By Marlise Ponzo
Welcome to my in-laws summer home by the sea in Lazio, or more accurately, in Tor San Lorenzo’s Piccola Capri. This home has been, for many years, a place where the entire family can convene in August to enjoy the sun, the sea, the culinary gems of the bountiful garden and of course each other.
I have created this culinary focused photo journal to share with you, the Good Food Revolution readership, a week brimming with simply prepared, yet always inspired, fresh and flavorful, Roman, home cooked meals.
By the beach house the smoke’n hot, sea and sun-filled days are punctuated only by the culinary extravaganzas that occur when the family gathers around the table three times daily. The ventures through the large family garden are often. The vines and trees are heavy with fruit and vegetables ripe for the picking. We take morning walks to the fisherman’s stand beachside where he sells his mornings catch. Trips to the buffalo farm to score us some scrumptiously juicy fresh mozzarella are more fun than I can possibly convey. I cannot get enough of the stuff.
All of the food is brought to the kitchen and put into the hands of culinary masters Zia Mariapia and Zio Natale where it is laboriously and lovingly prepared. I hope that you enjoy these photographs and that they inspire a few indulgent family meals or perhaps an indulgent family vacation to the coast of Lazio.
Exquisite shrimp from the local fisherman are bursting with flavour and we wash them down with a refreshing Falanghina.
Slow simmered Coda alla Vaccinara, the celery rich classic Roman preparation of veal tail and breaded savory eggplant are partnered perfectly with San Cassiano’s Morellino Di Scansano, a lively expression of the high acid Sangiovese grape.
Albert and Gabriel gather herbs, tomatoes, eggplant, figs and pears from the garden.
Albert’s cousin Monica returns from a trip to Sicily and brings with her some of the best bottarga I have ever tasted. Bottarga is a decadent, salty, marine treat of cured Silver Mullet row. The bottarga makes the two Vermentino Di Gallura, which we are comparing, sing. Piero Mancini’s is the big winner!!!
We are generously invited by neighbor, sommelier, Luciano Nebbia to taste Azienda Agricola Quaquarini Francesco’s Traditional Method Spumante, Classese from Oltrepo Pavese. High quality, elegant and complex sparkler made from Pinot Noir. Salute Luciano. Luciano writes for Cucina & Vini magazine.
It is pizza night and the whole family springs into action. Zia leads the kitchen team while outside Natale fires up the blazing inferno of an oven. Assorted pizzas are skillfully assembled…. My favorite is the zucchini flower and anchovy…. Gorgeous!
Knotted bread with heaps of cracked black pepper and cheese is served piping hot.
We embark on a road trip to try some regional specialties in Frascati, one of the historic hill-towns to the southeast of Rome. Collectively these hill-towns are known as Castelli Romani. Casual meal.
Porchetta…artisanal cured meats…..Seared pancetta with balsamico….ominous lightly fizzy red wine…Great food. Affordable. Super-cool atmosphere. Lots of eye-candy.
We track down Rigatoni alla Pajata, an impossibly difficult preparation to find it seems, a classic Roman dish of Rigatoni in tomato sauce with fermented milk filled intestines of suckling veal. Very rich.
All too soon the week is over and we must leave for Sardinia. Ciao Lazio…. Un grosso Bacio…. Big Kiss.
Marlise Ponzo is a Sommelier, Writer, Educator and Consultant based in Toronto. Her Sommelier service, Crushing On Wine, focuses on hosting wine centered events in the private residences and offices of its clients. Crushing On Wine also offers wine list consulting and staff training for restaurateurs who understand the value of a knowledgeable front of house staff.