Recipe: Orrechiette with salsiccia

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This is my attempt to recreate one of those amazing food memories I have stored in my head.

My friend Caroline and I were in Bologna last year and although we couldn’t secure a reservation at Osteria Franscescana in nearby Modena, we still decided to visit for the day. We went to Massimo Bottura’s much more unassuming restaurant Franceschetta 58 for lunch and tucked into the small but perfectly assembled lunch buffet. And that’s where I had one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten; their orrechiette with salsiccia. It was utterly heavenly and what I tried to create at home one day, with my last precious salsiccia from the same trip (stored in the freezer of course).

I must add that the very authentic salsiccia help make my version of the dish very good, so go to a good Italian shop to buy those. Without proper salsiccia you needn’t bother with this dish at all.

Orrechiette with salsiccia, serves 3-4

4 portions orrechiette, cooked according to the instructions on the packet

3 salsiccia sausages

ca 3 tbsp soffritto made using the same amount of onions, carrots and celery (I make a big batch and freeze it in portions)

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tin (400 g) chopped tomatoes or passata + half the tin filled with water 

1 tbsp tomato puré

100 ml red wine

1 tsp fennel seeds

salt and black pepper

a pinch of sugar if needed

mild olive oil for frying

Heat up the oil in a casserole dish. Remove the skin from the sausages and fry in the oil until golden brown. Remove the sausage meat from the casserole dish and add the soffritto and garlic. Fru on medium heat for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, water, tomato puré and wine. When the sauce has thickened a little, add the sausage meat and fennel seeds. Let the sauce reduce further. Season to taste with salt, pepper and some sugar (to balance the acidity) if needed. Mix into the drained orrechiette and serve with finely grated parmesan. 

Cape Cod: Spanky’s Clam Shack in Hyannis

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The second day in Cape Cod, we managed to catch the boat to Nantucket and explored the pretty island for the day (top tip: book your ferry in advance!). When we arrived back into Hyannis, we headed straight for dinner, eager to eat at a more socially acceptable time than the evening before.

We went o Spanky’s Clam Shack, which seemed like the place to eat in this little town, and joined the queue at the bar. I’m really not a fan of waiting or queuing in general but when I can sit at a bar and sip a drink (in this case frozen strawberry daiquiri) I really don’t mind.

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When we were shown to the table (after only a ten minute wait) we got snacks straight away, like they could sense our hunger. I really liked the crab dip and crackers, although the presentation could have been improved on. But this is one busy restaurant so I can see why they like plastic bowls and wrapped crackers.

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We got our starters quickly too. Sinead got another mountain of crispy calamari with a tomato chilli dip.

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I tried something completely new for me; a stuffed quahog (no, not a Family Guy reference, it’s the actual name of the clam). It’s a huge clam filled with breadcrumbs, butter and herbs, and I really liked it. But it’s quite compact and therefore really filling.

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While we were munching on our starters we saw lobster after lobster leaving the kitchen.

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We got the main courses while we were still eating our starters (we had already sent them back once so felt bad if we did it again). But considering the size of the starters it would have been nice with a pause in between courses.

Anyway, Sinead’s chicken with kale and fries was really nice.

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But I think my clam bake was even better. The lobster was huge and perfectly cooked and the corn was the best I’ve ever had. I also had a plate full of a local type of clam and as I hadn’t come across them before I got a lesson in how you peel and eat them from our lovely waitress (it required removing them from the shell, pull of a membrane and then soak them in stock for quite a while to remove the sand). It’s always fun to try new things, and the clams were quite nice but I prefer the regular sweet ones. I also got a baked potato which I barely touched as the lobster, corn and clams were more than enough for me.

I really liked this place, but be prepared for big huge portions and a quick pace.

Spanky’s Clam Shack, 138 Ocean St., Hyannis, MA 02632

Cape Cod: Black Cat Tavern in Hyannis

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The first evening in Cape Cod, we decided to have dinner at one of the restaurants in the Hyannis Harbour. We’d been driving around the Cape during the day so got to the restaurant we had decided on,  Black Cat Tavern, quite late. We were the last guests to arrive and eventually we were the only people left (bar the staff).

We thought that was why our main courses arrived while we were in the middle of eating our starters. I don’t like to be rushed when eating as it always give me a stomach ache, but we were to polite to say anything as the restaurant was emptying out around us.

But the following evening when we went to another restaurant, the same thing happened, although we had dinner much earlier and the restaurant was full. In the middle of our very substantial starters, we actually told the waitress we wanted to wait. She completely understood but the kitchen seemed to insist to get the food out, so when it arrived again, after five minutes we let them put it on the table.

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I don’t understand this culture of rushing your guests through a (large) meal. Is it just in this area, or is it because of tourist season or what’s the reason?! Please do tell me if you have an idea.

Anyway, the food was nice in both the places, and I really like how understated the seafood is here. In Europe where oysters and lobster are luxurious and quite expensive it’s served a certain way or in certain places. Here, where you have lobster and oyster in abundance, you can enjoy it in your flipflops straight from the beach and I really liked that.

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At Black Cat Tavern I had Oysters Rockefeller (baked oysters with a spinach and cheese topping and in this case cured ham as well) as my starter and they were really nice. Generous portion too!

Sinead had a minor mountain of calamari with a chillie dip – also really nice!  As I was a little bit stressed by the time our maincourses arrived I only manage to snap a picture of my own plate of bakes scallops (a first for me), with baked potato and creamy lobster sauce, but I do know that Sineads food was nice as well.

Black Cat Tavern, 165 Ocean St, Hyannis, MA 02601, USA

Cape Cod: Canteen in Provincetown

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On this unplanned US trip I trusted Google to help us find places to eat in Cape Cod. In P-town, one of the places I found was Canteen, and as we walked past it approximately two minutes after having stepped out of the car we decided it was a great place for lunch.

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I, not surprisingly, made sure to get my (first) lobster fix for the day and decided on a lovely lobster roll. I also got a glass of frosé but it was too sweet for my liking.

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Sinead had prosecco instead, and a lovely salad with quinoa and chicken.

This laid-back place is perfect for a quick bite while wandering around town. The food was really nice and fresh and the staff super friendly.

Canteen, 225 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657

Cape Cod photos

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My summer holiday was just lovely. First five days in New York; eating, shopping and drinking our way around the city. Then five days in glorious Cape Cod with blue skies, great beaches, boats and lobster (and a few days in Boston before heading home). We drove around the cape singing to the 90s songs the local radio played, only caring about where to stop for pancakes.

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It was as idyllic as it sounds (and looks), and we had a great time taking in the New England style houses and pretty little towns.

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Sadly we didn’t have enough time on the beach but it was still a lovely few days.

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One day we explored Nantucket and wished we could just stay there for the rest of the summer. It’s such a little paradise.

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But we also enjoyed the fabulous gay-town Provincetown at the end of the cape; filled with pride flags, drag queens and a wonderfully warm atmosphere.

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Oh, take me back!

Eating NYC: lunch at The Roxy

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The hotel we stayed at in New York, The Roxy in Tribeca, was wonderful, but it wasn’t until the last day (of five) that actually ate there. We had late dinner every evening and subsequently missed breakfast every morning. But I’m glad we managed to have lunch there before checking out and making our way towards Cape Cod.

We were quite rushed, but both the waiter and kitchen really tried to accommodate us and I think we had our food on the table five minutes after we ordered!

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Sinead had a lovely omelette with fries and a salad and I had the most amazing grilled chicken sandwich with avocado and bacon. And fries. And of course a nice glass of wine each. (Really good wine menu, actually. We may not have eaten here much but we did have drinks in the bar before going for dinner a few times. Priorities.)

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Apart from the lovely bar/restaurant the hotel also has a lounge area with pool table and live music most nights, gym in the basement and a coffee shop. And best of all, the most comfortable beds. I will definitely come back here again!

The Roxy Hotel Tribeca, 2 6th Ave, New York, NY 10013

Eating NYC: lovely Locanda Verde

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Our only celeb sighting in New York happened when Sinead and I, as usually starving because we missed breakfast at the hotel, arrived to the lovely Italian restaurant Locanda Verde, near our hotel in Tribeca. My friend Lama had recommended the place and as we sat down for lunch at the bar (with mainly business people in the room), we noticed that no other than Matthew McConaughey was sitting at the other end of the bar (!). At first we weren’t sure as he was just sitting there reading his paper, looking down. But when he looked up it was evident it actually was him.

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And although I think he’s a great actor and it was fun to see a celebrity (apparently he’s not the only celeb who’s taken a liking to this place), the brilliant food actually overshadowed him being there.

I was ravenous and started with the excellent lamb meatball sliders with caprino cheese and sharp cucumber. Not greasy at all and lovely flavours! Then I looked at my phone and noticed a message from Lama (who recommended the place) urging me to order the sheep’s ricotta. So of course I did.

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And it was MIND-BLOWING! Best ricotta I ever had, even better than the lovely one I had in Modena in Italy in the spring. It was thick and creamy, yet light and fluffy and super smooth. It was full of flavour, only further complemented by the herbs and charred bread.

This place is definitely a favourite of mine; I loved the food and can’t wait to eat my way through the entire menu, but I also like the efficient but relaxed vibe in here.

Locanda Verde, 377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013