Re-creating my European vacation one dish at a time

It was amazing how quickly 10 days past by while on vacation.  Two days were used up for air travel alone.  Left with eight days, I spent much of the time taking in the sights and catching up with family and old friends.  The time I had hoped to devote to cooking, shopping, and eating was limited.

But it wouldn’t be fair to say that I didn’t eat well.  I did.  I was well taken care of in Milan and in Switzerland, taken out to eat at some fine restaurants and served delicious homemade regional specialties.  But my time in Barcelona was a bit rushed, and in my attempt to be frugal, I did not get a chance to try everything I had hoped for. And my dream of stocking up with Italian specialities before catching my flight home did not work out. I was a little bummed but tried to stay positive.

So, because of this, and because I love a culinary challenge, I plan on cooking my way through my trip, recreating the regional dishes from Italy and Switzerland, and attempting to make some of the dishes I didn’t get a chance to taste in Barcelona.  We are very fortunate in America,  having access to foods from around the world, and I am sure it will be no trouble to hunt down the necessary ingredients for my dishes.

Here is what I am thinking:

Pasta Siciliana– made for me by my lovely host, Tonia, in Milan.  It combines soaked and sauteed eggplant with a marinara sauce, Parmigiano, and fresh mozzarella.

Risotto Ticinese– made for me by my cousin Manuel, in San Nazzaro, Switzerland.  It is a regional specialty, made with red wine and porcini mushrooms.

Cheese Fondue– made for me by my aunt Ulla, in San Nazzaro.  She combined a couple regional cheeses with garlic and kirsch liqueur.

Osso buco and polenta with Gorgonzola– had this dish out to eat at a quiet Grotto in Valle Verzasca.  A traditional dish from northern Italy and Southern Switzerland, it combines veal shanks with a little bit of carrots in a savory broth.  The polenta they use is “integral” or whole grain, with flecks of black.  It is served separate, with Gorgonzola on the side.

Riso Condito– made for us by my cousin’s girlfriend, Nadia.  This dish is traditional in her region of Switzerland.  It combines cooked rice with boiled veggies, such as potato, greens, carrot, zucchini and little cubes of regional cheese such as Gruyere.

Tapas– one of the few times we went out to eat in Barcelona, we went for tapas at a busy bar.  There are many different types of tapas, but these were served on a slice of baguette.  Topping ranged from tuna salad topped with cheese, salt cod, goat cheese and greens, salmon and capers, roasted red pepper with cream cheese, olive and anchovy, and crab salad topped with cheese.  Not sure if these are traditional tapas, but my friend who has lived in Barcelona for 5 years, seemed to think so.

Tortilla de patatas–  I didn’t actually try this dish, as I was not hungry when I visited the Boqueria in Barcelona, but I figured it would be easy enough to try to replicate.  It looks like a potato omelette, but a little more fluffy and thick.

Empanada Antonia– Again, did not try, but saw through the display case in the Boqueria.  Same shape as the tortilla, but topped with chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, and over-easy eggs.

I plan to also hunt down some Ticino merlot, the wine made in the region where my family lives in Switzerland.  It will go wonderfully with the salame made from horse, that I brought home with me, traditional to this area.  (Don’t judge before you try!  It is delicious! I was a little nervous at first too, but tasting it, you would never guess it to be horse.)

Along with the merlot, I plan to find some Amaro, a digestive liqueur from Italy that I fell in love with.  The Swiss Italians love their digestivi and I am a big fan now too!  Goes great after a nice meal.

It will be a fun delicious adventure.  You’re welcome to join me!

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Categories: menus

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2 Comments on “Re-creating my European vacation one dish at a time”

  1. Evelyne Stromki
    March 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    I can’t believe that horse still eaten over there as a staple or something very gour-may-ish? My mom said it was eaten when she was young during the war in Germany, cause there wasn’t much to eat then. Go figure..I guess we skweem when we hear about dog eaten in Korea or bugs..Oh well, whatever you can cook up and eat…
    Good that you made in back safe and sound!
    Eve

  2. Nonna
    April 21, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    Yum on everything! How many have you made?

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