22 May 2014

Food, shopping, art in beautiful Florence

As we planned our Italy vacation, there never was any question that we’d go to Florence. But we had been there once before.

It was 15 years ago. We were on our first ever European vacation. Our jam-packed itinerary included Paris, Provence, Nice, Florence, and Prague. We boarded a train in Nice, bound for Florence. But when our train crossed the border into Italy, we stopped. The railroad workers in Italy were on strike. So we spent the day wandering through Ventimiglia. We probably would have enjoyed it more if we weren’t worrying about when (or even whether) we’d get to Florence. We even went so far as to find a travel agent in the town who spoke English and had him cancel our hotel in Florence.

Later in the afternoon we learned that it was just an 8-hour strike. Sure enough, at 4 p.m., we all got back on board and continued on our way. We finally arrived in Florence at midnight. Fortunately, the hotel still had our room for us, even though we’d cancelled the reservation.

So on that first trip, we saw all the BIG things that you’re supposed to see in Florence – the Duomo, the museums, the David statue, the Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, Ponte Vecchio – as much as we could pack into a two-day stay which was shortened by the travel delay. And since we’d seen so much, we felt we could be more relaxed about this year’s stay.

Which is not to say that we weren’t busy. We still did a lot. It’s just that we didn’t feel compelled to stand in line to see the David statue again.

One thing we did was shop. We walked through the San Lorenzo outdoor market several times. I bought a leather jacket. Linda bought a purse and a wallet, plus novelty items for the grandkids. We also went to the Central Food Market. In my post about Emilia Romagna I said that we enjoyed the food market in Modena. But I really think the market in Florence was just as interesting, and it was bigger. I saw one stand that sold horse meat.

Our big adventure during our stay in Florence was a day trip to Fiesole. It’s a town high up in the hills above Florence. We took a city bus to the town and walked around. The town offers stunning panoramic views of Florence. But then we walked all the way back to the city. In total, it was only about 5 miles. We’ve often walked more than that on other vacations. But it was a notable experience nonetheless. IMG_0203

Another interesting site that we visited was Piazzalle Michelangelo. We expected to see more public art there. Other than yet another David reproduction, there wasn’t that much. But it did offer more beautiful vista views of the city and much closer than Fiesole. As we walked down from the piazzale, we came upon a public rose garden. We took the time to walk through and enjoy it. It was beautiful.

During our Italy trip, we made a point of finding various sites of Jewish significance. But the synagogue in Florence was particularly noteworthy. It was fascinating to learn about the architectural influences that went into its design. It also was interesting to learn that the community was able to protect and preserve so much of its artifacts and Torah scrolls during World War II and the Nazi occupation only to lose much of it in 1966 in a horrendous flood that struck Florence.

Our hotel in Florence was the Paris Hotel. It was the same one where we stayed 15 years ago. There are many good things I can say about the hotel. It’s very nicely located, only a few blocks from the train station and very close to the Duomo, museums, and markets. The staff is very friendly, helpful, and accommodating. And it was a good bargain; we booked our 4-night stay online and besides a reasonable rate, it included Wi-Fi, two fruit baskets, and a bottle of wine. We enjoyed sitting on the terrace overlooking the street below, sipping wine and planning our activities. However, we still were somewhat disappointed. We remembered the hotel as being stately and elegant. Regrettably, it has not aged well in the intervening years. We enjoyed our stay, but it wasn’t as pleasant and memorable as our first stay.

Here are the restaurants where we ate in Florence:

La Posta: We ate at a sidewalk table on our first night in Florence. We picked the restaurant because we liked the menu and wanted to eat outside. It was a little chilly, but they did have heaters that helped to keep us warm. The food was very good.IMG_0620

Ristorante Paoli: We actually ate here twice. The first time, we went in because of the beautiful décor. We had a very nice meal and the service was friendly and helpful. As we finished our meal, we saw a service cart with a display of gorgeous marinated vegetables. When we asked about it, we learned that one of the antipasti on the menu is a selection from the service cart. The next night, we hadn’t decided where to eat. As we talked about it, we both decided that we really wanted to try those marinated vegetables. So we went back for dinner the second night. It was well worth it.

Vecchio Mercato: As you might surmise from the name, this restaurant is located right across the street from the central food market. We saw it on our first day in Florence. I didn’t have high expectations. I figured that it primarily appealed to shoppers and perhaps workers from the market. But the thing that appealed to us was that it offered live music – a Polish piano player who performed jazz. We were told that he appeared on Mondays, but that sometimes he’d come in other days as well. We stopped by every night we were in Florence, but he never showed up. Still, we did decide to eat there on our last night. What a pleasant surprise. It was one of the best meals we had on our vacation.

Overall, I’d say that we enjoyed our stay in Florence because we took the time to just relax and see things at our own pace. It’s a beautiful city and we certainly had a great time there.

06 May 2014

Haughty service spoiled dinner at Fiola Mare, DC

I love how Washington, DC gets attention as a city with a vibrant restaurant scene. It makes sense. The city has a very cosmopolitan and diverse population. And there are plenty of people on expense account who need to make a favorable impression on customers, clients, and colleagues over a memorable meal in a comfortable setting.

Even though I’m retired, I still try to keep up on the DC food scene. It is frustrating, however, to read about great new restaurants knowing that I won’t get much opportunity to try them. (And no expense account if/when I do get to try them.)

In late April I went to DC for a board meeting of Mazon, the anti-hunger advocacy organization. The first night I ate at Fiola Mare. I had yearned for an opportunity to eat there since I’d read that it opened earlier in 2014. I had eaten at Fiola DC, Fabio Trabocchi’s restaurant in Penn Quarter, in 2012 and loved it. (Click here for that Krik’s Picks blog post.) So I had high expectations for the fish and seafood iteration that’s Fiola Mare. IMG_0307

There is a lot to like about the restaurant. Start with the location. It’s on the Potomac waterfront in Georgetown. I arrived as the sun was setting on a beautiful Sunday spring evening. If it had been just a little warmer, I might have asked for a table on the outdoor patio with relaxing views of the river and Kennedy Center across the way. Inside, some of the tables are in an enclosed porch; those windows can open to let in the fresh air and murmur of the pedestrians strolling along the waterfront. (They’re probably looking wistfully at the diners in the beautiful restaurant.) But if views of the Potomac don’t interest you, you can choose a pleasant and comfortable table in the main dining room.

Then there’s the food. My meal was sublime. I started with burrata with baby artichokes and radishes dressed with a delicious basil pesto. The burrata was heavenly. It was rich and creamy, and each bite was delicately bathed with the pesto. For an entrée, I ordered pan roasted branzino. I’d had branzino a couple of times in Italy and as much as anything, I wanted to compare Fiola’s version to the fish I’d eaten in Italy. It compared very favorably, though the whole, oven roasted fish I had in Venice was better. (Maybe not even better, just more enjoyable, for reasons that I will now explain.)

There was just one thing that keeps me from raving about this dining experience, and that was the service. Even though it was a Sunday night, the restaurant was very busy. I’m sure my server was tired. He actually made it pretty clear that he was very busy. Maybe he thought it would be okay to neglect my little table for one. Or maybe he thought I was lucky that he was serving me at all. In any case, here’s what bugged me about his service:

  • I asked for a black napkin. (I didn’t want lint from the white napkin on my black dress slacks. The restaurant’s web site requires “casual elegant attire.”) He said he’d look for one. Never got back to me on that.
  • I had to ask for a glass of wine to be served with my entrée. (Timing of wine seems to be a problem. At the next table, different server, I heard the couple complain that their dinners were served before they got their bottle of wine.)
  • But the most annoying thing – I was savoring my burrata, only about half finished, when another server arrived with my entrée. “I’m not ready for it,” I said and sent it back to the kitchen. After I finished the burrata, the entrée was delivered to my table. It didn’t appear to have suffered from being held. When my primary server stopped at the table, I told him about the miscue from the kitchen. He did apologize. But the apology came with a pass-the-buck excuse that he hadn’t ‘fired’ the entrée.

Sorry, but a restaurant that’s trying to convey a high class, sophisticated vibe like Fiola Mare has to do a better job of pacing the meal without falling back on self-serving excuses.

So here’s my bottom line on Fiola Mare. I wouldn’t recommend it for a business dinner. While the location is beautiful, it’s a little inconvenient to get to, and I wouldn’t want to take a chance that a server’s mistake could get in the way of a successful meeting. And I probably wouldn’t choose to eat there on my own again. I would return to Fiola in Penn Quarter and I would like to try Fabio Trabocchi’s other DC restaurant, Casa Luca.

23 April 2014

Emilia Romagna: Not the ‘Foodie Mecca’ we expected

After three beautiful days in Venice, we departed by train; destination Bologna in the heart of Emilia Romagna. Located in the Po Valley, the terrain is broad, expansive and flat. Emilia Romagna is touted as the new or emerging foodie destination of Italy, and for good reason. It had a very agricultural feel that made me think of the Central Valley of California. It’s the home of Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, Prosciutto, and Lambrusco wine. But as we discovered, as much as it’s a center for food production in Italy, it has a long way to go to match the scenic beauty of Tuscany or other regions of Italy that attract tourists.IMG_0114

The train station in Bologna is located just at the edge of the center city. It was an easy walk, about 6 blocks, to our hotel, The Metropolitan. The hotel, in turn, was only about four blocks from the Piazza Maggiore and Due Torri (Two Towers, Bologna’s answer to Pisa’s Leaning Tower). So the location was ideal for exploring the city and for our day trips by train to Ferrara and Modena.

Quite in contrast to our hotel in Venice, The Metropolitan was sleek and modern. Some reviewers call it a boutique hotel. To me, it was more like a very comfortable business hotel. If I had ever been lucky enough to have a business trip to Bologna, I would have stayed in a hotel like the Metropolitan. Our package included breakfast. While the food itself was fairly standard (cheese, ham, bread, pastries, cereal, yogurt, fruit) the presentation was beautiful and very artistic. Appropriate I guess for a food Mecca.

After getting settled into the hotel, my wife and I took a walk around the city to get our bearing and scope out a restaurant for dinner. Our first impression was not favorable. Bologna is a noisy, bustling, gritty city. One of the things that struck me, unfavorably, was the graffiti. It’s everywhere. I mean literally, you can’t go anywhere without seeing walls tagged with stylized graffiti. It was a little disconcerting. We were expecting more of a historically preserved city center, like we did see on our day trips.

And unlike Venice, Bologna and the other towns we visited in Emilia Romagna observed the traditional mid-day break. So in our walk around town, we saw lots of graffiti and lots of shuttered shops. We were quite chagrined. However, as the afternoon wore on, the city gradually took on a different tone. As the midday break ended, the city took on a much more cosmopolitan aura. We also came up with a list of several restaurants that looked promising for dinners during our stay.

Now, as I noted above, Bologna was our base for exploring Emilia Romagna. We planned two day trips. Originally, we reserved a rental car. But we discovered that the towns we wanted to visit were easily accessible by train from Bologna. So we cancelled the car and took the train. To me, that was a great decision. Traveling by train in Italy was easy and mostly relaxing. (I always had a little apprehension about making sure I was on the correct train for my intended destination.) The train stations were quite close to the city centers, and it was an easy walk to see the highlights of each town.

We picked Ferrara primarily for the historic buildings. The city center is dominated by the Castello Estense. The huge impressive castle is surrounded by a water-filled moat. The other dominant feature of the city center is the cathedral Duomo di Ferrara. But as much as anything, we enjoyed just wandering the medieval streets within the city walls and taking in the ambiance of the town. After a couple of hours, we felt that we’d seen enough and headed back to the train station.

I suppose at that point, if we’d had a car, we might have driven around and explored the countryside between Ferrara and Bologna. Instead, when we got back to Bologna, we made an impromptu visit to an art exhibit. It was a collection of Dutch art featuring Vermeer’s painting of The Girl With The Pearl Earring. The exhibit was at the Palazza Fava, an exhibition center just two blocks from our hotel. We enjoyed the exhibit, but also enjoyed looking at the architecture and permanent exhibits in the palazza. IMG_0133

Our second day trip, to Modena, finally gave us the foodie experience we anticipated in Emilia Romagna. The food market in Modena is fabulous. In addition to the stands selling regional food specialties, we were fascinated by the array of vegetable vendors as well as vendors of fresh meat, fish, and seafood. It was well worth the trip. And overall, we found Modena to be a more inviting town. It was more cosmopolitan than Ferrara but much less gritty than Bologna. My highlight of the day was sitting at a sidewalk café enjoying a plate of lasagna alla Bolognese and a glass of Lambrusco. (I didn’t know this before our trip, but I learned that one of Modena’s sister cities is St. Paul, MN.)

We did return to Bologna for dinner each night. Here are the restaurants we picked:

Ristorante Il Moro: I suppose this would be considered a tourist restaurant. Its menu includes a line up of pizzas. But we had a very enjoyable meal here. It’s not far from The Metropolitan and sort of off the beaten path for the city’s restaurant district. We happened by on our way back to the hotel. We stopped to look at the menu, and a waiter who spoke very good English invited us in for a bite of lunch. We declined, but we liked the menu and liked the way the restaurant looked. So we came back that evening for dinner. It was very good, and the service was friendly and accommodating.

Ristorante Victoria: This was my least favorite restaurant of our whole trip to Italy. In fact, after eating here, I decided we had to check diner reviews of restaurants before deciding on a restaurant. (I actually installed the Trip Adviser app in the hotel that evening and used it the rest of our trip.) It had all the prospects of being good – menu, décor, ambiance. And it’s not that our meal was bad. It was just … so average.

La Capriata: This was a great restaurant. We got the recommendation from our hotel (so I bet that means they cater to business travelers). But on our last night in Bologna, it was not at all busy, and we got great personal attention from the servers. We played it up a little bit by telling them that our trip to Italy was in celebration of our wedding anniversary. They made a truly great effort to make the meal memorable, and they succeeded.

After our dinners on two of the nights in Bologna, we went to Cantina Bentivoglio to listen to music. Billed as a restaurant, wine bar, and jazz club, Bentivoglio was a wonderful find. The cover charge for the jazz club was only 4.5 Euros and the drinks were not expensive. One night we heard a trio with sax, piano, and bass. The second night was a duo of piano and drums. They were great performers and the venue was really cool. It was downstairs and had a feeling like a wine cellar or underground vault. It was my favorite part of our stay in Bologna.

One final note about our visit to Emilia Romagna: For being a center of food production, especially meat and dairy, I didn’t see a single cow or pig (or chicken, sheep or goat for that matter) during our whole stay. Perhaps if we had rented a car and driven around the countryside, we might have seen some farm animals. But I was surprised by that.

22 April 2014

Basking in the sublime beauty of Venice

One of the top items on my list of things to do in retirement is travel. After 9 months of being retired, we finally took a major trip. We spent two weeks in Italy in late March and early April. That wasn’t literally the first travel since retiring. We took a trip to New York in October and to Los Angeles in January. But both of those trips were related to Mazon board meetings, and so felt more or less like when Linda would travel with me on business trips for Land O’Lakes.

But our Italy trip was a real vacation. We could plan it any way we wanted with no worries about working around work schedules and no worries about missing e-mails. We could go for as long as we wanted, and that’s what we did.

So to begin the vacation, we flew into Venice. We had never been to Venice before. We both wanted to see the city. But we really didn’t know what to expect. As we did our planning, we consulted many friends and family members. We found that people either loved Venice or hated it. We didn’t know which category we’d fall into. So we planned Venice for the beginning of our trip. That way, if it was a disappointment, we could just spend our three days getting over jet lag and then go on to other destinations.IMG_0017

But it turns out, we loved it. We got off to a good start. The sun was dipping low in the sky as our plane circled the city. The golden hues of the late afternoon sun gave the city a warm, welcoming glow. After we landed and retrieved our luggage, we scurried to catch the waterbus (vaporetto) for an hour-long ride to the dock closest to our hotel. The sun slipped below the horizon as the boat neared the dock, and I took a photo that captured the moment.

We did actually have a little confusion finding our way from the bustling waterfront through the winding passages to our hotel. But we found it, and it was fabulous. Casa Nicolo Priuli is scarcely three blocks from the waterfront. But it could have been miles away in terms of quiet peacefulness. That’s actually something that we experienced a lot in Venice. There are locales with throngs of people. Yet in just a few minutes, you cross a bridge and find yourself virtually alone on a quiet walkway.

Our hotel was great. The location was fantastic, very close to the major sites of Venice. But once evening fell, the neighborhood became very quiet and subdued. I keep thinking in terms of the streets becoming empty. But of course, in Venice, there are no streets. Just canals and bridges and porticos and walkways that wind through the city, promising the visitor an endless variety of things to discover.

The weather was fabulous while we were there. In the morning, we’d open the windows and listen to the sounds of the city waking up – shop keepers opening their stores, gondoliers preparing their boats, and people scurrying by to find a cup of coffee and a bite of breakfast. And always the sounds of church bells echoing through the city.

Restaurants in Venice

Trattoria da Nino: After a day of travel, we were tired and just wanted to find a restaurant nearby to have a quick dinner and then go to bed. We checked out a few places and settled on Trattoria da Nino. It offered a ‘menu del giorno’ that looked good, and we could eat on a covered patio outside. (This was a significant thing for us after the long, brutal winter we experienced in Minnesota.) The restaurant was ok … average really. We both liked our first course best. I had gnocchi and Linda had a lemony vegetable soup. The rest of the meal, roast chicken and greens, was pretty ordinary.

Agli Artisti da Piero: During our first full day in Venice, as we wandered through the city, we checked out the restaurants we passed with an eye toward where we would return for dinner. Most of the restaurants that were geared to serving tourists had someone standing outside engaging people who walked by, trying to lure you in. It’s really kind of annoying. But as we walked by Agli Artisti, there was something about it that was appealing to us. We wanted a fish/seafood restaurant – a specialty of Agli Artisti. The menu looked good, and we liked the décor. So later that evening, we found our way back and enjoyed one of the best meals we had in Italy. IMG_0088

Luna Sentada: On our last night in Venice, I really wanted to find someplace that was not a tourist restaurant. Luna Sentada was very close by. We walked by it often going to and from the hotel. We liked the ambiance. But what intrigued me was its food concept. It was Asian Italian fusion, with the chef trying to imagine and prepare the combinations of flavors that Marco Polo might have experienced during his world travels centuries ago. It was a very creative and delicious meal and a great way to end our stay in Venice.

Every night after dinner, we strolled to St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) and mingled with the crowds, enjoyed the mild spring weather, and listened to music. There always were bands performing on outdoor stages in the square. They’d quit playing around 11 p.m., and we’d be back in our hotel by 11:10. Otherwise, we didn’t find much nightlife in Venice. But no matter. We were still recovering from jet lag.

Departure

We left Venice the way we arrived, on a vaporetto. After breakfast, we packed our luggage, checked out, and made our way to the waterfront where we caught a waterbus to the train station. The boat was jammed full as it made its way past the stately buildings of Venice. We watched wistfully and vowed that we would return someday.

10 April 2014

Who decides what is 'good' food technology

There's a great article on the St. Paul paper's web site about an innovative project using the old Hamm's Brewery to grow fish (tilapia) and use the fish waste to fertilize greenhouse veggies. http://www.twincities.com/News/ci_25497427/At-former-Hamms-site-its-the

Don't get me wrong. I love the concept and I hope it works. But I was curious to see that it's being celebrated as an organic food production system. And since I'm an organic skeptic, I wondered: If cows and pigs and chickens have to have access to sunshine and pasture to be considered sustainable, why aren't those same activists criticizing this project for confining the fish and failing to provide them with access to open water? For that matter, why aren't organic plants required to be grown in dirt and have access to sunshine, rather than hydroponics in a greenhouse?

Who decides that this project's industrial technologies are laudable while conventional 'industrial' agriculture (like my dad practiced) should be castigated?

I've felt for a long time that the organic movement has gotten so wrapped up in self righteous rhetoric and food politics that it's lost its way. 

25 March 2014

Pre-Italy wine tasting in S. Mpls: Terzo

My wife and I made it to Terzo before we went to Italy. My goal was to sample an array of Italian wines so that we’d be more knowledgeable when it was time to order in-country.

I had hoped to do a custom flight of Tuscan wines – chianti, sangiovese, and Brunello. Regrettably, Terzo didn’t have just exactly what I wanted “al bicchiere” (by-the-glass). They did, however, have three Tuscan wines on the menu; one was a Chianti, one a Sangiovese blend, and a Montepulciano. We ordered a half glass of each. Our server recommended what order to try them. All were good. My wife liked the Chianti best, and I liked the Montepulciano.

TerzoNow, a word about Terzo’s wine menu. Terzo is an Italian wine bar. All of the wines on the menu are Italian, and they have a robust selection of wine by the glass as well as an extensive selection of bottles. Pricing is not cheap, but it is very straightforward. I think the most expensive glass I saw was $20 for a Barolo. Most of the glasses that we tried cost anywhere from $8-14. They serve a 6-ounce pour, which I consider generous. (I usually expect a 5-ounce pour.) You can get a half glass, 3 ounces, for exactly half the price.

Terzo does not do wine flights per se. Instead, you can specify your own ‘flight’ simply by choosing an assortment of half-glasses. If your server is as good as ours was, you can get good advice on choosing a custom flight.

As a wine bar, the food menu is oriented toward small plates and appetizers. They do have 5 or 6 ‘piatti’ which are entrée sized plates of food. Some of them looked very appealing. But we chose an assortment of small plates. The categories on the menu are ‘cicchetti’ (snacks), bruschetta, salads, and small plates. They do also offer a cheese board, salumi board, and prosciutto. On the snack list, they offer something that I’d call an ‘amuse bouche,’ a one-bite appetizer for $1. (We didn’t get one on our visit.)

Here’s what we did get to eat:

  • Calabrian peppers stuffed with herbed goat cheese. There were two nice-sized peppers on the plate. The server said they were not too spicy, but they were too spicy for my wife. I loved them and gladly gobbled them both.
  • Caramelized onion tart. The server was practically bubbling with excitement to tell us that the puff pastry for the tart was made in-house. It was excellent.
  • Two gorgeous seared sea scallops with mini potato chips (made from fingerling potatoes). The scallops were served with a fennel puree and a preserved lemon relish. This was my wife’s favorite dish.
  • A plate of chilled and sliced veal, dotted with tuna emulsion, each dollop topped with a caper berry. My favorite. It was sublime.

I’ve mentioned our server a couple of times in this post. She was fantastic. She was friendly, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and attentive. Her food recommendations were exactly what we wanted. And she did a great job helping us to explore the nuances of Italian wines. I hope all the other servers are as good as Karen.

One more thing about Terzo that I really appreciate; they take reservations. Terzo, in case you didn’t know, is the No. 3 restaurant at the 50th & Penn intersection of Minneapolis owned by the Broder family. The Cucina is a deli, and the Pasta Bar is one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. But in order to maintain the ambiance of a neighborhood restaurant, they don’t take reservations. That’s ok on a nice summer evening. If it’s a long wait, you can always stroll down to Lake Harriett. But we don’t have enough of those warm evenings in Minnesota. So we don’t go to the Pasta Bar as often as we otherwise would, because we’re not going to be hassled by bad weather while waiting.

Terzo solves that for us. Half of the tables are available for reservations, and half are kept open for walk-ins. Nice compromise.

We will definitely be back.

24 February 2014

I hate food waste #3: Carrot pasta

Sorry, I got distracted after writing two posts on using leftovers creatively instead of throwing them away. (Click here for #1 and here for #2.) But this one is the one I’m most proud of.

It started with a turkey. When I make turkey, I almost always grill it. After dinner, my wife and I strip the carcass of the remaining meat. Then I break down the carcass and freeze the bones, usually in two bags. I use the carcasses later to make turkey broth for any recipe that calls for chicken broth. I use this recipe from Bon Appetit/Epicurious as my starting point. (The recipe calls for roasting the bones. But since I grill my turkey over charcoal, I find that the carcass already has a nice smoky flavor and depth of flavor, so I skip that step.)CarrotPasta

After the broth was done simmering, I strained it into freezer containers (for future use). What remained were the bones, now pretty well bare of any meat, and the soggy celery, onions, and carrots. I did toss most of that stuff. But I decided to save the carrots. They looked so nice and while they generally held their shape, they were quite soft and mashable.

The inspiration for my use for them came from two separate places. First I saw a video on Mario Batali’s website for mezzalune (click here). And shortly after that, I read a recipe for potato gnocchi. “Aha!” I said to myself. “I wonder if I could make pasta dough with the boiled carrots from my turkey broth.”

It turns out that the carrots worked very well in the dough. I used pretty much the same proportion of carrots to flour as the recipe called for potatoes to flour.

After shaping a few gnocchi, I noticed that the dough seemed very malleable. I decided to try rolling it out, and it worked very well. So then, remembering the mezzalune video, I blended together some (leftover) ricotta, herbs, and an egg and went about shaping the mezzalune. I did about half of the batch as mezzalune and half as tortelloni.

Besides feeling sort of self-satisfied that I’d found a use for the boiled carrots, it was fun to shape the stuffed pasta. The carrots provide a nice orange color, but they don’t really add much distinct flavor. Most of the flavor comes from the herbed ricotta plus the olive oil, herbs, and cracked pepper I finish them with after cooking.