2.20.2016

Of One Mind

While surfing food blogs one day, I came across Nuts About Food by Fiona who lives in Milan. I immediately started following her blog. I love how she offers authentic Italian recipes and has the Italian sensibility for putting ingredients together.

In one of her posts, she told her readers that she was interviewed for a podcast on the blog Disgraces on the Menu written by the Paolo Rigiroli. I listened to the podcast so that I could hear her voice when I read her words. I finished listening to the interview liking her all the more. I also started reading Paolo's blog, and listening to his podcasts.

I could tell from perusing his blog that he and I were of one mind. His posts on regional Italian cuisine are a great resource, his instructions extremely clear, and the results are delicious.

Born in Italy near Milan, Paolo is passionate about authentic Italian food, and is a "collector" of poor grammatical representations of Italian food as written in English, and outrageous distortions of traditional Italian recipes. Thus, "Disgraces on the Menu."

In addition to providing us with great recipes and humorous - if embarrassing - misspellings and incorrect usages, he has carved himself a niche in the podcast world. His series, Thoughts on the Table, includes interviews with food bloggers, writers, chefs, and other food professionals on my favorite subject: Italian Food.

Only recently did I comment for the first time on one of his posts; my comment spurred him to look at Cocoa & Lavender.

An e-friendship began. We posted comments on one another's blogs. We emailed. He awarded me the Cannolo Award, a wonderful honor given to those keeping Italian traditions alive and authentic. He asked if I would be interested in being interviewed for a podcast and, as much as I can't stand hearing my own voice, I said yes, because I knew it would be fun.

His writing and interviews are filled with detailed information, good humor, and easygoing charm. Please head over to this week's episode on Thoughts on the Table for my chat with Paolo. While you are there, you can subscribe to both his blog and his podcasts on iTunes, and you’ll enjoy his essays too.

Today's recipe is one of his that we discussed while Skyping prior to the taping. It is a traditional dish from the region in which he was raised, and a wonderful bowl of comfort for a winter's night.

Tutti a tavola!

~ David

Pizzoccheri della Valtellina
from Paolo Rigiroli/Disgraces on the Menu

200 grams/7 ounces dried Pizzoccheri noodles *
250 grams/9 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, diced
150 grams/6 ounces Savoy cabbage, sliced
100 grams/3 1/2 ounces Valtellina Casera or Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
20 grams/1 ounce Parmigiano cheese, grated
50 grams/4 tablespoons unsalted butter.
3 cloves of garlic, crushed (I used shallots, halved)
2 or 3 leaves of fresh sage
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (using ½ tablespoon of salt per liter/quart of water).

Add the potatoes and the cabbage to the boiling water. Let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes then add the pizzoccheri into the boiling water. Continue cooking for another 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter with the garlic (or halved shallots) and the sage. Cook until the garlic (shallot) is golden, then discard both.

Drain the pasta and vegetables.

Assemble the dish directly in individual bowls. Start layering the ingredients with some of the pasta and vegetables, sprinkle with some of the Parmigiano, a few cheese slices and some melted butter. Repeat 2 or 3 times using up all of the ingredients, ending with a layer of pasta and vegetables and a sprinkle of Parmigiano.

Sprinkle with black pepper and serve immediately without stirring.

Serves 2-3.

* These are short flat buckwheat noodles. Paolo's post includes the recipe for making the pizzoccheri noodles from scratch, as well as some more cheese options. I plan to try this eventually but, for today, used the box of noodles given to me by our friends from Venice.




49 comments:

  1. I love it how these kind of delicious relationships develop through cooking, David. Well done on the Cannoli award and for the podcast - yes, what fun! Must head over to check it out. As for this dish, looks wonderful - haven't come across Pizzoccheri before so thanks for making me discover a new interesting ingredient soon.

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    1. Well as a friend of David's who is lucky enough to live in Tucson with the name of Jill and of French decent, I have just signed up for your blog. Look forward to reading about your food adventures...a relationship developed thru cooking (eating).

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    2. Jill Becker - you will love Jill Colonna's blog. Her writing is wonderful, and her recipes are terrific! Very perfectly French!

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    3. Jill Colonna - I also love how we have all developed friendships from afar. Food does, indeed, bring people together in ways that very few things do. As a musician, that is one other things that transcends borders and barriers. I am proud to have the Cannolo award - Italian traditions are so important to me, as are those from France.

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    4. I have to chime in here, too! Look at how we're all connected through food, from California, Arizona, Canada and France! Jill (Mad About Macarons) and I are real-life friends now after our rendezvous in Bordeaux last year! And Paolo has also interviewed me and given my site a Cannolo award!

      Jill (in Tucson), I echo David's sentiments and know that you will love Jill's site and recipes, too!

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  2. Thanks David for the wonderful introduction to my work. It was an absolute pleasure to have you as my guest and learn more about you. Well have to chat some more soon!

    Fantastic work with the pizzoccheri! And I do use that brand of pasta myself :) The result is amazing, and it really make the dish super quick to make, all in one pot!

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    1. Thanks, Paolo! I am glad liked the post! I really look forward to continuing our conversation - maybe we can delve more into food! ;)

      Thanks also for your kind comments about the pizzoccheri- they are, indeed, touch to photograph but we do the best we can. Comfort food is the hardest to shoot!

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    2. So happy you both found each other and connected! Paolo- I haven't spoken to you in ages! Hope all is well! :)

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  3. Dear David, how nice that friendships develop over food and the love of all things delicious - congratulations on having received the Cannolo Award, what a nice gesture! And I have not cooked with Pizzoccheri noodles before either - they sound wonderful, next time I go shopping at my favorite Italian market, I shall look for some as this recipe sounds very tempting indeed!
    Dir und Mark ein schönes Wochenende und liebe Gruesse aus Bonn,
    Andrea & Co.

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    1. Pizzoccheri noodles are really wonderful, Andrea! They have a slight spice overtone - almost cinnamon but not quite. Missed with the potatoes and cheese, they ar just wonderful!

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  4. Thank you David to the introduction to Paolo. : )

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    1. You are most welcome, Liz! I think you will find his easygoing manner, good humor, and passion for good food enjoyable!

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    2. Nice meeting you Liz, always too kind David!

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  5. Congratulations on your award and the podcast--can't wait to get over to check it out! The dish looks marvelous but I have a question. I keep hearing that Italians don't add cheese to pasta--is that incorrect, or is it just that they don't do it indiscriminately, but it's fine when "designed into" a recipe?

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    1. Thanks for the question, Inger! I will answer as a non-Italian, and welcome my Italian friends to chime in! Cheese is quite often used in pasta dishes, as well as on them. Pastas on which Italians do not use cheese are those with fish and seafood. That is a general rule of thumb, although I have recently heard of seafood and fish dishes with cheese. Rarely, though. Any good Italian restaurant (vs. Italian-American) will only offer cheese when it is right for the dish. Hope that helps! Any thoughts from anyone else on Italian use of cheese with pastas?

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    2. Hi Inger, great question. I'm Italian born and raised, and I completely agree with David's answer. If you want to know more about whether or not these are actual "rules" or myths, you might find the following post interesting:

      https://uponatimeitaly.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/the-basic-rules-of-italian-food/

      I wrote it for my friend Diana (who is also on the podcast!) by consulting with several Italian bloggers. All feedback is absolutely welcome!

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    3. Thanks so much David and Paolo! I will check out the link.

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  6. I never tried those Pizzoccheri noodles before. Maybe the buckwheat didn't sound good in it. But reading your story and recipe I will give it a try. Love reading your blog.

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    1. Thanks so much, Cindy! I am really glad you are enjoying the blog. I certainly love writing it! I questioned the box of pizzoccheri in my pantry until I had my chat with Paolo! They are really wonderful!

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    2. Hi Cindy, I know it may sound a bit strange, but I am certain you will love them - buckwheat pasta is firmer and has its own hearty flavor, and it absolutely complements the dish.

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  7. Congratulations on your award, David! I love the unique recipes you post and your elegant style. I will look up your new friend's blog and that podcast. Happy for you! And this dish looks awesome! :)

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    1. Thanks, Marcelle - I know you will enjoy Paolo's blog, and I hope you enjoy the podcast!

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    2. Hi Marcelle, nice to meet you. If you have any feedback, please let me know.

      The Cannolo Award is for everyone who, like David, blogs about authentic, continental Italian food, in the English language. With this simple award, I'm hoping to help distinguish the food of Italy from its many interpretations.

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  8. I don't think I'd want to wait for winter for this dish, David. So beautifully rustic! Now, excuse me as I zip over to listen to the podcast! Congrats!

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    1. This would be amazing at any time of the year, John - can't wait to make my own noodles!

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    2. Hi John, all feedback is welcome!

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  9. Thank you David for the shout out and glad you enjoyed my interview with Paolo (I still cringe when remembering the only time I listened to it and heard my own voice...), whom I had the pleasure to personally meet in Milan in that occasion.
    I really look forward to listening to your interview. As you probably know from my blog, this is a recipe I love. And talking about the blog, I really need to get back to it and give it some long-missed loving.

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    1. Fiona - I really enjoyed your podcast, and hope to meet Paolo in Vancouver sooner than later! I am glad you want to get back to blogging - your recipes and writing have been missed!

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    2. Fiona, everyone reacts the same way to the sound of their own voice! And, btw, now that you know it, it would be great to do another episode :) I too look forward to your recipes and stories.

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    3. A big part of those podcasts are your questions and ease with a microphone. You are the perfect host!

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    4. Thank you too David, for your encouraging words, need to get back to it! Lucky you: planning a trip to Vancouver?

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    5. Mark and I are hoping to get to Vancouver int eh next year - it would be fun to meet up with Paolo and his wife there. Also, his wife has family pretty close to us - so we might even meet in the desert!

      As you say, Fiona, Paolo makes everything so easy and comfortable for the interviewee! It was great fun!

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  10. Hi David, what a wonderful recipe you posted today, love the simplicity of this dish. On my way over to hear your podcast with Paolo.....I think it is amazing the connections we can make on-line........

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    1. Thanks, Cheri - it is a really wonderful recipe - all of Paolo's are!

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    2. Nice to meet you Cheri, and thanks again David. All feedback is welcome!

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  11. Wow, what gorgeous and delicious ingredients. A beautiful recipe. And thank you for the introduction to Nuts about Food & Disgraces on the Menu -- can't wait to check both out!

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    1. Thanks, Valentina! I hope you enjoy both blogs!

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  12. Hi David, what a great recipe, rustic and so tasty. Surfing blogs is also one of my favorite activities.

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    1. Thanks, Gerlinde - surfing blogs is fun! It is the perfect pastime for nights when you can't sleep!

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  13. Hello, David. A fellow blogger introduced me to pizzoccheri a few years ago. It's become a favorite of mine, one that I prepare every winter. Next time I do, I'll try your recipe. I love that you've added Fontina cheese. Thanks for sharing and for the intro to Paolo. I can see I'll be spending plenty of time looking through his blog. :)

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    1. This was my first intro to pizzoccheri, John - and I love them. That subtle sweet spicy flavor makes then rather addictive. You will enjoy Paolo's blog, for sure!

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  14. Oh this is wonderful news, David! I have also been interviewed by Paolo and have a Cannolo Award! Congratulations to you on your well-deserved honor!

    I have never heard of pizzoccheri, but so interested! Thank you for posting this wonderful recipe of Paolo's!

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    1. I will have to find your interview, Christina. It would be great fun to hear your voice talking about your Italian heritage.

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  15. Like many other readers, I've never heard of pizzoccheri noodles - but it's great to see them featured here after reading your buckwheat comment on my blog! They sound delicious and I'm tempted to attempt them myself with the rest of the buckwheat flour in the cupboard. What a gorgeous post! Thanks for featuring Paolo and Fiona's blogs here too, I hadn't heard of them and it's wonderful to read more about authentic Italian recipes, tips and tricks!

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    1. That is my next plan, too, Laura - to make my own pizzoccheri noodles. If you make them first, let me know how they come out!

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  16. I listened to your podcast and quite enjoyed it! I didn't know you were a double bassist! I'll definitely hit you up for tips about traveling in Italy. Staying in an apartment as opposed to a hotel sounds so nice. Then you feel like you live there! I always love your authentic recipes and I wish I had more "real" Italian recipes to share!

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    1. Thanks, Caroline - yes, music was my first career, and I loved it... but the time just came when I had to let go. Please ask me if you want any info on Italy - we have tons! Renting an apartment and staying in one place for a week (or two) really gives you a sense of life there.

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  17. We made this dish last night and it was FANTASTIC! The tastes melded into a wonderful dish with layers of flavor. Loved it!

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    1. I knew this one would be perfect for you and Towny, Susan! I bet it was especially good on a cold winter's night!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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