Cortina d’Ampezzo

IMG_6443A week ago, I returned from the Italian Alpine town of Cortina d’Ampezzo with improved skiing skills–I now proudly count myself among the ranks of advanced beginners–and a cache of taste memories I’ll treasure far longer than it’ll take me to descend double black slopes. (Okay, that might be a minor exaggeration.)IMG_6489

Aside from my daily jaunts with skiing master instructor Fabio (banish those assumptions immediately—he was an older gentleman with three children and a penchant for not laughing at my nervous altitude-induced jokes), I spent a lot of time eating at some of the fantastic establishments located all around this ritzy, mountainous area.

Located in Italy’s Veneto region, Cortina possesses an interesting and distinct cuisine. As a mountain town, the winter fare is unsurprisingly hearty and comprised of significant amounts of venison and other game in addition to hearty meats, like this “stinco”–or enormous veal shank: IMG_6463and tongue: IMG_6475, earthy varieties of local mushrooms, and a distinctly Germanic influence. The pastas were out of this world, and I was lucky to sample many previously unfamiliar varieties—no small feat for a self-professed pasta connoisseur.

Some of my favorite typical dishes and ingredients included deer with mirtillo (fresh forest blueberries),  paccheri (a large, cannelloni style noodle). This is a terrible photograph of an incredible paccheri alla vodka: IMG_6462finferle (small local chanterelle mushrooms), pictured here in this incredible paccheri that was filled with mushroom creamIMG_6472 casunziei or casumziei ampezzani—the spelling apparently varies (beet and poppyseed ravioli) (here are two different restaurant’s preparations of the dish:)IMG_6507IMG_6468and Treviso radicchio: Guanciale (pork jowl) was also plentiful, and the two are pictured here in this gnocchi, which resembled no gnocchi I had tried before:IMG_6508 as were multiple varieties of delicious, raw artichoke salad. here’s one covered in shaved parmesan with thinly sliced pears:IMG_6509

The restaurant scene in Cortina is absolutely fantastic—not a shocker considering the flocks of well-heeled Europeans (and a few Americans!) that frequent the area, sporting head-to-toe fur and tans that could rival many a Long Island teenager. Establishments range from rustic and traditional to immersion circulator-employing and Michelin starred, but across the board we were extremely impressed. One particularly enjoyable aspect of dining in Cortina is the preponderance of “rifugi”—old mountain huts located on the slopes which serve hungry skiers high class cuisine.

My favorite places:

Il Meloncino al Caminetto—Located right on the mountain, this rifugio is a magnificent spot for lunch—nestled inside the Alps–, although dinner is worth the trip too. We spent a sun-soaked afternoon chowing down on incredible food (and returned in the evening too!) *the above paccheri alla vodka, veal and this wondrous pasta with sweetbreads, fava beans and guanciale are all from here as is the view in the top photo!IMG_6439

Da Aurelio—The chef here means serious business-employing a range of modernist culinary techniques including steeping oil in local pine:IMG_6476at this mountain range restaurant. The ingredients and inspiration are all local, while the cooking methods are new and exciting. Here is some delicious octopus from Da Aurelio: 
IMG_6473

El Zoco—This is a true homey, rustic Cortina restaurant. The grilled meats are particularly fabulous, as are the sausages.

Baita pie Tofana—We had a sumptuous lunch and some pink bread: IMG_6505at this Michelin starred ski-in, ski-out rifugio. The gnocchi and the round beet ravioli were from here!

Verona: 
On our way back to Milan, before returning to the freezing Northeast, we stopped for an afternoon in fair Verona
IMG_6536IMG_6515where we had a terrific lunch at “Antica Torretta“: IMG_6529IMG_6530

 

 

Le Boulevardier

A lover of dark, old man beverages, particularly those that are Whiskey-based, I have fallen hard for the Boulevardier, an old school cocktail which looks like a Negroni and drinks like an Old Fashioned. It seems I am not the only one!

20130205boulevardier[photo courtesy of Serious Eats]

The combination of earthy bourbon, tangy Campari and, of course sweet vermouth make for a dark, brooding cocktail that wont totally weigh you down. I love to add a little brandied cherry or two for added sweetness.

Recipe, courtesy of the New York Times

NGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon, preferably Maker’s Mark
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth, preferably Dolin Rouge
  • 3/4 ounce Campari
  • Twist of orange peel, for garnish

PREPARATION

1.
Chill a cocktail glass by filling with ice or putting in freezer for about 5 minutes.
2.
Pour the liquid ingredients into a mixing glass. Fill mixing glass 2/3 full of ice and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.
YIELD
1 drink

The Turkey Recap

DSC_0125I suppose it’s been a sufficient number of days (4) now that I can look at Thanksgiving photos without the immediate need to hibernate under a blanket…with a plate of snacks and a tumbler of wine. We stuck to basics this year, with quite a few old faithfuls.

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I prepared two pies: salted caramel apple and chocolate-bourbon pecan. I used a basic pie crust from Saveur magazine (also for the lattice topping) and had the customary freakouts about crust consistency and blind baking: [pie-centric post to come]DSC_0050 The apple pie came from the same issue of Saveur, and the Chocolate-Bourbon-Pecan I found in the New York Times:

 DSC_0096 DSC_0103I also made our cranberry sauce—a concoction first found in the 1994 issue of Bon Appetit (as previously mentioned, our Thanksgiving bible). The combination of citrus zest, port wine, sugar and plenty of cranberries never disappoints!DSC_0073My brother prepared herb crusted pumpkin with a dill-sour cream sauceDSC_0114 DSC_0126Vietnamese-inspired brussels sprouts with an herb-fish sauce vinaigrette DSC_0109DSC_0043a super dreamy, parmesan-laced Kale salad (massage the kale before serving—so much more tender and seemingly easier to digest!) excuse the subpar iphone photo on this one!photo(4)

quinoa, snap pea and feta salad with lime zestDSC_0122My dad, as always, handled the classics: herb-butter roasted turkey, mashed potatoes (a group effort, really), gravy, and his unbeatable cornbread-Italian sausage stuffing.DSC_0131

and there you have it! a sneaky peek into the Bhabha Thanksgiving 2013!