Miscellanea Pub – Food Allergies in Rome

I did a lot of research on restaurants before going to Rome, especially ones that catered to food allergies. I have to say it was difficult. The general consensus was that Rome was very allergy friendly and we did find this to be true. But information on specific restaurants was tough to find. I knew the places that we wanted to visit (i.e. Colosseum, Vatican, Pantheon, etc.) So I wanted to discover restaurant choices near our destinations, so I wouldn’t be wandering with a “Hangry” family trying to find a place to eat. We were not looking for fancy…. inexpensive, great food, great atmosphere and food allergy friendly.

One restaurant that kept popping up near The Pantheon was the Miscellanea Pub. They call themselves the “International Students Pub”, so we knew it would be inexpensive and casual. After a beautiful visit to the Pantheon at night, I told my family I had a restaurant for them.  It is a bit hidden, but the CityMaps2Go App was so helpful, because we didn’t have service most of the time.

Franco was our waiter and he was fabulous. He was very friendly and told us the food allergies were not a problem, they would make it work (I made the food allergy cards, but honestly never had to use them..the one place we tried, seemed confused by them. But I am still glad that I had them, just in case).

We got the Caprese salad, Bruschetta, Pette di pollo al limone (lemon chicken) Penna all’ arrabbietta (penne with spicy tomato sauce), Spaghetti alla carbonara (pasta carbonara) and Margherita pizza and a lot of wine (house wine). Always get the house wine in Italy! The food was amazing.

Please note: Miscellanea Pub is cash only!

I forgot this and we had no cash. Franco was so wonderful and felt so bad he walked my husband to the nearest ATM and then brought us free desserts and “sexy wine”. The “sexy wine” is something you have to discover for yourself. When he brought it and I gleefully cried “Is this the sexy wine?” he was thrilled I knew what it was. (I do my research.. haha). It was wonderful!

As we were leaving, Mickey (the owner) was sitting outside and thanked us for coming. We are from Boston and he is great friends with the former mayor of Boston and former Vatican ambassador, Ray Flynn. We had a wonderful conversation about Rome and Boston. Miscellanea Pub is a must see on your next trip to Rome!

 

 

Good food is very often, even most often, simple food – Anthony Bourdain

Sunday Chefs – Holiday Edition

My dad was a Sunday Chef. He discovered a love of cooking in his 40’s after his doctor told him to find a hobby to deal with his stress. He tried model ship making but that didn’t last long. His path to a great Sunday Chef was not without its pitfalls. Our family will never stop laughing about the 18 Sundays in a row we had Fettuccine Alfredo until he got it right and then never made it again or the French apple chicken he only made for me on my birthday because he knew it was my favorite but the smell of the apples and onions cooking together always made him feel ill. And none of us will ever forget the family attempt at making Limoncello!  It was obvious we were Irish/Scottish and not Italian, but a fabulous memory all the same.

Every Sunday was an event… all day experiments of food from all over the world. Some Sundays just one course, other Sunday’s five or six. My husband jokingly tells me this is why he married me so he could keep coming to Sunday Dinner. My father passed on his love of cooking to his son-in-laws. My brother-in-law was fully entrenched at a young age and he continues to amaze us. Christmas Day is his show! This year was an amazing display of five courses and not one them disappointed.

When my husband and I got engaged my dad gifted my future husband with a cookbook and a welcome to the Sunday Chefs Club. Christmas Eve is his show! He makes a massive pot of marinara sauce. This years included 14 shelled lobsters, mussels, shrimp and little necks!  It was amazing.

I love to cook, but I love the tradition that these wonderful men have chosen to embrace and follow in the footsteps of my amazing father. My children are growing up with this wonderful tradition and the people that my daughters choose to marry will be getting cookbooks. I am sure he is smiling and toasting us with a glass of Limoncello!

Marry someone who knows how cook. Looks go away but hunger doesn’t …. Unknown

Bucket List Adventures

Bucket List Adventure – Rome, Italy

Recently I had the privilege of visiting Rome, Italy with my family. My daughter is studying abroad and we could not miss the opportunity to take this Bucket List Adventure. We scrimped and saved and it was so worth it . After a long 14-month battle with breast cancer last year, I have vowed to experience life more and this was a great first start. We stayed in the beautiful Hotel Ponte Sisto. It was in the perfect location to walk everywhere. Right across the bridge from the wonderful neighborhood of Trastevere with all its fantastic restaurants. We spent five days eating, sightseeing, strolling and relaxing. It was wonderful. This trip was a life-changing event for me. Rome is so spiritual and the beauty if overwhelming. To take this vacation with my whole family after the battle we have all gone through, truly makes you appreciate life. 

I spent a lot of time researching restaurants for allergy issues due to our family and their multiple allergies. I found this to be challenging so I will write reviews on every restaurant that we went to and how they handled allergies. Heads up: Italy was wonderful and we found a way to eat everything.  I managed to make it home without gaining any weight… Most likely due to the 24,000 steps/day my Fitbit recorded.

Living La Dolce Vita

 

 

 

 

The Best Beef Stew

My kids Aunt Pam is a great cook and you will see a lot of her recipes here. I wish I had her talent. She is very brave and will try anything.  I am not so brave, but I will gladly copy her tried and true recipes and allow her to have all the glory.

The people who give your their food give you their heart – Cesar Chavez

img_6104

  • 5 lbs. sirloin tips (sometimes I use leftover roast beef cut into chunks and it is great)
  • 1 10z. package white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon flour (or corn starch to make it gluten free)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large can tomato sauce (i.e. Hunt’s)
  • 1 large turnip (I prefer 1 small)
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced

In large, heavy pot, brown sirloin tips, add mushrooms and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add flour (or corn startch) and mix well. Pour water over the beef mixture.  Add the can of tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and turnips.  If you are gluten free, leave out the flour and add a little cornstarch instead. Add more water and salt and pepper to taste.  I like to simmer for a few hours.

img_6113

YOU DEFINITELY NEED SOME BREAD TO GO WITH THIS STEW!

 

Allergens: Carrots, Gluten (unless switch flour for corn starch)

Perfect Roast Chicken

I spoke before of the fact that you need to learn how to cook three things in order to survive….one good breakfast, one good lunch and one good dinner.  Well this is the dinner. Roast Chicken is something I can make and be confident of.  Everyone is always so impressed and it is really quite easy.  Plus you can also make a great chicken soup after, which I will show you later. Here is a simple version for you to try….

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces. Just good food from fresh ingredients – Julia Child

Ingredients:

  • Roaster Chicken 7-8 lbs.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Softened butter
  • Lemon

Preheat the over to 375 degrees F. Remover the giblets (I have to admit, I did leave these in one time and the whole meal was ruined. I believe more people have done it than they care to admit). Rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat dry with a paper towel. Put the chicken in a heavy duty roaster pan on a rack.

DSC05587

Salt and pepper the chicken well, inside and out. Loosen the skin on the breasts and insert some lemon slices under it.

DSC05599

Add the remaining lemon (cut up) into the cavity.  Rub the softened butter all over the chicken (Messy, but worth it!). Add some water to the bottom of the pan, (this helps with broth for soup later on).


DSC05607

Cook for approximately 2 hours until juices run clear when the leg is cut or pulled on. (Internal temperature should be app. 165 degrees at breast and 175 degrees at thigh).

I usually shoot for 170 degrees at the breast, but that is my preference.   Let the chicken sit for a bit before cutting into it. Everyone in my family loves this and that is very hard to do with five picky eaters. Serve with rice or potatoes and some seasonal vegetables. Great for leftovers also
roast chicken

Throwback Thursday Post: When a restaurant is more than a restaurant. The Chieftain Pub, Plainville Ma.

chieftain

May your heart always be full & May your glass never be empty… Sláinte!

Sometimes you go to a restaurant to get something to eat, but sometimes the meaning is greater. I have always believed that food is memories. When you eat that meal your grandmother always made you are honoring her and remembering her. That is how I feel when I go to The Chieftain Pub in Plainville, Ma. My late father loved this place. He lived about an hour away and it got so the only way he would make the drive is if we promised him that we would take him to “The Chieftain” for lunch. It got so bad, he wouldn’t even come to our house first… “We’ll just meet you there.”

The Chieftain” is an authentic Irish Pub if there ever was one outside of Ireland. The food is wonderful and legit.. from the Bangers and Mash to the two types of hot Irish Bread on the tables. Do not forget to try the Coconut Teriyaki Chicken Wings! Mary and Tom Cahill along with their daughters Olivia and Lynne have brought Ireland to our very own backyard and it is worth the drive.

images (1)

The people at the pub are family and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. They came to know how much my father loved the place and embraced it. I even got a delivery of hot Irish Bread to my door on Christmas Eve so my kids could give it to him for Christmas….It was a big hit!

In addition to having great food, they are also very allergy friendly. The gluten free menu is fabulous. I have a child with multiple allergies and they always do their best to be accommodating. The Chieftain Pub is very kid friendly and allergy friendly.

Today on this St. Patrick’s Day, my family and I will go to “The Chieftain” and make a toast to my Dad on our first St. Patrick’s Day without him and I am sure he will be smiling. See you there!

images

 

 

Spinach, Lemon and Bacon Risotto

My first attempt at Risotto! Do you believe it? I have always been a big fan, but very intimidated to make it. It was so worth it.

No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing – Julia Child

Ingredients:

  • 5 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 4 cups of low-salt chicken broth (plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup for the end)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • Zest of the lemon
  • 1 cup of cooked chicken (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 3-4 cups of fresh spinach
  • 1 roasted shallot (chopped)
  • 1/2 -3/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large, heavy, oven-safe pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.

Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice and 4 cups of the chicken broth. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil. Cover the pot and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and return to stove top over medium-low heat. Now add the spinach, chicken and roasted shallots and remaining chicken broth. Stir for about 2 minutes (until spinach is wilted). Add more broth if needed. Add the bacon, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese and stir until creamy.

Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

 

Allergens: Dairy

 

Carbonara

When the recipe card is as old and worn as this one, you know it’s good. Not even sure where I got the recipe, but it is a staple in this house. At my bridal shower, oh so many years ago, the guests all brought me a recipe, it might be from there. This is the ultimate pantry meal.

I split this recipe in two and make half with regular pasta and half with gluten free to accommodate my whole family. It is great both ways!

Life is a combination of Magic and Pasta – Federico Fellini

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. spaghetti, cooked (regular or gluten free)
  • 1/3 lb. bacon
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper (I like it spicy, so I add a little more)
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup boiling pasta water
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Cook pasta Al Dente.

In large skillet over medium high heat. Saute bacon until it browns. Remove bacon and put aside. Drain the bacon oil and then add two tbsp. olive oil, garlic and red pepper. Saute two minutes. Add wine and reduce by half.

Beat eggs vigorously and stir in a ladle of pasta water. Drain the pasta and to bacon pan and remove from heat. Add egg mixture, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper and toss until well combined and cheese has melted. Serve with extra cheese.

Allergens: Dairy, Egg, Wheat (can make gluten free)

Sharing the Sunday Fun

 

I just love that my family is embracing all this. My sister and her husband have always made Sunday Dinners a priority and I have been so jealous. With the loss of our father, who was such a fabulous cook, I feel that my children have been missing out on this wonderful tradition. My brother-in-law made this very impressive Ginger Swordfish on Sunday and he got the recipe from the fabulous website Yummly. I will need to make this soon. Pair it with a great wine and you are good to go!

My hope is for family and friends to share their stories of fun Sunday Dinners …the good, the bad and the ugly! Thank you Kathy and Ron, Hopefully this is the first of many….

Swordfish courtesy of Snug Harbor Fish Company. Wine courtesy of Snug Harbor Wine Company. 

A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal – Pat Conroy

 

 

Coq Au Vin

Growing up, this meal was one of my favorites. My dad, who discovered cooking in his 40’s enjoyed making this one. He got so much pleasure out of presenting such an impressive meal.  He never disappointed. It takes some time to make, but it is not hard to do, so I will give it a shot for my first official Sunday Dinner in a while. We will set the dining room table, pour some wine and have a traditional Sunday Dinner for this one.

The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. – Julia Child

  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • 12 tiny pearl onions
  • 1/4 lb. bacon strips cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 lbs. cut up chicken with bone (My kids like boneless, so I use a mixture of chicken thighs, boneless breast and breast with the bone)
  • 1/2 lb. white mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup flour (You can substitute corn starch to make gluten free)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup of brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups of red wine (a burgundy works best)
  • 1/4 tsp. Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Herbs de Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat 4 tbsp. butter in heavy, pan (I use a french dutch oven). Add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from pan.

Add onions and cook until lightly browned. Remove and put aside.

Add the chicken to the pan drippings and cook until well-browned on all sides. Now set the chicken aside.

Add mushrooms and garlic to pan, cook until mushrooms are wilted. Remove from pan.

Add remaining butter to pan drippings. Remove from heat and gradually stir in flour until golden brown. Slowly add chicken stock, stirring constantly until well blended.

Return to heat, stir until sauce thickens. Add brandy, red wine, thyme, herbs and bay leaf.

Add chicken and veggies (If needed, transfer to a deeper pot). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf.

Alternative: Final stage – Add to roasting ban and cover. Cook in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until chicken is tender to the fork.

Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles or even rice.

It is better the next day!!!

Allergens- Gluten (if susbtitute flour with corn starch it can be gluten free), garlic