Cuisine International December 2003 Newsletter
Dec 08, 2003 12:33 PST
DECEMBER 2003 NEWSLETTER
What a wonderful Holiday season we are having. For the first time since
9/11, our business is up to even higher levels and we are adding more
opportunities for culinary adventures. Please be sure to check our
website in the upcoming months.
Il Falconiere in Cortona will be featured in an article in the Bottom
Line Tomorrow publication this week.
Be looking for upcoming articles written by Diane Kochilas of The
Glorious Greek Kitchen in the following publications: an article on
Greek Wines for Saveur and two articles on eating in Athens and Olympia
in the spring and summer issues of gourmet. She will also be appearing
on Sara’s Secrets [TVFN] this winter.
South America has been, for many years, one of our favorite travel
destinations. Brazil with Yara Castro Roberts in Ouro Preto introduced
us to so many wonderful dishes.
We have also enjoyed the cuisine in Peru and will be offering a trip to
Cusco and Machu Picchu in the near future. I have never had better
ceviche and the Pisco Sours were incredible.
Our main destination for the past several years has been Caracas,
Venezuela. That will shortly come to an end as our son and his family
will be moving back to Texas. Each time we visit, we come across a
variety of typical dishes and love them, especially the arepas, a filled
maize or cornmeal patty.
The very talented woman who takes care of Brian’s family prepared the
food I enjoyed most of all. Carne Mechada, served in nearly every
restaurant, was completely out-shined by Aestrella’s version. As she
has been cooking her entire life and doesn’t even know what a recipe is,
here are her instructions for making it. The beef used is a particular
cut known only in Venezuela. I think using a roast cut will work quite
well here and I can’t wait to try it. Braise the beef along with salt,
sugar, garlic, pepper and lots of onion to taste in 1-2 liters of water,
simmering for 2 ½ with the pan covered. Skim the meat while cooking.
When only 1 cup of water is remaining, shred the beef. While you are
shredding the beef, add the remaining juices to keep the meat moist.
Add thin slices of roasted red pepper, more garlic and onion. Serve
with black beans and rice, arepas or tortilla verde.
Tortilla verde is an Ecuadorian recipe from Aestrella’s hometown. What
a marvelous dish and would be wonderful as a starch served with a meal.
We had them for breakfast with honey as well as with the carne mechada.
Boil green plantains in heavily salted water for 30 minutes. Roll out
with a rolling pin until soft. Add extra water if it is needed. Pat
into balls and stuff with white cheese, cilantro and green onion and
serve immediately. They can be flattened and then fried in a little oil
5 Rates among our top restaurants in the world
4 We absolutely love and would go back every time we could, well worth a
3 We would return if there was time in our schedule, worth a detour
2 Okay, but we would not make an effort to return
1 We would never return.
Pylos Four thumbs up
Diane Kochilas of Glorious Greek Kitchen, the world’s foremost
authority, teacher and award winning author of Greek cuisine, is the
consulting chef for this fabulous restaurant. The restaurant showcases
“rustic Greek home cooking” from traditional meze to clay-baked lamb and
chicken. The name, Pylos, comes from clay cooking pots that were among
the ruins of ancient Greece, and these are found in abundance hanging
rustically from the ceiling of the restaurant. Pylos honors traditional
Greek cuisine by featuring fresh, wholesome cooking from all regions of
Greece in an elegant, contemporary and comfortable setting in the East
Village of New York City.
Proprietor, Christos Valtzoglou, is a native of Athens and has enjoyed
great success managing trendy New York restaurants since the 70’s. “We
maintain the wonderful taste of Greek dishes, at affordable prices, and
bring them to the level of what people prefer today – wholsesome,
lighter fare and variety.
Some of our choices on the menu include the trio of Greece’s three best
dipping sauces as an appetizer; Tzatziki, the think tangy yogurt dip,
Tarmaosalata, the robust and lemony fish ore dip, and Melitzanosalata, a
luscious eggplant condiment made with char-grilled eggplants and extra
virgin Greek olive oil. Dick loves the three offerings using octopus:
octopus, squid, shrimp, white bean and Arugula salad served with extra
virgin olive oil and lemon dressing, Cretan style braised octopus with
orange, fennel and green cracked olives and classic grilled marinated
octopus served with diced fresh tomato and toasted country bread. Other
choices include three types of crispy savory regional filo pastries, a
classic Greek village salad, a roasted beet salad and a velvety puree of
yellow split pea soup
Over the years, I have eaten a large variety of dishes prepared by
Diane. In the restaurant, I would highly recommend the Epirus style
pork medallions cooked in clay with peppers, mushrooms, onions,
potatoes, white wine and herbs or fish of the day baked in clay with
zucchini, eggplant, onions, tomatoes and herbs. As I am crazy about
lamb, that is generally my first choice and the roasted leg of lamb
seasoned with garlic and oregano and served with lemony Greek roasted
potatoes is out of this world. And for lovers of eggplant, order the
layers of eggplant baked in a clay dish with aromatic ground meat sauce
After all of this, there is hardly any room for desert, but do try the
drained Greek yogurt served with sour cherries, thyme honey and walnuts.
There is a selection of traditional Greek sweets and seasonal fruits as
well. And make sure to ask for advice about wine selections as it is so
wonderful paired with the food. The ambiance encourages great
conversation and fun, especially when you dine with family and friends.
Pylos Restaurant is conveniently located in the heart of the East
128 East 7th Street, just west of Avenue A
Recipe of the Month
My first taste of true All’Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena was
when I attended the cooking classes at Le Manoir aux quat’ Saisons with
Raymond Blanc back in 1990 and it was sublime. Then in 1993 with
Raffaella and Marcello Torri, I went on a tour of the region and was
fortunate to visit the factory of Malpighi for a tasting. Then I truly
understood the mystic and value of the vinegar.
The true Balsamic vinegar has a history going into the distant past. It
is produced by a long fermentation process, which begins with grape must
condensed by simmering gently over an open fire in uncovered pans. The
sugar content is gradually transformed, slowly and continues over
decades. The entire process can reach a century or more.
The must used is from the typical grapes grown in the Province of
Modena, but above all, the Trebbiano grape. This is condensed slowly
over an open fire until it reaches just a third of its former quantity.
Next, without anything else added, this condensed must is poured into a
set of special barrels with different holding capacities and made from
different types of wood.
These barrels are generally housed immediately under the roof where the
slow passage of time and the changing of seasons from the winter chill
to hot and humid summer combine with the ancient process of decanting
and topping up from barrel to barrel to create an almost magical
product. The end result of all this patient effort down the years is
perfectly aged vinegar where aroma and taste are perfectly balanced to
create that inimitable “bouquet” famous down the centuries.
To get a true taste of Balsamic Vinegar, it must be aged at least 20
years and preferably even longer. The product will be of a syrupy
consistency. As it is very flavourful and expensive, a general rule of
thumb is to use a half a teaspoon per person. Drizzle on grilled meats,
carpaccio or firm fleshed grilled fish. A drop or two on Parmesan
cheese or strawberries is divine. Be prepared to pay at least $50 for a
small bottle in order to realize the importance of this condiment.
If you wish to have a guided tour of the fabulous vinegars I was
fortunate to taste, you can call Malpighi at  059-3677-763.
Rafaella and Marcello Torri have sent this recipe to us for the
Christmas Holidays. Our family has decided to have it for Christmas
Eve, as it sounds so good. Our family always gathers at that time so we
can share our love and good wishes for each other before several family
members have to depart. I have altered the recipe just a little,
slicing the pork loin rather than cutting it into pieces and serving it
alongside the apple and potato mixture.
Filletto di Maiale All’Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena
Pork Fillet with Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ - 2 pounds pork loin
1 pound potatoes
1 pound tart, firm apples, such as Granny Smith
Cut the potatoes in segments and cook for 5 minutes in boiling water.
Then put in a baking pan in a 350-degree oven with some olive oil and
cook until they are tender, about 15 minutes.
Peel and cut the apples in cubes with a little butter and sugar and cook
until they are caramelised.
Cut the fillet in 1 inch slices and cook in a hot pan with olive oil and
butter until the sides are browned, about 5 minutes per side. On a
serving platter, place the pork slices in the center of the dish, then
place the potatoes and apples around the meat. Sprinkle with Balsamic
Marcello suggests you serve this salad as a starter course using the
most famous ingredients of the Emilia-Romagna area of Italy. This is our
Food Lovers' salad
Red and green salad with salt and extra virgin olive oil
then slices of Prosciutto di Parma and slices of Parmigiano Reggiano
on top, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena
We wish you a most Wonderful Holiday Season and a Healthy New Year.
Please pray for all those involved in the war fronts around the world
and for the suffering of all families. May we break bread with people
around the world with different cultures and learn to appreciate each
other's beliefs and ideas. It will make for a much more peaceful world
for all of us.
Judy, Dick, Amy and Craig