So what's that we're looking at? Why, a sfogliatella* , that delicious, substantial, ever so Calabrese pastry involving leaf pastry (as you see), ricotta in the filling, and orange peel for the flavor. Recipes are easy enough to find online (if you spell the word correctly): Food Network; Epicurious; most interesting, perhaps, itchefs. I don't think I would make these at home, myself, though there's no reason you shouldn't give it a try.
A few months ago we met a couple at a friend's dinner table: an Italian-descent farmer-winemaker and his Irish-born wife, a filmmaker. I met his wife for coffee yesterday and she handed me a small paper bag with a gift from her husband: two marvelous-looking sfogliatelle of his own manufacture. I know he's been working out the technique, because he asked Cook about it when last we met, at a screening of her wonderful film recording the revolving seasons on their vineyard. I think he's pretty well achieved his goal. Cook warmed these up in the toaster oven, perhaps not entirely to their improvement.
Sfogliatelle are deceptive: you think they're going to be flaky pastry, like a croissant, but that's not the idea: they're dense and crisp and chewy. These were remarkably buttery, and the ricotta filling nicely flavored with candied orange peel, comme il faut. Congratulations, John, and grazie molto!
*(sfol-yah-TELL-lah: little leafpile. From late Latin exfolia : and when I leaf through a Moravia novel, sfoglio. )
FINE, YOU SAY, but what about that porchetta? Such a delicious dish! I think of it as essentially Roman, though I remember a delicious one encountered near the train station outside Orvieto. This one was home-made, of course, to use the oven to heat up the house a bit, and to feed both ourselves and the neighbors down the hill.
Cook followed a recipe from Martha Stewart, clipped from her magazine. It involves coating a pork loin with a paste you've made of garlic, fennel seeds, rosemary, lemon peel, salt, and olive oil, then wrapping the meat in thin slices of pancetta and tying the thing togethert with kitchen twine. Then you toss small fingerling potatoes, halved, with an onion, cut into eighths, a lemon, sliced thin, and a little olive oil. You scatter that around the pork loin, drizzle it with a little water, and roast it until done.
Now I would have basted this roast with white wine, not water; and I'd have added a few cipollini to the potatoes rather than that yellow onion cut into eighths. But I have to say this was one delicious pork roast; the pancetta wrap lifts it well into the Hundred Plates. What did it look like? Forgot to photograph it! But we'll be revisiting it soon, and I'l…l see how it looks as leftovers…
Zinfandel, "Grower's Reserve" (Paso Robles), 2015 ;
Syrah, Preston of Dry Creek, 2014 ;
White wine, "Madam Preston," Preston of Dry Creek, nv