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How to Sanitize Vintage Wood Utensils

More simply, wash it well and then let it out in the sun for a couple of days...

Jul 26, 2012
pietro in Features

Tricks for Getting Sausages Brown and Juicy

Well, actually I don't agree. Since I was a child here in Italy, I've seen sausages pierced with a fork before (and sometimes during) grilling and always cooked slowly over not too hot coals. The idea is that you let out the excess fat out and the sausages get crispier. What you call juices is just fat to me, of which in a sausage there's plenty. By piercing, one also avoids the risk of the sausage bursting if the skin is airtight.

Jul 26, 2012
pietro in Features

Is understanding wine a talent, or can a novice oenophile learn?

At first glance nobody seems to have pointed out something which I consider very important and which determines what it is, tastes like etc.: how wine is made, varietals characteristics, etc.

As a retired sommelier and winemaker (but still active drinker and taster) I would recommend that one interests himself first with the "technical" part instead of concentrating on tracing farfetched aromas and flavors.

The rest will come.

May 25, 2012
pietro in Wine

Dried Beans - What's is the trick?

Cooking beans is like raising children: you do a wonderful job with the first one and you think you have mastered the process. Then the second one comes along and... it's a whole different story.
I humbly consider myself a bean expert having a few times raised my own on our land as well as eating them as often as possible and this is what I can contribute to the thread.

1) There are as we all know , many kind of beans each with their own qualities and requirements. Generally speaking darker beans are more difficult and take more time. Older beans and pre-treated beans can have problems.

2) Pre-soak overnight. Change the water. No salt. Cook as slow as possible ( the water should not boil but "murmur").

3 What really matters is the kind of beans, the soil they were grown on and, finally age.

Just considering the most common white beans (and my favorites), there must be hundreds of different varieties.

Like children, some are very easy and others will resist every attempt to become civilized.

There's one restaurant in the area where they consistently make the best "cannellini" (this is Tuscany, where beans are third in line of importance only after wine and olive oil :-)). I enquired about which variety they were using and the answer was: we don't know, we just use whatever the supplier sends us in 10 kilo bags. So, technique must trump quality, there

Personally I''ve had ups and downs, with the best quality ones not always performing well.
One evening we even had a beans-only party where we served 5 different local varieties with good results but lots of different opinions.

Then last year someone brought us a small bag of beans from Romania and it was BANG!
All of the previous theories and experience were completely obliterated.
You can do whatever you want to them: no pre-soaking, boiling at high temperature, putting salt ,etc. it just doesn't matter. They come out ALWAYS perfectly tender, white ( overcooking normally changes the color to a shade of light reddish), the skin so soft as to be undetectable and absolutely delicious.
What can I say: we don't even know the name of the variety but we were able to secure another small bag which we're hogging.
I dread the day when we'll have to go back to the other children.

Apr 13, 2012
pietro in Home Cooking

Funniest frozen turkey memories

My story is about turkeys, live turkeys that is, not frozen...
When we first moved here, in the country, we decided to raise a couple of turkeys because we were told that they would chase the snakes away (there are poisonous vipers around here).
They were all-white, not very smart, and growing fast. By October, thanks to the care of our farmhand, they had grown beautifully to what seemed to be more than 30 pounds each .
I asked Pilade ( that was his name) if he could tell if they were a male and a female because if so, them being so beautiful, we should breed them. He said that yes, they were indeed a male and a female but we could not breed them.
I was puzzled and looked at him with surprise. Well-he said-yes, they are indeed a couple but because they are so big the male cannot jump and perform his duty...

At Thanksgiving one of them was so big, about 16 kilos cleaned, that we could not cook it whole in our oven.

Mar 23, 2012
pietro in General Topics

Why You Shouldn't Cook with Good Olive Oil

wolfcastle said it right. Health-wise EVOO is best but as it does impart a stronger taste, most people prefer the other seed oil and save money,too. The trick is to make sure that the olive oil is very hot and fry one or two pieces at a time.

Mar 01, 2012
pietro in Features

why are some cheeses wrapped in plantain leaves?

Fresh cheese was always "protected" in some ways both for hygiene and to keep moisture. Ricotta cheese would always, in the times of no refrigeration, arrive at the market in their straw container covered on top with a fig leaf or, better yet, a round "lid" of semi-soft cheese made on purpose.

Aged cheese would be wrapped in vine leaves or something similar for more "technical "reasons.
To age properly it's essential for the cheese to form a crust. If the process is too hasty the crust can break which is not acceptable for both aesthetic and hygienic reasons ( would you buy a cheese all craggy with mold inside the crags?).
A proper crust, depending on the cheese, needs time and care. Have you ever seen those long rows of cheese forms that need to be turned-up regularly so as not to ripen unevenly? And/or break?
There are many tricks to achieving a proper crust: some would quickly dip the cheese in boiling water, then, especially for pecorino, protect it with olive oil applied regularly until the crust was hard and the inside well on its way to ripening. In Tuscany they used to store those special small, oval, "marzolini" ( made with the first milk when the sheep start eating the fresh herbs again) inside an "orcio" (large, heavy, clay jar) with olive oil and ash which would then be shaken up and rolled at regular interval until summer.
The use of leaves ( or sometimes the spent lees after distilling grappa, seeds) provides a convenient way to protect the cheese until the crust is formed as well as , hopefully, impart some flavour and aroma to it.
Burrata was made by inflating by mouth (much like flasks were made out of glass) a large piece of soft mozzarella-like cheese and then filling it with mozzarella cheese morsels and cream. The container was to protect the inside but it needed to be protected itself, that's why the leaves (again, fig leaves) wrapping.

Feb 17, 2012
pietro in Cheese

The Sad Cafe - thoughts on THAT diner.

There was an old Dirty Diner
With lots of good food to be had
Provided you were comfortably sad
And had something to hide
In that Sad Old Dirty Diner

Sep 02, 2011
pietro in General Topics

Just how important is the quality of wine when a recipe calls for wine?

As a former winemaker, and an organic one at that, from a time when it was not yet popular, I'd like to add my two penny.
In the old days they used to say that to make a good vinegar or a good stew one should start with a good wine. But that was a time when there actually were "bad wines. Vintages were much more important as there easily were subpar years when grapes were not fully ripe and the resulting wines were low in alcohol and with poor extracts. So if you used these in cooking you were not providing much flavours to the stew.
This is not the case anymore because , as I like to say, we've made more progress in the past 50 years than in the previous 5 thousand years and thanks to better techniques and practices we almost never have "bad" wines.
Furthermore, by "good wines" we often mean complex and mature wines which have probably shed the tannins and minerals. So it would be just a waste as well as counterproductive to use them for cooking.
So, go for the plonk in the pot but a good wine in the glass.

Mar 18, 2011
pietro in Home Cooking

Grilled Sardines

Portuguese sardines are sweet and fatty but the leaner ones can be wonderful,too. A Spanish friend gave us a very simple and easy recipe: clean and scale the sardines, take their heads off and cook in an oven in pan lined with parchment paper. No need to add anything, just salt at the end.
However, my favourite recipe is from Southern Italy: "Sardine arraganate"( origanate) but you can use fresh anchovies , too and they are equally delicious ( actually better IMO).
Ingredients

1 kg. fresh sardines; c.a 300 gr. bread crumbs; 150 gr. pecorino cheese; 1 tbsp chopped parsley ; 1 tbsp dried oregano ( possibly the flowers ); 2 chopped garlic cloves, salt, black pepper.olive oil.
Mix the breadcrumbs, pecorino, oregano,garlic, salt,pepper and half of the parsley.
Clean, filet and wash the sardines ( better if you take off the dorsal bones,too); coat an oven cooking pan with olive oil and a base light layer of dressed breadcrumbs.
Set the sardines one layer at a time covering each layer with breadcrumbs and some olive oil.
Cook in the oven until well done ( golden).
I like them quite crisp. If needed, turn them over (like a frittata ) to finish,dress with parsley and enjoy.

Oct 04, 2010
pietro in General Topics

Fresh Eggs

Humble subject, interesting thread....
It brings back memories of sometimes soon after the war when at granma's farm, every morning before opening the coop door and releasing the hens for their day of pecking around, each one of them had to be checked ( by sticking a finger) if they had an egg ready to be delivered. The egg-less ones were released while the other had to stay inside until all the expected eggs could be accounted for.
Gross as it seems it must have been an efficient way of not having to go around hunting all over for the eggs or losing them.
I wonder if this was a common practice in the past and if anybody else remembers having ever seen this.
I also remember that eggs were kept for the long haul in a high density calcium solution inside large earthenware pot. The reason was that back then the hens apparently only laid eggs in the springs ( as per the normal reproductive pattern of all birds) and these had to be kept for the whole year.
Apparently modern hens have, like us humans, been totally disconnected from the season's cycle...

Sep 24, 2010
pietro in General Topics

What Do You Do With Your Food When No One Is Looking?

In Italian it's : "il boccone del prete" so "parson's nose" in the sense that it is a special bite kept for the parson not that it looks like an priest's nose. There's also obviously a bit of derogatory meaning. You could imagine the peasant's pleasure at offering the butt of the chicken to the local priest as a sign of respect but also making a point of it. I guess it became "pope's nose" in English out of the same derision.

May 21, 2010
pietro in General Topics

When making Turkish Coffee for guests....

We have been visiting Turkey since the early '60s and what I can say is that, first we were surprised to find that Turkish coffee did not really exist. People drank almost only tea (cay pronounced "chay"). This was the result of Ataturk's autharchy which developped the tea plantations in the Black Sea area as a way of saving on expensive/luxury imports. So coffee drinking had become very uncommon and up until the early '90s you could find coffee almost only in restaurants. Coffe instead was very common in Greece were it was called Greek coffe.
The glass of water has the purpose of diluting the impact of the harsh tannic taste of such a cocentrated coffe on one's stomach. And it actually works. Bringing a glass of water with your espresso coffe is actually quite common all over the Mediterranean. It is also a kind of polite gesture as in making the service more "complete".

Mar 05, 2010
pietro in General Topics

Parmigano Reggiano rinds

The best way? Stick it on a fork or spit and roast it on a flame ( even on the gas stove) much like you do with marshmellows, a bit burned on the fringes.You have the added bonus of the aroma as well as a great, chewey taste.
As children that was a special treat for us.
Make sure your rind is about 1/2 inch thick and clean it well on the outside. Washing is not enough as you need to scrape the outside layer and take away the muck accumulated in the little holes of the markings.
Better done while waiting for the meal to be on the table...

Jul 24, 2009
pietro in Home Cooking

Fish in Salt Crust

We've made this many times but what's the purpose of mixing the egg and fennel into the salt?
thanks

Sep 22, 2008
pietro in Recipes

Can screw-top wines spoil or go bad?

Bill ,
I don't know if I can agree with statistical distribution but in any case it just adds to my point: we should use alternative closures.
As far as the great wines are concerned, I think that they are not great because of (or made great by) the cork. They are great ( and not in every vintage) because of a number or reason which start with the vineyard, winemaker, technology etc. Cork might, and I say might, contribute to the process but at the cost of that 10 % of tainted bottles. The conclusion to me it's a no-brainer...
And I would go as far as suggesting that (expected to be) great wines be aged for the first part of their life with alternative, sterile, functional closure and only at their first re-corking natural cork be used ( Sorry, I'm taking cover from all the reactions :-) )
Cheers, everybody

Sep 16, 2008
pietro in Wine

Can screw-top wines spoil or go bad?

Hello everybody.
Well, it seems I touched a point here so please let me try and put things in perspective. When I say that the great majority of wines are released for early consumption it seems to me that I'm stating the obvious. Go back in time to just a few decades ago ( and from the wealth of experience that transpires from the posts, I feel comfortable in assuming that we all have more than a few years under our belts :-)...) and try to remember those wines…
Technology, chemistry and marketing ( I love to say that in the past 50 years we have made more progress in winemaking than in the previous 5 thousands years) have all contributed to the creation of a "wine as a project" reality. Gone are the days when the farmer would just crush the grapes and wait...
So, we really make wines as we want them to be and release them when they have reached a certain degree of drinkability both to spur consumption ( of our wine) and increase "cellar share" and survive financially.
As an example: if you try to make wine with Crushpad the first thing they ask you, after your choice of varietal, is: what style of wine are aiming for? You’re not supposed to say: I’ll take what comes…

Add to this the fact that ALL wines nowadays are professionally made and properly treated and you see how the percentage of "bad" bottles due to faulty winemaking has virtually disappeared while the corked ones has increased.

So, we now have good wines, well made and which don’t have to rely on ageing to be consumed. Some of them could benefit from cellaring but very few actually need resting for more than 5 years.
Do we really want to risk loosing 10 percent of it by insisting on using a diminishing resource like cork?
Just for the “ceremony”? Oh, yes, when I open a screw-cap I too miss the anticipation of smelling the cork with all his promises and warnings. And I’m sympathetic with the wine waiter conundrum ( you smell the cap still pretending? ignore it? send a younger waiter to perform a rite which is not hieratic anymore?).
But, for anyone involved, it’s not a pleasure to find out that the wine is corky and having basically mastered all the other possible inconveniences we should want to solve this problem ,too.

Am I saying that ageing is not necessary for modern wines? No. Am I saying that they are best consumed early? No either.
All wines, like people, benefit from a little maturing. But safer closures don’t totally impede that process which has to do more with how the wine was made and for what kind of market. And, as the better modern closures actually slow down the ageing process this could actually benefit the wineries ( which could suggest a longer cellar life as a hint of a higher quality wine). So my point is that given the cost/benefit equation and all things considered, we’re better off if we accept reality and switch to the alternatives. The sooner the better IMHO. Consumers need to be encouraged and the acceptance by the better wineries will be a powerful reassurance.

Zin, I’m glad you like Chianti but , do you remember what it was like back in the ‘70s? It is now a totally different beast which has gone upscale, especially pricewise, and changed its identity. The average Chianti was lighter and to be drunk within 1 to 3 years. Occasionally longer. Now most of it is released later, after at least a year and a half or two, ready to drink and with some ageing potential. But 10 years ( was it a ‘95 or a ‘97 ?) is not how long I would normally keep a bottle of Chianti ( except for a few of my own vintages :-) ). And I would dispute that long ageing actually improves it much.
Here everybody is a traditionalist and they started using alternatives closures on cheaper wines. But I find this counterintuitive: they should use them on the better wines both to increase ageing potential (timewise if not necessarily qualitywise) and reduce the number of corked bottles.

Sep 10, 2008
pietro in Wine

Can screw-top wines spoil or go bad?

Interesting thread. However I believe that the old story about ageing is a bit overstated. Nowadays all wines are released to be drunk immediately or soon after a short cellaring. Apart for some very expensive wines that are supposed to be kept for a VERY long time, cork doesn't really provide an advantage but only risks. And as the same risk applies to the very expensive wines ( with obviously a much higher cost ) my suggestion is that we all should adapt...
Admittedly the screw cap is a bit off putting but I find the syntetic corks already an acceptable compromise.

Sep 09, 2008
pietro in Wine

Buying wine in the Burgundy Region

Well, I've visited the area many times (we live in Italy) and used to buy wines from the domaines. Nothing wrong with that and it can be enjoyable. There are 2 problems,however. 1) you pay their full price 2) you end up having to buy more than you would as they sell in cartons.
We found a good alternative in some large supermarkets especially when they have La Foire aux Vins ( September). I would particularly recommend Cora ( there 's one outside Beaune if I remember).
One time we were renting a room from a nearby domaine and of course visited their cellar/shop but the prices for their wines were lower at Cora!
The saleswoman appeared very surprised.
We ended up loading up more than 2K euros of wines and the supermarket wine specialist explained to us that the owner really cares about wine and drives hard bargains. They even buy some of the Hospice de Beaune parcels.

Sep 09, 2008
pietro in Wine

Authentic pizza oven outdoors

BTW, interesting thread. We do have an oven, probably built a couple of centuries ago. It is quite big as it was used when people had large families and they would cook bread every week of forthnight. We have used it only a few times for cooking bread and pizza. I would not recommend using a large pizza oven just to cook a couple of pizzas...It takes too much time, work and wood. IMHO it's justified only for professional use.
However, we did find an unexpected bonus: we use it as a barbecue! We burn wood and we cook steaks or whatever on the coals. Afterwards we just put the cover back on: no need to clean, dispose of ashes, etc. and very convenient in wintertime. We just sweep the ashes to the side ( the left side actually :-) )
P.S. Actually, you don't burn wood on the left. That's done in the center. You push the ambers and ashes to the left because that's easier, at least for right-handed people. Try the opposite and you'll see... Lefties will probably want to do on the other side.

Aug 28, 2008
pietro in Cookware

Gourmet/Eclectic Food To Bring Home

Carmelita,
don't delude yourself. There is NO truffle oil made with truffles. When you get that wonderful smell approaching you as the waiter arrives with your tagliolini it's the truffle oil with synthetic aromas. Not the few slivers of (maybe) truffle....
I can give you the recipe for home-made truffle oil: you don't actually immerse the truffle in the oil. You have to suspend it in the jar.
The Italian law allows to say " aroma di tartufo" even if the molecule is man-made.

May 19, 2008
pietro in Italy

Fall Italy Trip Planning Questions

MagnumWino,
tourism in this area developped quite fast in the past 15 years. Solociccia and a number of others were born in the last part of the wave. In the 80's there were only 3 restaurants ( well, places you could eat...) in Radda. I doubt Panzano had any. Greve was always more developped ( it's like a Florence suburb as many people commute by bus and it's not really Chianti, anyway. Very few people know that Greve had been trying to acquire the "in Chianti" suffix since the beginning of last century and was only able to get it soon after WWII. But that's another story...)
So in a sense all the new restaurants are " tourist traps" but some more than others. Solociccia seems to be a bit more so . It was borne out of the publicity surrounding the mad cow disease ban on T-bone steaks and the way the man exploited it. It provided a good story for journalists to write about and gullible tourists followed.
Its meat is no better than the meat you can buy at other butchers ( or supermarkets, if you choose well) but the price is much higher. In each town there is at least one butcher providing excellent meat but they are not publicity-driven and their prices are more raesonable.
If you look at the picture attached by Invinoveritas you get an idea...
As for locals, not all Italians are locals...
For my money? I buy meat at the supermarkets and eat in other restaurants.

May 19, 2008
pietro in Italy

Fall Italy Trip Planning Questions

You'll have no problem with public transportation as there are busses in the morning and late afternoon to take you just about everywhere ( florence, siena, castellina, radda etc). You could also hitchhike as it is quite safe. Walking is an option,too but quite exhausting ( this is hill country, after all but not of the gentle sloping kind).Nothing in the evening ( except Greve to/from Florence) so you will need to stay close to your B&B for suppers. Be careful if using a scooter as they can be unsafe and difficult to manouvre on dirt roads, of which there are many. There is one restaurant in Lucarelli ( halfway between Radda and Panzano) le Panzanelle which would make for a nice down-hill walk if you start from Panzano, with beautiful views along the way. There is a bus stop right in front of it and you could take a ride back if the schedule allows it. Unfortunately I'm not familiar with the bus schedule.
All things considered I would really recommend that you rent a car, however. That will allow you to experience much more of the area at your own pace withou having to worry about bus schedules, bad weather, etc.
Let me give you a ressuring word about your trip: Italy, and Chianti in particular, is expensive but quite easy to navigate as a tourist. So do not try and schedule every moment of your visit. Go for the impromptu. You will have no problem in finding good places where to eat, unless you're a food snob who needs to go the restaurant-du-jour or Solociccia tourist trap . In fact a very inexpensive and fun option which I would recommend for EVERY lunch is to just enter one of the local food shops where you'll find a large selection of cheeses, salamis, hams,bread, fruit, etc. You can buy the bread ( always freshly baked) or focaccia and they will be happy to fill it with the fillings of your choice.And you can buy beer, wine and bottled water and enjoy Even if spending $ you can save a lot of money and enjoy some tasty, simple, healthy food and experiment with various mixings. A favourite of mine ( and a classic) is focaccia filled with mozzarella and the local cured ham which is quite salty but complements well with the mozzarella and the unsalted bread used here.
If you need more info or help you can email me at tecnodata@albaclick.com as I don't check this site very often.

Apr 30, 2008
pietro in Italy

How/Why did you pick your screen name?

Man, I feel so dumb. My name is just my name...

Mar 21, 2008
pietro in Site Talk

Fall Italy Trip Planning Questions

I can vouch for Fuor D'acqua so much that if we're free when you're planning to go, we, my wife and I, would be willing to join you guys, of course each paying for their own meal. In fact we haven't been there for a while now so that will be nice.
My 3 best/favourite reastaurants in the area are: Fuor D'acqua in Florence( as l Iike fish), Arnolfo in Colle Val d'Elsa and La Tenda Rossa in Cerbaia ( near S. Casciano val di Pesa) in that order.
We don't go often as they are expensive.
The last one can be extremely expensive, at least for us. The last time we were set back 400 Euros for 2 people !
S. Niccolo is new and expensive hotel but not worth it IMO. It is in the closed part of town( no parking) and there even is no one who speaks English.
Alternatives: on the expensive side ( €250/300 I guess) Vignale which is well established and the manageress is a close friend of my assistant and we could probably get you a good price. Or Villa Rosa near Lucarelli or you could rent a small apartment. There is one where we sent some Aussie friends last fall right near town and they liked it. It is convenient and easily accessible. This is also the cheapest option, I believe. But I can be more precise if you want or look for something that would suit you as there are plenty of alternatives.
Restaurants: the point for us is to get a good meal which is possibly a good expression of the "terroir" without getting unduly fleeced.
We have been going recently to : Le Braci at san Donato in Perano and Casa Mia on the outskirts of Siena. The Casa Mia owner is a fellow sommelier and has an extensive wine list if you want to splurge.
At Le Braci . as a special, they have " Arrosto Girato" on Friday and " Maialino Arrosto" on Saturday. This is nothing of the sort that gets food snobs salivating ( little shards of something on a bed of I-don't-know-what dressed in a fancy balsamico sauce made to our own specification by god-knows-who...etc) but simple, traditional, good food that you don't easily get elsewhere.
We would be willing to join you to both any time.
Another interesting off the beaten path ( and it really is as it is in a small village in the higher part of the Chianti Mountains...) is in Starda. The young cook and his mama and papa provide a reasonable yet perfectly enjoyable dining experience. The village is nice and small and one feels like going back in time.We had a party for about 40 people there recently to introduce our new ( and only) grandson visiting with his parents from Florida. This is not Solociccia marketing...
And ..finally... just to get you interested and depending on when you'll be in the area, we could all go to one of local hunting party meals.
We 're really talking basics here: no service, bad wine ( but we bring our own...) and primitive seating but you can have all the wild boar grilled meat and steaks you want and some very tasty, reachly dressed pasta.
Sorry for rambling.
But then again this might not be your cup of tea...

Mar 21, 2008
pietro in Italy

Fall Italy Trip Planning Questions

I don't know who the question is for but I like Taverna del Guerrino for a number of reason: the village, Montefioralle ( actually its old name was Monteficalle but that was changed because it was somehow evocative of body parts that anybody who knows spoken Italian will understand) is tiny but very nice. It has been classified as one of the most beautiful little villages in Italy.It is supposed to be the birth place of Amerigo Vespucci after whom the New Continent was named. I first went there in 1983 and it was, and still is, a very simple place reminiscent of time past...The nearby church has some nice old painting.
So generally speaking is the whole experience rather then the food...
I don't know La Castellana while ristoro di Lamole is interesting mostly for the beautiful view, if you get to seat outside.

Mar 21, 2008
pietro in Italy

Unknown but flavorful wine varietals – Timorasso, Nosiola, Pigato. Others?

Manzoni Bianco real name is " Incrocio Manzoni 6.0.13" and indeed is cross of Riesling and Pinit bianco. It is one of my favourite whites but not widely available outside the Veneto area. another up and coming varietal is Ansonica ( in Tuscany) or Insolia (in Sicily).
Very interesting is the Clairette in Southern France: it has an unusual aroma of fennel

Mar 20, 2008
pietro in Wine

Fall Italy Trip Planning Questions

mrsricho, glad to see this baby was finally born! But we don't want you to relax :-)...just yet.
Why go twice to La Giostra when you have never been there! You don't even know if you'll like it. Let me copy you on another posting I recently did on another thread about my favourite place in Florence

I live in Chianti so we don't really go often for supper in Florence but my absolute favourite is Fuor d'Acqua in via Pisana, 37 tel 055 222299 . It is absolutely the best fish restaurant in the city. One of the owners ( he's not a fisherman but owns a couple of fishboats) comes every evening from Viareggio with fresh fish in his SUV. Therefore it is open only in the evening and serves only fish. Being "oltrarno" in the San Frediano area it is probably outside the main "tourist" area and not included in the "recommendations" of the hotel concierges ( how many people know that the pleasant guy who steers you to that special restaurant and happily offers to make a reservation for you, gets a 10% cut?) .
It is not cheap but if you like fish that's the place to go.
Oh, and nearby, just in the square in front of the huge , ancient city door ( Porta San Frediano) there is a small mini-brewery ( I can't remember the name) where one can enjoy a nice freshly brewed beer as an aperitif.

As I said it is not cheap but it seems to me that you're planning on spending a lot of dough on this trip so you can surely afford it!

In my opinion your Rome time allocation is too small. It is a fascinating, frustrating city which cannot be compressed in 2 days. I'm afraid you'll regret it. But then again if you are time-constrained ...
I agree with your choice of Radda as base for 3 nights ( I live there myself 4 km from the town) but S.Niccolo seems rather expensive. You could do better and cheaper.
Restaurants: Osteria della piazza is fine but solociccia it's just a tourist trap.
Chiasso dei portici used to be very good and reasonable but that was 10 years ago! We used to go very often but then the "girls" who run it decided to go upscale but only with the prices. They though that by simply reducing the size of the portions ( you got out hungry after a regular Italian meal!) and increasing their prices they would get a Michelin star...
Well, apparently they didn't get a star but enough tourist appreciated the gimmick. There are cheaper and tastier options.
Le Vigne is OK but nothing to write home about.
Do not miss S. Antimo.
And if you let me know when you will be in the area you could come over for a bottle of wine and a chat.
Finally: in the fall it will be cold here. No need to spend more for air conditioning...

Mar 19, 2008
pietro in Italy

Florence - Please Help with Lunch and Dinner

Houston, by now you must have already had those 2 memorable meals in Florence so I know I'm late but wanted to add my suggestion, just in case...
I live in Chianti so we don't really go often for supper in Florence but my absolute favourite is Fuor d'Acqua in via Pisana, 37 tel 055 222299. It is absolutely the best fish restaurant in the city. One of the owners ( he's not a fisherman but owns a couple of fishboats) comes every evening from Viareggio with fresh fish in his SUV. Therefore it is open only in the evening and serves only fish. Being "oltrarno" in the San Frediano area it is probably outside the main "tourist" area and not included in the "recommendations" of the hotel concierges ( how many people know that the pleasant guy who steers you to that special restaurant and happily offers to make a reservation for you, gets a 10% cut?) .
It is not cheap but if you like fish that's the place to go.
Oh, and nearby, just in the square in front of the huge , ancient city door ( Porta San Frediano) there is a small mini-brewery ( I can't remember the name) where one can enjoy a nice freshly brewed beer as an aperitif.

Mar 18, 2008
pietro in Italy

Serving Prosecco

You're right! but that's true for all the DOCs and DOCGs.

Mar 18, 2008
pietro in Wine