It's a Beef Stew kind of day...

-1It's a drizzly, February day here in Umbria... a beef stew kind of day... 
One day, like today, when I had my restaurant in Foligno, I decided to make an Italianized version of Irish Beef Stew... Low and behold, what I had really made was classic Umbrian Spezzatino di Manzo - and it was a hit!  I had to leave this dish on my menu all winter, because for my Umbrian clients, spezzatino was a comfort food, a dish that takes time to prepare, and few have that time - except for me, of course!

Spezzatino di Manzo

  • 5o0g cubed beef for stew
  • flour for dusting
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 -2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery or 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small hot pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbs chopped rosemary
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 Tbs course sea salt
  • extra virgin olive oil

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot.  Meanwhile, dust the beef with flour.  Brown the beef in the olive oil (over medium high heat) and remove from pot.
Add the diced onions, carrots, celery, garlic, pepper, bay leaf, rosemary and sweat for a few minutes.
*If you want a red stew, you can add some tomato paste or tomato puree at this point, and subsitute red wine for the white.
Add the beef back into the pot with the potatoes.  Deglaze with a glass or so of white wine. Salt.
Add enough water to come about half way up the meat.
Cover and turn heat to low, or cover and put in oven at 325/165 and cook slowly for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender.



A Simple Thanksgiving for 50


Choosing which holiday to spend in which country can be difficult, but after 3 years, I've got it down:

Christmas: USA - Umbria is so lacking in Christmas spirit that it makes me almost miss the commercialism of America, plus, you can't beat shopping the Christmas sales when you are buying with the Euro! 

New Years: Italy - I love the big multi-multi-multi course end of the year dinner! (skip the cotechino though....)

Easter: could go either way - I can definitely live without Easter breakfast in Umbria - a hard boiled egg, salami, lamb-innard stew (which I like, but not first thing in the morning), and the dry dry dry Pizza di Pasqua, which looks like a delicious cheese brioche, but its the driest, worst bread in the world.  Lunch/dinner is another story - whole baby lamb or goat roasted over the fire, fried artichokes, more innard stew, and lots of other good stuff! However, I do like a good honey baked ham, easter baskets, and all things easter bunny!

4th of July:  another either way - obviously the spirit lies in America, but its fun to try to recreate here in Itay - plus it gives Italians a chance to eat a real burger, not the weird gross little patty things they have here.  (and of course the burgers are good - Americans only know how to cook and eat hamburgers anyway, right? McDonalds, right???)

Halloween:  USA - its a new holiday here - and there are no mini-Snickers.

Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that I don't mind spending abroad, because I've found that Italians get just as excited about it as we do.  Who doesn't love the sight of a giant stuffed turkey???  This year at Trattoria Basilikó we even had a turkey carving race!

Here's what you need to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for 50 in Italy:

  • 45 pounds of turkey
  • 2 old hens for broth
  • 10 pounds of butter (unheard of in olive oil-only umbria)
  • 12 liters of heavy cream
  • 3 loaves of Pugliese style bread - the saltless bread of umbria will not work for stuffing
  • 13 pounds of cippollini from Cannara for creamed onions
  • 25 pounds of potatoes for mash (actually, more - Italians eat mashed potatoes like they are going out of style)
  • 11 pounds of brussel sprouts - special request item
  • 10 pounds of sweet potatoes, or "American Potatoes"  - another special request item - and they only have the white kind
  • 20 pounds of whatever root vegetables you can find - difficult because everything has the same name - rape (RA-pay)
  • cranberry sauce - sent from USA - enough for personal use only - the thought of eating any kind of jelly with meat makes Italians absolutely sick!
  • 6 cans of pumpkin puree - also sent from USA - there is no differentiating between different kinds of squash here in umbria - every type is called zucca - trying to ask for butternut or delicata or kabocha is futile - don't even try for sugar pie pumpkins - if they exist here, they exist only to be carved on halloween!
  • a good egg nog recipe - the Italians were so-so about the egg nog, some liked it, some just didn't get it - the only person who loved it (and finished off everone's glass at her table) was a tall, thin, model-like girl from Romania - you never know!

4th of July at Basilikó!!!



€20 a persona
escluse bevande
Se volete mangiare all'aperto nel vicolo
affrettatevi a prenotare!!!
Vi aspettiamo numerosi!!!
Jennifer e Cristiana

2 Events this Week at Basilikó!

L’Orto Bio Logico Ariel e la Trattoria Basilikò presentano

Una serata BIO-LOGICA
alla scoperta dei sapori provenienti dalla nostra terra

protagonista: il CAVOLO NERO

insalata di cavolo nero con caprino del pastore
involtino di cavolo nero
“caldo verde” zuppa portoguese
gratìn di cavolo nero

€ 30 (compreso vino, cibo, discorsi, tutto!)
Mercoledì 25 febbraio
Ore 20:30

La Trattoria Basilikò in collaborazione con Bengodi
E La Cantina Zaccagnini presentano

“La Montanara”
Alla scoperta dell’ Appennino Abruzzese
Ventricina del Vastese
Pecorino di Farindola
Crostini alla Chietina
Pallotte Cace e Ove
Pizz’ e Fojie
Pecora al Cotturo
I Bocconotti
€ 30 a persona
Tutto incluso

Venerdì 27 febbraio
Ore 20:30

Prenotazione Obbligatoria!

But will there be a Turkey???

ahhhh...the burning question these days.....

I am planning to have a 4th of July party at Basilikó this year just for fun, and because lots of our customers are curious to try "real American food."  However, 90% of Italians that I have spoken with seem to think that no American holiday is complete without that mythical "Thanksgiving Day Turkey" - its the stuff dreams are made of  - and they all want to try it.

Now that I have a pretty good grasp on the language here, once people discover that I am american, they love to shower me with every possible stereotype that they know of, to show just how much they know about american culture and history.  Just to be clear, these are people who have never set foot in the United States, let alone have left Umbria.  Some of the most popluar, and my favorites:

  1. the streets really are paved with gold!  they think all americans are rich - I constantly have to explain that most American tourists who visit Italy represent a very small part of the population, and are, in fact, a little better off than everbody else.
  2. stickin' with that gold theme - the golden arches of McDonalds - my customers can't even imagine how I learned how to cook so well having only been in Italy for 1 1/2 years, and having grown up only eating "fast food" my whole life.  When I say that I have been cooking in restaurants for 10 years, and that the food in america can be really good, I get a confused look...
  3. we have a great healthcare system in america just like in italy.  I don't have time here to comment
  4. America is roughly the same size as Italy - they can't fathom that their country is about the same size as California, one of 50 other states - look at a map!!!
  5. this one is great - over heard by my partner Cristiana in a pizzeria:  instead of water faucets, Americans now have Strawberry Coca-Cola faucets in their homes...cherry coke, maybe...but strawberry - does it even exist??? ;-)
  6. America is a place of constant change for the good of everyone - a true democracy.  I'm not going to argue that things happen in America a lot faster than they happen in Italy, but we have had a monkey accompanied by the devil reincarnate in office for the past 8 years, and have managed to create another war without end or sense...seems like we are moving backwards.  Here in italy, the government wasn't working, so they just ended it and changed - no endless waiting like us (whether its good or not is subjective, of course, but its at least change).
  7. and the giant turkey its on everybodys table, every holiday.  If I have Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant, there is sure to be a line out the door.  And there are going to be a lot of disappointed faces this turkey-less 4th of July...

The Year in Review...

One year and 2 days ago, I arrived in Italy and turned a new page in my life - looking back, its been quite a year!   In 2007 I ....

to follow along visually, check out my Flickr photo site .

Buon Capodanno a Tutti !!!!