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Marta: Roman holiday on a cold winter's eve

Marta: Roman holiday on a cold winter's eve


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On a recent Friday night, during one of the all too frequent arctic blasts of an endless winter, my brother and I took refuge in the warmth of Marta, the newest jewel in the sparkly crown of the Danny Meyer kingdom. It takes a certain talent to turn a pizza joint situated in the drafty lobby of a storied New York hotel into an unmitigated success, but Danny Meyer and Chef Nick Anderer have talent in spades; Marta, their ode to Roman trattorias is an alluring homage with a quintessential Gotham touch. Entering the lobby of the Martha Washington hotel, we are hit by the toasty warmth and heavenly forest fragrance of burning wood, courtesy of two domed and wood-fueled brick ovens, their fiery depths on full view thanks to the open kitchen. We are greeted, relieved of our many layers of insulation, and led by our beaming host to a cozy table for two directly across from the kitchen spectacle. As we settle in, our server appears and asks “Would you like complimentary sparkling water or local tap?” I doubt any waiter in Rome has such an ironic opening line but this is Manhattan in the not-so-new millenium. We settle for tap and a discussion on drinks ensues. My brother quickly opts for a flute of Lambrusco, but I need a hearty red wine to ease the bite of this bitter night. I want something Sicilian and our server comes back over with a bottle and a glass, pouring me a sip of Cerasuolo di Vittoria, an intensely colored blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappato grapes. It’s perfect yet the glass he pours me seems a bit on the short side, especially at $19, but that’s one of the hazards of what I call the table-side pour. We toast to our birthdays and our rare night together, thaw and sip while agreeably coming up with our dinner plan. There is no argument here since pizza is naturally the main event, but we need something to ease the hunger pangs while our pies get in line for their quick turn in the oven. I can never resist squid or octopus on a menu so the seppioline, a baby cuttlefish appetizer is a must. My brother is partial to a salad teaser, selecting the cicoria, a crisp but earthy tangle of chicory, arugula and citrus, garnished with nutty hazelnuts and parmesan shards. Choosing the pizzas is more of a challenge but we are agreed that we must pick a pie from each side of the menu, conveniently divided into pizze rosse and pizze bianche. He’s never had buffalo mozzarella (he lives in Indianapolis) so our first choice is the margherita di bufala from the rosse team. We proceed to quibble over the second pie, the habits of childhood hard to get rid of when one is famished. The patate alla carbonara calls to us but the testa, aka pig face, with pickled mustard seeds, celery and radish seems a bit too adventurous on a night when we are merely seeking comfort food. Opting for the funghi is the ideal compromise. The appetizers arrive and are curiously anti-climatic. The char on the cuttlefish is lacking, the accompanying lumps of potato somewhat mushy, and very little of the calabrese chili, a Calabrian pepper noted for its mildly spicy fruitiness, is present. The salad, as my brother succinctly puts it, “is nothing to write home about.” I more or less agree although the combination of textures, slippery greens and citrus, dense parmesan and crunchy hazelnut has potential. Happily our server shows up with two complimentary treats making everything better. Why is it that fried food is always a crowd (or in this case a couple) pleaser? Because when it’s done right it is quite simply sublime. Risking tongue burn, we eagerly bite into risotto and mozzarella croquettes, tinged a subtle green from a puree of mixed herbs. Finally! This is what we deserve venturing out on a night like this. We hit gold again when the wood-fired rabbit meatballs hit the table, draped in a chunky tomato sauce, the gamey meat tamed with a dazzlingly bright and creamy ricotta. While we wait for the pizzas, we take advantage of the free time to check out the dining room, already packed at 6:30 with an edgy yet decidedly mixed crowd of diners in typical New York fashion. The corner bar is filled with suits both male and female, tables in the main dining room hold the double-dating crowd and some hotel guests, while every seat at the counter along the open kitchen is taken by single diners. I notice a semi-famous local sportscaster amble through the room, and there is even a hipster couple with a three year old boy sitting at one of the lounge tables in the mezzanine area, happily digging into a wide assortment of small plates. The pizzas arrive with little fanfare other than the divine scent of smoky mushrooms and pungent thyme. First the margherita, a vibrant disk of tomatoey brilliance, dotted with delicate dollops of the buffala mozzarella and a few wispy basil leaves. The fundamentally classic blend of flavors says pizza yet the accent is decidedly Roman; sauce that captures the essence of a fresh summer tomato, a touch of voluptuously rich cheese, the licorice jolt of the basil, all complimented by the almost brittle but savoury wafer-thin crust. Moving on takes effort but we are rewarded for momentarily abandoning the margherita when we sink our teeth into the funghi, a veritable treasure chest of hen-of-the-woods and hedgehog mushrooms, sweetly caramelized red onion and thyme, held together by a silky fontina. The crust, if possible, is even crispier with a staccato-like bite on the edges and a chewier note towards the center of the pie. Such savoury indulgence cries for a sweet finishing touch, at least that’s the way we see things. Another conundrum--should we get the olive oil affogato or the ice cream panino? Given that they are so cleverly and characteristically named in this age of fusion everything, we decide we must have both. It’s madness to order frozen concoctions on a night like this but at this point in our meal we feel all warm and fuzzy, well insulated from the chill. NICE. The tongue-in cheek affogato is a mini set piece of unctuous chartreuse oil poured over vanilla gelato, garnished with blood orange segments and slightly bitter kumquats. The ephemeral honeycomb candy brings a satisfying crispy note to what would otherwise be an cloyingly rich pairing. However the panino is the desert all grownup children dream of. The ice cream sandwich for the city sophisticate; a salted chocolate biscuit with pistachios and smoked mascarpone gelato. Magnifico as they say in Rome. Martha Washington Hotel, 29 East 29th Street, 212-651-3800 martamanhattan.com ATMOSPHERE: Warm and elegant with a communal atmosphere.SERVICE: Charming and knowledgeable in typical Danny Meyer fashionRECOMMENDED: Rabbit meatballs; risotto and mozzarella croquettes; margharita and funghi pizzas; ice cream panino and olive oil affogato.DRINKS AND WINE: Seasonal cocktails and a house Negroni; comprehensive range of domestic and international beers; Italian wine list with wide price-range; a wide selection of champagnes and sparkling wines.PRICES Appetizers and pizzas, $7 to $18; main courses, $25 to $35; desserts, $5 to $8.OPEN: Daily for breakfast, lunch or brunch and dinner.RESERVATIONS: Accepted.


Pasteles

Most of the components for pasteles, a traditional Puerto Rican holiday dish, can be made a day or two in advance, then brought to room temperature for assembly. You can prepare the masa ahead, and freeze it for up to several months. Pasteles can also be cooked right away, refrigerated for a few days or frozen in zip-top containers for several months.

Some use only green bananas or green plantains – which are unripe, firm and very green – for the masa some add potatoes or pumpkin some add yuca, also known as cassava, and others use only yuca. If you can’t find one or more ingredients, use what you can find. Lucy Ramirez adds pork gravy to the masa (other cooks may add milk or oil) and makes sure there’s a little pork in every bite of the pastel.

Traditionally, pasteles were fully wrapped in banana or plantain leaves before being wrapped in parchment paper or foil. Today, many cooks use a piece or strip of banana leaf to give each pastel the nutty flavor of the leaf. Serve them with a side of hot sauce or ketchup.


Weather in Rome in December

December is a winter month in Rome.

The average temperature in Rome in December is 9C/49F with a range from 15C/59F to 4C/39F degrees. Usually you have about 9 days of rain in Rome in December although recent weather patterns are making this a lot harder to predict. Overall however, being ready for rainy days is important.

In December, you can expect short daylight hours and long evenings, so this month is ideal for visitors who want to enjoy museums and restaurants more than the outdoors.

Despite the short hours of daylight however, December can be an exceptionally bright month. Some of my favorite photos of Rome were taken in crystal clear December blue sky days!

See what I mean about the blue sky?

2. In Japan, book a table at KFC

Photo www.sickchirpse.com

On 25 December Japanese flock to the American fast food chain KFC in Tokyo thanks to the impact of a "Kentucky for Christmas" marketing campaign that hit about 40 years ago. The tradition is so popular in fact that diners book ahead by a couple of months to secure a seat to enjoy a bucket of fried chicken.


20+ Tasty Holiday Cocktails Sure to Get You in the Festive Spirit

&lsquoTis the season to enjoy festive traditions, and what's a better way to celebrate than by making a creative cocktail? Whether you&rsquore attending an Ugly Christmas Sweater party over Zoom or hosting Chanukah dinner at home with your intimate family, these delicious drinks will be sure to get you and your loved ones in the holiday spirit(s). What's better, playing bartender has never been easier. You can whip up a batch of many of these delicious drinks in two shakes.

No matter what you&rsquore celebrating, you'll love our range of recipe offerings here. Craving the warming wallop of a hot toddy? Or maybe the tart, sophisticated tickle of a champagne cocktail? We've got you. These 23 holiday cocktails will keep the party going all winter long.

If you're looking for more great drinks to fill your glass, check out our apple cider cocktails, coffee cocktails, classic cocktails, and decadent hot chocolate upgrades (yum).


Salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread

Can there be a cookie of the year? Sure, it’s possible that I spend too much time consuming food media, the takes, the Tweets, the Instagram Stories. But if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have seen Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies virtually everywhere, weakening my resistance to the point that I had to try them, and when I did, realizing that just in case you’d missed them on, like, Refinery 29 or Eater or in her incredible first cookbook, I had to tell you about them because they should not be missed.


Roman’s book, however, was not new to me. I was lucky enough to read it the moment it was ready and it instantly became a favorite. If you saw me on book tour asked me what cookbooks I was into this year, I guarantee it came out of my mouth first. Roman has done stints at Milk Bar and Bon Appetit and writes regularly for the New York Times food section and her recipes show: she knows how to make the food we really want to eat. She’s also a sharp writer I love her love letter to boiled potatoes. There wasn’t a chance I was going to miss the Roasted Broccolini with Lemon and Crispy Parmesan, Caramelized Winter Squash with Toasted Coconut Gremolata, Cucumbers and Kohlrabi in Crunchy Chili Oil, her whole section of Knife and Fork Salads, not-the-usual fruit salads (i.e. all savory), her Whole Wheat Pasta with Brown-Buttered Mushrooms, Buckwheat and Egg Yolk, Baked Pasta with Artichokes, Greens and Too Much Cheese and do I have to stop here? I don’t want to stop here but I’m getting close to just copying and pasting the table of contents.

But the single dish I did not expect to make were these cookies and their full title — Salted Butter Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread, or Why Would I Make Another Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever Again? — might explain it. She says she’s always found chocolate chip cookies to be “deeply flawed” — “too sweet, too soft, or with too much chocolate.” She thinks “there’s a lot of room for improvement.” I am that scream emoji. I feel protective… of a cookie. Roman instead took all of her favorite parts of classic chocolate chip cookies to invent something else entirely. First, she uses lots of salted butter she says that while she prefers unsalted butter in almost all baking, here, it’s deeper flavor and saltiness, add more complexity than just adding salt to unsalted butter. There’s just enough flour to hold it together, just enough brown sugar to suggest a chocolate chip cookie, and chunks of irregular chocolate pieces to “prevent chip congregation” (although, warmly, let me suggest that only a monster could hate such a thing). The dough is formed into a slice-and-bake log that you roll in crunchy sugar.

The first time I made them, I quick-chilled the log in the freezer and sliced a few off to bake them and thought they were good, very good, even. But a few days later I sliced and baked off the rest (though I think even a day would work) and baked it for one minute less and you guys need to come over right now and take them from me. We put them on a high shelf so we’d forget they existed and then I started editing photos of them and writing about them this afternoon and have since eaten two more. They’re buttery, so buttery, and a bit crunchy (my husband calls the edges that slip onto the pan “sugar frico”), and salted in that flavor-deepening way, not just an flecky afterthought, and they’re going to win at parties this weekend should they survive that long.


First of all, it’s not hot dish—it’s hotdish, one word. That’s an important distinction, as there are plenty of hot dishes in town, but only hotdish can really call up the culinary warm blanket of the soul. In other towns it might be known as casserole, but let’s be clear: “Casserole” really just refers to the shallow baking dish, while hotdish is a meal and a means of comfort and survival. What we’re talking about here is a pan, preferably 9-by-13, bubbling with a hodgepodge of starch (noodles or potatoes), veggies (maybe green beans or peas), a bit of protein, and a binder. That binder, which holds it all together, is commonly cream of mushroom soup (also known as Lutheran binder), though the cream is more important than the mushroom in that equation. It’s all baked together, preferably topped with a crisp tater tot lid floating on the molten love, and usually served to you by nice ladies in a church basement, at a neighborhood potluck, or right into your hot little hands at the screen door because your hubby slipped on the icy driveway, throwing out his back, and well, jeez, you gotta eat. Hotdish is how we show love.

It’s so tied to our food identity that Senator Al Franken does a bang-up job of repping it at our nation’s capital, hosting an annual Hotdish Off in Washington, D.C., that is a coveted invite for political elites. In town, you’ll find plenty of hotdish gatherings, such as the Holland neighborhood’s annual Hotdish Revolution, which is going on 13 years strong and proudly displays a sea of accomplished pans and Pyrex. We even had a critically acclaimed restaurant known as HauteDish, which redefined the meal for a new generation, deconstructing it with gorgeous braised short ribs, snappy green beans, and potato croquettes in the shape of huge tots. Though that restaurant recently closed, it opened our hearts to the possibilities of the food from our past and spurred plenty of local cooks to take a look at what hotdish could be. Whatever you do, just don’t call it casserole.

Go Get:

A soul-satisfying classic version is being served in personal cast-iron skillets down in Eagan at Mason Jar. It’s so good and hearty that you’ll forgive them for calling it hot dish. themasonjar.us

Local Maker:

While you’re getting your hotdish protein hand-butchered for you at France 44 Cheese and Meat Shop, make sure you check the case for its housemade tots. Those beauties crisp up real nice under a broiler. france44.com


Marta: Roman holiday on a cold winter's eve - Recipes

I still turn to this edition. well worn, valuable information.

Just discovered you recently. Your posts are so well written! I sense a kind soul behind those words. I enjoy following Martha with you as commentator. I have been in awe of her since the very beginning!

Was it just the book.. there are early videos, PBS specials, did she not cater big events and well she captured the imagination of millions. She did not major in catering business or education at Barnard. Soo many people fret over their majors and this billionaire once considered chemistry as a discipline. Had she not been married to a lawyer at a publishing house had not the agent/publisher(whatever) not suggested a book yadayada --remember the US was coming down from a bicentennial high in the early eighties, This Old House with Bob Villa was on PBS Julie Child was on tv and shazam a coffee table full color cook book wait do people have coffee tables any more?? I have one it is like 40years old purchased at a yard sale and I two, bought MS book at a book sale, a friends of the library event -- pick up all my MS books there-- some are in awesome condition spent 4 bucks on a copy of Menues for entertaining also a first edition, however i found that copy on a shelf in an " antique" shop in Eufaula, Alabama

Martha Stewart is a strong independent woman who never gave up on her ideals! That's why I respect her so much!

I still read this book once in a while. I'm so glad I kept it.

It's a dated book, but endearing and you can see how it was a breakthrough publication. I bought a first edition copy in excellent condiiton at the libray for $5.00. It was signed by Martha in red ink, and read "Be entertaining always Martha Stewart".


Variations to this Borscht Recipe

You can change up this traditional borscht recipe by adding or substituting fresh diced tomatoes (instead of canned), green beans, peas, beet greens and shredded pork or sausage.

I like my borscht with a side of fresh bread and butter, which I love to dip in the broth. This is one case where I prefer the dense rye bread that Eastern Europeans are known for. Rye bread tends to soak up the broth better without making the bread go mushy. The deep, hearty flavour of the rye bread also compliments the complex earthiness of the beets in borscht.

But a true Ukrainian will make use of whatever bread she has on hand. Waste not want not is a rule of thumb when it comes to Ukrainian food.


About the Recipe

This is a classic dip my dad has made forever—and is still the #1 request whenever we’re toghter. I loved it even as a kid when I picked out the clams and ate only the cream cheese. Obviously I got smarter as a I got older.

My family’s recipe is more purist—leaving out our addition of green onions—so as usual, we’ve made the recipe our own.

It’s best to make this dip with room temperature cream cheese. If you don’t have time, pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften before mixing.

This past Christmas vacation at my parent’s house, I finally discovered my dad’s secret to keeping the dip thick and creamy, but still getting that full-on clammy flavor without adding a lot of clam juice to bring it on.

It’s in the MINCED clams. Minced clams—versus chopped clams—disperse the clammy flavor more evenly through the cream cheese.

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.


Watch the video: Roman Holiday - Watch you walk away - New Version Original Music (October 2022).