Holiday cheer starts with Campari and blood oranges


When Tracie B told me she had a yen for Campari the other night, I headed to our neighborhood market and picked up some oranges, soda, and ice (she grabbed a bottle of Campari at our favorite local wine store).


Now, mind you, our California blood oranges are nowhere nearly as tasty as the Sicilian blood oranges that Franco loves to brag about. And he’s right: the tenderness and flavor of the Sicilian blood mesocarp are unmatched. But our California blood oranges (I believe the Tarocco cultivar) are still pretty darn good.

I sliced and strained a half of an orange into each glass over ice (we were joined by good friend Amy, who happened to be in the neighborhood, and so three was company, too).


Earlier this year, JT pointed out to me that my preferred formula for drinking Campari is called a “Garibaldi,” I’m assuming because it is a blend of products from Piedmont and Sicily.

Whatever it’s called, it’s delicious!

Tracie B and I still haven’t decided what sparkler we’re popping for New Year’s Eve but it’s that time of year again…

In other news…

sabato napolitano

I’m in Dallas this morning: Alfonso, who’s going to be the best man at our wedding (he introduced us, after all!), took me to get my suit fitted this morning by “SABATO the TAILOR” (that’s him, left). It seems like a long way to travel for a fitting but Neapolitan tailors — everyone knows — are the best in the world and considering the moment of the occasion, it was well worth the trip.

Thanks, Ace!

And in case you haven’t seen it, Tracie B did this adorable post on our wedding invites. I’m just crazy about her and it’s been so much fun getting ready for our wedding… the date is around the corner!

Recipe for Picchiapò (we all loved each other so much)

My depressing post yesterday made think of the Roman dish Picchiapò and the great scene from the 74 Scola film C’eravamo tanto amati (We All Loved Each Other So Much) when the three main characters (an intellectual bourgeois, a rich bourgeois, and a proletarian) realize that they have lost touch with the ideals they fought for together as partisans during the Second World War. Italian leading man Vittorio Gassman fantasizes his own death and utters the famous line, our generation really stinks!

The clip is in Italian but you don’t need to understand Italian to watch it. Picchiapò plays an important role: it’s one of the great Roman “recycled” dishes, a dish born from necessity but a delicacy because of its very nature.

I should leave the recipe writing to Simona and her excellent blog Briciole but feeling inspired this morning after Tracie B’s brioche French toast, I went online and found and translated this recipe.



l lb. leftover boiled veal or beef, cut into small pieces
2-3 onions
2 cups tomato purée
rosemary (basil is sometimes used and cinnamon can be used as well)
salt and pepper
2 cups white or red wine
extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

Slice the onions into rounds and then wilt with a drizzle of the olive oil in a pan. When they have lightly browned, deglaze with the wine.

Add the tomato purée and spices and simmer until the sauce thickens.

Add the meet and let it absorb the flavor of the sauce.

Serve hot with potato purée or boiled potatoes or seasonal vegetables.

The Scola classic film is a commedia all’italiana but it is also a stinging social commentary and a moving film about love and country. It is also a meta-film — a film about film — and includes a cameo by Marcello Mastroianni and Fellini and a number of timeless Italian film clips. I highly recommend it.

My first crawfish boll (boil)

From the “ain’t this living?” department…

The weather’s still cold here in Texas but folks are already beginning to hold their annual crawfish bolls (boll is Texan for boil). The crawfish boll is a true convivium, in the etymologic sense of the word, a “feasting together” or “living together.” Although the crawfish are sometimes served on trays after being bolled (boiled), most folks spread them out on a table over newspaper and everybody eats standing, shelling and sucking the crawfish communally. Yesterday, I attended my first crawfish boll ever at the invitation of my new friends, wine professionals Craig Collins and his lovely wife April.

Baby onions, whole bunches of garlic, mushrooms, corn, sausage, and spices are set to boil in a large pot. Then, the crawfish are dumped live into the cooking water. Crawfish or crayfish are also called “mud bugs,” said Tracie B.

They simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. When asked if it was okay that the pots were boiling over, Chef Drew Curren said, “actually, it’s preferred.”

The crawfish are strained and then seasoned again with hot spice.

The crawfish are then distributed over newspaper (we finally found a good use for Dorothy and John’s article on money-saving wine list tips!). As in a bollito misto, the flavors of all the ingredients intermingle. As the crawfish cool, they purge their savory juice, which is sopped up by the baguettes. So tasty…

You twist the crawfish at the top of their tails. You suck the head and then peel the tail.

That’s April and Craig in the foreground, right. What an awesome way to spend an afternoon. Tracie B and I brought Camillo Donati Lambrusco, which showed beautifully with the spicy flavors of the boll.

The wine cowboy drank beer, the lady sipped Riesling.