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La Pizzeria Fresca Ristorante-Part 2

August11

We were able to get right in to La Pizzeria Fresca Ristorante without a reservation.  We were seated at a comfy table against the exposed brick wall with a view of the wood-burning pizza oven.

We started by sharing the Insalata di Rucola when wild arugula and  endive was topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and the Insalata  Mista.

We paused to pinch ourselves as we had only been in New York for a couple of hours and then proceeded to sample the Ruastica Pizza where pancetta was  sauteed with onions and covered with fresh bufala mozzarella.

The special pizza that evening was as sophisticated as our surroundings-a savoury asparagus pie.

I couldn’t resist the Linquini Voncole e  Zucchine-a trillion fresh baby clams and slivers of zucchini steamed in Pinot Grigio.

We were appropriately tempted by the sorbetti, tiramisu and panna cotta but managed to resist.  Instead we enjoyed the stroll to our temporary home (with a detour to shop at Union Square).

Our compliments to chef Alessandro Cargiolli from Liguria,  Italy.  I loved the cuisine of his home region when we visited Riomaggiore last fall, one of the Cinque Terre villages.

La Pizza Fresca Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.” Yogi Berra

 

Spicy Giant Ravioli with Tomatoes, Basil & Pine Nuts

July15

This recipe is a true fusion of Italian and Asian flavours.  The key ingredient in the sauce for these ravioli is vine ripened tomatoes.  If good fresh tomatoes are not available substitute canned chopped tomatoes preferably the brands imported from Italy (which is what I had to do).  When you make this challenging dish, keep the rest of the menu simple.

3 green onions, finely chopped

¾ lb ground chicken or pork

2 T ginger, finely minced

1 T grated or finely minced lemon zest

1 T soya sauce

1 T oyster sauce

½ t freshly ground pepper

40 egg roll skins

1 egg, well beaten

Sauce:

2 T olive oil

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 ½ lbs. vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped

½ c fresh basil leaves (I substituted a heaping T of pesto)

1 c white wine

1 T oyster sauce

1 t sugar

1 t cornstarch

½ t Asian chili sauce (I substituted 1 t of red pepper jelly)

½ c pine nuts

In advance:  Mix with your hands the green onions, pork, ginger, ½ the lemon zest, soya sauce, oyster sauce and pepper.

Within 5 hours of serving, fold the dumplings.  Place 1 t filling on a won ton wrapper.  Brush the outside of the skin with beaten egg.  Lay another skin on top then very firmly press the skins together, making sure there are no air pockets trapped inside the ravioli.  Line a tray with a non-stick paper, then place the ravioli on the paper and refrigerate uncovered.  Do not stack or overlapped the ravioli or they will stick together.

Saute the garlic & onions in olive oil until the garlic sizzles then add tomatoes and basil.  Add wine, oyster sauce, sugar, cornstarch, chili sauce and remaining lemon zest.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.

Toast the pine nuts in a 325 degree oven or in a heavy skillet over a medium heat.

Place the ravioli in rapidly boiling, salted water until they start bobbing to the surface (about 5 mins).  Remove to a colander with a slotted spoon and rinse in warm water.  If serving immediately, place ravioli on heated dinner plates  and spoon sauce then pine nuts and Parmesan over top.  If holding for a future meal, place a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a wide and flat casserole dish.  Place ravioli gingerly on top then add sauce, etc.  Sprinkle with water, cover and reheat in a slow oven.

Kath’s quote:  “The army from Asia introduced a foreign luxury to Rome; it was then the meals began to require more dishes and more expenditure . . . the cook, who had up to that time been employed as a slave of low price, become dear: what had been nothing but a métier was elevated to an art.”
Livy (Titus Livius) ( 59-17 B.C.)

Lanky’s Grand Beach

July14

It rained this morning at the cottage and ever since the kids were little, we would spend a rainy day at Grand Beach.   Loving traditions, my sis in law and niece joined me for the short drive 5 kms south.    The miniature golf place looks to still be open but our beloved Playland was boarded up with a sign that read “Re-opening Soon”.

To work up an appetitie,  I introduced the girls to my favourite spot-The Spirit Rock Café and Gift Shop and then I continued my search for the area’s best French fry.  Today’s lunch was at Lanky’s which has been around for as long as I can remember.  Other places also hold fond memories of growing up at Grand Beach but they are all long gone-except Lanky’s.  I’m not exactly certain how many years Lanky’s has stood in this spot on the main drag of Grand Marais but an old menu board lists fish and chips for 75 cents.

Even though it appears as if the foot long hot-dogs have not changed (they’re still 12 inches in length), the hand cut fries that we used to love have been replaced with a frozen variety.  But to illustrate that you can teach an old dog new tricks-we sampled a menu item that I have never had anywhere-Garlic French fries.  The fries were covered in a garlic gravy-like sauce and they were garnished with marinated carrot sticks and parsley.  The taste was very unique.  The verdict?  I love trying new recipes but give me a real hand-cut potato fry any time.

Kath’s quote: “Garlic is the catsup of intellectuals.” –unknown

That Sunday Night Feeling

July12

There are only a few precious times in a year when I can experience this pleasure.  The feeling surrounds the satisfaction of staying on for another week or even a single day at the cottage, when the rest of the world seems to have had a hasty supper, packed up the dirty laundry and empties and headed back into the city on a crowded highway.  And here I sit-in the gazebo, with a lovely cool breeze, a Moosehead Lime and no plans or responsibilities except to make sure that I don’t miss out on the sunset.

I don’t take this feeling lightly or for granted.  For one I am aware that we are extraordinarily fortunate to have a summer property.  For two I also know that there is a pecking order for summer holidays, but I am blessed to be self-employed.  For three, I am certain that there are many spouses that would insist that since they must be in the city, their partner are as well.  And here I sit-knowing that half my family has had a lovely weekend of the Folk Festival & Bomber and Goldeyes games and that the other half can join me out here in the next couple of days.

I have had a wonderful time, surrounded by siblings, nephews, nieces,  my  husband and puppy dogs.  So why am I rambling on about feelings instead of musing about food?  Because sometimes that sense of satiation and contentment does not come from a meal well prepared and savoured-it comes from left overs and other sources of fulfillment. Kath’s quote: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”Epicurus

Glorious and Free

July2

In honour of Canada Day, I asked my Facebook friends which foods best represented the Canadian experience.  Their answers were very revealing:

My friend Jenna said: “Donairs anywhere in the maritimes.”  I had to do some more research as I didn’t know donairs were Canadian.  I found this out: “the donair made in Atalantic Canada are almost always made with a sweetened garlic sauce and this sauce (called donair sauce) is also used as a dipping sauce for eastern Canadian snacks like garlic fingers”.  She then added: “Bison Burgers from the Kleefield Chip Truck”.  

There was another vote for the maritimes when my Newfie friend Susan declared “Mussels in (at?) the corner at the Ship.”  I too think that seafood is a wonderful representation of Canada-our Atlantic and Pacific coasts display beauty to make your heart stop.

My friend Serena added: “BeaverTails (Queues de Castor) on the canals of Ottawa.”  Serena has travelled the country with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet-so I put her opinions right up there.  I look forward to trying these one day.

Another friend named Sue voted for:  “Hotdogs from a cart on Broadway”.  I hasten to say in the summer.  

Sister #3 had the longest list of all: ” Baby Rouge burger at the gas station in St. Pierre Jolys (MB), City Bread Rye and cold cuts with garlicky dill pickles at a social, Jeannie’s cake, mini donuts at the Red River Ex or a Goldeyes game, freshly caught pickerel, real perogies from one of the Ukranian Orthodox Churches or Alycia’s and Bothwell’s red wine cheddar cheese. What a wonderful place to live”.  Perhaps this is the most telling comment of all.  One being the length of her list and two that even though Sister #3 has travelled extensively, these are all foods from home.

We had these Imperial cookies purchased from Einfeld’s Bakery in lake country.  I would add fried Parmesan eaten at a sidewalk cafe in Quebec City,  Atlantic Lobster carried home on a plane to the prairies in a freezer chest, Greek shellfish pie savoured on the Danforth in Toronto, Saskatoon berry anything at one of my all time favourite restaurants-La Bodega in Regina, Alberta grain fed beef at The Keg Steakhouse and Bar and the first time I tasted sushi on Granville Island in Vancouver.

So there is still time to add your favourite.  I’m compiling another list because as I was composing this one, my son added: “Corn Meal Canadian Back Bacon” and so I stopped and made it for his breakfast.

Kath’s quote: “Was I catching the contagious enthusiasm of this Canadian? Was I truly euphoric at the sight of fresh-grilled pork?”
Professor M. Aronnax in ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ – Jules Verne (1870)

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