Tag: life

Eating in via Veneto, waiting for the rebirth of the sweet life – Italian Cuisine

Eating in via Veneto, waiting for the rebirth of the sweet life

Eating in via Veneto in Rome, the most famous street in the capital, was not easy. But something is changing. Because via Veneto is being reborn after years of oblivion and it is doing so starting from the kitchen. Roman and Italian-American.

The first scandalous striptease

It all began, officially, on 5 November 1958, with the party for the twenty-fourth birthday of Countess Olghina di Robilant at the Rugantino in Trastevere: here the Turkish-Armenian dancer Aïché Nana performed the famous striptease, ending up half naked in all the newspapers of the time. Rome had become the international capital of entertainment and social life, and its epicenter was Via Veneto. Due to the presence of the most luxurious hotels and clubs open until dawn, Via Veneto has been the meeting point for VIPs, actors, night owls and paparazzi for twenty years. Here they stayed and spent their evenings, among the bars, lobbies and hotel rooms that made the history of the street. AtHarry’s Bar Frank Sinatra played the piano and even today in the evening we dine with the background of the piano bar. Since 1962 he has animated Rome by Night and hosted Hollywood actors visiting the capital, but it has nothing to do with Venice, so there’s no point in looking for a plate of carpaccio.

The great beauty: a construction site

In 2013 it was the set of The great beauty by Paolo Sorrentino, a film that photographed the upper class of Roman salons, good and even decadent. «The great beauty It is to The sweet life like the Via Veneto of today is the Via Veneto of 1959. Now it is just a street of luxury hotels where it is in vain to seek the nocturnal atmosphere of the past” wrote Alessandra Levantesi Kezich, film critic for “La Stampa”, on the occasion of the his exit. Well yes, because it really is it is useless to come to via Veneto in search of cafés crowded with artists, intellectuals, stars and photographers. Over the years, other neighborhoods have made their way into the preferences of Romans and tourists and Via Veneto has remained comfortable on its laurels. Today Via Veneto is a construction site.

Between public and private, there is the project (already started) of redevelop the urban planning aspect and to relaunch the historic premises to bring back Via Veneto great again. Many prestigious hotels are currently closed or under renovation: the first hotel on via Veneto, the Hotel Majestic, inaugurated in 1889 and designed by the architect Gaetano Koch, author among others of the nearby American embassy building and the Bank of Italy building (Palazzo Koch), has closed its doors and has been acquired by Boscalt Hospitality (Rothschild) and will be renovated. The Westin Excelsior Rome, designed by architect Otto Mariani in the early twentieth century in neo-baroque style, has been bought and will close shortly for renovations. The Grand Hotel Via Veneto will be transformed into a Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, although it is not yet known when. Not far away, in via Boncompagni, work has begun on the new Mandarin Oriental. The only discordant note, for the Cafè de Paris, however, after the seizure and ten years of closure, the shutter still remains lowered and everything is silent. The street is still divided in two, to the south apart Signorvino it’s still all a construction site or bars serving American Breakfast for a few euros, whereas towards the north the rebirth has already begun.

Make Dolce Vita Great Again

First to lead the rebirth consortium, the InterContinental Rome Ambasciatori Palace, named in honor of the nearby American embassy. Built as the ambassador’s residence, then transformed into a library, it is the first five-star hotel to inaugurate the new course of the most famous street in the capital. One hundred and sixty rooms with a pure leisure vocation, a design that takes inspiration from the Roman style, a rooftop with a view and a restaurant NYC shoe which attracts an audience of American and local tourists; which in via Veneto still means Americans. Scarpetta NYC is a short circuit: a restaurant serving Italian-American cuisinewanted by a New Yorker, inspired by the concept of The sweet life, hence the name of the LDV Hospitality group. A foreign format that embodies Italianness abroad, and not an attempt to bastardize Italian cuisine to meet the tastes of others. Homemade pasta and bread, spaghetti with tomato sauce (and butter, very creamy) and steak house menus, just like in the United States. Much loved by expats, diplomats, American citizens of Rome and even traveling tourists who thus rediscover the flavors of home and a place where they feel transported to New York. Via Veneto is in fact an American outpost in Italy, it is no coincidence that the first Italian Hard Rock Cafe opened here, way back in 1998, and one of the most famous nightclubs in the capital (opened in 1972) is right in the area and is called Jackie O’ , named after the iconic Jacqueline Kennedy, JFK’s widow, who became Mrs. Onassis in 1968.

Lidia Bastianich: «The most beautiful recipes and memories of my life in Italy – Italian Cuisine

Lidia Bastianich: «The most beautiful recipes and memories of my life in Italy»

Lidia Bastianich is an Italian naturalized American chef, television personality and writer. She is not least a mother and grandmother, caring, sometimes severe, but always respectful of her Italian roots. Yes, because Lidia Bastianich’s origins are Istrian, when Istria still belonged to Italy, at least until 1975, when our country – with the controversial Treaty of Osimo – definitively and without compensation, renounced its right to those territories . We asked her for some anecdotes about her when she lived in Istria, with her parents and all her relatives, many of whom are no longer here today. But also what she brought with her, to bring those memories back to life with thought and deeds.

This important theme of mixing memories and cuisine is the fulcrum of the project The Tales of the Roots, created in collaboration with the MAECIwhich was recently presented at the Farnesina in the presence of the Ministers Tajani and Lollobrigida during the launch of the eighth edition of SCIM – Week of Italian Cuisine in the World 2023. Naturally, Lidia Bastianich could not fail to be part of this magnificent story of Italian immigration in the world, and here we are already telling you about a first taste.

Grandma Rosa and the farmyard animals

«I grew up with my grandmother Rosa in the countryside, in Pula, in Istria, among animals, among the products of the earth. I still remember the courtyard of the house and this scene: the grandparents, their brothers, the various aunts, all with aprons and handkerchiefs tied on their heads. It was them, the aunts, who at the table reminded us to never waste food, “there are children who don’t eat too much”, they said. Today Italian cuisine for me is a memory, a nostalgia, a passion, a way to receive and give love. It was, to all intents and purposes, not only a stimulus for what I have done and am doing in the United States but also a confirmation of who I am. As a child I grew up in a comfort zone, in the countryside, among the chickens, goats and rabbits that I fed. I was the “runner”, the “helper”, Grandma Rosa’s helper in the kitchen, especially on Sundays. I still remember those intoxicating smells of the sauce that boiled for hours, where the stove was, in the “blackhouse, next to the chicken coop. But also the scent of laurel, rosemary, tomato preserves, which I liked to “touch”, a little furtively, with a piece of bread.”

Farewell to Italy, without warning

«When I emigrated to the United States, in 1958, I was 12 years old, it was food that reminded me of my childhood: cooking made me feel good because it took me back to that bygone period. Once I arrived in New York I asked myself: “Why do I love cooking so much?”. I think it was instinct that made me go back to my origins: I was a child and at the time I never imagined that I would never see home againthen over time I understood it and, with regret, I thought that I hadn’t been able to say goodbye to my grandmother Rosa, my goats, my aunts… Well, with cooking I brought my land, my family, to America .

That small kitchen, but small… like that

«A tradition kept alive with passion, enthusiasm and love for four generations, even when, as soon as we arrived overseas, Caritas assigned us a small apartment with a kitchen as small as a closet. There, however, we had meals with family and friends, not without difficulty: we passed the food from hand to hand, since there wasn’t enough space. Then, as soon as I could, in reaction, I treated myself to a large Kitchen! Among the dishes we prepared most often were rice and potatoes, polenta with cheese, pan-fried cabbage and, above all, gnocchi, which even today, when I eat them, are an internal caress, they give me a “sensation” unique. A tradition that continues in New York and that I have also passed on to my grandchildren.

Around the table kneading the gnocchi

As children, my grandchildren all sat around the table kneading dough, just like my grandmother did with me; Now they are adults, they go to university, but they call me to ask for advice: “How to make the sauce, how long the broth should boil, etc.” I am very happy that they too, in addition to my children, can carry their origins with them, despite being born in America. The culture of food transcends birth, but belongs to the origins of the family. Also because there is a substantial difference between Italians and Americans, we always bring food with us. For this reason, Italian cuisine in the United States is the most appreciated, also thanks to the first Italian Americans who came here in 1800 to seek their fortune, bringing with them regional traditions. Very different from my Istrian ones, because theirs were from southern Italy. So, as an adult, I began to travel far and wide across the Bel Paese, so I discovered regional dishes and brought them to the States. This was my luck, this was my choice, this was my life.”

"I'll tell you about my life as a shepherd" – Italian Cuisine

Born in the countryside and raised surrounded by animals, this Apulian girl, nicknamed "the shepherdess of the Murge", has never wanted to do anything other than what she does. Story of a normal woman who does a special job (and has never felt discriminated against)

"I came back from the pasture a little while ago, now I can talk."

It doesn't often happen that an interview starts like this, and neither does a normal phone call. This is why the story of Mariantonietta Scalera it is special. 31 years old, Apulian from Altamura, daughter of breeders and dairy producers, by profession she does exactly what you have just read: shepherdess.

"Pastora", but are we sure what can be said?
"The word is there in the dictionary, I checked! Even if it is not used much because there are obviously more men ”.

One is very fascinated by a young shepherd woman.
I understand, even if it's normal for me: I've always done this, and it's nothing new for me. "

Your father is also a breeder, have you ever wanted to do anything else?
«I was born in the countryside and I lived surrounded by animals: for me this was not a" choice ", but a natural evolution. Since I was a child I have helped my father in the stables, first as a game, then as a job .

Is it a unique case in Italy or "only" rare?
«The documentary In this world by Anna Kauber (2018) told the story of a hundred women who in Italy are dedicated to pastoralism, so I would say that we are rare. But there we are. Each story is different: for example, I don't do transhumance, while there are people who move for months sleeping in shelters and caravans ".

What are the pros and cons of a shepherd's life?
"The most beautiful aspect is the relationship with the territory, nature and people, but if there were a little more money it wouldn't hurt."

And those of life from shepherdess?
"I have never seen the difference" of gender "or suffered. At the Agricultural Institute where I graduated I have always been respected, even though I was the only girl in a class of thirty boys. Men appreciate what I do .

In the collective imagination, shepherds are gruff hermits, like Heidi's grandfather.
«Of course I don't have all Saturdays and Sundays free, but I always find the way to be in society. I have many friends, if I want to go out in the evening I'm free. And there are friends who come to pasture with me … It is not a problem to open up to the world. But it is also not a problem to be able to detach yourself from everything and immerse yourself completely in nature .

Describe your typical day.
"It changes a lot during the year, but in general the morning is dedicated to milking and then grazing. And in the afternoon to check the animals and, again, to the milking .

Nothing has changed even during the pandemic.
«Nothing, everything the same: the cycles of nature and animals are always the same. What has failed, if anything, is the direct relationship with the people: before, many more people used to go to the dairy, and there were the travelers of the Materan Way who stopped by us for a break ".

I read that last year she went to work in the Netherlands.
"I felt the need to change scenery for a while. Not because what I do does not satisfy me, but because since I was born I have always been here, surrounded by my family. So I participated in a youth exchange / work program: I had to stay two months, I stayed there for a year. I worked on the farm of a family who welcomed me as their daughter, although I didn't speak a word of Dutch, but only a little English ".

He must have taken them by the throat.
«Oh yes, while I was with them I cooked everything: parmigiana, handmade cavatelli, tiramisu. And then the pizza: seeing the dough rise for them was a real magic .

Was working on a Dutch farm very different from working on a masseria in Puglia?
«On the one hand, yes, because the territory is different and the animals are different. But there is something similar everywhere in those who do this work: great hospitality and the desire to tell their products and the history of their territory ".

Where will you be in ten years?
"Always here, among my cows and my sheep."

And in five minutes?
"To feed the little lambs!"

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