Some of you may be tired of reading about Italian soccer, and some of you may be wondering what we have been cooking and eating recently. Today was a particularly good food day; so here is a quick update.
Some weeks ago we discovered that the Italian version of baking soda makes excellent pancakes. They have become our regular Sunday morning treat (and the kids have come to like Nutella as a topping). This morning Simon had an early morning soccer game (you will have to ask him about the details), and while he and Pedar were at the field, Micah, Jakob, and I decided to rework our pancake recipe into a crepe recipe (basically more eggs and milk).
We were pretty happy with the results. Jakob created this plate of Nutella crepes. We filled the rest with frutti di bosco jam.
Having stuffed ourselves with crepes for breakfast, none of us was hungry until about 2:00 pm. We finally headed out for a late lunch – this is where the truffles and sashimi come in…
It is hard to know what is going to be open on a Sunday in Perugia. Since the end of Eurochocolate the city has been relatively quiet. Last Sunday evening (after our day at Assisi), we had trouble finding a place for dinner. It turns out we were trying to eat too early – 6:30 pm. Today we decided to return to La Taverna, a restaurant we had eaten in once before with Jon and Elizabeth, our friends from Rome. That was only our second night in Perugia. La Taverna is the place to be on a Sunday afternoon. At 2:15 pm, the restaurant was nearly full. They ended up seating us in the cantina amidst boxes of wine and stacks of bottles. La Taverna is a bit of an upscale Umbrian restaurant that features local ingredients. This time of year that means truffles and zuppa with various legumes. For some reason they also feature a few Asian dishes.
Since I can only experience truffles when we go out, I decided to start with a classic Umbrian preparation: uova strappazzate al tartufo nero con toast (scrambled eggs with black truffle and toast):
The eggs were light and fluffy. Bits of black truffle were cooked in with the eggs, then at the table our server shaved more black truffle on top (which she brought to table in a special wooden box). Almost every restaurant in Perugia serves some type of pasta with truffles, but this is the first time I had seen this classic egg dish on a menu. So far, it is my favorite way to eat truffles.
Pedar decided to start with one of the soups. He originally wanted the passata di ceci con baccalà (pureed chickpeas with salt cod). However, the woman who took our order wasn’t sure if it was ready to serve. She said she would check. In the meantime they brought out a different soup: zuppa di fave e carciofi all’extra vergine di Frantoio (fava bean and artichoke soup with extra virgin olive oil from Frantoio):
The soup was served in a canning jar and the server drizzled the top with olive oil at the table. The oil comes from Frantoio, which is an Umbrian town near Spello. There was some confusion when this soup appeared. We tried to explain that it was okay, but she insisted on checking on the chickpea soup anyway. She later brought that one as well, but I forgot to take a picture of it. Jakob and Simon helped Pedar eat both soups and they all agreed that the chickpea with salt cod was better.
For some time, Simon has been begging us to try one of the Japanese restaurants in Perugia. We have been putting this off because of uncertainty about the quality of the fish, the price, and Jakob’s shellfish allergy. So, when Simon found sashimi on the menu at La Taverna, it seemed a reasonable compromise to let him try it. La Taverna’s sashimi di tonno fresco, zenzero, soia, wasabi (sashimi of fresh tuna, ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi):
The menu did not say that the dish also came with arugula on the fish, but Simon declared the combination of the greens with the fish, and a bit of ginger and wasabi dipped lightly in the soy sauce “a perfect combination.” He was about as happy as a 13 year-old boy will ever admit to being.
For the second course, we all ordered pasta. Simon and Micah both had the tagliatelle al pepe nero e pecorino (tagliatelle with black pepper and pecorino cheese):
This is really a version of the classic cacio e pepe, which is common in Rome. Simon and Micah both agree that they like this version better. Maybe it is the homemade tagliatelle or the variety of pecorino that they use at La Taverna. It is hard to say, but this dish has a distinct taste that sets it apart from other versions of pasta with black pepper and grated cheese.
Jakob has a preference for ragù. He likes to try it wherever we go. Here is his pappardelle al “ragout” umbro (pappardelle with Umbrian ragù):
Jakob has declared this the second best ragù he has had in Italy. Apparently he prefers the version that I make at home. In Umbria it is typical to make ragù with wild boar (cinghiale). However, we found out after the meal, that La Taverna makes their ragù with a combination of meats, including sausage. I’ll have to try that at home next time…
Pedar had paccheri di gragnano con pomodorini, mozzarella e basilico (paccheri di Gragnano with sauce from little tomatoes, mozzarella and basil):
Gragnano is a place near Naples that is famous for its pasta; paccheri is one of the shapes that comes from that region.
I was once again tempted by the funghi on the menu and went for the tagliatelle fatta in casa ai funghi pocini fresci (tagliatelle made in house with fresh porcini mushrooms):
I promise that it tasted better than it looks in this photo. I think there were more porcini mushrooms in the bowl than there was pasta.
After lunch, Pedar and I enjoyed a taste of La Taverna’s chocolate liqueur (on the house):
After a walk through town and a ride on a ferris wheel (about which someone else in the family will post), we finished our afternoon with a concert at the Sala di Notari in Perugia’s Palazzo dei Priori. This afternoon we heard the Quartetto Gringolts perform Bartók, Haydn, and Brahams, with Filippo Gamba on the piano for the Brahams. This concert, and others we have heard, is part of Perugia’s “Amici della Musica” series.
No one was hungry for dinner after the concert, so we ended our day with gelato. [Or so I thought, the boys all needed a something else before bed; Pedar and I are still pretty full.]