Tag Archives: pizza

On to Naples (and a recipe)

 

After the history and elegant pomp of Rome, Naples felt more real, somehow, and more gritty. The stylish and tasteful Romans made me wonder where those who weren’t so chic and slim were. Naples was bursting with exuberant fashion. Skintight, low cut, bright colors, sparkles, zippers, studs, snakeskin, leopard print and fur were on show and often many of those in one outfit. It seemed as if there were even more smokers than in Rome.

We stayed in the historic center, with narrow alleys and plenty of graffiti, something we didn’t notice in Rome.

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The entrance to our building was a smaller door cut into one of these enormous doors. We had to both step over and duck down going through the door.  You can see the outline of the small door in the lower right of the large doors.

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On our way to visit the Cimitero delle Fontanelle,  I saw this church and at first thought it was covered in mosaics. As we got closer, I realized the artwork was done in paint.

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The color scheme in the ossuary was more somber.

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Although it was cool and peaceful, I found it a little creepy.

Back at our apartment, I felt like a local, hanging our laundry out on the balcony.

Later we strolled Spaccanapoli and Tribunale, two long, narrow streets in the historic center of the city, tasting some of the delicious fried snacks as we went along. We saw a line at a counter like this, and joined it before we even knew what everyone was queuing for. The case seemed bursting with rice balls, potato croquettes, fried zucchini, fried eggplant etc. We soon learned everyone was waiting for a fresh batch of frittatine: deep-fried pasta formed into fat discs, stuffed with minced pork, bechamel sauce, and peas. Worth the wait.

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Our hostess, Maria, had encouraged us to visit her favorite pizzeria, stating it made the best pizza in Naples. She went on to say she believed Naples made the best pizza in Italy, and Italy made the best pizza in the world. How could we resist the opportunity to taste this amazing pizza?

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OK, the huge crowd outside Gino Sorbillo was a little disheartening. The wait for a table was over an hour. But we realized we could order it to go (or “take away”) and we had our pizza in about 15 or 20 minutes. It was a warm evening and we found a bench nearby to enjoy our traditional Neapolitan pizza all’aperto (outdoors). It was delicious and not at all like the the pizza I’m used to. The crust is quite thin with blistered, almost burned spots, the sauce on top almost soupy and the cheese was amazing. That doesn’t sound like much, but I wish we could have had it again.

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We finished the evening with gelato (of course) at Gay Odin, a chocolate shop and gelateria. They were closing up or we might have stayed to choose a chocolate or two. The pretty box, below, was part of their window display.

The next morning we couldn’t resist a return trip to Spaccanapoli for pastry, sfogliatella on the left and Baba au Rhum, on the right, two Neapolitan classics.

I discovered cannoli are not from Naples, but Sicily.  Lucky for me, some pastry shops had them for sale.  This crisp tube of fried dough was filled with sweet, creamy ricotta studded with bits of chocolate and candied orange peel.

Rem downing an espresso.

With our day off to a great start, we headed down to the waterfront and strolled along, enjoying the view of Mt. Vesuvius.

Eventually, we picked a seafood restaurant on a pier and had lunch here:

The waiter recommended pezzogna, a local fish, grilled with olive oil, salt and lemon, and a side of grilled vegetables.

In the afternoon we rode the funicular railway. Unfortunately, a taxi driver claimed that the two longest lines were closed until April (it was still March), and we didn’t know better. When I kept asking about the other two lines, he  finally said scathingly, “It’s a TOURIST train!” I responded with “And we’re tourists!” He did take us and then overcharged us but as we said at the time, it was all part of the authentic experience!

From the funicular we walked to Castel Sant’Elmo, a medieval fortress, and enjoyed the views.

That evening, our last in Naples, was the first time we cooked on our trip. We found some kitchens better equipped than others, but we took real pleasure in exploring grocery stores and markets and doing our best to create delicious Italian dinners.

I had downloaded Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, an updated combination of  her The Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian, to my Kindle, so I was ready to go.  The small Carrefour grocery up the street was very well stocked with beautiful pastas, cheeses (I got a hunk of Parmigiano at a great price and carried it with us all the way to Venice) and produce, including the zucchini blossoms that I couldn’t resist.

Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

Barely adapted from Marcella Hazan

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

12 to 16 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

2 red or yellow bell peppers, diced (I bought a giant one, so only used one)

salt and pepper to taste

1 can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes with their juice

1 lb. pasta (she recommended wide pappardelle noodles, but we used orecchiette or little ears)

1 tablespoon butter

1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, saute about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the sausage and brown, breaking up large pieces as it cooks. After the sausage is lightly browned, about 3 or 4 minutes, add the peppers. Continue cooking another 6 to 8 minutes
  3. Add the tomato with juice, breaking up large pieces. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer watery.
  4. In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions.
  5. Drain pasta and toss with butter, sauce and cheese.

Big success. This is an easy and delicious recipe.

The zucchini blossoms were less of a win. I stuffed them with a little luscious ricotta cheese and planned to make a thin batter and fry them, but I didn’t want to purchase a whole bag of flour so fried them without any batter. Good but not what they could have been.  Still, it was nice to be cooking in our “own” place.

We enjoyed a good little slice of Naples but the next morning it was time to catch a train to Florence.

Thanks for coming along.

 

 

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Pancakes and Pizza

Here are two cards I’ve made recently: a stack of pancakes with a pat of butter and golden brown maple syrup pouring over the top.  The pancakes are simply polka-dot paper (it seemed like the best color) with an edge of pale yellow paper.  I’m really proud of how the syrup turned out.  I colored the shape for the stream of syrup with markers on heavy vellum card stock than used dimensional adhesive (I’m pretty sure it was Diamond Glaze but it might have been Crystal Effects from Stampin’ Up! – I have both) to make it look shiny and translucent. Once it was dry I cut out the syrup and adhered it to the card.

Maybe you’d prefer a slice of…

pizza!  I saw this tutorial from Create with Christine and used that as the basis for this cute slice of pizza card.  I particularly like the olives (punch the holes in black paper using a regular size hole punch, than punch the circle around the hole with a circle punch) and the speckled slices of pepperoni.   I punched the pepperoni using a circle punch and made them a bit convex by embossing them on a mat with a stylus then added little spots of white gel ink, and brown and yellow markers.  A little brown ink sponged on the edge of the pepperoni makes it look crispy.Finally, I attached them to the pizza with foam adhesive dots.

The lid of a yogurt container makes a great template for the curve of the crust and I embossed it the same way as the pepperoni.  A sanding block rubbed on the crust and some ink sponged on makes the crust look like it is dusted with flour and a bit toasty.  Are you craving pizza yet?

Oh, what the heck, here’s a reprise from another post.  It fit with the theme of today’s post: cards that look good enough to eat: an ice cream cone card.  This was actually has scratch ‘n sniff chocolate sauce and a scratch ‘n sniff cherry (I wrote about scratch ‘n sniff  here) with an embossed waffle cone.

Thanks for stopping by.   Coming later this week: another GIVEAWAY from the 30 Days of Creativity projects!

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Day 17: Friday Photos in San Francisco

Rem and I picked up celebrating his birthday month with a wonderful, relaxed meander through the North Beach neighborhoods of San Francisco.  My creation for Day 17: photos from our day.

We started with pastries at Victoria Pastry and progressed on to pizza and chicory salad for me, calamari friti and meatballs for Rem at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, with Rem picking up a chocolate truffle at Z. Cioccolato in between to keep up his strength.  We continued right on to amazing gelato at Naia Gelato (mine: tiramisu and canoli, his: chocolate mortale and canoli), a stop at Molinari Deli for fresh mozzarella, salami and bread (to eat later) and a final purchase of tri tip from Little City Selected Meats.

It was a beautiful day with interesting and beautiful sights at every turn, sunny weather, landmarks to admire and people to watch. But we weren’t finished.  We left North Beach and went to Flax art & design where creative people shop.

It is just an amazing place and delightful to visit.  I could have spent much more time and money but luckily I’d made a careful shopping list and we had limits on both our time and budget.  I stuck pretty closely to the list and enjoyed the store very much.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little visit to North Beach and Flax.  The photos were:

Thanks for stopping by!

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Day 4: Pizza Bites

Bites of dough made from scratch, stuffed with warm, melt-y mozzarella cheese and spicy bits of pepperoni.  Rem and I made Pizza Bites for dinner and though we enjoyed them, we didn’t love them as we expected to.  Maybe because I adjusted the recipe to make it a little healthier (1/4 wheat flour in the dough, part skim mozzarella cheese and in my half of the batch, turkey pepperoni) but these were more doughy and less yummy than we’d hoped.

I found the recipe on Annie’s Eats (click on the title to go to her blog and see her recipe) and made the changes mentioned above.  We don’t have a stand mixer so I mixed and kneaded the dough by hand.  These are good and kind of fun but I don’t know if we would make them again.

I don’t like all the tomato sauce on most pizza but I love the crust.  Because these little balls of dough are put up against each other in the pan before baking they aren’t very crusty.  Perhaps baking them in a larger pan and more spread out would make them more like I imagined.  Of course using whole milk mozzarella and some cooked Italian sausage might win me over too.  I dipped some in marinara and could imagine them slathered in butter.

Paprika marked the ones filled with turkey pepperoni

Making pizza dough and baking Pizza Bites on a rainy day with your sweetheart isn’t a bad thing and we’ll use the other half of the dough for pizza dinner on another night. That is my creation for today, day 4 of 30 Days of Creativity.

UPDATE: Leftovers, warmed in the microwave for about 20 seconds than toasted in the toaster oven were really good, especially with a bit of butter.

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