The first time I went to Italy was in 2007. I gained thirty pounds in nine weeks.
“Quattordici chili,” a pudgy-cheeked version of me would boast, as if saying the words in Italian made them somehow meritorious. I dropped two pants sizes — first 30, then 32 — before the trip’s end. And I ate in my first Michelin three-starred restaurant in jeans, because slacks were by then an impossible dream. Moderation has always been a problem for me.
Over time I’ve learned that in Rome there is no moderating guanciale. Tonight at Cesare al Casaletto I encounter the first piece, thick like tree bark, leaned casually against a plump pile of tonnarelli like the bouncer at a nightclub door — the carbonara gatekeeper. I dodge it at first, not to avoid the precious pork but to skewer it last, with a swirl of noodles. A fine varnish of egg yolk, pecorino and pepper holds it together. The bite looks, I reckon, just about perfect. But it’s not for me — it’s for a girl back home. She loves carbonara. Continue reading
Posted in Italy
Tagged cacio e pepe, carbonara, casareccia, cesare, cesare al casaletto, christopher johnson mccandless, coratella, cucina romana, da cesare, gricia, guanciale, involtini, italia, italy, katie parla, katie parla's rome, leonardo vignoli, monteverde, natural wine, parlafood, roma, rome, the rome digest, trattoria
“Do you care for any vodka with that?”
Orange juice — I had asked the flight attendant for some orange juice. But despite the convincing case Kendrick Lamar made in my earbuds, I felt inclined not to drank. I was at cruising altitude, trekking 1,800 miles in order to feed myself. And now I was thinking, about expectations and about managing them.
I saw the booze as a specious salve for the jittery nerves engendered by a delayed, overbooked flight. But for my neighbor — embittered towards American Airlines and pawing the arm rest like a caged tiger — alcohol was exactly the tranquilizer he needed. In fact, it was precisely what he expected. “Finally, some service around here,” he grumbled with a half-convincing smile. (For several more minutes, he continued to paw.) Continue reading
Posted in United States
Tagged american airlines, austin, barley swine, beer, bryce gilmore, christina timms, food & wine best new chef, james beard, jason james, kendrick lamar, kyle mckinney, texas, the fat duck, uni
People don’t talk anymore. We text. We email. We double-tap to like. We make Facebook a transitive verb.
What a pleasure, then, to sink into the passenger side of this all-black Mercedes SUV and have a conversation with Thomas Bühner. This is not, I should point out, an interview. He’s the chef of Michelin three-starred La Vie and I’m just some guy he has invited to eat there. He’s fifty years old and I’m not yet thirty. He drives.
I pretend I’m just excited and grateful to be here, but I shift about in my seat, anxiously. My legs stop shaking but my teeth start chattering when I open the door. We’ve arrived at the kitchen garden in Bad Essen, today a 4,000 m² grid of snow, ice and twigs. This is nature’s graveyard shift — winter in the upper latitudes of Germany. Continue reading
Posted in Germany
Tagged bad essen, castle, daniel guevara, garden, germany, michelin 3*, nadja siebert, osnabrück, rené frank, san pellegrino world's 50 best restaurants, schloss ippenburg, sven oetzel, thayarni kanagaratnam, thomas bühner, timo fritsche, tobias pietzsch