31 August, 2011

return to italy

I took my first combined neuroscience & pharmacology exam of the year on Monday. Tuesday it was right back to classes from 7:30 am - 1:30 pm, followed, of course, by more studying. I feel like I'm still recovering, but at the same time I'm already worried about getting behind on this next chunk of material. Ahh, medical school. I know, this is what I signed up for. I just need to get over it and stop feeling sorry for myself.

One good thing about an exam is that it gives you a reason to celebrate. I celebrated by bringing a bit of Italy to my kitchen. Right now, the best part of Italy to revisit in my mind is Sora Margherita in the Jewish ghetto of Rhome. I have definitely added this to my list of favorite eating experiences. We ate lunch there on a hot, sunny day. I was very excited to try this restaurant, described as a hole-in-the-wall joint that officially registered as a "club" rather than a restaurant in order to avoid stricter regulations. We knew not to bother looking for a sign and spotted the red curtains across the square. In front was a woman feeding pigeons and a few wooden chairs for waiting customers. We waited on those chairs in the brilliant sun for a good thirty minutes before there was space for us inside.

We walked to the back of a warm, cramped restaurant, past white paper table cloths and full, satisfied faces. In the back corner of the restaurant we started by ordering much-needed cold beers. The waitress didn't speak much English but we managed to understand each other well enough to agree to her suggestion that she bring us the day's specials. This sounded like fun to me, and I would have approximately forty-seven questions about the menu if left to decide for myself. We started with some kind of frittata and an amazing artichoke that had been fried until the leaves were crisp as chips. This was followed by several more plates: a meat ravioli with fresh ricotta and lots of black pepper, giant meatballs with sweet green peas and gravy that happen to be the best meatballs I have ever tasted, a lasagna with red sauce, and I don't remember what else. We joined the ranks of full, satisfied faces.

While Ian and I were in Italy this summer we saw and ate zucchini flowers everywhere. Of course, I had heard of them before but don't think I had ever eaten a zucchini flower or seen one in a grocery store before then. This past weekend Ian spotted some at the Oak Park farmer's market and snatched them up. Perfect timing.  I read about many ways to enjoy these treats - raw, torn into a salad, made into pesto, cooked with a soup, roasted... We went for the traditional (decadent) version: stuffed with cheese fried. Yum! It was actually very easy and after glancing at a few different recipes we were able to make them without any direct instruction in front of us. If you have a plant of your own or see them at the market, I would definitely give them a try!

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers Recipe:
12 zucchini flowers
1 egg, whisked
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat)
fontina cheese
fresh herbs, chopped (like oregano, parsley, and basil)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Wash the flowers as well as possible and remove the inner pistil.
Fill each with a pinch of cheese and herbs.
Add some salt and pepper to the flour in a shallow bowl.
Dip flowers in egg and then flour so that they have a light coating.
Heat olive oil in a large pan. Cook over medium-high heat until flowers begin to look a bit crispy.

1 comment:

  1. Mmm, I'm so glad to see pictures of these after you telling me about them. Thanks for sharing!


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