Hi All. I’m in the thick of my busy season at work and Nick started a new job in October, so needless to say, it’s been a very hectic fall. But we’ve still made time for cooking and food adventures (of course) so here’s a round-up of what we’ve been doing in the kitchen and around town:
• In early September, my parents, Nick, and I tried Mangia e Beve, a new Italian restaurant in downtown Wilmington, Vermont. We’re so pleased to see new businesses opening and our beloved town coming to life again after being devastated by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Mangia e Beve is an upscale, authentic Italian restaurant which prides itself on the freshest ingredients and time-tested recipes. We started our meal with calamari fritti which was superb. Fried calamari is a dime a dozen so it’s refreshing when it’s done very well. This version was light and airy, not greasy and heavy. We were also given bruschetta on the house which was a pleasant surprise. We all enjoyed our meals: pappardelle and meatballs, eggplant rollatini, veal saltimbocca, and a pasta special with shrimp and steak tips – so much so that we were too full for dessert! We also shared a bottle of wine from their extensive wine list. If you find yourself near Mount Snow and looking for a nice meal, try Mangia e Beve.
• In late September, when my annual pumpkin craving hit, I decided to make pumpkin ravioli. It was the perfect project for a rainy Saturday afternoon. I used my standard pasta dough recipe and made a filling with pumpkin puree, butter, garlic, chili powder, salt, and pepper (see the Pioneer Woman’s pumpkin ravioli recipe) and served it with brown butter, sage, parmesan, and pine nuts. I made fettuccine with the leftover dough, which we later served with homemade alfredo sauce. It was delicious!
• I had the opportunity to visit Pan’ e Dolcetti again and enjoyed a decaf pourover and a scone (or was it a muffin? whatever it was, it was good!). They were recently voted a “Best of Massachusetts” coffee shop by MassLive – check them out!
• During our trip to the Big E, in addition to a life-changing mac n cheese from Zack’s Mac Attack in the New Hampshire building, I had a traditional cannolo from Cerrato’s Bakery, located in the Better Living Center. Cerrato’s is in West Springfield, and though I’ve had their treats before, I don’t think I’ve ever been to the shop. Time for a visit!
• While visiting my friend in Southington, Connecticut we stopped for sandwiches at Nardelli’s Grinder Shoppe. Mmm mmm mmm, I doubt my arteries were grateful but my taste buds sure were! I had a half-size (it was still huge!) Italian Combo with pruzitini, capicola, salami, and provolone plus all the fixin’s.
• On Columbus Day weekend we went to the Italian Cultural Center’s Festa Italia for the second time. What a treat! We took my parents this year and a good time was had by all. We ended up running into people we knew, including my Dad’s cousin, and meeting some new people too. Between Nick and I we tried the following dishes, which were served as small, tasting plates: pasta boscaiola, ravioli a la ricotta, tomato salad, Tuscan chicken cacciatore, zucchini fritters, prosciutto and mozzarella, prime rib marsala, rice balls, rum cake, and gelato. And wine. Whew!
• Nick turned 31 on October 19th and as always, I made him a cake. A few years ago I made an orange-chocolate cake which was a little dry and lackluster. For the last two years I’ve made an amazingly moist, rich chocolate cake which is now our go-to. But this year, Nick was happy to let me experiment. I had just binge-watched the first season of the Great British Baking Show (seriously, great!) on Netflix and was entranced by Mary Berry’s tiramisu cake. I’ve made tiramisu before and found it to be tricky, so we went into the birthday cake experiment knowing full well it might not be my finest dessert. It came out wonderfully, albeit a little inconsistent. The tricky part is getting the coffee/brandy mixture to be equally absorbed by the sponge cake layers (which were used in place of lady fingers). Also, I learned that mascarpone is ridiculously expensive! Behold the tiramisu beauty:
• Last but certainly not least was a recent tortellini class at the Italian Cultural Center. We loved it! I’ll be doing a separate write up on the class so check back soon for all the details.