Soup’s On!: 75 Soul-Satisfying Recipes from Your Favorite Chefs was launched today. Stellar Chronicle editor Leslie Jonath coordinated the project with photographer Frankie Frankeny (who also did the photography). I am pleased that my classic Spanish gazpacho recipe is included among the collection of delish and diverse offerings from such luminaries as Marion Cunningham, Judy Rogers, Alice Waters, Charlie Trotter, Madhur Jaffrey, and Thomas Keller. A portion of the proceeds go to NextCourse, a nonprofit organization that advocates sustainable eating in public institutions. Check it out and let me know which recipes are your favorites.
TRATTORIA - ENOTECA LA BELLA ROSIN
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, n. 3
Last autumn I stayed at Tenuta Guazzaura, a 300-year-old country estate of the Count Brondelli di Brondello in Piemonte. It’s a working farm – wine, wheat, soy, etc – and some rooms in one of the outbuildings have been converted for guest use. (The rooms are large, with a kitchen stocked with Illy coffee, cheeses, butter, homemade jams, fresh juice, and so on; one of the farmhands stops by the village bakery on the way to the farm in the morning and leaves fresh pastries and breads hanging on the door in a cloth sack.) The owners – Luca and his Austrian wife, Helen – are young and charming, welcoming, and ideal sources of local info. For dinner they sent me up to the nearby hilltown of Moncalvo for dinner at one of their favorite places, La Bella Rosin. Set in a recently refurbished 17th century bodega on the main square, it’s a sophisticated space – the design is elegant (brick arches, painted yellow walls), the wine list extensive (600 options, all selected by a panel), and the menu limited but interesting options – vitello tonnato all’antica maniera, cold duck salad, agnolotti piemontesi al sugo d’arrosto, etc. But that first visit I was there for white truffles. The season was just beginning (I had spent afternoon walking the fields of Tenuta Guarzzaura with dogs), and the enoteca offered them in two ways: shaved over the top of a plate of fresh tagliolini or steak tartar. I opted for the pasta with a bottle of lush Barbera d’Alba. There is nothing as simple, nor extravagant, than that for dinner. Nor as perfect.
Where to stay: Tenuta Guazzaura, Fraz. Madonnina, 15020 Serralunga di Crea. Tel: 39/0142.940.289. www.guazzaura.it
Just 30 miles south of Tangier, and 5 miles inland of the small, gorgeous fishing village of Asilah, is Berbari, the rural, village equivalent of Dar Nour (see below). But whereas Dar Nour is contained and perfected, Berbari feels open, quirky. The center is the large sitting area with checkered marble floor, shiny black baby-grand piano, red sofas and easy chairs, and wrap around windows offering views of the green and red hills ambling down towards the ocean. The roof is made from local bamboo and red mud covered with rusted, corrugated roofs. These are topped with a couple of immense nests of storks - who are in residence.
The real treat of this homey country lodge is its home-style country food, excellently prepared when I was there by Zohra and Mustafa who take no shortcuts: the lamb, quince, and prune tagine prepared one night took five hours to cook; the garlic and tomato stuffed eggplant “flowers” that preceded it took three hours, and the pears for dessert were carefully stewed. Zohra recently joined her husband in Spain and her sister, Naema, has taken her place in the kitchen - with just as tasty results.
In winter meals at Berbari are taken inside beside a burning fire, the rest of the year on the outdoor patios. Guest on the nights I stayed included French working in Casablanca, various young foreign diplomats from Rabat, and Moroccans living in France; we ate at a single large table and were served family style, lingering over a winter infusion of fresh absinthe leaves and conversation until late. The owner is a fascinating Frenchman, a successful film set designer, who decamped here a handful of years ago, marrying a local Berber woman whose mother once worked in the kitchen of Marrakesh royalty.
A piece of mine on the pleasures of Spanish rice, with a couple of recipes from La Paella, is the cover story for the summer issue of the Spanish government-supported publication Foods from Spain News.