventually figured that out. Continue Reading…

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