Tag Archives: tuna

It´s a pizza, I’m sure!

16 Oct

Beneath a shady tree, the hero spread
His table on the turf, with cakes of bread;
And, with his chiefs, on forest fruits he fed.
They sate; and, (not without the god’s command)
Their homely fare dispatch’d, the hungry band
Invade their trenchers next, and soon devour,
To mend the scanty meal, their cakes of flour.
Ascanius this observ’d, and smiling said:
“See, we devour the plates on which we fed.

These are the translated words of Virgil (70-19 b.C) in the “The Aeneid”, describing the legendary origin of the Roman nation and their cakes or circles of bread, probably the first written record of this amazing culinary creation, the pizza.

After “It’s not a pizza! Or is it?“, I just can’t go on for too long without writing about the real pizza. At least if you define pizza as a “shallow bread-like crust covered with seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, and often other toppings such as sausage or olive (take a look at Pizza, History and Legends“).

Although of uncertain origin, the standards of what became known today as pizzas were probably set in 1889 by Raffaele Esposito in Naples. In that year he prepared tree kinds of pizzas: one with pork fat, cheese and basil; one with garlic, olive oil and tomatoes; and another with mozzarella, basil and tomatoes (in the colors of the Italian flag – yellow, green and red) which were offered to the Queen Margherita di Savoia. The Queen really enjoyed them, particularly the third type, which than became known as “Pizza Margherita” and is today considered the most basic and traditional type of pizza.

Travelling around Italy you will certainly find thousands of pizzerias, offering pizzas that range from heaven to complete hell. In my last trip to Italy, the third one I had the pleasure of making, my son Thiago, who just loves pizza, decided to try them in almost every meal. We travelled around Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, Marche, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, thus, from the center to northern regions. I’d like to highlight two of them:

1. “Tonno e cipolla” (Tuna and onions) from the restaurant “Il Vecchio Dado” in Pisa/Tuscany – The city of Pisa has for quite a long time been known for one single thing, its Leaning Tower, which in fact became a symbol of Italy itself. Although an impressive building, the Leaning Tower is just one component of the beautiful “Campo dei Miracoli” (Field of Miracles) which also includes an amazing church, a baptistery and a cemetery.

Pisa flourished mainly around the XIth to the XIIIth century, declining after it was defeated by the Genoese in 1284. It was also governed by the Medice, from Florence, who re-established the famous University of Pisa were Galileo Galilei served as a teacher.

Campo dei Miracoli, in Pisa/Tuscany, with the Leaning Tower and part of the Dome.

Campo dei Miracoli, in Pisa/Tuscany, with the Leaning Tower and part of the Dome.

When looking for a meal please, run away from the restaurants around the “Campo dei Miracoli”. They are expensive and usually of low quality – real tourist traps. Take your time and walk towards south, in the direction of the Arno river. It should not take more than 5-10 min (a little more if you stop for pictures and to admire the nice architecture along the way). Then just walk along the river and look for “Il Vecchio Dado”, at Lungarno Antonio Paccinoti, 22 (if you came through Via Santa Maria, which starts at the “Campo”, just turn left and walk a couple of blocks).

Walk along via Santa Maria towards the Arno river

Walk along via Santa Maria towards the Arno river

“Il Vecchio Dado” is a 200 years old establishment serving good quality pizzas right on the waterfront. It also has a good selection of fish and seafood dishes.

Pizza Tonno e Cipolla from Il Vechio Dado - Pisa/Tuscany - According to my son Thiago the number 1 in Italy

Pizza Tonno e Cipolla from Il Vechio Dado - Pisa/Tuscany - According to my son Thiago the number 1 in Italy

2. “Tartufo Nero” (Black truffles) from the restaurant “I Monaci” in Assisi/Umbria – Assisi is well known as the birthplace of St. Francis, the first Italian saint and the founder of the Franciscan Order. It’s a beautiful medieval town, filled with tourists and pilgrims during most of the year, but worth of visiting for at least a couple of days.

Basilica of St Francis - Assisi/Umbria

Basilica of St Francis - Assisi/Umbria

We had an amazing pizza at “Il Monaci”, whose entrance is in a stepped alley (Scaletti del Metastasio) off the north side of Via Fontebella, a few steps down from Piazzetta in downtown Assisi. I had never had truffles before, but will not comment on that now, as it believe it deserves a special blog entry.

"Tartufo nero" from "Il Monaci" - Assisi/Umbria

Pizza de Tartufo Nero from Il Monaci - Assisi/Umbria

These two pizzas had a few things in common: (a) first quality ingredients, specially the tomatoes, the mozzarella cheese and the olive oil; (b) they were baked in wooden ovens, acquiring a natural and unique smokiness; (c) a crunchy and delicate crust and (d) abundant toppings.

Have you had a similar experience? Wanna share your favorite pizzas with us? Get in touch.

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Pizza on Foodista

Tuna leftovers

26 Aug

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary “leftover” is a noun originated in 1891 referring to “something that remains unused or unconsumed”, especially “leftover food served at a later meal”.  Remember the tuna fish I received as a present and prepared on the grill a few weeks ago? If not, take a look here.  If you do, then let me add that we had quite a few leftovers, which obviously found their way into the freezer.

The Wikipedia affirms that “new dishes made from leftovers are quite common in world cuisine” and, let me assure you, they are more than correct.  Well, those tuna leftovers were found by my wife yesterday, and hence a new dish was offered for us at lunchtime.

First, she boiled some sliced potatoes (an egg was also boiled during the process).  Second, onions and yellow bell peppers were sauté in olive oil, to which the tuna leftovers were added.  The potatoes were then disposed at the bottom of a ceramic platter and the tuna, onions and bell peppers layered at the top.  An extra shot of olive oil was added and the dish placed in the oven for a couple of minutes.  Right before serving the egg was sliced and put at the top of the plate.

Tuna left overs over boiled potatoes with onions, yellow bell pepper and boiled eggs.

Tuna leftovers with boiled potatoes, onions, yellow bell peppers and boiled eggs (don't forget the olive oil).

The result was rather simple, but quite tasty.  And she proved once again she cares about my money. Thanks hun.

Sushi

17 Jul

Last Wednesday I was walking around a shopping mall (Brasilia Shopping, Asa Norte) in Brasilia (the capital of Brazil, around 2,500 km from home) and saw “Fuji Sushi“, a sushi bar.

Although usually associated to Japan, sushi has a Chinese origin, where it developed basically as a fish fermentation and preservation method.  Around 2,000 year ago the method arrived in Japan and besides rice vinegar and probably sugar, sake was added to the recipe.

Presentations was not bad, but the taste was disappointing.  Believe it or not almost every sushi had cream cheese in it (I don’t have the slightest idea why they spoil fresh tuna and salmon with that).  The only thing that was not bad (although it looked so) was a caramelized ginger.  It was relatively cheap (around US$ 0,50/piece) but I’m not willing to repeat the experience.

Smoked fish "Nigiri" sushi tied with pieces of nori (a type of algae)

Smoked fish "Nigiri sushi" tied with pieces of "nori" (a type of dried algae)

Salmon "Nigiri" sushi.  On the back a tuna "Uramaki" plenty of cream cheese (Urghh!!!)

Salmon "Nigiri sushi". On the back a tuna "Uramaki" plenty of cream cheese (Urghh!!!)

Homemade Sushi on Foodista
Sushi Rice on Foodista
Nigiri-Sushi on Foodista

Time for tuna – A Saturday surprise

25 Jun

I’ve always been told that you must always have at least 3 types of persons as friends, it doesn’t matter where you live: the Sheriff (Police Chief??), a lawyer and a physician. Last Saturday I became sure you have to add a fourth one to the list, a fisherman.

As I got home from my Porto Alegre adventure I found 2 whole tunas on my yard. Yes, that’s right, a friend, who happens to be a fisherman, had passed by and literally dropped 2 whole tunas on my frontyard (since I was not home yet he simply left the fish on the lawn).

The fish were, Katsuwonus pelamis, a medium-sized Scombridae, also known as striped tuna or oceanic “bonito”, which grows up to 1 m long.

The largest world consumers of skipjacks are the Japanese, who use them to prepare “dashi” (a fish stock) based on “katsuobushi” (or dried “katsuo”, as the fish is known in Japan).

Slicing fresh tuna

Slicing fresh tuna

As I wanted to take advantage of the freshness of this wonderful fish I decided to clean and slice one of them immediately, leaving some pieces on the fridge for a Sunday lunch. The other one was frozen whole for future use.

Grilling the tuna on wood charcoal

Grilling the tuna on wood charcoal - the 3 pieces on the right were also brushed with soy sauce

It took no longer than a couple of minutes to have the slices juicy and ready to eat, served with an aragula salad with sliced parmigiano-reggiano (not the Italian one, but a very good product I bought in Uruguay) and gorgonzola cheese. They were brushed with olive oil and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper right before grilling on wood charcoal.

Since I’m a lawyer myself, I had only to invite some physicians to join my family for lunch. Next time I’ll have to invite the Sheriff.

Grilled tuna

Grilled tuna

Bonito Flakes on Foodista
Grilled tuna on Foodista

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