Monday, February 19, 2024

For The Upcoming Boston Wine Expo: Tasting Recommendations

The Boston Wine Expo will be here in about two weeks, held once again at the Park Plaza Hotel. The large-scale tasting event will be held on Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3 and Tickets are still available. The 2-day event will feature over 100 participating wineries from all over the U.S. and select international ones as well. 

Last month, I provided Advice on Attending the Expo and now I'm here to provide some Tasting Recommendations, the exhibitors at the Expo where you should stop and sample their wines. At the Grand Tasting, there will be hundreds of wines which you can taste, which is an overwhelming amount of wine. As you can only practically sample a tiny fraction of those wines, which should you choose to taste?

When choosing which winery tables to visit, I recommend that you don't drink wines you already know and like. You can do that anytime and anywhere else. Instead, take this opportunity to expand your palate and try different wines, hoping to find new wines to enjoy. With all the diversity of wines available, it makes little sense to spend your time drinking the same wines you drink at home all the time. Be willing to experiment and taste something different. Make the Expo an opportunity to explore the wide world of wine. 

To assist in your choices, I'm going to provide you with my own recommendations for some wine tables you should check out. This list will include exhibitors which I visited at last year's Expo and thoroughly enjoyed. Others on the list will include wines which I know well and believe worthy of your attention. Of these recommendations, they are also the wine tables which I will be visiting this year, seeing what new wines they are presenting. 

There are obviously other wine tables which may interest you, and which I will check out too. Although the Expo website presents a list of all of the Exhibitors, it doesn't present a list of the wines which each exhibitor will offer at the Expo. So, consider my recommendations an excellent starting point, and after checking out those exhibitors, explore the rest of the Expo.  

Croatian Wines
I love Croatian wines, and have twice visited the country, visiting dozens of wineries and tasting hundreds of wines. Their wines are diverse, delicious and interesting, a significant number using indigenous grapes you won't find elsewhere. Croatian Premium Wines will be at the Expo, showcasing a number of excellent Croatian wines. They are the importer of these wines, and their wines are readily available locally, as well as through online sales. So, if you find Croatian wines you enjoy, you will be able to later purchase them. 

Portuguese Wines
As I've often said, Portugal produces some of the best value wines in the world and if you want inexpensive, but delicious, wines then you need to explore Portugal. Portugal has lots of intriguing, indigenous grapes, making their wines unique in a number of ways. Portugal also makes many fine, higher end wines as well, including delicious Ports. Brands of Portugal will be at the Expo once again, showcasing many intriguing Portuguese wines. Four of their wines I tasted at last year's Expo ended up on my Top Twenty Wines of 2023. I'm sure they will have some new wines this year, some of which could end up on my list of the best wines of 2024. 

Georgian Wines
The country not the state. Once part of the Soviet Union, Georgia might be the historical birthplace of wine production. It now produces some intriguing and delicious wines, including some made in a very traditional manner in qvevri, earthenware vessels. I've enjoyed a number of Georgian wines and continue to seek out new ones too. There will be two Georgian exhibitors this year, including Marnaveli and the Saperavi Brothers.

Italian Wines 
There will be several exhibitors at the Expo offering Italian wines. One of those exhibitors I would highly recommend is Fantasy Fine Wines, which primarily distributes Italian wines, from all across Italy, and their portfolio is diverse and interesting. Two of their wines made my Top Twenty Wines of 2023

Spanish Wines:
The region of Rias Baixas will be showcasing their white wines made from the Albariño grape. I'm a big fan of this grape, and the region produces a fascinating diversity of wines. As their website states, their wines "all share a number of characteristics. Pale golden lemon, they are all crisp, elegant and fresh. These wines are bone-dry and aromatic, packed with flavors of white peach, apricot, melon, pineapple, mango and honeysuckle. They share good natural acidity, have mineral overtones, and are medium bodied with moderate alcohol." You need to check out these delicious white wines. 

I hope you find my recommendations helpful in making your plans for the Boston Wine Expo. Expand your palate and seek out wines new to you!

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I'm back again with a new edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food and drink events. For this edition, I'll be mentioning some spots for Valentine's Day celebrations. I hope everyone dines out safely, tips well and are nice to their servers.
1) Committee, a modern Greek ouzeri (tavern) in the Seaport which opened in 2015, announces some major changes. “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new,” says owner George Aboujaoude, quoting Socrates.  

The return of a prior Chef! Executive Chef Luis Figueroa was a key member of Committee’s first kitchen team. Luis got his start in the local restaurant business in 2007, at the age of 21, washing dishes at Jody Adams’ Blu at Sports Club/LA. From there, Executive Chef Luis climbed up the culinary ladder honing his craft at Boston kitchens like Mistral, and Grill 23 & Bar. For the last few years, Luis has immersed himself in Greek cooking—first at Committee, then Kosmos restaurant in Walpole, and Christopher’s Kitchen & Bar in Woonsocket, RI. When Committee owner George Aboujaoude reached out with a job offer, Luis enthusiastically returned.

Lunch and New Menus! Committee is now open for lunch on weekdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in addition to their brunch, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m to 3 p.m. All of the menus (lunch, brunch, dinner, and dessert) have been completely revamped by Executive Chef Luis Figueroa. Lunch features delicious new Build Your Own Salads that begin with quinoa, couscous, and Greek slaw that you individualize with Mediterranean dips and proteins like pork or chicken gyro or grilled octopus or shrimp. Brunch now offers specialties like a Greek Croque Madame of a toasted croissant, layered with kasseri cheese bechamel, grilled ham, and a fried sunny-side-up egg. And there are new dinner entrees like Lamb Frites (lamb chops and Greek fries), Whole Grilled Branzino, and ouzo marinated Shrimp Saganaki with tomato, garlic, lemon, and feta cheese.

Desserts now include the cloud-like Galaktoboureko vanilla custard with cinnamon, powdered sugar, and crisp phyllo. And Committee’s cocktail menus have been rejiggered to bring you a larger list of brunch drinks and a more extensive mocktail list of non-alcoholic drinks. 

2) To celebrate Easter Sunday on March 31st, from 11am-3pm, Chef Michael Serpa's South End seafood destination Atlántico will be offering a three-course Easter brunch menu for $65 per guest. As a special Easter treat, kids under 10 will have their choice of one complimentary entree with the purchase of one regular Easter brunch.

In addition to the prix fixe menu options, Atlántico will also offer a la carte beverages and add-ons, including a sparkling cocktail flight, classic brunch cocktails, and raw bar items. Prix fixe menu choices will feature dishes including:
Avocado Toast with toasted Iggy’s bread, crushed avocado, citrus, espelette
Ceviche Mixto with scallop & hake ceviche, melon, cucumber, lime, fresno chili, cilantro
Iggy’s Bagel & Lox with scallion cream cheese, capers, cucumbers, shaved onion, dill, lemon zest
Savenor’s Skirt Steak & Eggs with roasted garlic & rosemary rub, potato hash, fried eggs
Lobster benedict with buttered maine lobster, toasted english muffin, béarnaise

Available complimentary for children under 10 with the purchase of one regular Easter brunch, the kids menu features a choice of one of the following dishes:
Two Eggs Any Style with potato hash, smoked bacon or avocado, pressed toast
Manchego Grilled Cheese with warm roasted tomato soup
Buttermilk Pancakes with pineapple marmalade, whipped cream, cinnamon sugar

For complete details or to make an Easter dining reservation, please visit HERE.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Rant: I Want Iced Tea In The Winter!

"Iced tea is too pure and natural a creation not to have been invented as soon as tea, ice, and hot weather crossed paths.”
--John Egerton 

According to the Tea Association of the USA, the wholesale annual value of the U.S. tea industry is over $10 Billion and Americans annually consume over 3.6 Billion gallons of tea. Each day, over half the U.S. population drinks tea, though people in the South and Northeast consume the most. What may surprise you is that 85% of the tea consumed in America is iced! That statistic shows the huge popularity of iced tea, but I think numerous restaurants are ignorant of this simple fact.

Iced tea was invented in the U.S., likely sometime during the 1800s in the South. There's a legend that iced tea was created in 1904, during the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, by an Englishman Richard Blechynden. However, there's clear evidence iced tea existed before 1904, so Richard may be considered more the popularizer of iced tea rather than the actual inventor.

Year round, I drink fresh brewed, unsweetened iced tea nearly every day. It's refreshing, thirst-quenching and doesn't have the sugar content of sodas and other such drinks. In addition, it's cheap to make, roughly 3 cents a serving if made at home. I'm obviously far from alone in my love for iced tea so why aren't all restaurants paying attention to this popular beverage? 

My biggest issue is during the winter, when some restaurants stop serving iced tea, claiming it's only a seasonal beverage. That happened to me again over the weekend, and it irritated me. It's such a crock! Those same restaurants still served iced coffee, without claiming it's a seasonal beverage. They serve cold soda too. Some of those places may also serve frappes and other ice cream drinks in the middle of winter. It makes absolutely no sense that they also won't serve iced tea.  

Iced tea should be a year-round beverage, and with the vast amount of people who enjoy it, restaurants need to pay attention and keep it on their menus all the time.  Iced tea is cheap and easy to make so they have no excuse. Don't discriminate against iced tea when you clearly offer plenty of other cold beverages during the winter.

Who else enjoys iced tea during the winter? 

Friday, February 9, 2024

The Origins of Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

What is the "proper" way to make Spaghetti alla Carbonara? Should you use cream or not? Must you use guanciale, or can you instead use pancetta, bacon or ham? What cheese should you use, Pecorino or Parmesan? Do you use whole eggs or just the yolks? Can you add onions or garlic? This is a controversial issue, with purists claiming that it can only be produced in a certain way with certain ingredients. 

However, this controversy is more of a modern issue, as there certainly wasn't a consensus during the early years of this dish. Much more flexibility and variation was permitted in this dish, and it wasn't until some later date that some purists united to try to limit this dish to a specific method and ingredients.  

Let's explore the early origins of Spaghetti alla Carbonara, to gain insight intro its history and the first recipes for this delicious dish. Frankly, no one can prove its actual origins, although there are plenty of theories. The first documented reference of Spaghetti alla Carbonara is from 1950, although the dish appears to have existed prior to this time, and probably was invented sometime during the 1940s. 

I'll mention some of the more popular origin theories, and then I'll check out its earliest documented references, through the 1950s, to see if they provide any insight into its origins. 

First theory: It could be linked to the Carbonari, a secret society that was established in the early 19th century to oppose Napoleonic rule in Italy. However, the group ended its activities in the mid-19th century, long before the potential invention of Carbonara. In addition, none of the Italian cookbooks of the 19th century used the term "alla carbonara," so this origin seems unlikely, despite the similarity of the name.  

Second theory: It might be linked to the carbonai, the Italian "charcoal burners," who gathered wood and transformed it into charcoal. They were poor people, and the occupation began to die off in the 20th century. It's unlikely that pasta was a common food with the carbonai, so they probably didn't create the "alla carbonara" recipe either. However, the similarity of their name to "carbonara" could imply some type of link, especially considering some of the later references that I'll mention.  

There's a related theory that spaghetti alla carbonara was invented by La Carbonara restaurant. This place was opened in 1912 by a family of carbonai. It's alleged that Federico Salomone was a charcoal burner and this wide, Domenica, cooked food for the other charcoal burners in the area. The family eventually chose to open a restaurant, getting out of the charcoal burner business. However, it doesn't appear that the restaurant ever claimed to have invented the dish. 

Third theory: Maybe the most popular theory is that some believe that the dish originated after World War II, when American soldiers had remained behind to help Italians rebuild after the devastation of war. With rationing going on in Italy, some ingredients were difficult to obtain. Allegedly, an Italian chef, cooking for the Americans, decided to use certain ingredients from U.S. Army rations in a new pasta dish, which became spaghetti alla carbonara. 

Some support for this theory came in 1991, when a Bolognese cook, Renato Gualandi, published a book, Erbissima, which claimed that he was one of the inventors of Carbonara in 1944. He alleged that he and other Italian cooks, while in the Italian city of Riccione, prepared a celebratory meal for British and American soldiers. Riccione was liberated by the Allies on September 20, 1944, so this celebration had to have been held shortly thereafter. 

Renato, who was born in 1921, would have been 23 years old at the time of this celebration, and worked with other, unnamed Italian cooks. Renato claimed he wanted to invent a dish that combined Italian, Anglo-Saxon and Slovenian traditions, but was very limited in available ingredients. So, he ended up using items from army rations, including powdered milk, freeze-dried eggs, processed cheese, bacon and black pepper, atop spaghetti. One source also claimed that Renato called the dish "carbonara" because the black pepper atop the dish resembled charcoal, carbone in Italian. 

One of Renato's closest associates, Silverio, later claimed, sometime after 1991, that Renato told him about the creation of this dish, although Renato told him it was invented in Rome. After Riccione, it is said that Renato traveled to Rome, which is about 200 miles south of Riccione, and became a cook for the Allied troops there for about seven months. 

Even though this theory is appealing to many people, there doesn't appear to be any documentary evidence prior to 1991 to verify its veracity. None of the earliest documented references to this dish refer to Renato, or its alleged invention in Riccione. Renato apparently didn't promote himself as its inventor until 1991, almost 50 years after its alleged invention, which makes his claims suspect. In addition, he was a Bolognese chef, but the dish has long been considered a Roman dish.  

Fourth theory: There's also a claim that Carbonara was first served in Rome, around 1944, in a trattoria on Vicolo della Scrofa (the alley of Scrofa). American servicemen in Italy allegedly stopped here and loved the dish. Again, there's no real evidence to support this theory. There are plenty of other theories, but none possess sufficient supporting evidence or documentation. 

Now, let's address the earliest documented references to Spaghetti alla Carbonara, especially during the 1950s. Can any of these references provide insight into the dish's origins?

The first documented reference to Spaghetti Alla Carbonara was from July 26, 1950, in the Turin-based newspaper La Stampa. In an article titled "Il Papa ha “passato ponte'" ("The Pope makes a visit across the bridge".) The article describes the Trastevere district of Rome and mentioned the owner of a restaurant, Da Cesaretto alla Cisterna, which served carbonara. The article noted, “Fu questo oste ad accogliere per primo gli ufficiali americani giunti in Trastevere parecchi anni or sono in cerca di spaghetti alla carbonara.” 

This basically translates, as "It was this innkeeper who first welcomed American officers who came to Trastevere several years ago in search of spaghetti carbonara.” So, it appears that spaghetti carbonara extended back at least to the 1940s, and that U.S. soldiers enjoyed the dish. This reference is often used as some support for Renato's claim. However, the reference simply indicates U.S. soldiers enjoyed the dish, It doesn't say anything about why they enjoyed the dish or where they first encountered it. It could just as well be used to support the Fourth theory. 

Also in 1950, there was a reference to "spaghetti alla carbonara" in Lunga vita di Trilussa, a biography written by Mario dell'Arco. Trilussa was the pseudonym of Carlo Alberto Camillo Mariano Salustri, a famous Roman poet (1871-1950). The biography noted, "Our hero almost never attacked a dish of spaghetti 'alla carbonara' or 'alla carrettiera' without the aid of two or three equally gluttonous friends." So, again, there's evidence of carbonara prior to 1950, although we're unsure of the time frame of this reference. And the reference provides no clues as to the dish's origins. 

In 1951, an Italian film, Cameriera bella presenza offresi ("Housemaid"), included a brief reference to Spaghetti alla Carbonara. The movie was about a maid, named Maria, who worked for various employers. One of the would-be employers asked her if she could prepare Spaghetti alla Carbonara, but she replied in the negative. 

Curiously, the first known recipe for Pasta Carbonara appeared in the U.S., in Chicago in 1952! In Vittles and Vice: An Extraordinary Guide to What's Cooking on Chicago's Near North Side by Patricia Bronté (January 1952), the book described numerous Chicago restaurants, including Armando's. This restaurant served "Pasta Carbonara" and the book provided a recipe.

The recipe stated, “Boil 1 ½ pounds of Tagliarini (thin wide noodles) according to the directions on the package. Meanwhile, chop and fry ½ pound of Mezzina (Italian bacon). Drain the noodles and the bacon. Take 4 eggs and ½ pound of grated Parmesan cheese and lightly whip together. Mix everything together and toss over a flame. Serves four.” I'll note that importantly this recipe did not call for black pepper, a significant omission.  

The two chefs at Armando's included Armando Lorenzini and Pietro Lencioni. Armando was born in the U.S. to Italian parents while Pietro grew up in Tuscany, but moved to the U.S. before he was 18 years old. Their Carbonara recipe used some more typical Tuscan, rather than Roman ingredients, including the Tagliarini and Messina, evidence of Pietro's background. 

An Italian newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, May 4, 1952, printed a short story, Il Pensatore, by Alberto Moravia, and it included a brief reference to eating spaghetti carbonara at a trattoria. Moravia wrote numerous short stories, generally all set in Rome after World War 2. These stories would be eventually collected, in 1954, in a book titled Racconti Romani ('Roman Tales"). 
Then in 1954, there was another Carbonara recipe in a British cookbook, Italian Food by Elizabeth David (Britain 1954, U.S. 1958). The recipe for “Maccheroni Alla Carbonara” (Macaroni with Ham and Eggs) is shown above. The recipe states it's a Roman dish. It calls for ham or coppa, Parmesan cheese, but again, no black pepper was included in the ingredients. 

The first Italian recipe for Carbonara didn't show up until August 1954, in La Cucina Italiana magazine. The ingredients included 1 lb. spaghetti, 6 oz. pancetta, 4 oz. gruyere cheese, 2 eggs, 1 clove of garlic, salt, and pepper. As we see, pancetta, rather than guanciale was used, and Gruyere cheese, rather than Pecorino or Paremesan, was used. Plus, garlic was included, which is not part of the "proper" version promoted by purists. At least black pepper made its appearance in the recipe. 

The method for the 1954 recipe state: "Heat plenty of salted water to cook the pasta. Chop the pancetta and cut the gruyère cheese into small cubes. Once the water comes to a boil, add the spaghetti and stir. Let cook for about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the spaghetti, and drain well: remember that spaghetti is better when served al dente. Pour the eggs into a bowl, and whisk them with a fork as if you were preparing an omelet. Put the bacon and crushed garlic (which will then be removed) in a large pan to fry. Add the spaghetti, eggs, gruyere, and plenty of pepper. Stir well, continuing to do so until the egg mixture starts to thicken. Then pour the spaghetti onto the serving plate and serve immediately."

The Daily News (NY), May 15, 1955, printed a short article on Maria Lusia Taglienti, an expert on Italian food, who had collected hundreds of recipes since her childhood in Italy. Two of her favorites dishes were Spaghetti Carbonara and Pollo Alla Diesola

The next month, the Clarion-Ledger (MS), June 26, 1955, provided a review of her new cookbook, The Italian Cookbook by Maria Lusia Taglienti, noting she came to the U.S. in 1948. Her recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara was given (pictured above), and it included dry white wine, as well as Parmesan and Romano cheeses. It also included the use of black pepper.

In The Italian Cookbook by Maria Lusia Taglienti (NY, 1955), there's some background on her recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara. She wrote, “Here is a recipe from one of the most famous restaurants in Naples, Grande Ristorante Transatlantico in Borgo Marinaro a Santa Lucia. The restaurant is owned by Comm. Luigi Marinella & Sons and it is known not only for its cuisine, but also for its well-stocked cellar and for its large veranda on the sea, where one can enjoy the breath-taking view of the Gulf of Naples while eating.” So, even though most consider it a Roman dish, Maria got her recipe from a restaurant in Naples.

The origin of Carbonara? Maybe the earliest documented reference that sought to explain the origin of this dish was in the Indianapolis News (IN), November 15, 1955. The writer visited Rome and dined at the Garibaldina restaurant, which was located near the Roman gate. The owner told the writer about "spaghetti a la carbonara" and claimed "It is the way the carbonari make it. The charcoal burners.” He continued, “The carbonari are as old as Rome. They are itinerant workers, moving from place to place buying wood rights to lands.” 

So, this origin theory extends back at least to 1955, provided by the owner of a restaurant in Rome, but how much credence should we give it? Had this dish already become, in maybe ten or so years, fodder for myths and legends? There was no reference to Renato, or that it was first served to Allied servicemen. In all my research on the origins of carbonara, I also haven't seen anyone else mentioning this newspaper reference. 

The owner then provided the recipe for the dish. “The spaghetti is put in boiling water with a little salt. This is important. If you put it in before the water boils, it cooks to mush. You boil it about 10 minutes but it depends on the quality of the spaghetti.” He then continued, “While the spaghetti is cooking, you fry little pieces of bacon. You put this in a deep dish and beat up one egg for each person. Put the bacon with a little grease, a little oil, pepper and parmesan cheese with the eggs.” Then he stated, “Now lift out the spaghetti with two forks so that it drains lightly but doesn’t stick together. Put the spaghetti in hot and stir it around. The spaghetti cooks the eggs as it is coated. Then serve it quickly.” 

This article was printed in multiple other newspapers around the country, including Arizona, California, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Nevada. Many Americans were thus exposed to the concept of Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, and had a recipe they could use to prepare this dish at home. 

A travel guide, Eating in Italy; A Pocket Guide to Italian Food and Restaurants, by Richard Hammond & George Martin (NY, 1957), made reference to Carbonara, and mentioned a couple restaurants which served it. The book stated that spaghetti was served in various ways, including, “alla Carbonara—in a sauce made with egg, cheese and bacon, or prosciutto (ham).” The two restaurants it mentioned, located in Rome, included Il Giardino d’Inverno (“Spaghetti alla Carbonara (cooked with eggs, cheese and crisp bacon") and Trattoria Alfredo (“Spaghetti alla Carbonara, cooked with butter, cheese, bacon and pig’s cheek.”) It's interesting to see that one description includes eggs but the other doesn't, as well as one uses prosciutto while the other uses "pig's cheek," aka guanciale. 

Carbonara in England! The Observer (London, England), March 3, 1957, published an article titled,  Spaghetti for Lent, and it mentioned, A Carbonara Sauce. Add a good teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper to ¼ lb. butter cooked till brown, throw in 4 oz. finely chopped bacon and fry till crisp. Pour over the cooked spaghetti in a pan on a low flame and then gently stir in three beaten eggs serving just before they begin to scramble and harden.”

There was a brief mention in the Times Herald (MI) March 31, 1957, noting, “Rome is noted for its spaghetti alla carbonara with a sauce of bacon, eggs and pepper.”

The Independent Star-News (CA), August 18, 1957, provided a recipe for Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, pictured above. It called for ham, olive oil, and grated Parmesan.  

The Walsall Observer (Walsall, England), August 30, 1957, also offered a recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara, claiming it was a “popular dish from Sicily.” This varies greatly from all the prior articles claiming it was a dish from Rome. This recipe calls for only egg yolks, different from most prior recipes, but it also calls for ham and noted that Parmesan was the preferable cheese. 

The National Post (Toronto, Canada), November 23, 1957, had a brief mention of Spaghetti all Carbonara, made with egg, bacon and Pecorino. This might be the first mention of Pecorino in these early references. 

Back to England. The Daily Telegraph (London, England), March 1, 1958, printed an article about the restaurants and food in Rome. It stated, “No one should leave Rome without visiting one of the four Alfredo’s, each of which claims to serve the best pasta in the world. Why not try to cook your spaghetti alla carrettiera, that is with a sauce flavored with tunny and anchovy, or even alla carbonara—eggs beaten up with cheese and pepper.”

Another name? The Staten Island Advance (NY), April 10, 1958, provided a recipe for “Spaghetti alla Moro (or Carbonara)”, with "Moro" also being spelled "Morro" in the same article. The ingredients included spaghetti, bacon, olive oil, salt, black pepper, 1 egg yolk, and Parmesan cheese. However, later references note that Spaghetti alla Morro is actually a Carbonara variation which commonly adds chili flakes or hot pepper to the dish. 

There was a brief mention in The Akron Beacon Journal (OH), July 10, 1958, which noted, “One of the favorites was spaghetti alla Carbonara, a specialty at Alfredo in Trastevere where we ate outdoors under awnings.”

In the San Angelo Evening Standard, October 6, 1958, there was an article about various famous musicians and the foods they enjoyed. Giorgio Tozzi, an opera star, enjoyed “spaghetti ala Carbonara.”

The Ogden Standard-Examiner (UT), March 10, 1959, mentioned that in Rome, “And the rich smell of spaghetti alla carbonari drifts up the street from Nino’s. (Take it from the boiling water and dip it briefly but immediately in egg beaten to a froth. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bacon crumbs.)

More support for a specific origin theory. The Chicago Tribune (IL), April 10, 1959, printed an article on Dale Robertson, an actor in western TV shows. Dale used to work on a ranch and owned a horse breeding farm. He mentioned that, “I learned to make the spaghetti, called ‘a la carbonara’ [named after the coal miners in Italy who love it] when I was in location in Europe, Dale said. ‘Immediately after the spaghetti is drained, you mix a couple of well beaten eggs, some chopped, fried bacon and drippings into the hot spaghetti. The heat of the spaghetti ‘sets’ the eggs and the bacon gives it a real flavor.’ Dale meant the carbonari, the "charcoal burners," and not "coal miners." It's interesting that this origin theory seemed to be the only such theory spread during the 1950s, the closest time frame to its likely invention in the 1940s. 

Finally, in the book, A Long Way From Missouri by Mary Margaret McBride (NY, 1959), there was a brief mention, about her travels to Rome, stating, “We went to trattorias—country inns, each of which served a distinctive pasta: cannelloni, fettucine, ravioli, lasagna, manicotti, spaghetti alla carbonara.”

It seems likely that spaghetti alla carbonara was invented during the 1940s, in Rome, although the first documented reference was from 1950. Its actual origins are unknown, although there are plenty of theories. However, the earliest documented theory, mentioned during the 1950s, connects it to the carbonari, the charcoal burners. The earliest recipes for this dish are different from what purists now consider the "proper" recipe for it. 

What are your favorite local restaurants for spaghetti all carbonara?

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I'm back again with a new edition of Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food and drink events. For this edition, I'll be mentioning some spots for Valentine's Day celebrations. I hope everyone dines out safely, tips well and are nice to their servers.
1) Kane's Donuts introduces their February flavors, to make your celebrations even sweeter. These flavors are available at all of their locations throughout the month of February. The special flavors include:
  • The Gluten-Free Strawberry Delight: A cake style donut bursting with real strawberry fruit! Then drenched in a glaze made from our Signature Honey Glaze and Strawberry Fruit. 
  • The Open-Faced Cherry-Filled Donut: A light and fluffy yeast donut filled with a generous dollop of rich Cherry Pie filling and iced with vanilla bean icing. 
  • The Chocolate Fudge Red Velvet: A deep, rich red velvet cake-style donut frosted with chocolate fudge frosting topped with festive sprinkles. 
  • The Cherry Glazed: An old-fashioned cake-style donut with real cherry fruit lovingly folded in the dough, then drenched in Kane’s Signature Honey Glaze. 
  • The Vegan Coconut Cream Donut: A cake-style donut with a light fluffy frosting topped with shredded sweet coconut.
  • The Valentine's Day Donut: A light and fluffy yeast donut decorated for Valentine's Day!
2) Executive Chef Daniel Kenney and the CLINK. team invite guests to "travel to Ireland" at upcoming St. Patrick's Day dinner. On Thursday, March 14th, starting at 6:30pm, CLINK. you can celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a four-course meal prepared by Executive Chef Daniel Kenney paired with Irish beers and spirits. 

Welcome Reception:
Ginger Seared Yellow Fin Tuna on Potato Toast
Paired with Jameson and Ginger
First Course:
"Potato Skins" American caviar, Maine lobster, guanciale, and crème fraiche
Paired with Irish mule
Second Course:
12-Hour Stout Braised Short Rib of Beef “Irish Stew” with local root vegetables and roquefort pudding
Paired with a pint of Guinness
Third Course:
Caramel and Irish Cream Pastry with whiskey-soaked golden raisins and peat-smoked ice cream
Paired with Baileys Irish Coffee

Tickets are $89 per person and can be purchased HERE.

Following dinner, guests are welcomed to join Liberty in its lobby rotunda for its weekly "Fashionably LATE" fashion show at 10 p.m., featuring incredible looks by REVIVALS.