Tomato Chutney

I tasted this chutney first at my friend Pia’s home, way back when; it’s her Mom’s recipe and it was then – and is now – good enough to eat with a spoon. It is understood in my family now that that’s what tomato chutney tastes like, the go-to-recipe for a chunky-sweet and slightly sour-with a definite hint of apple tomato condiment for grilled fish or pork. There’s only one person here in the house that actually can eat things like that with a spoon, and that’s my little son Luca, but although I cannot, cannot, cannot and won’t ever learn to understand how it’s possible to eat ketchup that comes in these almost too big for the fridge plastic bottles with a spoon, I have to admit, that I have no problem at all licking the spoon that comes out of the tomato chutney glass.

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Queso Fresco

Here is the train of thought that led to this post: Martin came home from Boston with fresh corn tortillas and Peet’s Coffee for me. I opened one bag of coffee and hid the rest, but corn tortillas are perishable, so….eat it was. That’s where that train of thought almost derailed then and there – too many opinions on what to wrap them around. I settled the matter and decreed: carnitas for dinner, with corn tortillas, tomatillo salsa and queso fresco. Sound good? Agreed. Good corn tortillas are a little bit like gold dust around here: hard to find. So the question what to do with a whole pack of them is to be taken seriously. Everyone here loves carnitas, so we could agree on that, but I have to be particular and need some queso fresco on top of my tacos to make them a perfect bite. Queso fresco (and all its cousins, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunties) unfortunately belong in the gold dust category as well, so there’s only one way out: make your own.

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Peas & Pancetta

There’s good stuff to eat in Italy – that’s a fact. It’s also a fact that I have a hard time controlling myself when I’m faced with a nice Farmer’s Market (or the well stocked produce department inside a supermarket for that matter) and the immediate means of cooking the ingredients; in this particular case a beautiful Tuscan vacation home in the hills of the Garfagnana with ample access to everything good: wine, cheese, cured (and not so cured) meats, fish, veggies and fruits and veggies and fruits and veggies and fruits….and did I mention the fantastic wine yet? Having access to a kitchen and a BBQ on your vacation lowers the level of frustration (as in: how many peaches can I possibly consume right here, right now??) considerably. I love shopping in foreign grocery stores, it’s a tourist attraction for me and my family knows to tolerate me, because they know there will be light at the end of the tunnel, figuratively speaking. It’s a pity, really, that a person can only eat so much watermelon in one sitting and even though we practically plowed our way through giant tubs of green and black olives and caper berries, we had to give up and take the rest home – they had to share precious real estate in the trunk of our car with the wine, gigantic hunks of parmigiano, pecorino, pancetta, the pool toys, the Smokey Joe (we’re so equipped) and the suitcases that actually contained clothes, not food…

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