‘5 Foods I Found in Italy’
Francine Segan dishes on her favorite foodie finds from her recent trip to Abruzzo, Italy.
I just spent 3 days in Abruzzo, a region in southern Italy that may not be as famous as Tuscany, but definitely should be! I visited Teramo, a city in that region, renowned for its good food and fine chefs.
Here are some of my favorite foodie finds from my trip:
1. Unusual Recipes: La Virtú & Tiny Meatballs
Every year on May 1, virtually everyone in Teramo eats a special minnestrone called La Virtú, historically made with at least 33 different ingredients. The idea of the soup is to clean out your winter pantry of all the dried beans, smoked meats, salamis, and dried grains and pasta you stored for the winter and to combine them will lots of new Spring greens and freshly made pastas. It’s an “out with the old, in with the new” stew.
I was lucky enough to be in Teramo at the right time of year, and doubly lucky to get to taste La Virtú in one of Teramo’s most famous restaurants, Il Ristorante Antico Cantinone, founded by Cav. Elio Pompa, who has contributed so much to Italy’s cuisine that he received the title, “Cavaliere,” a sort of Italian knighthood.
Another interesting dish I had there was spaghetti topped with teeny, tiny meatballs. It’s the only way you’ll ever see meatballs served with pasta in Italy. The Lady and the Tramp version, with huge meatballs sitting on spaghetti, is a totally American invention.
2. Crepe Soup
Thin as paper, egg and flour crepes are sprinkled with parmesan cheese and dusted with a hint of cinnamon, then rolled and served in a clear broth. Sounds simple, but it’s amazingly delicious. Chef Marcello Schillaci, the charming owner of La Catina di Porta Romana, taught me to make this gourmet treat, which in their dialect is called “Scrippelle in Brodo.” You can make the crepes several hours ahead of serving them.
Crepes in Broth: Scrippelle in Brodo
Makes 6 to 8 Servings
5 large eggs
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Parmesan or pecorino cheese
Freshly ground pepper
1 quart best-quality turkey or chicken broth, hot
1. In a bowl, using a whisk or electric hand mixer, beat the eggs and flour until smooth. Then add salt and 1 cup of water, a little at a time. Beat until combined.
2. Wet a paper towel with some olive oil and lightly spread on a non-stick frying pan, about 7 inches in diameter. Heat over medium high heat. Pour a few tablespoonfuls of the batter into the center of the frying pan, and swirl it around to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook until just set, then flip over and cook the other side for just a few seconds until dry. Lay the crepe onto a clean cotton dishcloth. Repeat using the remaining batter. Once the crepes are cool, you can stack them on a plate.
3. To serve. Sprinkle each crepe with about a tablespoon of cheese and a pinch of cinnamon and pepper, then roll into a cigar shape. Repeat with all the crepes. To serve, put 3 crepes in each bowl, and top with hot broth.