Parmesan Potatoes

Parmesan potatoes are delicious and go with any kind of meat dish.

Parmesan potatoes: an incredibly easy recipe that takes red potatoes up a notch and creates something wonderful with that magic ingredient, Parmesan cheese.

Cenci for Carnevale


You will love cenci at Carneval time and they are easy to make.

Happy Fat Tuesday. Carnival time is here, Lent is near so it’s time to make some Cenci for Carnevale, those scrumptious Italian pastries made from rich egg dough, deep-fried and then sprinkled with lots of powdered sugar.

Carnevale in Italy

Back during the Dark Ages, when I lived in Rome, I had been in town about a month when I experienced my first carnevale in Italy.  I was hot-footing it in high-heeled boots through Piazza Navona on a cold February afternoon, on my way from my apartment to my Italian language class.  Suddenly I was accosted from behind by a gang of prankster boys, dressed up in costumes and engaged  in a carnevale custom–they were beating me about the shoulders with soft paddles filled with white powder. They must have thought I was a fried pastry that  needed a powdered sugar drudging.  And in fact, I ended up looking like one. I’d never heard of this custom and only wish I could have thrown those kids under the bus I was heading to catch.  They went after their next victim after I batted them away with my purse.  I wish I had a picture of that.  Lo these many years later, I’ve tried to Google the origin of this little carnevale joke, but to no avail.  If anybody knows, I’m all ears!

Carnevale in Italy includes masks and merriment in Rome.

The Romans will tell you that this is the time of year when every “transgression” is allowed, every prank and joke and disguise.  I also learned that carnival originated in Rome, not Venice or Rio.

Ancient Rome had its December celebration of “Saturnalia” in honor of Saturimagen the god of growing and harvesting.  Eventually, this winter celebration was Christianized.  “Carnevale” means “without meat” as the merriment leads up to Shrove Tuesday and finally Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten fast.

Harry’s Bar Venice: A History

Too many years ago, I published an article about the history of Harry’s Bar Venice, one of the most iconic landmarks in Italy.  I told my story through the eyes of Ruggero Caumo, who had worked at Harry’s for more than four decades, most of them as head barman. Ruggero was a charming and lovely man whom I met one day while he was mixing my martini.  I interviewed him on his day off while he was getting a haircut.   We spoke mostly in Italian, at his request. As he felt more comfortable, we switched to English. He had not yet retired from Harry’s and he was in an expansive mood. I was delighted.  After the original article was published, Ruggero wrote me  saying that many tourists had visited Harry’s Bar all summer long with clipped-out copies of the article asking him to autograph it. Naturally, he obliged.   I hope you enjoy his story:

 “This is a place where everybody in the world stops once in his life,” says Ruggero Caumo, head barman of Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy — the world’s most famous watering hole.

Ruggero ought to know. He has been tending bar there since 1946.

“I don’t need to go away to see the world,” he says. “The world passes through here.”

No one can argue with him. No trip to Venice is complete without a visit to Harry’s Bar, the always-crowded-to-capacity original from which all others are pale imitations.

From his vantage point, behind the tiny, intimate bar, Ruggero has spent the last several decades watching the human parade pass through. And what a parade.

He has mixed thousands of drinks for Harry’s legendary clientele – writers, film stars, tycoons, royalty, and assorted bon vivants—a list headed by novelist Ernest Hemingway, the man who put Harry’s Bar on the map.

Bizzirri Lovers Visit

You too can own a beautiful set of Italian ceramics pottery made by Bizzirri.

Courtesy of Horchow

Good news, Bizzirri lovers. (owned by Neiman Marcus) is selling the pattern above, a pattern they have called “Chopin.” Looks suspiciously like a Bizzirri product to  me.