Happy New

Happy New Year. I'm off to the beach house and won't be back for a couple of weeks. If I get connectivity down there I'm probably post more about pizzas.

Meanwhile here's a little pic of the view from the hotel in Rome from the previous trip. Cathedrals everywhere; and lots of great rooftop terraces.

Christma Dinner: Sheep

This is about as non-traditional as you can get. No turkey, stuffing and cranberries for me. I made a simple stew from what amounts to a sheep's leg. Served with rice to soak up the sauce.

Sheep Stew

Serves: 6
  • 1,5 kg [4#] sheep leg, chopped in pieces
  • 1 1/2 onions, diced
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 T thyme
  • 1 C dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 C tomato sauce
  1. Oil into a pan
  2. Brown the pieces of sheep, really well
  3. Remove goat pieces
  4. Sauté onions to soften them, with a little salt
  5. Return meat to pan
  6. Add thyme, pepper, white wine, tomato sauce
  7. Simmer for 40 minutes


  1. Served with rice
  2. It's just browned meat, sautéed onions with tomato sauce and white wine to simmer in. Other meats are perfectly acceptable but sheep's more adventurous. The faint hearted may like it with stewing beef.
Super tender and keeps well for the next day, and the next.

Bob Dylan: Zaragoza

Here's a promo video (linkjacked) for the Expo in Zaragoza. The unusual thing is that you can actually understand what he's saying.

Italy: Telephone

As we know, the Italians are famous for their excellent product design skills.

Then how do explain such an ugly public telephone?


Looks like solid cast aluminum so it's body is probably vandal proof  - - but really,  couldn't some effort have gone into making it a little prettier?   Note, also, that the handset is cheap red plastic; which is definitely not vandal proof - since a fair percentage of them have smashed open handsets; probably from banging it repeatedly on that oh so sturdy aluminum shell.

l'Archetto part II

First, the menu.  Check those prices!  A Pizza Margherita for €5,50.  This place is not just a pizzeria, it's a "real" restaurant too - specializing in Roman cuisine - for those not into pizza every day.

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This is their 4 seasons pizza.  more than 1 artichoke would have been nice but look, on the other hand, at that lovely slice of prosciutto


This one here is a little odd.  What you see there on the right are not button mushrooms - they're beans.  It's called (translated)  "The Explosion". larchttobeans09122007874 As you can see the pizzas are a little toasty around the edges and the dough might have had a touch too much salt for my taste. 

Note that the edge of the pizza is not an inch high [2 cm] all puffed up like earlier pics of pizzas.  That's because this is Roma style; probably not hand thrown but formed with a little rolling pin.  The crust is still soft, less chewy than Naples style.  Good in its way.

Oh, and the address of the restaurant is Via dell'Archetto,46,  Roma, Italy (not a real long street - you'll have no trouble finding it)



A very short one today since I have a killer flu... this might well be my last post ever (no, not really, just feels that way at the moment). This is the lovely ambience of the restaurant pizzeria l'Archetto in Rome.  On a side street (okay, an alley) as so many of the good ones are.

Roman style pizzas (less bulgy on the edge).

That's all for now - more details later (and pics of the pizzas) - I need a rest.

Pizza Forum

Reputed to be the first Napoletan pizzeria in Rome. Once inside you notice the ambiance, or lack thereof; sort of metallic and cold.

A couple of nice ovens. Using all sorts of odds and ends of wood.

Big working space. It's after the lunch rush and a drizzly day so apparently not a lot of work to do.

The menu. From EUR 4,50 a pizza - cheap (but not the cheapest in town).

The pizza Forum; square with borders filed with the meaty ingredients.

A stright, by the book, traditional, Margherita. Someone spends a whole mess of time cutting up cherry tomatoes.

A little bit gummy and quite soupy under those tomatoes in the center; a slight smell of flour in the base (not good - needed more time to rise; should smell yeasty, not floury).
Tasty though. And the "Pizza Forum" was good too.

Would I go again? Maybe. There's so many to choose from that this wouldn't bubble to the top of the list. It was conveniently close to the Colosseum and what with the rain it could be a winner again if only on the basis of geography.

Navona Notte

The first ting you notice is the oven (although I also noticed two pizza bases, bare, precooked, sitting on the front of the oven there; not a good thing [precooking your pizza-bases])

And how small the preparation area is (ignore the pizza-base rolling machine just behind the guy's head in the background; we shall hope it is never used)

The menu. Reasonable prices.

A straight Margherita

Porcini mushroom pizza

For a real close view click the foto below

First place visited was Navona Notte.
The base was a little bready and bland/soft/underdone in the center (a soupy center is common in Rome pizzerias it seems). Sauce was showing through under the cheese (this is a good thing).
But - tasty; cherry tomatoes and a decent amount of basil.

As the first pizza I ate in Italy it was not disappointing at all. The Napolitan style crust, light, spongy and chewy was an interesting new experience.

Nice atmosphere, fast service, fair prices - food other than pizzas as well. I'd go again.


Rome: Good pizza at Rossopomodoro. A chain, but producing decent Napoletana style pizza. Delicious tomato sauce.

The oven(s) - one guy needs something to do.

The pizza kitchen - roomy. And he's still underworked

The main pizza menu

The Margherita

A plate of mixed non pizza items

Lots of locations. Expect a wait. You'll enjoy your pizza.

The dough was slightly over salted - the only negative comment

In Rome

Dashed off to Rome and Naples to look at pizzerias and eat way too much.

This is the Trevi Fountain (Rome)

It really is rather beautiful.

More Pizza

The continuing adventure of studying pizza-making in the south of Spain.

In Vera (playa) the restaurant Mayo de 2004 makes a decent pizza.

This one is mushrooms, ham, artichokes and ... bacon. Ham and bacon are too similar and don't provide a flavour contrast.

Fresh crust, some bubbles there. good colour. Thin in the middle. Not bad at all.
The odd thing, which I noticed elsewhere, is that this is a "four seasons" pizza. comes with fours toppings - - but I would expect that the the traditional four seasons pizza's topping are one each in four quadrants of the pizza. Not all spread equally over the thing.

The point is to enjoy each of the four items separately.

It looks like I'll be continuing the studies in Italy next week. Off to Rome and Naples to check out the pizzerias there. Call it a business trip.

The Garden 28 November

Okay, so it's November; the end of November at that.

Therefore there are only a few roses blooming in the garden.

No food related posting recently because I haven't been doing any food. Been busy looking at opening a restaurant so that's been sucking up all my time. Well really it's more a pizzería rather than a proper "restaurant" but it's a start.

Café Jardin - Pizzería

Continuing the reviews of pizza I've had recently.

On the boulevard leading to Hotel Vera Playa Club you can get an excellent pizza at the Cafe/Restaurant/Pizzeria Jardin (that's in Vera, Almeria, Spain - in the beach zone)

They know what they' re doing - producing a decent thin crust pizza with just about the right amount of bubble in the crust and a proper proportion of toppings - nicely toasted (but probably in a regular pizza oven, not a real wood-burner so there's a lack of that subtle wood-oven touch). Good price for a better than average pizza. My favorite, so far, in the area.

Urban Planning

On a misty morning in my current home town - 8:00 A.M.

Note the little palm on the right; thus indicating the climactic zone.

Note the little posts on the left of the sidewalk - to keep people from parking half on and half off the street (that is three quarters on the sidewalk). They're wild parkers here in Spain.

Note the electrical pole in the middle of the sidewalk; thus indicating a complete lack of urban planning - or that the street came well before electricity arrived and the electrical installations are a retrofit.
Don't know for sure. But it sure makes it tough for people with baby carriages.

A Beach

It was an overcast day and not a soul on the beach at lunch. Well... that's November for you, although 5 out of 7 days were sunny on the nice days I typically forget to take any pictures.

That's the Mediterranean by the way. Look hard and on the other side of the water maybe you can see Algeria.

Turkey Pie

Today's entry: given that in Canada Thanksgiving was a week or four ago and that in the States it's about now, sis Elizabeth made a beautiful turkey pie and sent a picture.

Elizabeth's turkey pie

I like the star things on top. I have not been gifted with the recipe as yet. In the event that it arrives I'll edit this post. Presumably it's something along the lines of:

  • a pie rust (probably baked before filling)
  • leftover turkey bits
  • some sort of ratatouille (cooked mixed veggies)
  • a bechamel sauce to hold everything together

The turkeys they sell here in Spain are the size of a great big chicken so it's trickier to end up with enough leftovers for one of these.

Pizza - San Bernabé - Pizzería Lua

While down in Vera I was checking  out the local pizzerías.  One nice looking place at Vera Playa (Puerto Rey) is "Pizzería Trattoría Lua".  Linen service, crystal glasses, good heavy silverware,  well dressed servers, but an informal atmosphere. Upscale looking but not pricey at all.
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Hand rolled, baked in a gas fired platform oven in an open pizza kitchen.  I had ordered the Margherita with fresh tomato (the tomato could/should have been sliced thinner).

Their pizza: what I'd call American style; thicker crust, sort of soft, chewy, loads of cheese.
Pizza Lua-10112007788

I'd eat there again - because it's got a nice atmosphere and I enjoyed watching the pizzas being prepared - but I wouldn't be going just for the pizza.

Pizza Lua 1 - 10112007784

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I've been offline - down at the beach place maybe doing some business deals. One quick update (I just got back and reconnected to the world/internet and have a lot of catching up to do). 

This is a typical Spanish breakfast at a cafe - I had one most every day.  And this is why the Mediterranean diet is good for you: coffee with foamy milk (and not a humongous mug either), a toasted baguette (only 1/2 of one) with crushed tomato (not sugary jam), which will then be topped with pure olive oil (and maybe a little salt) - not butter or margarine. Oh, for a more complete breakfast we add a glass of orange juice (almost invariably freshly squeezed [Valencian oranges - of course].  desayuno-10112007781

New Toy

I have a fun toy that, despite being a capricious purchase, turns out to be useful.



You point it at what you're reheating and if it's about 60c [140F] it's about the right temperature to eat.  Also good for oven and fridge temps.

Don't try to take it with you on an airplane though.

Assorted Cooking Disasters

This week was full of messed up attempts at various dishes. Nothing seemed to be working particularly well. There was the White eggplant and potato thing that way overcooked the eggplant. The slow roasted tomatoes that end up burnt. The roast turkey breast was not bad but turned out to be enough to last for about 5 days. All in all it seems that the stars were misaligned. I have pictures... but they're not pretty.

Was down in the south looking at a potential restaurant location last week (which turned out to not quite be what I was looking for) and when that didn't work out went to the beach place and encountered by accident a spot that might just be the thing.
Have been working on a proposal for a restaurant (that is to say... pizzeria) that I'm thinking of opening on the south cost of Spain. Perhaps the spin on this blog's going to change from What I Cooked for Dinner to What it Takes to Open a Restaurant.

Deer & Wild Rice with Raspberries

Not your everyday dinner.   And yes the photo looks quite pink, and it certainly was, that was the theme.  Don't bother trying this with ordinary meats such as beef, chicken or pork, I don't think it would work.  It does however work well with wild meats so maybe wild swine, if you can get it, would be okay.

These are thin fillets of deer but a big chunk like deer sirloin would work too.

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Dear with Raspberry Wild Rice

Serves: 4
  • 400 gr deer fillets [1#] (or loin)
  • 1 liter water [1 quart]
  • 3 strips lemon peel (or use orange peel)
  • 1 t black pepper, cracked (very coarsely ground. I used a mortar)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • 80 gr wild rice [3 oz]
  • 120 gr white rice [4 oz/ ½ C]
  • 150 gr fresh raspberries (or 100 gr frozen & 50 gram fresh) [8 oz]
  • 2 T lemon juice (fresh) (or orange)
  • 4 T olive oil, virgin
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Water, cold,  into a pot (for the rice)
  2. Add lemon/orange rind, bay leaf, pepper and a good dash of salt
    • Bring to a boil
  3. Add wild rice
    • Simmer 30 minutes
    • Meanwhile, skip down to doing the dressing
  4. Add white rice
    • Simmer 20 minutes (or 15 minutes - until rice is tender)
    • Meanwhile, skip down to doing the meat
  5. Drain excess water through a sieve
  6. Mix gently with a fork into the raspberry dressing (see the following)
  7. Taste for salt and pepper.  It will probably need both

    Raspberry Dressing
  8. Zip 100 grams of raspberry with a little blender until very liquidy
  9. Strain through a sieve into a big bowl (for the rice, later)
  10. Add lemon/orange juice and olive oil and whisk to emulsify the dressing
  11. Grill your deer fillets over high heat (or under high heat if you're using the oven grill, as I did) or fry the deer loins
  12. Plate the meat and rice, decorate with whole raspberries (and, if you used orange zest/juice, with fine orange slices)


  1. Put salt into the rice water before the rice.  Adding it later does not have the same effect at all

Vietnamese Pork

Another quick lunch.  Uses a wok - which is usually fun.  Since it was lunch there was no fancy plating - served it right out of the wok


Derived from my favorite curry book - Ultimate Curry Bible; Madhur Jaffrey

Vietnamese Pork

Serves: 4
  • 550 gr pork loin [1,25#] cut in 2x1x5 cm strips/chunks [1 x 1/2 x 2 inch]
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 t Fish sauce
  • 1 t cornflour
  • 1 stick lemongrass, minced fine
  • 2 shallots, brunoise, fine [diced]
  • 2 green chilies, brunoise, fine [diced]
  • 1 habanero chilli, brunoise, fine [diced]
  • pepper, black, fresh ground (a bunch)
  • a dash sesame oil
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 t curry powder
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced fine (rings)
  1. Mix marinade ingredients with a fork
  2. Place meat in marinade, coat well, for an hour or so (in my case 'twas 30 minutes)
  3. When you're ready to go...  Oil into a wok
  4. Fry up the onions over medium heat until just starting to brown
  5. Crank the heat and add the meat and its marinade
  6. Toss around from time to time (but leave it alone enough that the surfaces of the meat have a chance to brown a little)
  7. Keep cooking until the pork is only just barely done


  1. You could use 50% more meat without changing the marinade ingredient amounts
  2. Please don't overcook the pork - it ruins the whole thing.  Remember, pork does not have to be tough and dry.
  3. This uses fish sauce, it's an important component
    • Buy a small bottle - you'll never use very much
    • Keep the bottle well capped and double bagged with a zip type plastic bag - - this stuff sticks up a cupboard like nothing else
    • Despite the almost vile smell it adds a nice flavour to the dish
  4. I served it with brussels sprouts - it went with the currish flavour quite wel

Restaurant; El Rincón de Pepe: Murcia

While away for the weekend we stopped a top establishment down in the town of Murcia (province of Murcia, Spain).  Excellent modern food.  There are pictures.

For starters:   A mixed veggie thing topped with some Iberian ham.  Think ratatouille.

Rincón Veggies

Then there's the squid (layers with potatoes) with a half ball of a paprika sauce.  It's a variation on the classic Galacian squid dish.

Rincón Pulpo

I had ox (well, actually it was castrated bull but I think it translates as the same thing).  Just very slightly grilled, rare.  It's a very well marbled meat and they're using top top quality product.  Simple is good.

Rincón Buey  

This is cow cheeks with a rich brown sauce.  Oddly the accompaniment was something with banana.  Super.  Even better than my own version of this dish - which is usually pigs cheeks.

Rincón Tenera carilleras

And something resembling lemon meringue pie.  The bottom was not a jellied lemon pie filling but a lemon infused super fine cake.  And it had perfect meringue. I was so enthusiastic about this dish that we'd dug into it before I remembered to take a picture.  Ooops.

Rincón Lemon Merengue 

Summary.  Worth a side trip to visit.   Parking was tricky in the middle of Murcia. Pricey but not outrageous.

Paul McCartney making mashed potatoes

Paul McCartney making mashed potatoes

Occasionally I post things just so that I don't lose track of them. This is a good one. The title is self explanatory. I like this guy & it's fun to watch.

Solomillo Asado: Sirloin Roast

I'm not sure whether this is a sirloin or a filet mignon.  Either way it's a really tender cut of beef and damn expensive.  But tasty.


Simple simple simple

Roast Sirloin with Mustard Crust

Serves: 4 (or 6) (meant for 6 but doesn't go that far in this house)
  • 800 gr solomillo (whole sirloin/filet mignon) [1¾ #]
  • 2 T mustard, dijon, three herbs blend (or plain)
  • 1 C bread crumbs, fine
  1. Preheat oven to 175C [350F]
  2. Wrap meat with string or Food Loops (which are quite fun) so that it's more or less a consistent thickness along its length
  3. Paint mustard onto/over the entire chunk of meat with a pastry brush
  4. Roll in bread crumbs; covering the ends too
  5. Oil the roasting pan (to prevent sticking)
  6. Place meat in pan, place pan in oven, close door
  7. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn over. Cook another 20 minutes or so
    • To an internal temperature of 55 C  [125F]
  8. Remove to a plate to rest, remove string, lick fingers
    • It'll leak juices probably - so replate it afterwards


  1. This only works with really good cuts
  2. If your oven has both top and bottom heating turn them both on
  3. I get my pastry brushes at the hardware store - cheap
  4. Don't sear the meat before roasting.  That is done for color and is unnecessary for a crusted meat dish
  5. The crust is not solid but still soft
  6. Slice thinly.  It's sort of like a slow roasted prime rib - but smaller