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Posted 09/15/2012

A World Famous Tomato Sauce Recipe

Fall harvest is upon us and so begins the mad dash to use up the tomatoes in the garden. Every year at this time, after we have gorged ourselves on tomato sandwiches, had enough panzanella and caprese salad—there is a point where I think I could never have my fill of panzanella and caprese salad— but we do , the nights turn colder and we want substantial dishes.  Pastas, risottos, something stick to your ribs, in place of a crisp white, we decant a burly red.

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Posted 04/08/2012

Book Review: Cucina Povera

The food of Italy is famous for being fresh, flavorful, frugal, and delicious. But the country’s history tells a story of deprivation and hardship that its cooks overcame to create wonderful recipes.

Italian cooks do not waste food. They use up every bit of the pig, a loaf of bread, and the leaves, flowers, and stems from vegetables and fruits harvested from the garden. This thrifty way of life has created some fabulous dishes, such as the luscious soup thickened with bread called Ribollita, Panzanella, a fresh salad with bread and tomatoes, and jams to capture every bit of the summer sun. Continue Reading…

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Posted 01/15/2012

Roadside Marketing

We had to admit it. She was a damned good saleswoman. After driving around Cape Cod for a week, buying sweet corn for 50 cents an ear at every roadside stand we passed, we just had to stop at the one in Sandwich. Their corn was $1 an ear. What on earth could justify that price?, we wondered.

The owner’s answer was simple, a query with a Quahog accent: “Ya tried ah cahn?” Continue Reading…

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Posted 12/07/2011

How Do You Feed A Hungry Giant?

I love reading books… I loved reading books.

The time I used to devote to this activity has progressively shrunk to a real minimum, barely enough to keep a somewhat decent vocabulary, get inspired and temporarily pretend that my daughters screaming in the background are actually far, far away! In the past few of months I only read a book “for myself”, the Steve Jobs Biography… I got to the part where he launched the iPad, then Giulia (my youngest) has removed my bookmark. What a lame excuse uh? Well, book is still sitting in front of me, and I also know how it ends… so I am taking my time. Continue Reading…

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Posted 10/12/2011

Book Review: Aftertaste-A Novel In Five Courses

Cassoulet? Hmmph, sounds like Casserole. My first thoughts as I rumple through the last few pages of Meredith Mileti’s new book, Aftertaste: A Novel in Five Courses. Cassoulet, biscotti, mixed green salad, anti pasti, pizza…all recipes. A nice touch for a book about food, but not much of a help when you’re trying to figure out how the book ends.

My initial attempt to review Aftertaste brought me right back to high school. Back then, the trick for completing an in depth book report involved reading the last few pages first to find out how the story ends, then flipping through the rest of it, skimming chapters and reading only enough to sound authoritative when writing the paper. See my dilemma? Recipes were not going to tell me anything about the book…or so I thought.

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Posted 06/11/2011

Grow Great Grub! Treat you garden to a new book

I’m more of an internet-using kind of gardener, but I will occasionally turn to garden books when I’m looking for ideas or information. I find I’m more discerning in the kinds of garden books I’ll buy or recommend than any other choices I make in my life. Garden books should be beautiful and inspire you to try to grow-not just a garden-but grow as a gardener. One of my favorite gardening books is Grow Great Grub which is now entering its 5th printing. If you haven’t come across this book yet I highly recommend it, especially for beginner gardeners who are just getting into growing some of their own food. Continue Reading…

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Posted 03/31/2011

On the Subject of Italian Cooking

Italy recently celebrated it’s 150th anniversary as a unified country. To many Americans it comes as a surprise to learn that Italy is such a “young country,” but of course the regions that make up Italy represent some of the oldest cultures in the World. In fact, Italy is the source of one of the worlds oldest known cookbooks and perhaps the oldest with surviving text. Written in Latin by a Roman four to five hundred years after the birth of Christ, the book is known as Apicius or sometimes by it’s subtitle De re Coquinaria, which translates to “On the Subject of Cooking.” This remarkable text served as the model for all cookbooks for well over a thousand years and provides a fascinating view into ancient diets. Many of the foods we associate with Italian cooking were actually brought back to Italy from the new world by Christopher Columbus, including tomatoes! Still we can see the origins of modern Italian cooking in Apicius. The full text of a translation from the 1930s is available for free at the Project Gutenberg website. Divided into 10 books, it seems that the entire work does not survive, since there are no sections for breads and cakes, even though bread is mentioned as an ingredient throughout. Continue Reading…

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Posted 03/22/2011

The Lexicon of Sustainability

When Debi and I were about to start shooting Extra Virgin this past summer, our dear friend and executive producer Janelle gifted us with a book; “I took a bike ride to a county fair, and when I saw this I thought of you guys” she said as she dropped it in my hands.

My mom taught me not to judge a book by its cover. I personally like to fall for a publication just because of its cover, I like being lured into a book just because the cover brought me to action… In this case, a big black and white picture of farmer-ly rugged hands carrying a half dozed fresh eggs simply swept my mind away to my youngest age, when those hands could have been my grandma’s and those eggs the ones from our chickens. “SLOW, life in a Tuscan town” by Douglas Gayeton kidnapped me from the moment I laid my eyes on it; I poured a glass of wine and sat down in the kitchen for a good hour, while the girlfriends were catching up, and explored my homeland through somebody else’s experience. Douglas has lived in Tuscany for a few years and was able to capture in this book many essential features of the “natives of my country”; with incredible simplicity he conveys a powerful description of what he saw through the lenses of his camera by creating composite collages and pencil-writing the soul and the mechanics of each piece he creates. Continue Reading…

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Posted 06/08/2010

Books for your Kitchen – “Recipes from an Italian summer”

This is the time of the year I miss home the most… it almost hurts.
This is the time of the year that I always lived the Tuscan country side at its best!

For me and my whole family, living in the lush hills just above Florence is always been a given, my great grandfather really spoiled us! Now that I spend most of the year in Los Angeles with Deb and the girls, I do realize how my growing up has been kind of magnificent… it is a very frustrating struggle now, to try re-create a somewhat close experience for my kids here, in one of the biggest metropolis of the world. Continue Reading…

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Posted 08/15/2009

Gabriele Vs Martha

I am pissed!
I wish I could write this post in Italian, my native language…Oh it would come out so much more colorful!
By now you should know, I am “some sort” of a quiet guy, I do not like to lash out at people, I never ever dished anybody on these pages (well, not completely true) but still…
Let me start from the beginning.
About a year ago, for Valentine’s Day, Debi bought me a cook book: “Martha Stewart’s Cookies”.
The bottom of the first cover reads: “The very best treats to bake and to share”…. “What a fantastic idea”, I told myself, since I had just got my new Thermador stove, and my baking frenzy was already in full swing.
Without indulging any further, I started flipping through the pages, mesmerized by the pictures, impressed by the simplicity of the publication… Still talking to myself: “This is going to be a lot of fun!”. Continue Reading…

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