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The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

E-mail Laura Stec

About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Italy By The Bay

Uploaded: Jun 25, 2017
I am not a native to Italy, but I got there as quick as I could.

Last year we did a culinary tour around the country, including a stop to Casa Caponetti, a farm-to-fork cooking school north-east of Rome about 1.5 hours. Run by Lorenzo Caponetti, this Tuscania agriturismo, B & B, and organic farm is surrounded by olive trees and wide open space.

They offer seasonal cook classes and olive oil harvesting, plus the grounds are a historical reserve of ancient Etruscan tombs (700 – 300 BC). So creepy and yet sooo cool.

If you’ve gone to Rome a few times and looking for a fun expedition outside the City, this is a terrific choice. The local bus takes you right there.

Not going to Italy any time soon? A fun way to explore from our Bay backyard is at Festa Regionale. We Food Partied! at one of Il Fornaio’s expeditions through twelve diverse regions of the country. Every month one of their chefs, often native of the featured region, designs a menu celebrating its food, wine and favorite local dishes. As part of the program, you fill out a “passport” each month you go, earning a chance to win a trip to Italy. Plus you get a gift of food from the region at the end of the meal.

We celebrated the northern region of Emilia-Romagna. My favorite dish was Erbazzone (puff pastry with spinach, leek, dandelion, Grano Padano and ricotta - $11.50) very rich and a classic from the region.

The Trenette alla Riminese (spinach and egg pasta with shrimp, scallop crab tomato wild arugula - $20.50) was lighter and lovely.

The Branzino con Funghetti (sea bass with Sangiovese, shitake and potato -$28.50) was my least favorite. The fish was overcooked and the red wine sauce needs improvement.

But the Zuppa Inglese (liquor-infused lady fingers with vanilla and chocolate -$10.95) won back my heart. I licked the bowl clean (yes, I did).

It was perfectly paired with the Rosso, Nespolino 2014. Try a flight of regional wines - three for $16.

Also notable was lady chef Leslie Pineda – you go girl! It’s rare to see a woman in charge of the line in a restaurant. Toques off to Santa Clara Il Fornaio and this new-ish addition to their family of restaurants. July region is Veneto (Venice) and August is Campania. See other months here.

Buon Cibo, Buon Vino, Buoni Amici!
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Jun 25, 2017 at 11:32 am

"Il Fornio"? Who copy edits?

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: other,
on Jun 25, 2017 at 11:34 am

Hmmm, YOU do! Fixed and thanks!

Posted by Bill Boos, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jun 25, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Been to Il Fornaio many times over the years for their monthly regional specials -- interesting theme and a way to keep the menu fresh.
Laura, I have a suggestion for a future blog for you to consider. There are a growing number of start-ups offering prepared meals either pre-cooked or the measured fresh ingredients for complete meals all cut, cleaned and ready to cook and delivered to our doorsteps. They seem to offer convenience and yet also no waste as portions contain just enough for the meals -- no throwing away half a head of lettuce, leftover stalks of celery, etc after making a meal for one or two. Some of the providers are Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh and Purple Carrot, a vegan delivery service. Nestle USA, apparently seeing the food business being disrupted, just invested in Freshly, a New York purveyor of fully cooked meals. Most feature organic or sustainable claims and stress reduced waste. Since you are kind of a self proclaimed environmentalist and foodie, I am wondering if you are following this phenomenon and have any opinion.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: other,
on Jun 25, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Bill Boos, I do have an opinion on this after extensive research on the topic a year or so ago, for possible creation of a program sponsored by a local grocery chain. These services are good/great for some, and not so much for others. I have lost private clients to the phenomenon early on, only to find they return after still wanting fresh cooked meals that they don't cook! Other clients supplement my work (or their cooking) with the service, and that seems to work well. The biggest problem, coming from my "kind-of environmental/foodie perspective" (is that a complement or a cut by the way?) is all the packaging (WAY TOO MUCH) and looking into my crystal ball, the future of these services will be from your local grocer who can eliminate much of it, plus bring their long running business relations with local growers near you. My research could be updated as it was over a year ago and things are changing quickly in this field. We have reviews on the Portola Valley Forum, and I'll see if I can find anything more recent to share from that. In my files FYI - I have an April 6, 2016 review from the New York Times, and Aug 8 2016 from the Mercury News.

Posted by honda kim thanh, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Jun 28, 2017 at 1:32 am

Amazing here ... Italia by in bay ... i wanna come there

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