Monthly Archives: November 2012

Melba Sauce

Yup! Nicole is right. I like to finish my meals with fruit. However, I allow myself to indulge in something sweet once in a while and her rich, creamy and delicious cheesecake is my exception to the rule. Just to keep the fruit in the equation, I like to complement her cheesecake with some Melba Sauce.

Now, I know I’m going straight to the guillottine with this recipe 😉 but what’s life without taking a little risk? The Melba sauce is indeed a French masterpiece. It was created by the famous French chef August Escoffier to honor the Australian soprano Nellie Melba at the end of the 19th century. I can totally see the frowning foreheads of our French readers (led by my French teacher) asking themselves: has she lost her mind?

Well, I tell you what: of course I do not have Escoffier’s recipe nor has any French ever taught me how to make this gorgeous sauce, but I’m a huge believer in constructive criticism. Therefore, I invite you all (regardless of your citizenship) to comment, correct and/or complete my recipe as you see fit!

After all, what are bloggers for? 😉

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1/8 Tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Rinse the raspberries with water, put them in a strainer over a bowl and let them drain fully.

Transfer the raspberries, the sugar and the lemon juice in a blender or a food processor and blend until you obtain a creamy mixture.

Place a small strainer over a soup bowl. Pour some of the raspberry mixture in the strainer and, with the back of a spoon, push the mixture through the strainer so that the seeds remain in the strainer. Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the raspberry mixture.

Pour the sauce in a little pitcher and serve it.

Et voilà, simple et délicieuse! Vive la France! 🙂

WineNews from Planeta Vino ;-)

I am glad to share with you a few interesting pieces of news that I have received from the guys at Planeta, one of the truly outstanding Sicilian producers who have marked the rebirth of quality winemaking in Sicily since the Nineties. Planeta has quite a differentiated offering of wines, with traditional peaks of excellence in their Sicilia IGT Chardonnay and Cometa wines (the latter being made out of 100% Fiano white-berried grapes) and very solid performers in their Noto Nero d’Avola “Santa Cecilia” DOC (on which, see our Veal Skewers – Recommended Wine Pairing post) and Syrah “Maroccoli” Sicilia IGT, to name a few.

Well, on to the news:

  1. Planeta’s latest addition to its array of wineries just became fully operational this year: it is called Feudo di Mezzo and is located on the slopes of Mount Etna (Sicily’s notoriously active volcano). This latest property complements Planeta’s four pre-existing Sicilian wineries: Ulmo in Sambuca (1995), Dispensa in Menfi and Dorilli in Vittoria (2001), Buonivini in Noto (2003).
  2. The 2012 harvest from Planeta’s Mount Etna vineyards is the first one to be processed at the new Feudo di Mezzo winery, where four of Planeta’s wines will be produced: (i) two Sicilia IGT wines, a Carricante IGT and a Nerello Mascalese IGT, from the Sciara Nuova vineyard (which features an excellent density of 5,000 to 10,000 vines/HA and lies outside of the Etna DOC area), in which Planeta’s enologists have been experimenting by adding small quantities of Riesling and Pinot Noir (respectively) to the base grapes; as well as (ii) an Etna Bianco DOC wine made from white-berried Carricante grapes and an Etna Rosso DOC wine made from black-berried Nerello Mascalese grapes.
  3. A first “pilot” batch of just 6,000 bottles of the 2010 Nerello Mascalese Sicilia IGT, the first vintage from the Sciara Nuova vineyard, has recently been released. It is made out of 100% Nerello Mascalese grapes (unlike future releases which might be blended with Pinot Noir), it has 13.5% VOL and it is supposed to have an “intense and elegant aroma” coupled with well-defined tannins: I hope I will be able to lay my hands on a bottle of it and get to try it for myself next year, when hopefully volumes will be greater.
  4. The first vintage of Planeta’s first Spumante Metodo Classico has also been recently relased: Planeta’s first attempt at a Classic Method sparkling wine is a Sicilia IGT wine made out 100% Carricante white-berried grapes from their Montelaguardia vineyard on Mount Etna, rests on its lees for 15 to 18 months and is available only in the Brut variety. It is supposed to give out fine pear, grass and mineral aromas and to be “vibrant and lean on the palate“: I would certainly be interested in giving this very peculiar wine a try, if I can get hold of a bottle.
  5. The guys at Planeta reported that the recently completed 2012 harvest had peaks of excellence in the Menfi and Sambuca vineyards, yielding amazing quality in their red wines, especially Nero d’Avola, Syrah and Cabernet Franc, which are rich and varietal with an excellent tannic structure. In the Noto and Vittoria vineyards the harvest was also memorable for Nero d’Avola, thanks to the dry and cool month of September. Planeta’s 2012 Nero d’Avola is said to exhibit structure, balance, bright colors and exuberant nose accompanied by high alcohol, which makes them “expect unique Cerasuolo and Santa Cecilia wines.” Definitely something to be looking forward to!

For more information, please refer to Planeta’s Web site or contacts.

As always, let me know if you get to try any of these wines and want to share your views on them. Cheers!

Cheesecake, as promised

I promised that with Francesca’s Prosciutto and Fennel Salad and the Asparagus Baked Pasta that you had a dinner party.  Well, almost. In my humble opinion, no dinner party is complete without dessert. Francesca would say fruit, but I think dessert. I promised a cheesecake and so you will have one. This is one has two layers and isn’t in need of anything else but if you like, you can serve it with some macerated strawberries or the Melba Sauce shown in the photo. (Francesca will follow this post with a recipe for the Melba Sauce)   You do need to bake this the night before you want to serve it.

I wouldn’t be me without an opinion or two.  Stop laughing, Francesca!  Springform pans: I don’t like them coated with non-stick finish, I don’t like dark ones, and I especially I don’t like the ones with the elevated bottom and big one inch foot on the outside as you can’t put them on a cake stand and they take up a lot of room in the fridge.  I like them shiny, with a bumpy bottom that sits in a groove inside the bottom of the ring.  Treat them right by washing gently so as not to bend them and drying them right away and reassembling and they will last a long time.  If you let them air dry, they will pit and rust.

Ingredients – Graham Cracker Crust:

1 & 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
6 TBS butter, melted

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and toss until thoroughly moistened. Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 10″ springform pan with a spatula.  Set aside.

Ingredients – Cheesecake:

(4) 8 oz Packages of Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
1 & 1/3 cups granulated sugar
(6) large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp almond extract

Ingredients – Topping:

1 pint of sour cream
6 TBS granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set rack in just below the middle of the oven.

Place the first package of cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream on low speed.  Add remaining packages of cream cheese, one at a time, creaming until soft.  Turn the mixer up slightly and slowly add the sugar. Beat until the sugar is dissolved (Note: don’t beat at too high a speed.  Incorporating air will cause your cheesecake to fall and crack later on.) Scrape down the bowl as you need to.

Turn the mixer up to about medium and beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl in between.  Pour in the almond extract and give it one last mix.

Pour the cheesecake mix into the 10″ springform pan with the graham cracker crust. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cheesecake should be set with a slightly jiggly center. Remove from oven and maintain oven temperature.

In a small bowl mix the topping. Wisk until sugar is dissolved.  Pour over cheesecake and bake in oven for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Allow to cook until the pan can be handled (it will still be warm).  Cover with an inverted 12 inch dinner plate or a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The cheesecake will set up in the fridge.  When you are ready to serve it, run a thin knife around the perimeter of the pan and release the sides.  When serving, cut two slices the first time and serve pull one out with a pie server or spatula.  You should end up with a good result.

The Sunshine Award!

With Thanksgiving behind us, we can now catch up on a few things that demand our attention, notably accepting the Sunshine Award that lovely Laura at The Cook to Love Project was kind enough to nominate us for – thank you, Laura! Just so you all know, Laura’s blog is much more than a wonderful cooking blog – although, make no mistake, in The Cook to Love Project you will find plenty of delicious and healthy vegan, gluten-free recipes. Laura’s blog is also a great source of inspiration (not only in the kitchen, that is) which strives to encourage its readers to “eat and live healthfully, creatively, and compassionately” (borrowing Laura’s own words).

On to the award acceptance process: according to the rules, nominees must (i) include a link in your blog to the blog that nominated you; (ii) answer some questions about yourself; (iii) nominate 10 fellow bloggers, linking to their blogs; and (iv) inform them that they have been nominated.

So, we took care of (i) above, and since Laura was so kind as to include both Francesca and me in her nomination, we thought in the Q&A part we would answer one question each, alternating:

1. Who is your favorite philosopher? S: Being a firm believer in logic and science, I definitely say Aristotle.

2. What is your favorite number? F: 17

3. What is your favorite animal? S: this is a tough one as I like and, as a nature photographer, have photographed many of them. Having to pick just one, I would say bears, regardless of the species.

4. What are your Facebook and Twitter? F: www.facebook.com/FlorasTable – sorry, we do not have a Twitter account!

5. What is your favorite time of day? S: Being a photographer, I like the fringes of the day, when the light is warmer, the sky gets tinged with magical hues and contrast is lower.

6. What is your favorite holiday? F: Christmas

7. What is your favorite physical activity? S: Leaving the “obvious” answer aside 😉 I would say skiing.

8. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink? F: sparkling water

9. What is your passion? S: As you can guess from my icon, my passions are photography and wine!

10. What is your favorite flower? F: this is tough, because flowers have been my passion my entire life, but if I really have to make a choice, I say hydrangeas and peonies.

And now our own nominations to pass the Sunshine Award on, in no particular order:

Congratulations to all the nominees: your blogs are awesome and certainly deserve this award!

Have a stress-free Black Friday!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick note to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from all of us!

As Nicole aptly pointed out in her post yesterday, there are people who grew up eating differently from you, and Stefano and I certainly fit the bill as where we grew up Thanksgiving was not (and still is not) a holiday, let alone such an important tradition as it is in the United States. So, maybe you all can send some empathy and good karma my way today because, while I am all set with the appetizers for our Thanksgiving dinner (we have included a couple of images to give you an idea of what we are going to eat tonight), I am very much scratching my head at how the huge turkey that is still sitting in our fridge is going to turn out since it is my first time cooking it!!! Oh well, you gotta start somewhere, right? 🙂

Anyways, each of us at Flora’s Table has her or his own things (and people!) to be thankful for, but in this post we all just want to say that we are very thankful to all of you: our followers, our “likers” and more in general all of our readers and fellow bloggers, who really are the building blocks of the wonderful community that is steadily growing around Flora’s Table – our ideal communal table around which we all congregate to sit and eat and toast and chat and laugh, very much the Italian way! 😉

By all means we are still neophytes at this blogging thing, with just less than two months worth of experience under our belts, but we sure are excited at what we have accomplished so far, impressed and humbled by your reaction and support and definitely enthusiastic about all the good things that we have in mind and are yet to come!

So, enjoy your holiday, eat and drink well, and spend some deserved quality time with the people you love. Cheers!

Veal Skewers – Recommended Wine Pairing

As a good pairing to Francesca’s tempting veal skewers, I suggest going for a full-bodied red wine with defined (but not aggressive) tannins, good acidity and smoothness – I would pick either a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or a Nero d’Avola (the latter in homage to the Sicilian roots of Francesca’s recipe). Let’s take a closer look to each of them.

Montepulciano is a grape that is indigenous to Central Italy and that is extensively cultivated in several Central Italy regions, such as Abruzzo, Marche, Umbria and Lazio to name a few. The presence of Montepulciano vines in the Abruzzo region has been documented since the XVIII century and nowadays it accounts for almost 50% of the vines that are grown in Abruzzo (Montepulciano is also the fourth most cultivated grape variety in Italy). Due to the ample supply of Montepulciano grapes, the quality levels of the wines that are made out of it unfortunately vary quite significantly (although it must be recognized that, in the last fifteen years or so, there has been a conscious effort on the part of most producers to raise the average quality of the wines made out of Montepulciano grapes), so buyer beware: you have to do your homework first and pick the best producers if you don’t want to be disappointed.

In Abruzzo, the use of Montepulciano grapes is permitted both in the only local DOCG appellation (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG, which requires the use of 90% or more Montepulciano grapes, in addition to a maximum of 10% of Sangiovese grapes) and in all of the Abruzzo DOC appellation except only Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC which is reserved to white wines mostly made out of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (also known as Bombino Bianco) grapes. All of the wines which we are about to recommend fall within the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC appellation, which encompasses an area surrounding the towns of Chieti, L’Aquila, Pescara and Teramo and which requires the use of 85% or more Montepulciano grapes in the winemaking process.

Among the best Montepulciano d’Abruzzo with a solid quality/price ratio are Valle Reale, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (with aromas of violet, plums, blueberries, blackberries licorice); Masciarelli, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “S. Martino Rosso Marina Cvetic” DOC (with scents of violet, rose, blackberries, cherries, cocoa, vanilla, pepper, nutmeg); Pietrantonj, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Cerano” Riserva DOC (with aromas of cherries, wild berries, vanilla, tobacco, cocoa); Dino Illuminati, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Ilico” DOC (with scents of blackberries, cherries, tobacco, leather, licorice, soil, slightly oaky); Torre dei Beati, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Cocciapazza” DOC (with aromas of rose, violet, cherries, plums, blueberries, redcurrants, licorice, cocoa): unfortunately, Torre dei Beati does not have a Web site as at November 2012: as usual, should you be interested in reaching out to them, just drop me an email. All of the above wines are varietal, that is made out of 100% Montepulciano grapes.

Nero d’Avola is a black-berried grape variety that is widely grown in Sicily and that, apparently, was first brought there by Greek migrants during the Greek colonization of Southern Italy (so-called “Magna Graecia”) in the VI century BC. This makes Nero d’Avola essentially an indigenous grape variety to the region of Sicily, where it has been cultivated for centuries and where it is also known as “Calabrese” – not because it came from Calabria, but because that name is thought to be a contraction of two words (“Calea” and “Aulisi”) which, in the Sicilian dialect, mean “grape from Avola” (Avola is the name of a Sicilian town).

The use of Nero d’Avola grapes is permitted both in the only DOCG appellation of Sicily (Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, a blend in which Nero d’Avola can be used between 50 and 70% in combination with Frappato grapes) and in several of the Sicilian DOC appellations, but many among the best products are marketed under the more loosely regulated Sicilia IGT appellation, which affords serious producers more flexibility in experimenting and creating excellent wines out of Nero d’Avola grapes, especially by blending them with international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah to tame certain aggressive traits that varietal Nero d’Avola wines sometimes exhibit.

These are among the best Nero d’Avola-based wines around for their quality/price ratios: Feudo Maccari, “Saia” Sicilia IGT (100% Nero d’Avola, with scents of violets, herbs, wild cherry, pepper, juniper berries and leather, slightly toasty – a special note of commendation to the owners who invested the energy and the resources to achieve an excellent density of over 5,500 vines/HA); Morgante, “Don Antonio” Sicilia IGT (100% Nero d’Avola, with aromas of potpourri, ripe red fruit, licorice, leather, chocolate and minerals); Cusumano, “Noa'” Sicilia IGT (a blend of 40% Nero d’Avola, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, with complex scents of violets, red fruit, sandalwood, leather, chocolate) or also very good “Sagana” Sicilia IGT (100% Nero d’Avola, with scents of wild cherry, anise, chocolate, leather, tobacco), even in this case, we want to acknowledge a producer who attained a commendable density of 5,000 vines/HA; Planeta, Noto Nero d’Avola “Santa Cecilia” DOC (100% Nero d’Avola, with aromas of wild cherries, plums, blackberries, licorice, cocoa, graphite – once again, kudos to the owners who obtained a very good density of 5,000 vines/HA); Donnafugata, “Tancredi” Sicilia IGT (a blend of Nero d’Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and other grape varieties, with scents of roses, cherries, leather, tobacco, chocolate – a density of 4,500 to 6,000 vines/HA is another very good feature worth pointing out).

Enjoy, and as usual let us know by leaving a comment below if you happened to try out any of the wines mentioned above or should you wish to suggest a different pairing!

Veal Skewers

2 Servings (2 Skewers Each)

I guess by now you know that Rome is my hometown. However, it’s not my father’s. He was born and raised in Messina, a town in Sicily, and moved to Rome in his late twenties. Every summer, we used to go to my grandparents’ beach house in Sicily and spend some time with them. Oh, I know what you are thinking: here we go – another story about Italian happy families and fairy-tale memories. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you – or is that a sigh of relief? The simple truth is… my mother and my grandmother hated each other. Have you ever read a novel called “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles”? Not an intellectual masterpiece but very entertaining: the feud between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law in the book reminds me a little the one that was going on in that Sicilian beach house. I say a little because, luckily, my story (as opposed to the one in the book) did not end with a murder 😉 Ah, I know once again what you are thinking: what has this got to do with food? Bear with me just a tad longer, will you?

So, my grandmother happened to be a very good cook and… no, she didn’t teach me how to cook. Growing up, I was a bitchy, moody, ambitious, career-focused girl who couldn’t care less about learning how to cook. The good food kept coming and that was more than enough for me. No questions asked. When my grandmother died, the only thing that I was able to make on the stove was… boiling water.

But then, time went by and my priorities changed. One day, while I was cooking, I suddenly realized that I could not recreate any of my grandmother’s tasty dishes.I felt such a deep sadness, you know, the same you feel when you lose something precious that cannot be replaced. What to do? Not ask my mom. Even now, after all these years, when my grandmother’s name is mentioned, her face turns blue. I knew she was not going to be of any help. Much to my surprise, my father was the one who came to the rescue. I say that because we are talking about an old-fashioned man who thinks that little elves live in his house and take care of cleaning it, cooking his meals and ironing his clothes. He is so spoiled and used to being “attended to” that he doesn’t even make the effort to put his dirty plate in the sink. Well, not only did he remember my grandmother’s recipes, but he even knew the right quantities for the various ingredients and the directions to make them. Who would have thought!

So to make a long story short, the following recipe (as well as all other Sicilian recipes that are yet to come) derive from my father.

Ingredients:

1 lb veal cutlets
½ cup plain bread crumbs
3 Tbsp grated Parmigiano cheese
½ cup parsley leaves
½ white scamorza cheese or plastic-wrapped mozzarella cheese
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 big garlic clove, finely minced (optional)
salt
ground black pepper

Directions:

On a cutting board, place one cutlet between two pieces of parchment paper. With the smooth side of a tenderizer, start pounding the meat until it gets thin and the meat fibers have softened (be careful not to break the meat). Remove the parchment paper from the meat. Make sure that the cutlet has been evenly flattened and, if some part of it is still too thick, pound it more with the tenderizer. Cut the cutlet into strips, about 3-inch wide and 5-inch long. Repeat the same procedure for the other cutlets.

Rinse the parsley leaves with water, dry them with a paper towel and chop them roughly.

The original recipe requires the use of white scamorza cheese. However, if you cannot find it, you can use mozzarella instead – just choose the type that comes in plastic wrap, not the moister type that sits in water. Cut off the scamorza cheese or the mozzarella into cubes (between ½ and ž of 1 inch thick). In case you are using moist mozzarella, put the cubes into a strainer, place the strainer above a large bowl and let the mozzarella cubes drain fully.

In a large plate, place the bread crumbs, the parmigiano cheese, the parsley, a pinch of salt, the pepper (to taste), the garlic (if you choose to go for it) and mix thoroughly.

Pour the olive oil into another plate.

Spread a veal strip out onto a cutting board. Season only one side of the strip with a pinch of salt (not too much, because you put some salt in the crumb mixture already).

Dip only the salted side of the strip into the olive oil and hold it over the oil to let any excess fall back into the plate. Next, dip the same side of the strip into the crumb mixture to evenly coat it.

Return the strip to the cutting board with the breaded side facing up. Take a cheese cube and place it on one of the short sides of the strip. Roll the strip into a small roll (pardon the pun).

Repeat the same procedure for the other strips.

Using 8-inch metal skewers, spear 4 veal rolls onto each skewer being careful not to place them too close to each other, otherwise the rolls will not cook evenly.

Brush the rolls with extra virgin olive oil and cook them over a preheated grill or a non-stick grill pan. Cook the rolls until tender and golden brown on both sides.

The original recipe calls for a fennel salad with a vinaigrette dressing as a side dish.

Enjoy and let me know how it turned out if you give it a go!

Just Out: Wine Spectator's Top 10 Wines of 2012

So, it’s that time of the year once again: today venerable Wine Spectator magazine published their Top 10 Wines of 2012… according to them, of course! 🙂

In a nutshell, these are the comments I would like to share with you about this year’s top rankings:

  • Shafer Vineyard‘s Relentless Napa Valley 2008 (a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah grapes) is Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year 2012
  • Only 3 U.S. wines made it to the top 10 (2 from California and 1 from Oregon), down from 4 last year, although one of them was picked as Wine of the Year 2012
  • Only 1 Italian wine made it to the top 10 scoring the ninth place and 94 points (Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona‘s Brunello di Montalcino 2007 DOCG) compared to 2 last year
  • France put 4 of their wines in the top 10, up from 3 last year
  • Just like in 2011, 9 of the top wines are red and only one is white (and, just like last year, the only white wine in the top 10 is a sweet wine)
  • Syrah is present in variable percentages ranging from 100% down to 10% in all of the top 4 wines, with the Wine of the Year being a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah (note that, despite the name, the latter is a separate grape variety from Syrah, which comes from a cross between Syrah and Peloursin vines) and in the third place there being an Australian Shiraz (100% Syrah grapes)

For more detailed information, please refer to Wine Spectator’s Website. I hope you are fortunate enough to get to enjoy one of the top 10 wines of this year!

Restaurant Mini-Review: Sushi Yasuda, New York, NY

Although Flora’s Table is mostly focused on Italian food, cuisine and wine, sometimes we venture out of our comfort zone to share with you something else that has left us breathless: this is certainly the case for, in my view, one of the very best Sushi Restaurants in Manhattan (and not only Manhattan): Sushi Yasuda.

Sushi Yasuda is a little known gem located at 204 E 43rd Street between Second and Third Avenues that you really have to know because if you don’t chances are that you will just walk past it as it does not have any street sign and its entrance is as inconspicuous as it may get. So, if you have not dined there before, just pay attention to Street numbering and stop at number 204 to be rewarded with a heavenly Japanese culinary experience – if you have made a reservation that is. Yes, because Sushi Yasuda deservedly has a number of faithful aficionados who fill the place up fast, so definitely call them up at 212.972.1001 and secure a table or a seat at the beautiful sushi counter before heading there. One more word of advice: once you have made your reservation, pick up the phone the day of your reservation because they will call you back to confirm and if they cannot reach you they will just go ahead and cancel your reservation. Also, be there on time because they will give your table away if you don’t show up within 10 minutes of your assigned time.

Now that we are done with logistics and reservation etiquette, on to the restaurant. The all-bamboo decor is minimalistic and imbued with Zen simplicity (I want to believe that Steve Jobs would have liked it): sitting at the sushi counter is a treat as you get to watch your sushi maker do his magic and prepare your meal, which is an experience in itself. Executive chef Naomichi Yasuda is (quoting from the restaurant’s Web site) “a true artist — his work is utterly original. His ethic of pure, clean simplicity is evident in every aspect of Sushi Yasuda.” He interprets sushi with what you could call a religious attitude and does all he can to offer you the best possible experience, from selecting only the very best fish and seafood to pre-moistening your sushi with what he considers to be just the perfect quantity of shoyu (soy sauce) so they taste the best. I suggest checking out Sushi Yasuda’s Web site to read more about their recommendations as to how best to enjoy Chef Yasuda’s creations as it is very instructive.

Beside a large a la carte selection, at lunch they offer two types of combo prix fixe menus that I would suggest you give serious consideration to as they combine great value with a nice sample of Yasuda’s talent. In particular, one is a sashimi-slanted menu, where they will pick five varieties of sashimi for you while you can select one maki (sushi roll) from a given set of choices. The other menu focuses on sushi and you get to select five pieces of sushi from a selection that gets updated daily plus two maki rolls. Either way you decide to go, a salad or miso soup is included with your menu.

Everything at Sushi Yasuda is to die for (if you are into Japanese cuisine that is), so relax and dare as you will not be disappointed. Among my personal favorites are king or coho salmon, branzino, squid, orange clams, yellowfin and of course, whenever it is available, delicious toro! Yum, only writing about it makes me want to head over there right away and be delighted one more time by the magic of Sushi Yasuda!

As always, if you happen to go, please leave a comment on this page to let us all know how you liked it!

Disclaimer: All our restaurant reviews are independently made without the owners or managers of the restaurants knowing about it before they get published and we do not have any interest in nor do we derive any benefit from any of the restaurants we review. We just want to share with our readers our experience at certain specific restaurants that just left us in awe.

The Liebster Blog Award!!!

As some of you may have noticed, yesterday night I made a little technological mess! Oops! Let’s give it one more try, shall we?

Yesterday, I came out of the shower only to find out that lovely and witty Sarah from Diary of a House Elf had nominated Flora’s Table for the Liebster Blog Award! I was over the moon with excitement and I immediately called Stefano (who was in Milan) and my parents in Rome to share such wonderful news. Thank you so much, Sarah – yours is a great and fun blog and I love the way you write. And thank you to all my Flora’s Table “partners” who worked so hard during the last month: this award would not have been possible without your valuable contributions. And clearly, a big thank you goes out to all of our readers and followers who are making of Flora’s Table a comfy communal table around which to sit for a bite, a glass of (good!) wine and a chat: just the way we had meant it to be when we embarked on this project!

So, the award rules are the following: those who get nominated must answer 11 questions asked by the person who nominated them and tell 11 random facts about themselves.  Then, each of them is supposed to pass on the award by nominating 11 blogs with under 200 followers and ask them 11 questions.

Well, I hope nobody is going to get mad at me, but I’m going to follow Sarah’s example (Sarah, you were not lame at all!) and replace the number 11 with the number 5. I hope you’ll understand… my experience in the blogosphere is still too limited and, given also the requirement that this award be only given to blogs who have less than 200 followers, I cannot possibly come up with a meaningful list of 11 blogs that meet the requirements! 😉 Of course, I am sure my nominees will do a hell of job and, if they so desire, they should by all means go back to the original rules.

Random facts about myself:

1. I never start cooking before lunch time
2. I loathe jealous people
3. I hate cold weather
4. I cannot cross a street unless there is a traffic light
5. I do not think that beauty is subjective …at least to some extent 😉

My answers to the questions asked from Sarah at Diary of a House Elf:

Q1: Who/what do you want to be “when you grow up”?
A1: Any kind of artist: a painter, a writer, a designer, an actress – you name it.

Q2: What one thing would make your life better?
A2: A magic wand.

Q3: What one quote best resonates with you?
A3: Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress. (Coco Chanel)

Q4: What one living person – that you don’t know personally – inspires you?
A4: Richard Mason, author of “The drowning People” and “Us”.

Q5: If you could spend one entire day how you wanted, what would you do?
A5: I’d spend the day in bed reading and watching old movies.

My questions for the nominees are the following:

1. What’s your favorite book?
2. If you could live in the past, which historical period would you pick?
3. What’s your favorite drink?
4. What’s your addiction?
5. If you were a piece of clothing or an accessory, you would be…

And the nominees are…

1. The Mind’s Cabin

2. Ma Cuisine et Vous (in French)

3. The Backdoor Artist

4. My Life is My Style

5. The Literate Chef

Certain of my nominees do not show the number of their followers on their blogs, so I’m taking a guess here. Congratulations to the five of you on creating wonderful blogs!