Tag Archives: cheese

Some South American Italian in the Triangle at Piola

When Italians settled in the United States about 100 years ago, some also settled in South America, especially Argentina. However, a critical difference is that the majority of Italian immigrants to the United States were from Southern Italy and the majority to South America were from Northern Italy. So the Italian food in both areas reflects that. I write about Italian food in South America and around the globe in my new book, Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People, available at Amazon.com.

Authentic Italian

One of the things I write about in the book is catupiry cheese, a soft cheese that tastes like a cross between ricotta and velvety burrata. Catupiry cheese was created in 1911 by a Brazilian Italian named Mario Silvestrini. For the most part, it is used in the same way we use cream cheese. However, it is different from cream cheese. It is also used on pizza and you can try it in the Triangle at Piola in North Hills in Raleigh. Piola is an Italian pizza chain from Treviso (near Venice in Northeastern Italy) with locations in Italy, South America and Raleigh.

Pizza from Piola with catupiry cheese

Another interesting South American Italian tradition that I mention in my book is eating ñoqui/ñoquis, or gnocchi, on the 29th of the month. Piola highlights this tradition. While Southern Italians eat gnocchi as well, it is associated more with Northern Italian cuisine, and that is probably why it is more popular in South American countries with Italian populations, like Argentina and Uruguay.

Gnocchi Legnano from Piola

–Dina Di Maio

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The Italian Pantry: Cheese

When most people think of Italian cheese, they think of parmesan. But the go-to cheese for Southern Italians is pecorino romano. A popular brand is Locatelli, and in fact, we use the brand name in conversation much like Americans say “kleenex” for tissues. One thing is for sure–you will always find a block of pecorino romano in our refrigerator. And we grate it using a Mouli grater.

What is it used for? Mostly, we grate the cheese and use it to top off a bowl of pasta with tomato gravy/sauce. Or we use it to top off a bowl of soup like lentil or chicken soup. It’s used in other pasta dishes like lasagna or baked ziti. It’s used in meatballs. It’s used in my rice with eggs and cheese. We do not use it on top of seafood pasta dishes. (Another cheese that is not used as often but can be eaten or used to sprinkle on pasta is ricotta salata, similar to feta.)

–Dina Di Maio

Book Review: The Whole Fromage by Kathe Lison

One may be confused by the title of Kathe Lison’s book, The Whole Fromage:  Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese.  It is not a comprehensive listing or description of French cheese.  It is not a thorough history of French cheese.  It is a feature story on the state of French cheesemaking.  The author is a lover of cheese and departs on a journey to understand how French cheese is made, touring different regions and methods.  What she discovers is that some French cheesemakers are incorporating modern methods of cheesemaking.  She doesn’t directly impart a bias against doing so, although I would say she probably doesn’t like it.  I enjoyed the short read, as I know little about French cheese; however, I am a lover of all things made the handmade way.  Indeed, she writes, “We all like to hear about the guy who wakes up at 4:00 a.m. every day to milk his cows by hand and then make cheese in a big wooden bucket.  There is something about the thought of all that labor–of a human bringing something into the world by sheer dint of muscle–that we value.”  It’s true…and leads to a question, does it really taste better when it’s made that way or is that a delusion?  I think it tastes better (if the person making it knows what they are doing!).

If you are a cheese lover, a French cheese lover, or someone who enjoys artisanal or indigenous foods, you will enjoy this book.  In addition to the above thoughts, I also found it surprising that people will pay over $400 for cheese made from moose milk.  And I could’ve lived without the image of the cannulated cow, although once I googled it, the image wasn’t quite as bad as what I pictured but still appalling enough to make me rethink cheese and dairy.

Weekend Whets 10/11

American Cheese Month, October:  Celebrate cheese month with a passport to get discounts at cheese shops.

Explore Brooklyn:  Italian Restaurant Week, October 10-17, 2013, Brooklyn:  Celebrate Italian American Heritage Month with discounts and deals at participating Brooklyn Italian restaurants.

NYC’s First-ever African Restaurant Week, October 13-20, 2013, NYC:  Celebrate African food with three-course prix fixes at NYC African restaurants.

Lopate and Locavores: Tips From Your Waiter, Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 7 p.m., The Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street, Tribeca, Manhattan:  Leonard Lopate leads a panel of service professionals from New York City restaurants to discuss dining etiquette, dinner date mistakes, tipping, how to get a great table without a reservation and how to get treated like a regular.  Tickets $20.

All the Tastes of New York, Thursday, October 17, 2013, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Metropolitan Pavilion, 110 West 19th Street, Chelsea, New York:  Food and wine tastings of brands and New York restaurants.  Tickets $89.11.

The 5th Annual Brooklyn Bacon Takedown, Saturday, October 19, 2013, 1 p.m. to  3 p.m., The Bell House, Brooklyn

Soup Festival, Saturday, October 19, 2013, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Smith Street, Brooklyn:  Judges pick the best soup from area restaurants.  Marilyn Gelber, president of The Brooklyn Foundation, and  Molly Simms, Senior Editor of Bust Magazine are the judges.  Money raised from the event benefits the Culinary Arts Program in the local public School For International Studies.

Danish Red Sausage Event, Sunday, October 20, 2013, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Aamanns-Copenhagen, 13 Laight Street, Tribeca, Manhattan:  Try red, snappy Danish hot dogs along with drink specials and Europop and Scandinavian rock music.

606 R&D Backyard Pig Party, Monday, October 21, 2013, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., 606 R&D, 606 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn:  Live bluegrass music, Peak organic beer, mulled cider and your fill of pork and fixin’s!

James Beard Food Conference, Monday and Tuesday, October 21 & 22, 2013, Convene Conference Center, Manhattan:  Explores The Paradox of Appetite: Hungering for Change.  Tickets $500.

Book Release Party for Mast Brothers: A Family Cookbook, Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 6 p.m., Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn:  Mast Brothers share stories and recipes for American classic recipes.  With admission, you’ll receive a signed copy of the book, a complimentary beverage and hors d’oeuvres.  Tickets $50.

Iron Chef Cooking Competition with GE Monogram, Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Manhattan:  You and a team compete creating dishes with a secret ingredient.  $45.

Culinary Luminaries: Edna Lewis, Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 6 p.m., Wollman Hall (B500), Eugene Lang College, 65 West 11th Street, Manhattan:  Event discussing the life and work of Edna Lewis.

Food Film Fest, October 23-27, 2013, New York:  Watch the films and eat the food too!  Ticket prices vary.

Brooklyn Crab’s 1st Annual Oyster Fest, Saturday, October 26, 2013, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Brooklyn Crab, 24 Reed Street, Brooklyn:  Unlimited tastings of regional craft beer with oysters.  Tickets $45.

Choctoberfest NYC, Saturday, October 26, 2013, Jimmy’s No. 43, New York:  Celebrate Fair Trade Month with a competition among homemade beer, cider, wine, mead, soda, kombucha, water kefir, milk kefir and other fermented foods that feature chocolate.

Get My Goat, October 27, 2013, 5:30 p.m., The Farm on Adderley,  1108 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn:  The Farm on Adderley and Slow Food NYC feature a dinner menu with goat including roasted goat, goat cheese and goat’s milk. $30.

November

Cooking Lesson! How to Create a Week’s Worth of Healthy Dinners in a Snap, Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7, 2013, 7 p.m. to  9 p.m., Freshmade NYC, Manhattan:  Chef prepares four recipes for tasting and gives you recipes to take home. $40.
A Taste of Sheepshead Bay, Thursday, November 7, 2013, 7 p.m., Baron DeKalb Knights of Columbus, 3000 Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn:  Tastings range from Uzbeki and Turkish food to American and Latin.  Tickets $25 advance/$35 at the door.
New York Taste, Monday, November 11, 2o13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., The Waterfront, 269 11th Avenue, Manhattan:  New York magazine’s food festival with tastings by New York’s finest chefs.  Tickets $100-$195.

Festa di Tartufi, Friday, November 22, 2013, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Del Posto, Manhattan:  A celebration of Piemontese white truffles, Barbaresco and Barolo.  Mario Batali and Antonio Galloni host a five-course meal by by Executive Chef Mark Ladner.  Tickets are $1,000.

Weekend Whets 10/4

American Cheese Month, October:  Celebrate cheese month with a passport to get discounts at cheese shops.

Spain’s Tapas Trail, October 1-8, 2013:  Participating restaurants create a unique tapa and drink pairing for $10.

Plate by Plate: Project by Project NY’s Annual Tasting Benefit , Friday, October 4, 2013, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., 82 Mercer, Soho:  Charity event showcasing New York’s premier restaurants. Tickets $150.

North:  Nordic Food Festival, October 2 through 7, 2013, various locations, NYC:  Celebrate Nordic cuisine with lunches/dinners by Scandinavian chefs and cooking classes with Scandinavian chefs.

3rd Annual EscapeMaker’s Local Food & Travel Expo in Brooklyn, Saturday, October 5, 2013, noon to 5 p.m., Borough Hall, Brooklyn:  Exhibitors who are within a 50-mile radius of Brooklyn will be exhibiting.  Tastings and a special Made in Brooklyn market.

Chile Pepper Festival, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn:  Celebrate chile peppers with live music, 40 food artisans, chocolate and gardens.

Czech Street Festival, Saturday, October 5, 2013, Noon to 5 p.m., East 73rd Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue, and Staropramen Party,  5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, Manhattan:  Celebrate Czech Independence with Czech food and music.

Eats for India, Saturday, October 5, 2013 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., New York:  25-course cocktail party of Indian canapés to support clean water for India. Tickets $75.

K-Town Festival and Parade, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 10 a.m to 5 p.m., 32nd Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue (Parade  is on Sixth Avenue between 38th Street and 27th Street from noon to 2 p.m.), Manhattan:  Celebrate Korean culture with a parade and festival with Korean food and music.

Tastes Meatpacking District, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Gansevoort Plaza, Meatpacking District, Manhattan:  Outdoor food tastings to benefit Lab School.  Tickets $35-$45.

4th Annual Sugar Sweet Festival, Sunday, October 6, 2013, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., The City Reliquary, Brooklyn:  Celebrates New York’s bakeries and bakers with a bake sale and baking competitions.

Slow U – Sustainable Seafood (Sashimi and More), Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 6:30 p.m., International Culinary Center (formerly known as the French Culinary Institute), 462 Broadway, Manhattan:  Enjoy sushi as you learn about sustainable local fisheries and the family fishermen.

Slice Out Hunger, Wednesday, October 9, 2013, 6 p.m., St Anthony’s Church – 154 Sullivan St (at Houston), Soho:  Sponsors match every dollar spent for Food Bank For New York City.  Tickets are $1 each.  Pizzerias include Lombardi’s, Rubirosa, John’s, Grimaldi’s, Joe’s, DiFara, Arturo’s and more.

Southern Italy and Genoa in the Early History of Pasta: Debunking the Myth of Arab Influence, Thursday, October 10, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Park Avenue United Methodist Church, 106 East 86th Street (between Park and Lexington), Upper East Side, Manhattan:  Dr. Anthony Buccini will argue that the origins of pasta making are from foodways in Southern Italy, not the Arab world. $25-$40.

Explore Brooklyn:  Italian Restaurant Week, October 10-17, 2013, Brooklyn:  Celebrate Italian American Heritage Month with discounts and deals at participating Brooklyn Italian restaurants.

NYC’s First-ever African Restaurant Week, October 13-20, 2013, NYC:  Celebrate African food with three-course prix fixes at NYC African restaurants.

Lopate and Locavores: Tips From Your Waiter, Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 7 p.m., The Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street, Tribeca, Manhattan:  Leonard Lopate leads a panel of service professionals from New York City restaurants to discuss dining etiquette, dinner date mistakes, tipping, how to get a great table without a reservation and how to get treated like a regular.  Tickets $20.

Soup Festival, October 19, 2013, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Smith Street, Brooklyn:  Judges pick the best soup from area restaurants.  Marilyn Gelber, president of The Brooklyn Foundation, and  Molly Simms, Senior Editor of Bust Magazine are the judges.  Money raised from the event benefits the Culinary Arts Program in the local public School For International Studies.

606 R&D Backyard Pig Party, Monday, October 21, 2013, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., 606 R&D, 606 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn:  Live bluegrass music, Peak organic beer, mulled cider and your fill of pork and fixin’s!

James Beard Food Conference, Monday and Tuesday, October 21 & 22, 2013, Convene Conference Center, Manhattan:  Explores The Paradox of Appetite: Hungering for Change.  Tickets $500.

Book Release Party for Mast Brothers: A Family Cookbook, Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 6 p.m., Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn:  Mast Brothers share stories and recipes for American classic recipes.  With admission, you’ll receive a signed copy of the book, a complimentary beverage and hors d’oeuvres.  Tickets $50.

Iron Chef Cooking Competition with GE Monogram, Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Manhattan:  You and a team compete creating dishes with a secret ingredient.  $45.

Culinary Luminaries: Edna Lewis, Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 6 p.m., Wollman Hall (B500), Eugene Lang College, 65 West 11th Street, Manhattan:  Event discussing the life and work of Edna Lewis.

Food Film Fest, October 23-27, 2013, New York:  Watch the films and eat the food too!  Ticket prices vary.

Brooklyn Crab’s 1st Annual Oyster Fest, Saturday, October 26, 2013, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Brooklyn Crab, 24 Reed Street, Brooklyn:  Unlimited tastings of regional craft beer with oysters.  Tickets $45.

Choctoberfest NYC, Saturday, October 26, 2013, Jimmy’s No. 43, New York:  Celebrate Fair Trade Month with a competition among homemade beer, cider, wine, mead, soda, kombucha, water kefir, milk kefir and other fermented foods that feature chocolate.

Get My Goat, October 27, 2013, 5:30 p.m., The Farm on Adderley,  1108 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn:  The Farm on Adderley and Slow Food NYC feature a dinner menu with goat including roasted goat, goat cheese and goat’s milk. $30.

November

Cooking Lesson! How to Create a Week’s Worth of Healthy Dinners in a Snap, Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7, 2013, 7 p.m. to  9 p.m., Freshmade NYC, Manhattan:  Chef prepares four recipes for tasting and gives you recipes to take home. $40.
New York Taste, Monday, November 11, 2o13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., The Waterfront, 269 11th Avenue, Manhattan:  New York magazine’s food festival with tastings by New York’s finest chefs.  Tickets $100-$195.

Festa di Tartufi, Friday, November 22, 2013, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Del Posto, Manhattan:  A celebration of Piemontese white truffles, Barbaresco and Barolo.  Mario Batali and Antonio Galloni host a five-course meal by by Executive Chef Mark Ladner.  Tickets are $1,000.

Neighborhood Watch: Arthur Avenue in the Bronx

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Arthur Avenue, the Little Italy of the Bronx, is the only real Italian neighborhood left in NYC.  If you’re looking for an authentic Italian American experience, this is the place to be.  However, it’s not so easy to get to.  It’s a long, hilly walk from the subway.  Or if you take a cab, the cab driver will not know where it is.  I know cab drivers are supposed to know where to go in the boroughs, but they don’t, especially in the Bronx and Queens and sometimes, Brooklyn.  I suggest you have directions or your phone GPS on hand to assist the driver.

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The main strip is Arthur Avenue from East 184th Street to East 187th Street.  On East 187th Street, there’s Artuso’s Pastry, the home of the famous Pope cookies.  In case you are looking for them, the Pope cookies were made for Pope Benedict’s visit to New York and his recent resignation, but they do not have Pope cookies now.

Visit Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

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Walk west to Egidio Pastry and admire the case full of beautiful pastries.

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The history of the building is evident with its tin ceiling.

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Here, we tried a mini cannoli and a mini sfogliatelle. They were both very good, but the sfogliatelle was particularly well crafted with flaky layers.

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DeLillo Pastry has outdoor seating and a mighty fine cannoli with creamy ricotta filling.

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There are a lot of bakeries on this small strip, so if you are doing a tasting, be prepared to eat a lot or to take some home. I brought my rolling backpack so that I could easily bring things home with me.

In addition to bakeries, there are ravioli/pasta shops, seafood markets, meat markets, cheese shops, pizzerias, Italian restaurants and kitchen stores. At Marie’s, you can get dinnerware and housewares, as well as coffee, from Italy.
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OK, vegetarians in the crowd will not want to look at the next photo–the body of a sheep hanging in the window of a meat market.

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Teitel Brothers is an Italian grocery store owned by a Jewish family that has been in the neighborhood since 1915.

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Now this is something you don’t see anymore–a bread bakery.  Zito’s and Vesuvio’s in the city closed awhile ago.  Thank goodness Addeo’s is still here in the Bronx.

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Look at that bread.

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At Biancardi’s meat market, you can still get capuzelle, or sheep’s head.

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Madonia Bakery has beautiful bread and also fills cannoli to order.

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I got some yummy cookies for the road.

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In the middle of the block, there’s an indoor market, the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, with a butcher, fish and produce market as well as products from Italy and Arthur Avenue T-shirts and souvenirs.

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The butcher here had beef feet.  I’ve never seen these before and am not sure how Italians use them.

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If you’re into offal, this is the place to be.  Here’s cotenne, the pig skin I’ve written about, in the rear of this photo.

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Brains, anyone?

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OK, I definitely share the sentiment with these T-shirts.

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Check out Cerini Coffee, a fun store with housewares from Italy.

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At Morrone Pastry Shop & Café, I got a rainbow cookie cake slice and a tortoni.  Both were delicious.  (I also bought a rainbow cookie cake for my aunt’s birthday.  I froze it the day I bought it and thawed it a week later.  It was fresh, moist and delicious.)

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In case you thought I just had sweets, I did stop for a slice of pizza at Catania’s.

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What to Eat:  pastries and bread from Artuso’s, Egidio’s, DeLillo’s, Madonia’s, Addeo’s or Morrone’s; pizza from Catania’s.

Where to Shop:  Marie’s and Cerini’s for kitchen wares; the Arthur Avenue Retail Market for souvenirs, produce and Italian goods; Borgatti’s for ravioli; Randazzo’s for seafood.

What to See:  Columbus statue at East 183rd Street and Arthur Avenue, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on East 187th Street.

Two for Tuesday: Brooklyn Pizza

I finally made it out to Brooklyn to try Totonno’s in Coney Island and L&B Spumoni Gardens’ pizza in Bensonhurst.  Pizza is a controversial topic, I realize.  My grandmother talked about wood-fired pizza from Naples.  My mother grew up on coal-fired pizza.  As my family worked in the pizza business and owned a pizzeria, I’m pretty critical of pizza.  Among aficionados, Totonno’s has a history and is known as some of the best pizza.

Totonno's
On our visit, we didn’t have to wait on line.  There was one table available.  There are no frills here.  You sit; they bring you paper plates and plastic cups.  You have your choice of canned or bottled soda and water.  Service is rushed and not friendly.  Because of the demand and lack of space, you may have to share a table with other patrons, as we did.  We ordered the large plain cheese pie, which is a steep price at $19.50.

Totonno's pizza
The three elements of pizza are crust, sauce and cheese.  With a coal-fired oven, one would expect the blackened bottom and a certain flavor.  Sally’s Apizza in New Haven has the perfect coal-fired crust.  Totonno’s crust didn’t have that blackened bottom, and the dough was lackluster.  The tomato sauce was bland–just a tomato taste.  The cheese was also pretty flavorless.  I had really wanted to love this place because of its history, but I felt it was lacking in taste.  I really don’t think it’s worth a trip out to Coney Island just for this pizza.

L&B
L&B Spumoni Gardens is a subway stop and short walk away from Totonno’s.  Here, the specialty of the house are Sicilian-style pies.  For those who don’t know, Sicilian style pies are square pies that are more doughy.  My mom says that when she was young, Sicilian pies came with tomato and onion, but that is not how they are served today.  The pie at L&B is good, but where’s the cheese?  I understand the sauce is on top of the cheese, but I don’t think there’s enough cheese.  It’s unfortunate because the sauce is very good, slightly sweet and with oregano.  With more cheese, this would be one hell of a Sicilian pie.

L&B Spumoni Gardens pizza