Cancer changes everything

My story..

There is a reason for this blog. I always said I wanted to write a cookbook of all the family recipes for my three daughters. I imagined it would be a fun present at a bridal shower or housewarming. To show a more personal side of those who came before them. The memories of our loved ones live on in these little bits of history. I have been putting recipes aside for years and worked on it here or there, because I always felt I had the time to get it done. Then things changed. Cancer happened.

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Sunday Chefs french chicken cover page

French casserole Chicken – Supreme of Old Hen

This recipe brings back such fond memories of my childhood. It is not hard, but it is a bit time consuming. For some reason my late-father who loved to cook did not like to cook this. But he always made it for me on my birthday because he knew it was my favorite. It still is…. I have such wonderful memories of my birthday and this meal. I remember one time, he spent all day making it and we were all sitting at the table waiting for dinner. He liked to make a big deal out of the fact that he made it and was presenting it with a flourish, as he brought it to the table.

To be a good cook you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating” – Julia Child

La Scala In Trastevere, Rome Restaurant Review

I am sitting at my desk today dreaming of Rome… There is nothing like it and now that I have been there I will never be the same. Strolling through Trastevere over the cobblestones on a warm night with family has always been my dream. After cancer, life is all about moments and experiences and Rome was one for the ages.

There were many times during our visit that we walked by La Scala in Trastevere and I kept saying we could not leave without trying it.

The hotel recommended La Scala in Trastevere, but said that we would need a reservation. We took a chance and stopped by without one and got a seat outside. It was raining, but that was not a problem, they had an awning and a heater and the effect was a very romantic dining experience.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”

Helen Keller

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Donkey Punch – Rome Restaurant Review

My college student daughter has been studying in Amsterdam for the semester and we wanted to go visit her. I have always dreamed of Rome and after a long battle with breast cancer, we decided to celebrate it was over and take this bucket list adventure with our family. So we all met in Rome for a great reunion.

She has a lot of friends in Rome, so we asked for recommendations for a little place to grab lunch..street food. They live in Trastevere and all agreed we needed to try Donkey Punch. Yes, you heard it right….. Donkey Punch. It is an eclectic little sandwich shop in the heart of Trastevere. There are murals of 70’s and 80’s rockers all over the walls and the sandwich names follow the same pattern.

The college aged girl who made the sandwiches was spectacular and recommended the “Eddie Van Halen” which was porchetta, tomatoes, pickled red onions, mayo and basil and it was done on grilled foccacia bread. I got the “Eric Clapton” which was tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, pickled onions and rocket salad.  Mine was fabulous but the Eddie Van Halen was the best sandwich I have ever had in my life. Next time I will get that. 

The girl making them put so much love into making these sandwiches, I told her she was an artist and I meant it. We ate the sandwiches so quickly I couldn’t even get a picture of them. I would highly recommend Donkey Punch to anyone visiting the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome, Italy. It was a great meal on the go, with a great atmosphere and great price.

“Eating is a necessity, but cooking is an art”

Unknown

Trattoria Il Lucano – Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

As we were walking back from the Pantheon one night on our recent life-changing trip to Rome, the kids were starving and I didn’t have any idea where we could eat. Before our trip I studied and searched for restaurants that would accommodate our family and their food allergies (Peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, soy, gluten, legumes, eggplant and zucchini). Italy is known for being very food allergy friendly but information on specific restaurants is hard to find, so I tried to find blog information and there was a few, but it was outdated and limited. So I looked for restaurants that were recommended by friends or had good reviews and reached out to them. Then I made a master list of the places that I wanted to visit and nearby restaurants that were food allergy friendly. (We made the food allergy cards and they were great but only used them once). It was good old fashioned leg work that got the job done. I will share my hard work with you all to save you some time.

I did a lot of prep work, but on this day I had run out of ideas. It was raining and we took a risk and stopped in at Trattoria Il Lucano and asked if they could accommodate us. We lucked out and it was a fabulous meal.

Our waiter was named Mimo and he was so much fun. He suggested that my husband try the steak which they cook at the table. We got the caprese salad, cacio e pepe, pizza and lots of house wine! Always get the house wine. We sat outside under the awning and had a fabulous meal despite the uncertainty at the beginning. My husband is still dreaming of the steak!

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook. – Julia Child

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

La Canonica – Food Allergies in Rome

We recently had the opportunity to visit Rome and what an experience it was. My eldest has been studying in Europe for the last five months and we agreed to meet her in Rome. We were all so excited to see her and experience this magnificent city. When we arrived, we headed out to explore and get something to eat. We were right across the Ponte Sisto bridge from the charming neighborhood of Trastevere. Numerous people told us that Trastevere was a win for dining and character and they were so correct. It remains my favorite neighborhood in all of Rome.

We wandered, enjoying the sites and trying to pick which restaurant to go to. They all looked so wonderful, but we have a lot of food allergies to deal with in our family, so we were a bit apprehensive. Then it started to rain…it started to pour! So we just ran into the closest one we could find and we were very happy with our decision. The restaurant was La Canonica. It was the perfect first restaurant for us. It was cute, cozy with a fabulous waiter and chef who both warmly welcomed us and made us feel like family.

The waiter handled the food allergies like it was nothing…not a big deal.  (nuts, tree nuts, legumes, soy, eggplant, zucchini, gluten and carrots, cucumbers). This was the beginning of a wonderful meal and my daughter got to eat anything she wanted. They made it work and we were thrilled. That first glass of wine after a long day of traveling was wonderful. (Italy Tip: always order the house wine… cheap and wonderful) We had the pizza, carbonara, raviolis and a seafood over risotto thing my husband got that looked amazing! I would highly recommend this restaurant on its own but for someone with a food allergy they were fabulous!

The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you are hungry again…. George Miller

This is so true, but we managed to do it. Thank god for the 22,000 steps on the Fitbit we were tracking.

 

 

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

Roscioli Salumeria Con Cucina – Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

When I let my sister know that I was going to Rome all she kept saying was you need to go to Roscioli Salumeria Con Cucina located in the heart of Rome!  She and her husband said it was the best meal they have ever had and they tell everyone to go there. When we discovered it was only a three minute walk from our hotel we were thrilled. It did not disappoint!  I would highly recommend a reservation and to dine in the wine cellar. The reservation is very easily made on their website. When you travel to Rome with food allergies there is a lot of research to be done and I had a hard time finding information on specific restaurants. But if you do your research it can be done. We have a daughter with a lot of food allergies and there was a comment section on the reservation form where we inquired about what she could eat.

Our first night in Rome we ventured out for a beautiful walk through Rome to the restaurant. We were greeted by our waiter Ricardo and brought to the wine cellar. He was aware of the food allergies and let her know that she would have a fabulous meal. She is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, legumes, zucchini and eggplant but they had it under control. Honestly, I do believe he was very relieved that we were not uptight about it and she didn’t care what she had, she was just happy to be there. We were told to order the cacio e pepe and we would be amazed. We were! The wine was wonderful and the caprese salad, bread, gnocchi, ravioli, the limoncello, tortellini in brodo (homemade tortellini in broth) was so simple and to die for. The menu had a food allergy labeling system that made it all so easy. If you are gluten free, I found the restaurants bent over backwards to accommodate you. Roscioli is comfortable, relaxed and not very expensive, the perfect restaurant for our first night in Rome. They even brought us a little dessert with cookies you could dip in chocolate to welcome us to Rome. Roscioli is a must see.. I do believe it was the best meal I have ever had in my life.

I’d much rather drink wine and eat pasta than be a size zero – Sophia Loren

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