Copyright Piacere - Food & Travel without rules! 2023 - Theme by ThemeinProgress
I’m always searching for markets where I can find unusual items we like to have from time to time but are not available in your neighborhood markets. As I mentioned in previous posts, there are times when we have our special TV dinners such as when watching a special sports event or concert especially during the Olympics. I try to make these dinners interesting and when possible a small, easy to prepare meal, such as caviar with chopped egg white, egg yolk, onions, toast and a glass of champagne. Always helps when watching Federer, who sometimes keeps me on the edge of my chair a little easier. Or maybe it is a duck terrine magret, saucisson de canard (duck sausages), or foire gras with a light salad and a glass of Sauterne. For dessert I might prepare Vermicelles mit rham (pureed chestnut with cream) or on a scope of vanilla ice cream or meringue. In Switzerland you can buy Vermicelles in a tube and when squeezed out it looks like spaghetti. One of our favorites is a selection of French cheese with fresh fruit, a nice crisp baguette and a bottle of Bordeaux. Sounds a little extravagant, but on occasion having these foods at home is far less expensive then in a restaurant and actually very easy to prepare.
For your special guests you might want to include bit of exquisite to your dish and add shavings of truffles, black or white from Italy or France over a dish of freshly made pasta. And I love risotto nero made with squid ink. So where to get these items became an obsession as soon as I arrived in Florida. I was sure that with such a large population of Europeans, I would find what I was looking for. Although I’m far away from these foods that I use to enjoy in Europe, I have at least found a supplier that will make it possible to bring back some of those wonderful dinner memories and hopefully add a few more to the list.
Marky’s specializes in French, Spanish, Russian, Italian and other International foods in a warm and inviting environment with service that is accommodating and knowledgeable. They will not only answer your questions but will also pack you up with your selections and a bag of ice. If you can’t get to Miami, you can place an ordered on their website and have it delivered. A side benefit to visiting the store however is that the Marky’s location is in an area that has many small ethnic restaurants. These small family owned establishments look so interesting that going into Miami late in the afternoon once-in-a-while and discovering some delicious place to eat after shopping is an added adventure.
I was thrilled when I found Marky’s – International Food Emporium, which has a Russian connection in Miami. You can read more about Marky’s on their website and if you visit the market, try out some of the small restaurants in the neighborhood. I will write about them as I also discover them.
Marky’s 687 NW 79th St, Miami, FL 33150
Authentic French cuisine prepared by chef owner Madame Caroline Poussardin in the style of Aix-en-Provence is a sweet find. The food is beautifully presented and an evening at Côté Gourmet is as if you are sitting in a lovely little village in the Provence. It is a family owned establishment where her husband runs the front of the restaurant making people feel as though they are in their dinning room. Côté Gourmet is a little bit of France in Miami Shores. As in many small restaurants in France, the chef and her husband enjoy talking to guests and making their dinning experience memorable. If you speak French, a big smile will come over their face and they will be delighted to communicate with you in their native language.
Fresh ingredients of the season are prepared by Chef Caroline in typically French country-style with specials prepared such as crêpes on Wednesday evening and a special soirée dinner on Thursday. They serve lunch and if you should show up early in the morning and would like breakfast, she will accommodate you. A small menu is complimented with daily specials and is a nice selection. When I tasted the polenta soup with shrimp, I was in France. The soup was seasoned perfectly, smooth and light, amazing for polenta. The lamb chops were prepared exactly as I had requested, rosé with chèvre sauce. I couldn’t resist dessert, the warm pear tart with chocolate sauce over vanilla ice cream on a beautiful flaky crust was a perfect ending. The wine selections compliments the menu and you can order it by the bottle or glass. I almost never order a three-course meal, as it is often too much food. But I made an exception in this case.
Madame et Monsieur owned two restaurants in Aix-en-Provance before moving to Miami to start a restaurant with their daughter. They have been serving their guests for 5 years in a neighborhood local in Miami Shores. The atmosphere is typical of many small restaurants found all over the French countryside. Space for about 30 guests, it is decorated with white crisp tablecloths, white napkins tied with a large golden ribbon, fresh flowers and candles burning, creating a warm romantic atmosphere. When you walk into Côté Gourmet, you walk into France for an evening and you walk out feeling you have returned to your favorite little neighborhood place.
Having lived in Europe for many years, I must admit that finding a good French restaurant that doesn’t compromise itself and is unmistakably French was not easy to find. When it comes to maintaining the meaning of Provence French cuisine, Madame Caroline delivers exactly what you expect.
Côté Gourmet French Restaurant
9999 NE 2nd Avenue
Look for them on Facebook
Every year on Christmas Eve, we gathered at Uncle Vic’s house for our traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner. As family and friends arrived, he would greet them with a cup of his famous Glugg. The aroma of Glugg filled the house with the wonderful scent of spices. Coming in from the cold New England winter and greeted with a warm cup of Glugg instantly made you feel that you were home. With the fire glowing in the fireplace and the family gathered around snatching a piece of fried fish, the festivities began.
He always had the biggest Christmas tree that he cut down himself. Covered with old antique ornaments and everyone’s gifts stacked under the tree, we could hardly get into the living room. The house was open to anyone who didn’t have a place to go and filled with fun as each person arrived bring their homemade biscotti as everyone gathered around to see them being added to our dessert table.
He handmade all the ornaments that were placed outside and inside the house. Christmas was his time to give his family a memorable evening. We carry on this tradition to this day, passing our traditions to our children and remembering those who taught them to us.
The original recipe came from a friend of my uncles and over many years he tweaked it and made it his own. My uncle has long passed, but his daughter and granddaughter continue this tradition and we toast Uncle Vic every Christmas Eve with his famous Glugg.
Uncle Vic prepared bottles of Glugg and presented everyone who visited during the Holiday’s with a bottle to take home. This recipe is best started a few weeks in advance as you want the spices to meld together creating a rich aroma.
The effort of preparing a homemade gift to present to friends is a special way saying Happy Holiday’s and this spicy wine really hits the spot on a cold snowy night.
Uncle Victor’s Old Fashioned Glugg
Cook Time: 30 minutes on high, 10 minutes on medium heat
Yield: 2 1/4 gallons
2 oranges sliced
3 oz. dried prunes
1 lb. seedless raisins
6 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole cardamom seeds
12 -14 whole cloves
1 large can frozen grape juice
1 gal. Port wine
1 gal. Rose wine
1/2 gal 80-100 proof grain alcohol (80 proof vodka may be substituted)
1 quart cranberry juice (optional)
OTHER THINGS NEEDED
Cheesecloth approx. 24” by 24”
Place the orange slices, frozen grape juice, raisins, prunes, cinnamon sticks, cardamom seeds and cloves in a large saucepan. Add just enough water to cover. Boil the mixture until the raisins are plump with liquid; about 30 minutes on high. Add small amounts of water as the water reduces from boiling. You may also add some Port wine to enhance the taste of the fruit if you plan to use it to compliment a dessert or ice cream.
Let the fruit mixture cool and then place the cheesecloth in a large strainer to cover the inside and overlap the top. Carefully pour the mixture through the cheesecloth to remove sediment. This will have to be done a few times until the liquid is clear of sediment. Set aside the fruit.
Return the liquid to the large saucepan. Over medium heat, add the Port and Rose wines and the vodka and stir. Taste to see if it needs more sugar and add according to taste. You can add the cranberry juice if you like a more tart flavor. Heat the mixture until it is warmed through; approximately 10 minutes.
DO NOT BOIL.
Your Glugg is ready to be served. Enjoy!
• Glugg can be reheated anytime
• Save empty wine and liquor bottles for storage of leftover Glugg.
NOTE: Left over fruit may be turned into a delicious Holiday preserve.
What does tuna capaccio have to do with sports? We have what we call sports TV dinners. When there is a sports event such as the upcoming US Open Tennis Tournament, or a baseball, football world series, or the Olympics, these are TV dinner nights. No, not frozen TV dinners, but moving dinner from the dinning room table to the cocktail table. We don’t often eat in front of the TV, but a sports event is a good excuse. Not that we make it less formal, as we still have a nice table setting, candles and of course wine.
On these evenings when we want something easy but still special. We might grill pizza in our fireplace, make a fondue or a racellette with boiled potatoes and conichones. Sometimes we get a little fancier and have caviar with chopped egg yolk, chopped egg white and chopped onions, or smoked salmon with toast. But when we can get fresh sushi style tuna, it is tuna carpaccio every time.
We start by buying excellent quality fresh tuna; it is warped in plastic wrap and put into the freezer for about 15 minutes. During this time I toast pignoli nuts and let them to cool. Chop fresh basil and slice sun dried tomatoes. When I have black olives from Puglia I’ll slice slivers and put this aside.
When the tuna is just beginning to freeze, remove it from the freezer and slice it very thinly. Layer the slices by overlapping them covering the dish completely.
The next step is sprinkling the nuts, basil, sun dried tomatoes and olives if you have them over the top. For this dish I like the flavor of light extra virgin olive oil from Puglia. This oil is perfect for fish, as it doesn’t have the strong pungent Tuscan oil flavor that is great for salads but not for fish. Next I sprinkle a few large grains of Mediterranean Sea Salt over the top, use the salt very sparingly. The salt is crunchy and adds a nice salty flavor when you bite a grain of salt now and then.
A nice light good quality Prosecco pares very well with this dish.
For dessert I like to have a cool lemony sorbeto drink. In summer I mix some lemon sorbet with half & half cream and lemoncello and beat it in the blender. If it is winter it will be my homemade Limoncello. Limoncello helps to naturalize the salt and fish taste. It is perfect after a fish dinner.
And then with some nice placemats and a candle burning we enjoy our favorite TV dinner and the game.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 people as a main course
1 lb Sashimi quality tuna
8 Sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
Extra Virgin Olive oil (very light)
Sea salt (medium or large grain)
Put the tuna in the freezer for about 15 minutes. You don’t want to freeze it, but it should be at the point where it is just beginning to freeze. This makes it easier to cut paper-thin slices. Lay the tuna slices on a plate slightly overlapping them. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Toast the pignoli nuts in a non-stick sauce pan. This can be done without any butter or oil. Remove them from the heat as soon as they start to brown; let the heat from the pan continue to brown them. They brown very fast and can easily burn. Put them aside to cool.
Julienne the sun dried tomatoes and olives if you have them and set them aside.
Just before serving, sprinkle the tuna with the sea salt. It gives a very nice taste to the tuna and also adds a little crunch. Roughly chop several pieces of fresh basil and set them aside.
Just before serving, sprinkle the toasted pine nuts, basil and sun dried tomatoes over the tuna. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the top of the capaccio and serve cold.
A fresh dessert drink – Sorbetto Al Limone
Limoncello: Sorrento’s Liquid Gold
In Italy there are many alcoholic drinks that are favorites as a digestive. To name a few are Grappa, Moscato, Vino Santo and Prosecco for example. But Limoncello has become one of the world’s favorites in recent years. Although it was well know in Italy, the world has gotten to know the deep yellow after-dinner drink of Limoncello recently. Prior to that it was produced in small productions and mainly drunk in Italy.
Although many areas of Italy produce Limoncello today, it originated in Sorrento. The “oval” Sorrentino – the denomination of geographic Indication (IGP) was granted in November of 2000 and can be found on the bottles from the Sorrento region. This IGP of the Sorrento lemons opened up a whole new commercial opportunity for the area. The lemons grown in this area originally were exported, but today about 40% are sold for fresh consumption and 60% are used to make Limoncello. The Sorrento lemons are medium-large, with a thick, rough, light-yellow skin, an intense aroma and are rich in essential oils. They have a pleasant flavor with a low number of seeds. The key for Limoncello is the oil in the skin and the color of the skin, as it is just the rind that flavors and gives the rich yellow color to the liquor. The maceration of the peel with alcohol and sugar slowly develops the aroma and color.
The unique fresh taste and the aroma of Limoncello is an excellent digestive served cold. Especially after a meal with strong flavors, Limoncello refreshes the palate. The bottles are stored in the freezer and I also put the glasses in the freezer for about 10 minutes or so before serving.
Many Italians make Limoncello themselves. Along the Almalfi coast there is hardly a house that doesn’t have lemons growing in their garden.
Limoncello is used to flavor gelati and cakes, poured over fruit and can be used with shrimp or other fish dishes.
I make Limoncello once a year and store it in our wine cellar – keeping one bottle in the freezer ready for a digestive. I have prepared bottles as gifts to give friends who come to visit or for Christmas gifts. Very small bottles can be made as favors for a wedding or parties. One recipe goes a long way. It is a different idea that makes people really happy.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: N/A
Yield: 1 1/2 quarts
9 large lemons
4/5th bottle Vodka
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Wash the lemons and using a vegetable peeler remove the skins making sure that you do not remove the white part of the lemon.
In a large jar, place the skins and the vodka and seal tightly. Place the bottle in a cool location for 3 weeks or more.
Remove the lemon skins, strain the liquid and add the sugar and water. Allow the mixture to stand outside the refrigerator for about 2 days or until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the Limoncello into bottles and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
When serving Limoncello put the glasses in the freezer for about 10 minutes and pour the Limoncello into the ice cold glass.
I make Limoncello to give to my very best friends and family for Christmas gifts. Create your own label – they will appreciate that you took the time to make such a special gift.
For those who would like to read the history and legends of Lemoncello, view the following web site.
In Italy, sorbetto is served as a dessert but it is wonderful on a beautiful summer afternoon served as a cool flavorful drink. It can be made with many different kinds of liquor and sorbet. I first had this in Milan and in traveling around Italy, found it in many other restaurants. This is a light dessert drink that is wonderful after a meal of heavy flavors or fish.
Sorbetto Al Limone
Prep time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 serving
1 cup lemon sorbet (homemade or store bought)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 short glass Vodka
1 slice lemon
Whip the cream to light peaks. Put the sorbet in a blender with the Vodka. Blend and remove to a bowl. Hand mix the whipped cream and sorbet mixture until it is smooth, but foamy and pour into a burgundy wine glass. Place a slice of lemon on the edge of the glass, and just before drinking it squeeze the lemon over the top.
NOTE: Use complementing liquor with a fruit sorbet. This can be done with other fruits such as pears sorbet with Père Williams, green apple sorbet with Calvados, or strawberry sorbet with Fraises.