My North Korean Lunch

Dear Reader,

This is just a glimpse at food I ate in North Korea…

It was delicious.North_korean_lunch_stanito

Do you recognise any of these dishes?

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How to make Tacos with Stanito

Dear Reader,

as easy as it sounds, Mexican tacos are a work of art that takes time, dedication and passion. Stanito is going to teach not how to cook (I’ll leave this for next post) but how to prepare it on your dish and eat it.

Today I’m introducing to you the Blue Taco tortilla, that you can find in central-south of Mexico and which is characterised by a nice blue color. It’s really blue. It’s not because it’s gone bad of because of fungi. The tortilla is blue because it’s made out of blue corn, a kind of corn you find in central-southern states of Mexico with a unique blue pigmentation due to a high amount of anthocyanin that also acts as antioxidant.

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First of all, you take the main course core food and place it on the tortilla. Make sure you put in the middle so that you have pace to add the next ingredients.

Exhibit A: Stanito is having breaded-fish taco

Once you placed the piece of fish on the tortilla, it is mandatory that you add guacamole. It’s a must, if you don’t do this it is a direct insult to Mexican Cusine world (and to Stanito!)

Exhibit B: Stanito is placing the guacamole in an orderly fashion

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Because this is a fish taco, it is mandatory that you add lemon to it because fish requires this mostly all over the world or in those countries where people really know about food 🙂 (Mexico and Italy)

Exhibit C: Stanito is carefully putting lemon on the piece of fish to highlight its delicate taste

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Mexicans like their food spicy and tasty, which means that if you have sauces in front of you, use them. They also like onion a lot, something that Stanito treasures very heartily. So gently place the onion on top of the fish and next to the guacamole.

Exhibit D: Stanito in this case is placing onion rings, which makes everything a bit more difficult because when the time comes to fold the tortilla the rings will break of won’t stay easily in it.

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Give one last check to the taco. Check that you have everything you want in it, no onion ring is missing, and if you feel like adding chilli this is the time to do it.

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Now you enjoy this delicious creation 🙂

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And why not combine it with one of Mexican most famous drinks? Beer with clamato sauces.

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Buon appetito!

For more information about real Good Food click here and here! 🙂

Rome & Real Good Food – Part 2

We are back on track discovering new fantastic places, very good original Roman food, hidden osterie, unnoticeable restaurants, disguised cuisine heavens, as most best places deceive our eyes, Stanito kept sniffing gems out!

Following the trattorie category (for further information on Italian Food Places categories, please click here), the latest one that Stanito found is called Er Grottino der Traslocatore, meaning The Little Cave of the House Mover (some of the names of osterie and trattorie really deserve deeper analysis). Continue reading “Rome & Real Good Food – Part 2”

Rome & Real Good Food – Part 1

Dear Reader,

Finding a good place to eat in Rome can be a real trick, especially for foreigners. It is a fact that in the historic center of Rome most restaurants, trattorie and osterie that look very nice are also the most touristic spots and not necessarily the best ones. Trust me on this one. Most of these places will have their menu (with English translation) posted outside so that tourists can check on all the dishes and prices before sitting down. You can easily recognize them because of their crowded location, see Piazza Navona for example. And for my experience, the best places to eat are those with no signs at all, like Il Timoniere and Il Porchettaro.

Apart from typical restaurants (where you get a full service and many courses) I have always found the best typical food in smaller and less crowded places like trattorie and osterie, where the absence of hordes of tourists allow a much better and dedicated service. Trattoria is more like a “familiar” kind of restaurants (most of them are run by a family), smaller and less formal, and generally located in an alley or side street. Usually a member of the family –the mother or father – will be managing the kitchen, while another member will be dealing the cash and serving at tables. These places are certainly more relaxed and allow you to enjoy a more homey food. Il Timoniere is the best example I have for trattoria.

IMG_1157© Stanito, 2012

The entrance is completely unnoticeable, looking like a normal building.

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This place is where I’ve tried probably the third best tiramisú of my life, exquisite, creamy tiramisú. I don’t have a photo of my broccoli side dish but I can tell you it was absolutely amazing.

IMG_1164© Stanito, 2012

And above is Giulio, the owner of Il Timoniere along with wife and daughter. The place is small, exclusive, and familiar, every day a different dish so of the three times I’ve there I never had the same dish. He doesn’t use publicity to get his clients relying only on spread of words. And yet, the place is always full.

Always going down on the ‘level scale’ (of formality, not quality), we now come to osteria. If trattoria is considered a lower-level restaurant, then osteria will be even lower. Osterie are generally noisy, you can hear dishes clashing in the kitchen, the chef mumbling in high volume, a TV on with a soccer match and bellied-supporters sitting right under it and yelling at it, and waiters that can be distracted by the TV (did I ever tell you that soccer is sacred in Italy?).
The menus are very funny as well: sometimes they are written on paper tablecloth that will be removed after you finish, or maybe they won’t even have a menu, they will tell you what they have for that day. Since the service is normally very relaxed (the waiter will indeed stop several times to watch the soccer match) you will see how these are fun familiar places where the importance is only good food.

This is how I came to Dino & Tony… Work lunch with colleagues, only two of us were the Italians so we felt the need to introduce the newcomers to real good and cheap food. The best choice was Dino & Tony.

IMG_1078© Stanito, 2012

Now, a little recommendation before entering this place: do not feel intimidated by the yelling and shouting from the chef to the main waiter, it’s normal and part of the comedy!

Both men, in their late 50’s, are grumpy and complaining about each other, the whole time. Dino, the chef is constantly yelling “What the hell is this coffee still doing here?! Are you asleep, you miserable old man?!” to which Tony will reply by using inappropriate language as self defense while serving at tables of people completely amused by their humor.

Their specialty is tonnarelli cacio e pepe, which is basically thick spaghetti flavored with pecorino cheese (sheep cheese), oil and sage. Absolutely divine. They have a generic entrance (known as antipasto) which never changes, some pieces of pizza, ham and cheese.

The service is a bit slack but good in the end, this is because Dino and Tony spend so much time arguing with each other that eventually they forget for a few seconds that they’re either holding someone’s dish or fork. At some point I remember asking for an ice-cream, and Tony said “No, we have better things dear, I’ll get you a nice frozen coffee that we personally prepare, you’ll love it!” so ok, no ice-cream for me I guess!

By the end and about to leave our table, Dino comes to us because he wants a nice photo with foreign customers. And there he is 🙂 all proud of himself. The photo? Wasn’t really our idea, but he insisted 🙂 How could we deny him the pleasure of having his photo taken with such international table?

Totally recommended.

Why Sushi is one of the best pleasures on Earth

Dear Reader,

It was about time I opened a space to talk about one of the most sublime pleasures in this life: Sushi, for me a gut-wrenching craving pleasure that never fades away.

Some call it posh, some call it plain tasting, and others don’t even think of it as eatable food; somehow sushi is more than just food, it’s an experience. After I tried it the first time, I thought, wow, how can something so simple be this good?
I can definitely answer this question, my dear Reader, but before I need to tell you how and when I had my first encounter with sushi.
When I first tasted sushi, I was shocked, and I was lucky that I was in a true Japanese restaurant in Santiago (apparently a very good one – which I was unable to judge at that time), the chef was Yuuya Kaneko.
I looked at the ingredients that composed my salmon roll: rice, algae, salmon, wasabi and soy sauce. Curiously, none of these ingredients would be good by themselves alone, but altogether they do magic! So I needed to solve the mystery.

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I won’t talk about the obvious remarks like freshness of fish and other raw ingredients, or their high quality, but rather about two factors that are often not even considered as equally important: rice preparation/consistency and the ratio of raw ingredients (see the photo below for the right ratio).

As I eventually learnt, rice preparation strongly determines whether sushi will be a) excellent, b) good, c) so-so, d) mediocre, or e) just bad. This is because sushi rice preparation is highly dependent on the blend of salt, sugar and rice vinegar; considering that vinegar has a very strong flavor that can cover tuna or whatever raw fish you it with sushi, you can imagine how this will affect the delicate balance of a good result if you don’t pour in the exact right amount.

Normally the ratio of salt/sugar/rice vinegar will be as follows:

1 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt

And here we come to the rice consistency: it is important to know that sushi uses sushi rice, a specific type of rounded-short-grained rice. This is because sushi rice is harder and stickier than regular rice, and it needs to be sticky in order to function as required. Since rice in the uramaki sushi (see the picture below, with a right balance of rice, fish and cream cheese) goes on the outside, it needs to cling on it. Good rice should be sticky enough so that all grains stick firmly together, but it should not be so sticky that it becomes an amorphous mash of rice. Sushi needs to taste good and look nice, you don’t want to have a lump of boiled rice with a piece of salmon, but instead a composition of flavors and color, right?

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Reasons why you should eat sushi:

1)       It tastes awesome.

2)       It’s pretty.

3)       It’s healthy.

4)       The seaweed wrapping is funny.

5)       It reminds of Hattori Hanzo.

6)       It opens your mind/taste to a different flavor dimension.

7)       It’s just different.

Do I need to say more?