When it comes to Vancouver weather, if it is hot and sunny outside and you get inspired to do an outdoor activity, you should probably do it the exact moment you think of it, because if you wait a week, it will rain cats and dogs and you will be forced to cancel your adventure and/or, move it inside.
This is exactly what happened to us.
Hot sunny weather inspired me to plan a picnic on the beach, but in typical Vancouver fashion, I waited a week and it rained like a mother on the day of the event. Story of our lives.
So, plan B was but in place and we packed up all our Italian goodies and headed over to Dario & Ginas for an indoor, sit down, picnic.
Soda and Lime in a Drinking Jar
The Italian Table
There is nothing like going to Bosa, picking up the best of the best and just nibbling on it all night long. This is my favorite way to enjoy Italian treats.
Dario just got back from a trip to Italy and bought Gina the most adorable watermelon serving dish, so naturally we had watermelon. Plus, it’s a picnic staple.
Chad likes to stuff his face.
Ever since I was a kid, my Nonna taught me to eat Watermelon with a piece of bread. I figured this was something all Italians did, except no one at the table had ever heard of such a thing. None the less, it is amazing and I suggest you try it. Only stipulation, it’s gotta be white bread. It will make your watermelon taste oh so sweet!
When they aren’t going through their cell phones playing annoying ring tones they are stacking beer cans as high as they can. Boys.
Would the evening have been better if we were enjoying amazing food and fabulous company while sitting on the warm sand enjoying the sounds of the waves? Probably, but it’s not like this was such a bad deal either. With so many evening being taken up by the renos, we really need to jump at the opportunity of warm sunny weather. Tomorrow we will be enjoying our first Horse Race of the season, and the weather looks like it’s going to be perfect, so we are pretty excited! There is nothing like a beautiful day in Vancouver.
When we moved in with my parents back in November, I had to change the route in which I came to work and instead of driving down Commercial Drive I decided to take the quieter and cuter option of driving down Victoria Drive.
I love Victoria Drive. The houses are stunning, the streets are quiet, and you just get a warmed sense of community when walking around the neighborhood. I noticed a while ago a little shop being worked on but I couldn’t quite tell if it was coming or going. It had this beautiful old mural on the side of the building and everything about it was rather rustic. Because I had only just started commuting down Victoria Drive I didn’t know whether is was something new that was popping up, or something old that was closing down.
As it turns out a brand new Neapolitan pizza place we was opening up. We gathered up the Foodie crew and made our way down for dinner this past Saturday.
Named after the street in Naples where their Father grew up – Via Tevere – this family opened up a restaurant celebrating the iconic symbol of Naples – Pizza!
Turns out the old mural actually belong to the bakery that was in this location many years ago. They discovered it while renovating and decided to show it off.
I remember driving to Sorrento from Pompeii and pulling over to the side of the road to take a look at the view. This painting reminds me so much of it.
We started off with a Caprese salad because it is one of Chads favorite salads. What I love about Italian cooking is they let the ingredients speak for themselves. Simple yet so full of flavour!
Marisa & Marilyn ordered the Rucola con Limone salad, which I just had to steal a bite of. Best salad ever. I want to make this salad and eat it EVERY DAY!
Prosciutto e Funghi pizza for me!
I can never say no to Prosciutto and I am on a major mushroom obsession so I had to have this pizza. The best part was that the ingredients were not overpowering and I could taste the tomatoes and the cheese. I could not get over how good the tomatoes tasted and they weren’t even the main star of the show!
Chad and Dad had the Vesuvio because they always have the spiciest pizza on the menu. They both really enjoyed it and kept talking about how good it was the whole weekend haha!
Since we spent the entire day running around the city pricing thing out for the house wearing a cute outfit was the last night on my mind. Given the opportunity, 95% of the time I will dress like a scrub. At least I was wearing pearl earrings!
Nothing says Pizza Joint like a palate of flour!
Spot the crazy amazing oven in the background?
Neapolitan pizza places really seem to be popping up a lot in the city, and I am more then thankful for it! Each one brings its one flare to the prize of Naples. Via Tevere was very very good, and seeing as it is a 5 minute drive from my work I can see a lot of after work dinners taking place here.
Now I’m thinking about how good those tomatoes were on the pizza. I totally want to order a Margherita and just taste awesome tomatoes. Can we go back now!?
On Tuesday Shaz and I attended the second level of the Pasta Making course the Italian Center was putting on. It had been a very long day for me as I had just finished working at our Spring photo shoot and was super pooed, but the idea of making and eating fresh pasta had me very excited.
On the menu for this class was…
Tomato Pasta Dough
Veal & Spinach Cannelloni
Spinach Gnocchi Nude
Beurre Blanc Sauce
We started off by learning how to make the Tomato Pasta Dough which was very simple. We also learned that you can replace the Tomato Paste (which gives the dough its flavour and colour) with Basil Pesto or other ingredients to change it up.
Next we learned how to make the fillings for all the different types of pasta we were going to make. This was the one thing I was looking forward to the most as I was totally stumped on ideas.
We were then given a demo on how to make Cannelloni (one of my Nonnas specialties).
We were split into groups of three and I gave Shaz the honour of making the dough from scratch since I had already done it quite a few times. I’m glad we were given this opportunity this time as it allowed us to really get a feel for the dough and when the consistency was right. Our dough was too dry and Chef Rebecca showed us how to slowly add more water until everything felt right.
These are Spinach Gnocchi Nude. When Chef asked us if we knew what the Nude part meant we all assumed it meant the Gnocchi were done in a butter sauce. Turns out we were wrong. Nude meant with out potatoes. What!? No potatoes!? How is that even possible!?
Oh, it’s possible! We mixed together all the ingredients (spinach, cheese, egg, flour, nutmeg) and then created the shape using a spoon technique. The shape / technique is called a Quenelle. It took us a while to get the hang of making them as you have to make sure they are very tight and compact. You also have to cook them a little longer than potato gnocchi, but they taste amazing in a butter sauce!
Chef Rebecca also showed us this neat technique of adding herbs to your pasta dough and rolling it out to create patterns. Fancy!
We tried our hands at making the Seafood Mezzelune (half moons) while some of our other classmates made the Mushroom Ravioli and Cheese Cappelletti (little hats).
Nonna Shazzi and I moved on and made some Veal & Spinach Cannelloni with the Tomato Pasta Dough. Talk about flavours!
After we were done making all of the pasta, we sat down for a taste test.
Stuffed pasta is where it’s at! My favorite by far were the Mushroom Ravioli and the Spinach Gnocchi. I am on a huge Mushroom kick right now and the ravioli were melt in your mouth good!
I love making fresh pasta, and while its nice to make linguine and spaghetti, I think using the fresh dough to make stuffed pasta is really the best way of using it. Experimenting with different fillings and pasta shapes, the possibilities are endless.
I also want to experiment more withe flavoured pastas. I tasted a piece of the raw Tomato Pasta Dough and it was quite good. So many options!
I am totally inspired now!
Can’t wait for Pasta Making Level 3!
So, that blog is fixed! Praise the Lord!
Chad and I spent most of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning fixing it all. We have updated the theme and made a few changes here and there. More things will probably be changed, but for now, I am pretty happy. Two specific things you will notice…
1) Yes, there are 8 different rotating headers. It’s like Pokemon, you will want to collect them all.
2) When you click on a specific blog post (or if you come directly from a facebook or twitter link) you will no longer see all the side bar bits. This allows you to solely focus on the post itself. If you do however really want to see all the side bar bits, just click home!
For my first entry back, post hacking, I thought I would fill your computer with yummy goodness, because really, that is what I am good at!
Growing up my Mom always made the same pasta sauce. It was her traditional recipe that she always made in big batches, and whenever we had pasta, that was the sauce she use.
The base of the sauce was crushed home grown tomatoes and ground beef. Now, as you may remember, I have a love/hate relationship with ground meat in that I mostly hate it, so after 20 odd years of eating this pasta sauce, I kinda, sorta, got sick of it. Sorry Mom.
When Chad and I started dating the first meal he ever made me was Penne with his Moms famous pasta sauce. While the ingredients seemed typical, the method was something I had never heard of, and after the first bite, I was in LOVE!
It’s Italian cooking so the measurements are kind of rough.
3 cans Hunts Tomato Sauce
2 Pork Shoulder Steaks
4 crushed Garlic Cloves
a dash of ground Allspice
1 tbsp dried Oregano
a dash or two for Red Pepper Flakes (Chads new addition)
Trim some of the fat off the pork steaks
Throw all the tomato sauce and spices into a pot and mix around.
Add the two pork steaks and cook for 3 – 4 hours on low heat until the meat falls off the bone. This sauce loves to bubble (it should be cooking at a mild bubble) so keep your eye on it or prepare to have a stove covered in sauce. Mix every 20 or so minutes.
As the pork steak cooks the meat softens and begins to shred. Essentially what you are doing is making a pulled pork pasta sauce. Use a wooden spoon to help the process along. Once the meat is soft enough that it had completely fallen off the bone, remove the bone and begin to mash it up with your wooden spoon so that the meat falls apart even more. Your goal is to have fine strips of pork meat, not giant chunks of it.
While Chad made the pasta sauce, I decided to use Lidia’s cookbook to make some Middle Class Pasta.
I realized that dividing the dough into even pieces at the beginning really helps to make sure your strips of pasta are all the same size / length.
I rolled out all the dough into long flat sheets and then Shazzi came over and helped me cut them into Linguine using one of the Pasta Machine attachments.
I double the recipe and then ended up using about 3/4 of the dough. I froze the rest to make later. Four trays of Linguine later I was ready to start cooking!
Always remember to shake off the excess flour before cooking!
I cooked them in batches. Then I burnt myself!
Mamma and Shazzi had to take over. I was rather injured.
As Mom pulled out the pasta she threw it in a big pot where Shaz would ladle a spoonful of sauce. 10 minutes later we had one big plate of pasta!
Does that not look amazing!?
Homemade pasta definitely has a very specific taste and texture compared to dried pasta. In some instances I like dried pasta better and in others I prefer homemade pasta.
While my parents were a little skeptical of this new pasta sauce (Shredded Pork!?) they ended up loving it. I mean how can you not!?
This is what I call a Sunday Dinner.
Saturday was Pig Processing Day at the Perizzolo compound. Chad got up at 6am and headed over to help out. They started off with 2 pigs: one 215 lbs, the other 385 lbs, and 125 kg in pork shoulders. Out of that they were able to make 29 sopresse, 950 sausages, 45 musetti, 55 salami, 12 capicolli and 1 pancetta! Talk about a heavy work load.
I got there just after lunch. They had finished making all the sopresse and salami, and were working on the musetti (or Cotechino).
Chad was in charge of stuffing the meat cannon with musetto goodness (if you like boiled pig parts).
Darios Dad & Godfather are in charge of tying up the musetti. That is a very senior position in the hierarchy of Pig Processing.
On the table next to the musetto station the men were grinding up some pork that had been seasoned in preparation for sausage stuffing.
I don’t know if these boys are really working very hard.
This is why you never throw anything out, because long after the kids are grown you can still use their baby bath tub to bathe pork products.
Gina got the exciting task of soaking and reconstituting the dried intestines for the sausages!
I’ve missed the last couple of Pig Processing Days, but I’m glad I made it out to this one. Next year I need to go even earlier so I can catch the butchering of it all. Darios Mom posted a picture of the pigs hanging in their garage waiting to be sliced an diced and it got me so excited! I definitely want to venture into butchering next, learning all the different cuts of meat and how to carve them.
Such a great tradition that is slowly being pass on through the generations!