Sunday, June 12, 2011
Honeymoon Part 2: Italy
Basically, our honeymoon was all about the epicurean delights. Sensuality in the best sense of the word. So once we'd enjoyed the chill breezes and smoky drinks of Scotland, we were off to Italy for pasta and wine.
Wine is sadly expensive in Brazil, which made us squeal like teenagers at a sample sale when we were served excellent house wines that cost a fraction of what we were expecting. To give you an idea of the discrepancy: Brunello di Montalcino, pricy enough to be saved for special occasions, costs about 40 euros a bottle in Europe. Expensive, but still accessible. When we got back to Rio and there was no food in the house, we had dinner at a restaurant which happened to have the same wine on the menu. For R$900. (No, we didn't partake.)
So we drank a lot of wine. With our pizza. By Venice, I was consuming whole pizzas without a blush of shame. (Or fear. I'd brought stretch jeans. All was well in the wardrobe department!) I discovered new treats and foods to make at home: red wine risotto, Carbonara sauce, a really divine balsamic vinegar reduction for steak...
There was ice cream, too, lemon and pistachio; warm croissants with coffee for breakfast; cheese...Oh, sorry, are you getting hungry yet? I'll stop.
I would talk about the vegetables I ate, except, well...I didn't. :) The cruelty I inflicted on my body resulted in a gain of at least 2 well-earned kilos.
I'll share my risotto recipe, because it is shockingly easy and would go really well with a simple steak. And a salad. Because you should eat your vegetables once you come home from vacation! Also because it is pink, and today is the Brazilian Valentine's Day and this would be one amazing meal to make for your sweetie.
Red Wine Risotto
extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cups Arborio rice or regular rice (I don't notice a BIG difference)
1/2-1 cup red wine (I used Carmenere, but any red you're planning on drinking will do)
4-5 cups hot beef stock (or a bullion cube and boiling water)
2-3 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese (Grano Padano, etc...)
Heat some olive oil in a pan or a deep skillet and cook onion until translucent. Add rinsed rice and cook until slightly dried out. Add the wine and then hot stock, just a half-cup or so at a time, stirring really well until it is mostly absorbed before adding more liquid. Stir continually until rice is cooked through and just a bit al dente, which can be 15-25 minutes, depending on your rice and stove and whatnot. Beat butter and cheese into the risotto like your life depends on it, then test for seasoning and serve. I think I may have tossed a sprig of rosemary in mine...serve hot with extra cheese for grating on top.
Adapted from Mario Batali.