Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tamarind Chicken

I feel like lately my success rate with new dishes is increasing. The experimental tamarind chicken I made last night turned out quite well, if I may say so myself.
The tamarind glaze included chile de arbol, garlic, light brown sugar and soy sauce. Browning and then baking the legs gave the skin a bit of crispness, and basting with the glaze 25 and 40 minutes into baking helped the sweet sour flavor of the tamarind seep into the flesh of the chicken.
It came out moist and piquant. This despite the fact that I have no idea what the degrees Celsius on my oven mean in Fahrenheit.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Coda alla Homie Sapiens

Monday I simmered veal tail, carrots, caramelized onions and porcini mushrooms in red wine and homemade beef stock for about 5 hours. I had caramelized the onions in butter beforehand, then set them aside and browned the tail in the same pot before adding a cup of red wine, a cup of stock and three fresh tomatos. Then I let it sit. After about three hours I added a little brown sugar to balance the acidity of the wine and tomatos.

When we ate dinner around 9, the meat was falling off the bone and the sauce was velvety rich. It clung to the meat and was beautiful as a gravy on the mashed yukon gold potatoes with parmigiano I served as an accompaniment. The sugo was perfect on pasta the next day, too.

I'm proud of myself. Also, I'm excited for it to get colder, that way I can cook winter food without my roommates thinking I'm crazy. Tonight I'm making tamarind chicken. We'll see how it comes out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Parmigiano Reggiano

In the aftermath of the May earthquakes in Emilia Romagna, many were left homeless. There were deaths, and of course there was significant damage to homes, businesses and historical sites. Homie Sapiens feels terrible for the people who lost homes or family members.
The quake also broke around 300,000 immense wheels of the region's cheeses, including the famous parmigiano reggiano. Young wheels, aged wheels, teenaged wheels, the producers had everything in basically worthless chunks. So they sold it at a fraction of the market price. My friend, a native of the region, bought up a considerable amount of parmigiano in different stages of aging and enterprisingly offered it around to us. This is how a kilo each of 14 month old, 22 month old and one unknown age parmigiano came to be residing in my welcoming refrigerator.
Initial sampling of the 14 month old parmigiano reggiano reveals a perfect dessert cheese. Paired with honey it is salty, richly savory and a little tangy. I suspect it would be stellar paired with apricot or fig. The cheese on its own is creamy, nutty and a bit peppery. It has the faint floral perfume that only good parmigiano boasts, and a mere hint of the funkiness of aging.
I'll let you know what the others are like when I break them open.
And in case you're wondering, my friend's people were fine.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

More (and Better) Gelato

I stand by Fassi's rice and Fior di Luna's pine nut, but my time here in Rome has taught me that there is always a better cup of gelato waiting around the bend. So that you may experience joy, I have slogged through many different offerings of varying quality and have emerged with these recommendations:

Fatamorgana makes innovative flavors with meticulously sourced ingredients (all natural). The flavors change seasonally, but I last had a gelato di zucca (squash) that was intensely squashy and not too sweet. It had toasted pumpkin seeds in it, which I think we can all agree is an awesome detail. I go to the location in Monti on the Piazza degli Zingari.

I Caruso makes the object of my current obsession: fig gelato. I've never eaten an ice cream that so completely evokes the fruit, split open and glistening in my hands, filling my mouth and nose with its perfume and soft pulp. This is a gelato to beat all others. It captures the texture of a ripe fig, not just the flavor. They only make around ten flavors regularly, in addition to changing monthly and weekly flavors. Last week they had pear gelato that was similarly out of this world perfect, down to the slight graininess of a pear's flesh. The classic flavors are also potent and wonderful, particularly the gianduia (chocolate hazelnut) and pistacchio. Find it at Via Collina, 13-15, close to the Repubblica metro stop, amidst the glamorous palazzi of the financial district.

Gelateria del Teatro is another good choice for a lovely pistacchio, and their more innovative flavors can be great. I had a ricotta, raspberry and sage gelato that was fluffy, sweet and aromatic all at once, delivering on the promised flavors. On the other hand, there was barely any fig flavor in the fig and honey gelato (thank goodness I've found a reliable source). Via di San Simone, 70.

I will continue to seek ever more delicious gelato for you, dear readers. It is a thankless and miserable task, but lucky for you I'm just that selfless.