This is Us!

We are here to bring you our life through food. Especially Italian food. You can learn more about us here.


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from John and I and these guys I found hanging around in Orvieto. Hope your day is filled with more treats than tricks. And speaking of treats, I'll be announcing the first Italian prize tomorrow on the blog, so stay tuned.

Now go get yourselves some candy!

Bathroom of the Month - October 2010 - West End Station

We would like to congratulate West End Station in Hoboken, New Jersey for snagging the Bathroom of the Month award this month. They really went all out with this bathroom. Our favorite part is the farmhouse sink. Just look at that contrasting dark-colored wood table it sits on! The subway tiles in slightly varying shades of light gray and white are also a nice touch. Fantastic attention to detail.

Top 10 Pizza Tools

Here is a non-comprehensive, un-exhaustive list of mostly-useful stuff for making pizza. I will take it from the top:

10. Vino!!!! It helps you think you're making the BEST PIZZA EVER! Plus, with all our help from Astor Wines, you've got plenty of good matches to pick from.

9. The Scizza! Pizza scissors. I don't own a pair, but I want to. I think they're pretty cool.

8. FRESH Mozzarella cheese. We like to stress fresh ingredients. It truly helps.

7. A food processor/mixer. I love my Cuisinart one.

6. San Marzano crushed tomatoes: tastes so good, you don't even have to add anything to them. Except love. That always helps.

5. FRESH basil. Is there an echo in here?

4. Truffle Oil (or salt): We all know I can't get enough. Keste's Del Re Pizza was my first experience and I've been in love ever since.

3. 00 Bread Flour: super fine and fancy stuff.

2. Semolina flour: to put on your pizza peel and make it easy to ease your uncooked dough onto the pizza stone.

1. Pizza Stone and Peel: these have to go together.

And, in case of emergency (put on these) and dial your local pizzeria (thanks to Kelvin Slush for suggesting the telephone as a top pizza tool).

Lock the Door, it's Domino's (A review of Domino's Pizza)

Yup,  That's right.  We reviewed a Domino's Pizza this past week.  We are officially losing our minds.  But, I have to admit...Domino's had piqued my interest as of late with their aggressive media campaign, bragging of a revamped recipe.  I mean, I knew it was going to be awful going in, but I wanted to know just how awful it would be.  I walk over to Elana's spot to flush my 3 mile jog down the toilet.

Service is prompt - the pizza arrives in literally 29 minutes after Elana places the call.  Opening the box yields a wildly uninspiring surprise; cookie cutter like, dry, flat-out ugly looking slices.  Luckily, I'm so hungry that I'll eat just about anything.

You know how certain smells and music bring you back in time?  Well, it turns out that tastes do too.  Last time I had a Domino's pizza was in college.  It wasn't out of the ordinary for a pie or two to find its way to the fraternity house after guzzling a few thousand beers on a weekend evening.  In Lewisburg, desperate times would call for desperate measures.  As I bite into the "new and improved" Domino's pie... not much has changed.  The tomato sauce still packs that harsh, stinging punch.  The cheese is dry, and cheap tasting.  The crust - well, to be fair, the crust is, actually, different.  It is injected with noticeable doses of garlic, butter and herbs.  I'm not sure if this is an improvement or not but, to Domino's credit, it is indeed different.  Some of my bites actually tasted like buttered popcorn from a movie theater.

Admittedly, myself and Elana ate 7/8ths of the pie.  I mean, it is just cheese, tomatoes and bread.... so don't think THAT much less of us.  But it pretty much sucked.  And there was an awkward feeling in the air after it was all said and done.   Maybe it was the grease that sat in our stomach.  Maybe it was the fact that our dinner had just been wasted by this harsh tasting frisbee in a box.  I think, however, it was disappointment.

See, i'm an optimistic fella.  I still held out for closure during the final moments of (the runaway trainwreck known as) Lost, despite the countless warning signs to the contrary throughout that dreadful last season.  I see the "light brown" in my occasional gray hairs.  And I'd watch the CEO of Domino's on these commercials and think, perhaps, maybe this guy was right.  Maybe Domino's could be edible after all.  Like Rocky's message to the Russians, change was indeed possible!

But this was one instance where my optimism was powerless.  The pizza sucked.  I wished sis a good night, and sprinted home in tears.  'Til next time, I guess.


Roman Sneak Peek - Part The Third!

Today we went to the Testaccio Market with a special tour guide, Daniela de Balzo. Apart from living in Rome and having the inside track to all the good (read: good-tasting) places to go, Daniela also runs her own cooking school, specializing in Roman and Neopolitan dishes. If you ever find yourself in Rome and need a cooking class (because why wouldn't you?), Daniela is your go-to woman. Incidentally, we are trying to convince her to come to cook and teach for us State-side. Stay tuned for that, and let me know if you'd be interested in attending such fine-tasting shenanigans.

On our way to the market, we stepped into a pasta shop – Laboratorio Moderno Esperienza Antica. Those are a lot of long Italian words. This is what I take away from it, with my limited Italian:

1. I am going to start referring to my kitchen as the "Laboratorio (semi) Moderno."

2. They make home made pasta. Right there in the store. And if you stand there and look hungry, they will give it to you. Right out of the ravioli press.

3. It's probably not called a "ravioli press" but that's essentially what it is. Check it out:

First they roll out the sheets of pasta. Then, they roll 'em up and put them on these giant spools on this machine:

They put the filling (in this case a wonderfully smooth and creamy ricotta dotted with spinach) in a funnel at the top of the machine. Then they crank it up, and magically it sandwiches the delicious filling in between fresh pasta like so:

Then, the ravioli press operator hands them to the nearest hungry-looking tourist girl, who just happened to be me in this case. I ate it uncooked and right out of the press. It was amazing.