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Searching for Italy

Actor Stanley Tucci is expanding his platform and will host a new culinary docuseries with CNN, "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy." The six part series is slated to begin Feb., 2021. It is a personal journey throughout Italy to sample the culture, history & cuisine of his ancestors. He will feature Rome, Sicily, Milan, Florence and other regions of Italy. Tucci has family roots in the region of Calabria. Tucci has also published several cookbooks.

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222 posts

Grazie Janis for mentioning this here. We'd been wondering when the exact premier date was going to be on CNN.
I am done. The end.

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4378 posts

Thanks, Janis. This’ll be welcome. Part of the past 6 months have been spent taking cooking classes from Italy via Zoom. Virtual Italian dining ... not quite the same as being there, but we’ll take what we can get until our planned (delayed) trip this fall. Feb. and CNN - thanks again!

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2498 posts

Cyn, like you we missed Italy this past fall. I am looking forward to the docuseries. I took two culinary tours in the past. The first covered Tuscany & Umbria. The second was in Southern Italy and Sicily. Last week I took an Italian dessert presentation via Zoom. It featured 3 traditional holiday favorites. Buon Appetito!

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2498 posts

Estimated Prophet, I am a huge fan of Stanley Tucci as well. From what I’ve read his culinary inspiration came from his films- Big Night & Julie & Julia.

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Ricky, I have not heard if the docuseries will be streamed. (That would be nice) If I hear anything I will post. Or perhaps someone else will chime in with the information. Grazie.

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Ken- Thanks for sharing the ‘Morty’ vídeo. I hadn’t seen that movie. I think Tucci is at the top of my favorite character actors. He excels at his craft.

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31216 posts

Janis,

You're very welcome! There's a longer video of the best "Morty" clips from that movie (warning for language) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwBv2ZSJc5w .

Tucci is indeed a very versatile actor as I also just watched The Pelican Brief in which he plays a more serious "bad guy" role.

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2498 posts

Ken- great clip- (Undercover Blues) I was laughing out loud. Dennis Quaid, Kathleen Turner & Tucci were hysterical.

I do recall The Pelican Brief. Outstanding cast!

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2498 posts

Wait for it... Wait for it... A second ad has appeared on CNN this past week. It has not confirmed the date for the start of the docuseries. That said, the CNN website has a trailer that highlighted Florence with Tucci and a guide. It was very entertaining. It featured "tiny windows" where a glass of wine is offered. I don't recall seeing this when visiting Florence. Anyone else familiar with this? I will update when I hear about the start of the series.

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2498 posts

jj.ashley, thank you for the update! We had a power outage here for 36 hrs. Just now up & running again. Valentine’s in Italy. Sounds wonderful. Grazie.

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2498 posts

Just read “It’s Tucci Time” in Sunday’s Parade Magazine. It highlights Tucci’s new movie “Supernova,” premiering in theaters 1/29, & video on demand 2/16. The CNN Searching for Italy (2/14) series traces Italian fare all the way from Milan in the north to Sicily in the south.

PS and by the way, there’s lots of buzz that Tucci may snag his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Supernova.

Sounds like a great year for Tucci! Well deserved.

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1549 posts

there's a promo running on the CNN page, I couldn't get any sound but it shows him eating, and eating, and eating. LIke most Italian travel shows.

As far as streaming, it likely won't be on any of the name platforms. It might be available somewhere on the CNN site after a while, or if you have cable, as on-demand programming.

Wine windows, yes those have been featured in most travelogues. I would bet Burt Wolf or Samantha Brown covered that.

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2498 posts

Thanks phred for the update. Yes, we have seen the latest ads on CNN. It looks like it will be a fun series. It seems that Tucci will be eating his way through Italy.... and he can! ;)

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2498 posts

Update (2/2/21) CNN now has a start time for "Searching for Italy." It is slated to start at 9:00 pm EST., Sunday, 2/14/21. Can hardly wait!

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11928 posts

Thanks, Janis. Does that mean it will be on at 6pm here on the west coast?

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2498 posts

Lola, I assume that it will be on 6 pm “our time.”
My husband reminded me that Anthony Bourdain had the same schedule for his series. We could watch at 6 pm or catch it at 9 pm! ;)

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Hello all. "It's Tucci Time!" The first episode starts tonight- 2/14/21, "Naples and the Amalfi Coast." Tucci will be feasting on pizza in Naples; finding the freshest mozzarella and the best San Marzano tomatoes; enjoying spaghetti and zucchini. 6:00 pm PT and 9:00 pm EST CNN. Buon Appetito!

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638 posts

This morning, I discovered I could see the whole Tuscany episode on CNN On Demand. It was too hard to wait until tonight for the Naples episode!

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2498 posts

Thanks Nancys8 for the update!! We too will watch On Demand. Hooray!! Grazie!!

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4378 posts

So what’s everybody eating at home tonight? Anything Neapolitan? We have a really good steak to grill, but that will likely still pale in comparison to what’s going to be on the screen.

We did a Zoom cooking class yesterday, however. Our chef/instructor, who lives in Tuscany and adds home-grown sage to just about everything, but is originally from Naples, gave us the recipie for a fantastic kale Winter salad, and I’m about to finish it off for a late lunch right now. Buon apetito, and Happy Viewing, everybody!

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2498 posts

OMG!! We watched the show On Demand earlier today. It was FABULOUS!! Plan to watch again tonight. We are snowed in and will make what I have in the pantry. That will be baked Spaghetti! Would prefer what was presented on the series!

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1811 posts

Just watched the Tucci show. Camerawork was fabulous. AND...to my friend Chani from Tel Aviv, your favorite pastry shop in Minori--Sal de Riso--has been outed--Tucci and crew visited there! That Lemon Delight dessert looked amazing.

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Well, the wild bunnies were too cute to be on the Ischia Sunday meal table, as the featured dish. At least the ones that get caught have chestnut leaves as a last meal.

I wonder if the 150 hectare San Marzano tomato plots by the highway will become a foodie destination? They’d have to arrange a big enough parking lot, and maybe sensors to detect anyone trying to surreptitiously harvest anything. What an exclusive spot! Mr. Tucci was searching, but it sure looks like he did some finding.

And fried pizza, the original pizza in Naples - long before the Margherita was ever conceived ... I had no idea! I hope her operation will make it thru the pandemic, and she’ll still be frying away in the future.

I couldn’t help but notice that there was a mix of mask-wearing and senza maschera. Maybe that was based mostly on indoor or outdoor filming location. The first installment was fabulous - looking forward to more.

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222 posts

Great first episode, hitting so many targets for the interested viewer. It was molto bittersweet for us coz we'd planned to return to that coast last April after a 30 year absence, then covid...
That final shot where Stanley toasted limoncello with pastry superstar Sal de Riso on the Minori pier was the dagger blow for us. The all-time splurge villa that we'd rented (see 'debtor's prison') in the seaside stretch of Ravello known as 'Marmorata', was just out of sight behind the tall skinny building with the blue shutters behind them. God's sense of humour.

We had circled Sal de Riso's Pastry shop on our grocery map. It is immediately in front of the main Minori town bus stop, and his relative Alesandro's eatery is virtually next door.

Le Scoglio (the 'cliff') is in Marina del Cantone, which is south of Sorrento near Sant Agata close by Sirenuse. That same village also features the 'Il San Pietro di Positano' splurge hotel complex with its views and other offerings, as mentioned by RS.
Ischia wazzam (was and still is) on our cancelled itinerary, and we'll add Il Focolare (the 'running rabbit') to our listings.

Our experiences in Napoli ran the gamut from positive to negative to indescribable, but that's probably a good thing if one believes in the total immersion.

Grazie mille Stanley for this episode. How it re-stoked my wife's flagging spirits, and appetite for Italian travel, on this rarefied Valentine's Day.

Damme un bacio Elena!!
I am done. The end.

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1811 posts

This Bon Appetit article celebrates the 20th anniversary of the seminal foodie movie 'Big Night', which starred Tucci, Tony Shalhoub and Minnie Driver, among others. And she was apparently the one that discovered Lo Scoglio, although Tucci may have been there before Driver was in 2016. Great read.

https://www.bonappetit.com/people/celebrities/article/big-night-movie-cast-food-interviews

And that spaghetti with zucchini from the show is something I have to try!

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406 posts

I’ve never really liked food destination shows. But I like Stanley Tucci and love Italy so had to watch. I thought he did an excellent job of mixing his destinations with the food segment. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire show and am looking forward to the remainder. We were supposed to be there last September, and have reservations for this October. I’m looking forward to his Florence show.

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1605 posts

hey hey all
just happened upon his show on sunday, really liked it. it was nice to see places people have mentioned here on the forum. also loved the lemon dessert sal made, of course i love lemon anything and lemonicello. have set record for next episodes. thanks again janis
aloha

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2498 posts

Thanks Jay for highlighting the pastry shop in Minori. The Lemon dessert did look amazing. Appreciated the Bon Appetit article as well.

@gregglamarsh- I understand your sentiments about missing your trip. I hope you & your wife will make the trip when things open safely. Sounds like an amazing itinerary. Especially want to see your posted photos! Until then enjoy the series.

Lulu, like you we had to cancel Italy last September. Glad you enjoyed the first show. Very well done!

Edited: Princess Pupule- I’m with you- anything lemon! We brought home “travel size” Limoncello from Amalfi in our suitcase!

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4378 posts

OK - second episode (Rome) comments. Pasta, pasta, pasta! And with Rick’s online show tonight, about Rome, there are some consistent messages between both his and Stanley’s programs: wonderful Trastevere, essential caccio e pepe (cheese - 70% pecorino romano and 30% parmigiano reggiano - and ground black pepper on pasta), pasta carbonara, and Jewish style artichokes.

I didn’t realize that the carbonara recipe was created after WW II, and this wasn’t a 2,000 year old creation. And the American addition of lots of cream to the recipe departed from the simple but fantastic Roman recipe - just pecorino cheese, guanciale (cured pork cheek), egg, and pasta!

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Tucci's episode Sunday night on Rome delineated why--at least from a food standpoint--it's my favorite place on the planet.

His interview with blogger Katie Parla was spot-on. In fact, in February 2017 we arrived at our apartment at Campo de' Fiori on Sunday afternoon, and in advance of our trip I was mightily concerned as to where we would dine on a Sunday night--specifically on Carbonara--when many Roman restaurants were closed, so I queried Katie online. She quickly responded with a recommendation of Ristorante Emma, in the Roscioli family of local trattorias, bakeries and charcuteries. It was within walking distance and yes, the Carbonara was fabulous. Also have dined on the twice-fried Jewish-style artichokes depicted in the episode, which aren't my cup of tea but many adore them.

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For all you Pasta fans (like me) I am looking to duplicate some of the recipes featured on the series. I discovered the link- fine dining lovers.com "Searching for Italy: Discover Rome's Four Pastas with Stanley Tucci." It also features Sal de Riso's Lemon Delight. The other wonderful pasta dish is Spaghetti Alla Nerano from his first show. "Spaghetti with fried Zucchini." the-pasta-project.com. Buon Appetito!

On a couple of occasions when visiting Rome I had two variations of artichokes in the Ghetto. One being Carciofi alla roman (Roman-style Artichokes) and Carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style Artichokes). The difference? Roman- cooked in oil and water cooked slowly for 25 mins. Jewish-style- Fried in oil for 10-15 min. as was shown at La Reginella. I enjoy both styles. Our guide introduced us to La Taverna del Ghetto and have eaten there a couple of times. We had planned to return to Rome last fall and were going to try another recommended location (Nonna Betta). Looking forward to returning when we can!

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Janis--

I'm a decent-but-not-great cook, and like Tucci has mentioned more than once on his shows, my attempts to reproduce some of these dishes at home--in his words--'...just doesn't come out like this'.

It all started in 2010 when we visited Da Giggetto in the Jewish Ghetto. Even then, it was a tired, cranky restaurant but I had heard that the bucatini all' Amatriciana was stellar. It was, probably the best pasta dish of my life up til then. But at home, trying to sub out pancetta for guanciale, and maybe not-as-fresh Pecorino Romano, my rendition was very good but fell short. Same thing for the Carbonara, which killed at the abovementioned Emma, but at home...just fair.

Cacio e Pepe is next. Could it be simply Pecorino Romano and cold water?! With good cracked pepper, I'm gonna give it a try.

Oh, one other thing. Visiting some friends in north Rome, we sat down at dinner to a local artichoke preparation, simply steamed in olive oil and water, brushed with butter. Heavenly--I could even cut the stem with a fork & knife.

And also, if you visit the Campo de' Fiori market, besides the great floral varieties and fruits/vegetables, there is a stand that sells spice blends that should not be missed. Carbonara. Bolognese. Amatriciana. Puttanesca. Four years later, I'm still working myself through them. Had them shrink-wrapped at the adjacent cheese stand for the ride home, but I kept them in my carry-on so they would not be mistaken for a spicy 'weed'. The customs guy at O'Hare looked at a bag, up at me and said, 'ah, this is the good stuff, eh?' Yep!

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4378 posts

Jay, that was a certainly successful shopping trip at the market, and it was outstanding that you dealt with an appreciative official upon your return home. Just this morning, I came across a package of spices from a Chicago company, Urban Accents, for Puttanesca sauce mix. It had gotten buried, and I’d completely forgotten about it. Its freshness date has expired, and from the price tag, it was not cheap. We’ve got a jar of capers in vinegar in the fridge, and not proper salt-packed capers, and the tomatoes and olives called for aren’t going to be fresh picked but I’m giving it a go. It might even turn out to be edible, but as has been pointed out by you, and Mr. Tucci, it won’t be the same as I’d get in Italy, on several levels. Still, we’ll see ... pasta that won’t be over cooked, it can’t be a complete disaster.

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And coming up on Sunday, the Bologna episode! We’re still anticipating going there in late September this year, and any food we pick up won’t get hidden away.

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When Tucci first pitched the show to CNN, his vision was 22 separate districts in Italy to feature. They gave him the 6 most popular ones, with the caveat of more if the show is successful. Well, it appears to be, so I'm looking forward to--hopefully--a show on his home area of Calabria, where I haven't been but want to visit. It's between Campania & Sicily, and I always thought that a train (always a train for me!) through the province finishing with the train car on the ferry across to Messina in Sicily would be quite the experience.

Also, little-visited areas by tourists like Le Marche on the Adriatic and then, more inland, Molise (my grandfather's family was from Campobasso) would be quite interesting to me. But enough good stuff that one can make a show of it? We'll see--Tucci has good writers and great cinematographers & editors. I wonder if any of them were picked up from Bourdain's 'Parts Unknown' series?

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1814 posts

I honestly think one could almost make a whole season about just le Marche. I hope he gets his wish to explore all of Italy--there is just so much to see in every region, it's astounding.

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1605 posts

hey hey all
i'm hooked watching this series and is on record. can't wait for sunday and bologna "food capital of italy" read an article about first show with 1.52 million viewers next show 1.64 million according to nielson ratings and age group of adults 25-54 years old. next season will air in 2022.
@janis: my first trip to rome italy was for debut sailing of carnival splendor transatlantic to florida. never heard of limoncello, walking in a piazza near pantheon, wine shop open for tasting. probably tasted every bottle of it in the shop, thank gosh apt was about 2 blocks away LOL next day to campo de fiori area and market, had so much fun and like you bought a few bottles to bring home with me. now my friend makes her own as christmas gifts for me. it's so yummy. thanks for post
aloha

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2498 posts

Cyn,
Yes, looking forward to the Bologna episode on 2/28. Some of my favorites from the region are Tagliatelle Pasta, Tortellini and Balsamic Vinegar, just to name a few.

Jay, I agree, I too hope Tucci can eventually go back and visit his home area of Calabria and Sicily. We were on a culinary tour of Southern Italy and Sicily a few years ago (mentioned previously). I can attest that the ferry crossing through the straits of Messina is quite the experience. After our crossing we stopped to marvel the Raice Warriors, that were discovered off the Calabrian coastline in 1972 by an unsuspecting scuba diver. Dating back to the 5th century BC, these 2 bronze statues are exceptionally well preserved. They are two of the few surviving full-size ancient Greek bronzes cast about 460 BC. From what we were told, the Greek Bronzes were usually melted down in later times! They are housed at the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia. They were incredible. As a side note we stopped at a Gelateria called Cesare after our sailing.

Jay, I too was wondering if any of the good writers and cinematographers and editors were picked up from Bourdain's series. I miss Bourdain and "Parts Unknown."

valadelphia, Le Marche would be another area to explore. I would enjoy seeing that side of the Adriatic. I've been to Tuscany and Umbria, so I assume I would enjoy this region as well. As far as I'm concerned is their a "bad region in Italy?" They are all unique.

Princess, Isn't Limoncello divine? Have you tried Vin Santo? We had it in Tuscany. So nice to dip an almond cantucci in it. One of our tour members called Vin Santo "Mothers Milk." LOL.

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4378 posts

Janis, good dishes come from good ingredients, and you’ve listed some of the best, anywhere. I learned that there’s balsamic vinegar, and then really, really good balsamic vinegar ... wine regions hardly revere and control their product, or protect their brand as much.

I haven’t peeked ahead to this, or other upcoming episodes. What about Parma? In addition to their cheese that seems to actually come in chunks from big wheels, rather than already grated in tidy little green shaker containers, there’s the ham! After Stanley experienced various pig offal in the Rome episode, Parma would treat him to a succulent, cured treat. Drooling just thinking about it!

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2498 posts

Oh Cyn, I meant to mention the cheese! Thanks for the reminder. Nothing better than a chunk of good Parma!

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1605 posts

hey hey janis
never heard about vin santo, will keep it on my list.
talking about cookies/biscotti, read up about 93 year old nonna still baking in frascati at ceralli.it
lacucinaitaliana.com/nonna rosanna's pupazza frascatana
this bakery/deli is family owned, 30 minute train ride from rome. saw a food special about it that mentioned the "best" porchetta made by her son.
italymagazine.com/lake nemi and it's wild berry. talks about this small town/village famous for it's lake and sweet strawberry. every year end of may/first of june is the strawberry festival "sagra delle fragola". everything and anything made with the berry.
deliciousitaly.com/nemi strawberry festival
frascati famous for it's white wines, the pope has his summer palace and gardens there.
since watching that food special i have bookmarked it for next trip to rome. saw a tour withlocals.com/beautiful countryside day trip: castelli romani. enjoy
aloha

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14225 posts

Hi Jay, thanks for the shout-out, but truth must be told that Sal de Riso was the recommendation of our dear departed Zoe. The menu said "lemon tiramisu" and it was definitely a delight.

Yesterday I met friends in Jerusalem for pizza and it just made me long to be in Chicago or Italy for good pizza. Fingers crossed to make Chicago happen this May.

I've seen the teasers for the Stanley Tucci series on CNN Int'l but it's they aren't broadcasting full episodes, so it's not available here, sigh.

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1811 posts

Hi Jay, thanks for the shout-out, but truth must be told that Sal de
Riso was the recommendation of our dear departed Zoe. The menu said
"lemon tiramisu" and it was definitely a delight.

Yesterday I met friends in Jerusalem for pizza and it just made me
long to be in Chicago or Italy for good pizza. Fingers crossed to make
Chicago happen this May.

I've seen the teasers for the Stanley Tucci series on CNN Int'l but
it's they aren't broadcasting full episodes, so it's not available
here, sigh.

Chani!

I should have figured it was Zoe that found Sal de Riso. If anybody was a patron saint to this forum, it was she. Not only did she find great out-of-the-way places--and I don't consider Minori out of the way--but she had a compelling writing style and a travel writer's eye for detail. I will frankly admit that I lived vicariously through her absolute lack of fear or trepidation to stop wherever, whenever, and make something of it, all while for the most part traveling solo, which in raw terms is the only way to really do it.

If someone asked Zoe, '...whythehell are you going to Molise?! There's nothing there!', she'd take it as a personal challenge and most definitely find something quirky, real, and uniquely Italian. I can only hope Tucci can do more of this in future shows.

I guess it's time to go back into the archives for Zoe's words to feed my soul. I suggest others do the same.

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2498 posts

@Princess- thanks for sharing the links! I will add this to my list for next time!

@Chani & Jay- Thanks for remembering dear Zoe. I agree, she was the patron saint of this forum. We had planned a return visit to Sicily last September in her honor. Zoe’s forum friend Priscilla followed her path a couple years ago, and graciously shared it with us. On a previous tour we had stayed at the same BnB as Zoe in Ortigia. It was our plan to stay there again. I enjoy going back to the forum archives and rereading Zoe’s wonderful postings. I enter “Zoe” in the search and am grateful that we still have access to her trip reports & travel philosophy.

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1660 posts

I don’t have any of the streaming services that access CNN. But I have been able to catch snippets on basic YouTube. Does anyone remember in episode 2, which Rome outskirt neighborhood Tucci got to by metro? From the glimpse I saw, I would love to explore something.

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1660 posts

I too miss Zoe and have found many wonderful places from her posts and messages. As for Sal de Riso and Minori, we stumbled upon them, by accident. We stayed in Minori 2 nights and ended up eating at Sal de Riso several times. In addition to great pastries, they have excellent salads and appertivi.

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864 posts

Does anyone remember in episode 2, which Rome outskirt neighborhood Tucci got to by metro?

I believe you're looking for Centocelle

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4378 posts

Becky, the segment involves Centocelle (translates to “100 jails” in English). Stanley visits Proloco, an artisanal deli specializing in local, regional Lazio specialties, including Pecorino cheese and pork products. The proprietor says he doesn’t have to go to Parma to get decent ham.

Then they visit the site of La Pecora Elettrica, a cafe/bookshop that’s been set on fire twice, along with two other places in the area. The investigation continues to find the culprits.

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1660 posts

Thank you, Cyn. Do you remember the name of the restaurant he visited there?

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4378 posts

Sorry, I was replaying the recorded episode, and updated some details, above, before I saw your follow-up request, Becky. Please let me know if you want particulars about other places in the episode. The Trastevere part reminds me of our great stay back near Christmastime in 2012, and it’s really time to go revisit, when that can happen!

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2498 posts

Becky- Do you have On Demand? I have watched the episodes on both CNN & On Demand.

Wish we had made a stop in Minori on our Southern Italy tour a few years ago! Next time!
Thanks for sharing your experience there.

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2498 posts

Sempre- on demand is an Xfinity service & available for free for X1 & Flex customers. Thanks for asking. ;) xfinity.com for further information.

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31216 posts

I watched two "repeat" episodes tonight and enjoyed them both. I believe there will be a new episode tomorrow night covering Bologna, and I'm looking forward to that.

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1811 posts

We stayed in Minori 2 nights and ended up eating at Sal de Riso
several times. In addition to great pastries, they have excellent
salads and appertivi.

We've never stopped there but our SITA bus from Amalfi-town back to Salerno paused to pick up people in either Maiori or Minori on a beautiful late afternoon in March. Whichever town it was, on the narrow strip of land between the shore road & the cliff wall down to the sea there was a gorgeous little park, with a multicolored mosaic piazza. Families with strollers and young children were playing, and this idyllic setting under that late winter sun made me smile, still does.

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2498 posts

I have to admit that I have watched the episodes a couple of times. So many memories of Italy. Tucci’s passion comes through in each episode. Looking forward to Bologna!

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4378 posts

Boy, the Bologna/Parma episode was another winner. Each episode is Stanley Tucci going from one location to another, tasting an exquisite ingredient or preparation, then his face radiating ecstatic bliss, as he describes just how perfect it tastes. He clearly won’t be disappointed by anything he tastes in this series. The breathtaking views, and charming and intriguing people he meets, are wonderful, too.

Our trip to Emilia-Romagna, scheduled for late September of this year, is still on, and will hopefully happen. The magnificent TV footage is helping to keep the travel dreams at the forefront.

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4378 posts

Episode by episode, Stanley has visited intriguing places. Sometimes he gives the name of the place, or at least the name of the person introducing him to the experience. Sometimes it’s just a first name, and sometimes things are said too fast for me to catch the first time. I’ve rewound and replayed footage many times (DVR is sure great for that), and sometimes frozen the screen, to attempt to catch the name on a smock or apron, to identify a chef or place.

Tonight’s Milan/Lombardia/Lake Como installment was another winner, over before I realized an hour had passed. We froze the screen again, to try to catch the name of the cheese place, with the 12 year old wheels, which appeared on the cheese master’s apron. The credits at the end don’t seem to provide an easy list for reference. Turns out that CNN has a listing of every place, and maybe these will become bigger hits, with tourist throngs in the future:
https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/stanley-tucci-searching-for-italy-restaurants/index.html

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2498 posts

Thanks Cyn for sharing the link that highlights episode-by-episode. Very helpful! I too found myself replaying footage & taking notes to identify a chef or place.

I agree, every episode has been a winner. I always look forward to each regions cuisine as well as Tucci’s sincere connection with everyone he meets. I especially wanted to try the lunch he enjoyed at the Missoni home! His frequent “Oh my Gawd” makes me smile. His enthusiasm is contagious. Looking forward to Tuscany next week!

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47 posts

The series is awesome. Last night we watched the episode on Milano and my wife's cousin mentioned Big Night (which someone referenced earlier). My wife and I both remembered the movie fondly; we also remembered it as incredibly sad. Mambo Italiano by Rosemary Clooney (George's Aunt) is one of those songs that will just stick in your head. Good luck with that! But I don't want to give away anything to anyone who hasn't seen it.

I totally digress, but anyone visiting MIlano has to LEISURELY check out Stazione Centrale - - Mussolini's megalomaniacal train station. It's eye candy and one of the biggest stations in Europe.

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1549 posts

In case it wasn't mentioned, CNN has picked up the show for another season. So probably 6 more.

If you're enjoying Stanley, I highly recommend a similar British travel show hosted by Alex Polizzi, who comes from Italian stock and whose family were big in the hospitality biz in the UK. She also speaks Italian and has a great personality and enthusiasm. And does a whole episode on Le Marche. It's called Secret Italy, available on the Youtube.

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2498 posts

Phred-Thanks so much for the good news! How wonderful that CNN has picked up the series for 2022. It doesn't surprise me. It's been an amazing series. In the words of Tucci- "Oh my Gawd!" Thanks also for the heads up on the British Show!

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1811 posts

I totally digress, but anyone visiting MIlano has to LEISURELY check
out Stazione Centrale - - Mussolini's megalomaniacal train station.
It's eye candy and one of the biggest stations in Europe.

'Eye candy', Bradley?! I suppose, in a way. Architecturally, it's over the top, in a way that Roma Termini station never could be. And it's true that both stations have their freak-a-zoid quotient. But although I 'people-watchingly' enjoyed my 2 hours in Milano Centrale waiting for our train to Florence, I was told upfront that it's one scary SOB from a pickpocketing and scam standpoint, and we kept uber-vigilant the entire time. Heck, I was told that there were ultraviolet lights in the latrines (3 Euro to enter) to discourage addicts from coming in there to inject themselves, in that apparently the UV lights make it difficult to see one's veins.

But it's necessary human consolidation hub, and I'm certain I'll be through there again on our next trip, hopefully in April 2022, a train journey starting in Zurich, ending in Rome.

I will say that Tucci did a fine job on the Milano episode, cementing the thought in my mind that one can find interesting stuff anywhere in Italy, if you look hard enough.

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4378 posts

Transferring trains in Milan years ago, the platform was unbearably hot. OK, I survived the experience, and while I didn’t have a thermometer to record the temperature, we still refer to the Milano Centrale station as the Hottest Place on Earth.

If Tucci’s passing thru there while getting to another filming location, maybe he can stop by a food counter for a quickie Oh My God tasting. It would certainly beat a bag of something from a vending machine.

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2498 posts

Bradley- I digress. I too remember the "Mambo Italiano" version by Rosemary Clooney as a young girl. I don't believe her nephew George was born yet. lol. I also recall "Dino's" rendition in the 50's. OMG!! Let's not forget Sophia Loren dancing to the song in the film "Scandal in Sorrento" aka "Pane, Amore" in 1955. Ok, that's my trivia for today. I found all versions on YouTube. Now I can't get it out of my head.

Posted by
1811 posts

If Tucci’s passing thru there while getting to another filming
location, maybe he can stop by a food counter for a quickie Oh My God
tasting. It would certainly beat a bag of something from a vending
machine.

Cyn--

I do remember wandering upstairs at Milano Centrale for something to eat just to pass some time, and we settled into what could only be described as an Italian version of Pizza Hut. Dirty tables, distracted workers, substandard fare. Geez, you didn't see that on Tucci's show...

Although I do love to wander European train stations in search of interesting food (the Swiss absolutely rock at this) I remember feeling that if this is the first view of Italy that one has--and that's gotta be the case for some, as this station is a gateway of sorts--they'd turn around and never return!

Posted by
1549 posts

Rick said on one of his podcasts that when he and a friend were doing their first tour of Italy, they walked out of the train station in Naples, saw the crazy mass of people and insanity, and turned around and went to Greece! And he didn't go back for several years.

BTW, Milan's train station was patterned after Union Station in Washington DC, but then Il Duce took it up to 11.

Posted by
5639 posts

maybe he can stop by a food counter for a quickie Oh My Gawd tasting. . . . "

Am I the only one who thinks there should be a drinking game while watching the show - a glass of regionally appropriate wine every time he says "Oh My Gawd"?

Posted by
6535 posts

I really like Stanley Tucci as an actor, but this show just made me sad. He is so.damn.boring compared to Anthony Bourdain. It just made me miss Anthony Bourdain even more, and to realize how much the Travel Channel hit it out of the park with Bourdain. Of course, Bourdain is definitely not everyone's cup of tea (and he repels many people for sure), but he had so much more persona than "oh my Gawd"....so, aside from the beautiful scenery and great food, this show just doesn't do it for me like No Reservations. I know it's like comparing apples and oranges ....two different shows and personalities and audiences, probably not too much overlap.

Posted by
1549 posts

Yes Stanley is very low key and laid back, he could use someone's help coming up with different and more expressive ways of describing what he's eating. It's great to love it, but this is TV and you have to sell it.

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12085 posts

Stan, that's hilarious. Count me in for the game!

Milano Centrale....
The 2nd largest of The Boot's train stations definitely made an impression on us! In addition to the wonderful architecture, we had one of the best gelatos we'd had in Italy (on recommendation from a local) from a kiosk snuggled up against an exterior wall of the station. Been a fixture in Milan since 1937!

https://gelateriasartori.it

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4378 posts

Since Stanley is “Searching for Italy,” even though he’s clearly already there, and as another season of the series is forthcoming, maybe he’ll be looking for Italy in some other manifestations of the country and its cultures. He could put on a t-shirt and leather jacket, get some tattoos, hop on a motorcycle for part of the show, and mingle with badasses, instead of spending time talking with chefs and tasting their wares. He’s played rough guys, but he was ... ACTING (say it dramatically), and he’s letting the food and location shine in this program. Let’s see what happens on Sicily in 3 days!

By the way, I’d intended to use Gawd upthread, and spellcheck or something must’ve turned it into God. Stanley’s reverence for what he’s been tasting is clear though, so Stanley is taking us all along on his food/drink pilgrimage, and not really making the show mostly about himself. He’s still around, too, and that has to count for something!

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2498 posts

@Kathy, OH MY GAAWWD!! That Gelato looks wonderful!

Cyn, I liked your description of Tucci with tattoos, and riding around on a motorcycle! ;)

My take on Tucci- I think he has a dry sense of humor. I recall when he was in Florence and took the glass of wine from the tiny window- he said to the gal he was with, “I think wine tastes better coming through a window.” And with a straight face you could see a little twinkle in his eye.

Thanks everyone for sharing. I am enjoying the humor. On to Tuscany Sunday!

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4378 posts

Well, tonight’s Tuscany episode was spectacular!

Wine passed thru a window is always better, as Stanley noted - you’re right, Janis! And when he wanted a second glass, it was because his first was empty! What other reason was needed?

So how does one get olive branches here in the middle of the USA, for grilling under steaks as thick as a matchstick is long?

Unsalted Florentine bread, compared to cardboard in the show. I’ve been known to put salt on mine - lol.

And my memory of the Sant'Ambrogio Market in Florence, was not stepping behind the meat counter, as Stanley was allowed to do. But at the back, there were two fishmongers, across the aisle from each other. They were both taking orders, and cutting and wrapping fish as fast as anyone possibly could. There was a line at each counter. It appeared that customers had a particular favorite, and would only go to that one supplier, never the other. But each one had their devotees, so you could argue that each was the best!

Can’t wait for next week’s episode - Sicily!

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2498 posts

Agree, Tuscany episode was another winner! Especially enjoyed the segment in Livorno that featured the Chickpea flour "pancake." One of my favorite street food is Torta Di Ceci. It's tasty, economical, nutritious, & easy to eat as a snack on the move. We also enjoyed this type of pancake in Nice. It's known as Socca there. I have not prepared it at home but I am looking forward to making the easy recipe. While searching recipes it was recommended to use a cast iron pan or pizza pan. I located a couple of recipes- NYT and Bob's Red Mill. I will try Bob's Red Mill Chickpea Flour.

Can hardly wait for the Sicilia episode next Sunday!

Posted by
1660 posts

Recommend the Netflix series Medici the Magnificent. It’s a fun (if not always accurate) glimpse into Florence during the Renaissance.

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3444 posts

Olive trees are grown in many places in the US. We have them here in Tucson, but there are some issues with allergies.

Here's a little article about that: https://earthviewblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/more-for-olive-us-are-olives-arizonas-new-cash-crop/

I saw that Florentine steak and thought that we should get a grill. I think I could probably get some olive tree prunings locally. There are lots of old olive trees on the grounds of the Tucson Mall.

Here's an article that also might give some hints for other sources: https://www.afar.com/magazine/americas-tuscany-9-amazing-olive-oil-orchards-to-visit-in-the-us

And you could grow your own -- in pots:
https://www.gardenguides.com/124174-olive-trees-denver.html

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47 posts

This forum is helping me get through the pandemic! I am enjoying everyone's comments almost as much as watching the show. Next Sunday in Sicilia: I can hardly wait.

Regarding my love of Milano Centrale - - I am so pleased that others enjoy train stations as much as I do. Check out the link to 20 Of the Most Beautiful Train Stations From Around the Globe

https://www.thetravel.com/20-of-the-most-beautiful-train-stations-from-around-the-globe/

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2498 posts

Becky- Thanks for recommending the Netflix séries Medici the Magnificent!

Lo- How nice to have Olive Trees in your home town. I think Olive Trees are absolutely beautiful. We have appreciated seeing them in our travels, as well as enjoying the fruit and the oil!

Bradley George- I echo your sentiments. The forum is helping us get through the Pandemic! I too love train stations! Thanks so much for sharing the link. Two of my favorites were Porto Sãn Bento and Madrid Atocha. Funny story about Atocha- We were walking outside and my husband walked over an air vent. His baseball cap shot up in the air over 10 ft.! So glad I wasn’t wearing a skirt that day! It could have been a Marilyn Monroe moment gone bad. ;) The last European train station we visited was Budapest Keleti in 2019. Beautiful eclectic architecture & gorgeous Frescoes. Glad we had time to snap some photos before heading to Vienna. Hope to see Milano station someday!

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3444 posts

Next time you're driving on I-5 in CA, be sure to take a break at the Corning Rest Stop south of Red Bluff and north of Orland. Lots of gnarled old olive trees there.

This is a link to it with lots of pictures.

Posted by
12085 posts

Netflix séries Medici the Magnificent!

Great eye candy but I'd do some reading-up on the facts. Let's just say that while it illustrated the influence of the Medici on the culture of Florence, the series over-romanticized, fictionalized and/or edited the story.

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222 posts

Will Stanley feature any of Palermo's popular street food eateries in next week's Sicilian episode? Palermo has a number of no-name, quasi-legal family-operated restaurants that feature mostly outdoor seating. The quality varies, believe me. Some are in the old Khalsa district. Street cred would be gained by any series such as Stanley's if they were to dine there.

Also, the Sicilian promo collage included a brief clip of what appeared to be a meal being consumed in an elegant, historic palazzo presumably in Palermo. In fact, the nephew of the author who wrote the classic Sicilian period-piece novel 'The Leopard' inherited his palazzo and now operates it in part, as a series of rental apartments. If memory serves, he is actually The Duke of Alba. His wonderful wife, the Duchess, is a former Venetian who offers additional cooking classes not to be missed! Frankly, she is the real reason to book there. We stayed twice and had a fantastic experience--earthquake included free of charge.
We'll see in next Sunday's episode whether it is the same same family.

Tucci showed different forms of panzarella.
Best. Panzarella. Ever. is available @ tiny 'Bottega di Assu' in Bevagna, Umbria. We lunched there every other day for nearly 2 weeks and rarely ordered anything other than her incredible panzarella.

I am done. The end.

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2498 posts

Gregg- your experience in Palermo piqued my interest. We were supposed to be there last September (independent tour). I suspect that you were referring to Palazzo Federico? If so, the RS Sicily Tour hosts a welcome dinner there. Sounds like a memorable experience.

“Oh my Gawd.” Panzanella! My fav. I just had to look up Bevagna, Umbria and Bottega di Assu. Like you, if we find a restaurant we enjoy we will eat there multiple times. This am I found an article that reviewed Bottega Di Assu. It was described as a “tiny, shabby-chic spot, with a handful of tables.” “Inside, bookshelves crowded with books & bottles of wine line the walls and every spare inch of space is decorated with vintage posters and photos.” “The crowd is mostly locals, some visitors.” That said, it sounds like our type of restaurant & town! Did you stay in the town for 2 weeks & do day trips? Agriturismo?

We must have passed by Bevagna from Assisi, Spoleto & Gubbio when we were in Umbria.

Thanks for sharing. We always enjoy your reports! Photos?
Grazie.

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222 posts

What follows is lengthy and those uninterested in Sicily and Bevagna should probably skip it.
Janis,
The place where we stayed was not Federico, rather it was a similar palazzo on Butera, see 'Butera 28'. The 2 palazzos seem to be like peas in a pod. Once during our cooking class, the Duchess sent me (it was a command, not a request) to go to a different floor in search of her forgotten kitchen tool. It was thrilling to get an unguarded glimpse of a genuine palazzo, so seeing as it was not urgent, I took my time. By design, I wanted to take the piss out of the duchess, with whom we'd already established a great repoire. I returned to her crowded kitchen scratching my head in exaggerated mock frustration while holding not the fine instrument that she'd asked for, but instead a crude, aged hammer that I'd found along the way. Mouths went agape til I finally produced her desired tool from my pocket.
Good times.

We had great luck also in Bevagna, in that our 2 weeks unexpectedly coincided with an overlapping trio of festive events. Also, the surrounding daytrip selection was among the best-ever: Trevi, Montefalco, Spoleto, Spello, Assisi and more.
*Those fests included a Labor Day celebration, including their first-ever international food fair. Tents representing a wide range of cuisines were spread throughout the little town. As well, it was the annual Communion for tweeners, which included both daytime and nocturnal religious processions. The third celebration was live TV coverage of the town's soccer club being interviewed en masse seated in the main square. The MC-interviewer was Miss Bevagna. She wore the tiniest black minidress that we'd ever seen, and the blatant display of her sexuality was so at odds with the profound Catholicism during the earlier Communion (e.g. no talking allowed during the night procession) that we could see Italian culture's wide variety.

Btw1, the gal who owns Assu is actually named Assu. Her adult daughter runs a larger, more upscale restaurant in a nearby alley.
Btw2, yes we gots plenty of fotos of both above trips but right now I am focusing instead on rendering shots from our Greek isles voyage back in 2014: Patmos, Samos, Folegandros and Santorini. We plan to include them in a TR eventually. Those interested in Bevagna may want to Google the amazing portrait that NG superstar photographer Steve McCurry shot a decade ago, of a beautiful local model dressed in historic clothing at the town's annual medieval fest tourist event. Steve claimed that the photo was 'done spontaneously', but whatever, the result was spectacular and is shown on the town's promo poster (Assu gave us a used copy which we later had picture-plaqued).

I am done. The end.

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188 posts

@gregglamarsh
Very funny your comments about Italian Culture variety.
If you understand Italian, I suggest to listen the song "Bocca di Rosa" by Fabrizio De Andrè. It summarize very well both aspect of the Italian culture: the mix of religiousness and fondness for physical beauty. In fact is even well represented even by art: for exmple the great sexuality in some Caravaggio's religious paintings.

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2498 posts

Gregg,
Once again another great trip report! Appreciated your details and hilarious story with the Duchess. How nice to have enjoyed the unexpected festive events, including Miss Bevagna!

OMG! Thanks for mentioning Steve McCurry and "Sensational Umbria." His photos are incredible! He is a genius. The photo of the local model in Bevagna was exquisite. Over the years he has captured the human connection between all of us.

Thanks for making my day!

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1811 posts

Sicily will be a real test for Stanley. If he stays in Palermo or Taormina the whole time, I won't be happy. We've been only once--1st trip abroad--and not knowing any better, we stayed in Taormina & environs the whole five days after flying into Catania from Rome.

Fortunately, we had employed the folks at Sicily Life, who took us to the mountain villages around Etna (Bronte pistachios!) and the medieval towns close by, including Savoca, which was the setting for Corleone in The Godfather movies. Other scenes were shot in Forza D'Agro & Castelmola, which we saw, in addition to an underground crypt where the town's hierarchy--after death--were embalmed, stuffed, painted, dressed in their finest garb & stood up in alcoves in this museum of sorts. One of the strangest things I've ever seen.

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2498 posts

According to the Forbes article I read yesterday, “the finale, a foray to Sicily will not disappoint.” We shall see. One of the towns that Tucci visits was on our itinerary for a day trip last September. We shall see if it’s worth the stop on a future journey.

Jay, like you we stayed in Taormina, but only for two nights in 2014. We had a good experience. Our guide lived there and arranged our cooking class, knew the town merchants and the restaurants. The best Arancini and Caponata!

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1811 posts

Jay, like you we stayed in Taormina, but only for two nights in 2014.
We had a good experience. Our guide lived there and arranged our
cooking class, knew the town merchants and the restaurants. The best
Arancini and Caponata!

Same here, thanks to the guide. Janis, was your cooking class with Angelo Longo, formerly of Licchio's, then Rosso Peperoncino? We shopped in the morning at the tiny Mercato Comunale (which was in what seemed like a garage), then went back to cook exotic stuff like sweet & sour tuna, shrimp with pistachios, caponata in which every vegetable was fried individually in tons of hot oil, then pan-fried. Italians don't mind using a lot of oil to fry!

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2498 posts

Jay,
No, it was a different cooking class. It was with Chef Massimo. We also stopped at the Mercado to get all our ingredients. We made Pasta, Caponata (drenched in oil), & fried fish. Let’s say our arteries were well coated! Our tour chef ordered Cannoli from her favorite bakery for dessert. Wonderful.

That evening we were on our own for dinner, so a few of us went out for a light meal to the recommended Da Cristina for the best Arancini we had in Sicily. We stood outside and literally savored every last bite. As Tucci would say OMG! or it “melts in your mouth...”

We started our Culinary Tour in Southern Italy & ended in Sicily. Our guide and Master Chef (originally from Naples) tag team on yearly tours (before the Pandemic of course).

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222 posts

Kathy McCabe's 'Dream of Italy' series is another that folks who've been enjoying Tucci might pursue. This week's episode was Piedmont. Cutest moment: during a white truffle auction in Alba, one well-heeled bidder was shown holding his pet daschund, which had its own customized tuxedo. Corny I know but still...
David Rocco's series also just aired, this time his Bologna episode. One bar shown remains the oldest in town (older than Colombus' famed discovery by 30 years), a unique place where one may bring one's own food---none is served there, not even water. Another moment: Rocco interviews a group of local buskers who claim that until just 2 yrs ago, the city had been experiencing a kind of wild west battle between competing musicians trying for turf in town.

I am done. the end.

Posted by
1811 posts

Gregg--

We finally broke down and bought a Roku (think it was only $40+ on Amazon, and there are subscriptions if you can't cadge off family & friends!), got it hooked up and mon Dieu, the travel program choices! Granted, some are subtitled and others are fair-to-middling quality & content, but we've been enjoying Dream of Italy with Kathy McCabe. But moreso I've been re-visiting British chef Rick Stein's shows, which are definitely, obviously more food-centric. Last night viewed a show on Sardinia, Sicily & Puglia, and what depth & camerawork.

Stein's been doing this awhile, so I don't know how I'll like the non-HD episodes--yes, I've become way spoilt--but Stein, even more than McCabe, Tucci, Bourdain, Zimmern, et al, strive to find untold stories, which is saying something for a celebrity chef that doesn't immediately seek out those of his own ilk.

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2498 posts

Grazie Gregg & Jay for your recommendations. Sounds like a great way to continue our Italy fix post Tucci!

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222 posts

Jay, that sounds like quite the variety to choose from. You seem to have made a good investment, yeah?
Today Rocco did Genoa--not every day that we all get to see footage of the Genoese. A large part of the show involved Luvia, a talented folk musician (think early Joni Mitchell) who doubles as a community leader within the grittiest working-class neighbourhood in an already-gritty city. *The onliest thing that Rocco's shows seem to lack in comparison, is the tech quality of the cameras themselves. Tucci's production values are about the same as Bourdain's and we've all gotten spoiled to expect similar quality on other series. One wonders whether anyone has ever mentioned this aspect to Rocco and his producer wife Nina? Is it a budget thing? Is it a post-production editing thing? Can superior cameras be rented/leased? Does any of this tech aspect really matter?

I am done. The series of series.
PS  The Roccos did not mention that MATIA BAZAR were from Genoa!

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4378 posts

Last night’s finale was nice, and it was over before it seemed an hour could’ve passed. It had some unexpected and interesting moments, but frankly, it wasn’t overwhelming. A friend whom I took to Sicily a couple years ago was disappointed that Agrigento, and its Greek history wasn’t included. Tourist hotspots, like Taormina, weren’t in the episode, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing, getting off the somewhat beaten path, and presenting scenes that will be unique for many viewers.

The show started off with Stanley on the train-ferry, and savoring an Aroncino. Breaking it open for the camera to take it all in, it truly looked luscious. Maybe that should’ve been enough for the whole episode to be spectacular!

Then he was at a Michelin-starred restaurant, with a clearly talented, innovative chef. Stanley exclaimed, “Gawddam!” so the dish was certainly delicious, and he was perhaps being edgier than a simple Oh My Gawd would’ve depicted.

The winemaking woman who tackled a male-dominated industry right out of college certainly has produced results. The suggestion that Sicilian wine is too “bold,” and that her wines were lighter and thus better was a surprise. His venture off the Sicilian mainland and discussion about migrants’ efforts and tragedies added a twist to the food-focused emphasis of the series. Immigration themes were a part of the program, and the enormous plate of Nigerian rice certainly looked tempting. The princess and her family offered a bit of contrast to the message about how so many in Sicily have struggled, but then food and hospitality remain a Sicilian common denominator.

This episode covered more territory than the others, so that may have made it tougher to cram in too much in a half-hour episode. Sicily alone could make up a 6-part series. He’s got a lot more of Italy available for future episodes, when filming can happen, and we’ll certainly be tuned in for another season.

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796 posts

Huh I thought he was going to travel to reach region not just these few. So he'll do other seasons to complete them all?

Posted by
2498 posts

Hi Donna,
It is my understanding that the series has been picked up for another season in 2022. Something to look forward to.

Posted by
5639 posts

It was a nice surprise to see the timbale dishes at the princess' dinner. For those of you who have not seen Tucci's wonderful film "Big Night" the timbalo had a significant role to play in the story, so it was great to see a call back to the film.

Posted by
2498 posts

I really enjoyed the Sicily episode last evening. I thought each area showcased the Sicilian dishes that reflected the mix of people that have conquered Sicily over the centuries. I was happy to see Tucci enjoy the Arancini. His version was meat, rice and peas. My favorite is Eggplant with cheese and rice. It melts in your mouth. I was pleased to get a glimpse of Bagheria. It was on our list to stop there last September on our way to Cefalu.

On our first trip to Sicily in 2014 we spent 5 nights in Ortigia. We were hoping Tucci would have stopped there. We did visit Ragusa on a day trip which is close to Vittoria (province of Ragusa.) We enjoyed the story of the artisanal winemaker Arianna Occhipinti who decided to return home to her family vineyards to make organic wines. Good for her! This is one of the oldest winemaking regions in Italy. Nice wines.

The visit to Palermo to dine with the Princess and her family was a nice tribute to the timballo that many may remember from Tucci's starring role in the film "Big Night," 1996. (Mentioned by Stan up thread)

I especially appreciated when Tucci visited Lampedusa. The salsa verde looked wonderful and the Sarde a becccafico as well. I was glad they discussed immigration and how Sicily is one of the most migrant-friendly nations in Europe. It adds to its rich palette of many cultures and cuisine.

We were also planning to revisit Catania. The Pasta alla Norma is one of our favorite dishes there. What a perfect way to end the series with a heartwarming visit to a family who foster migrant orphans in their home. OMG!! I could have eaten the whole bowl of Plantains in addition to the Rice with peas and shrimp.

Cyn, I agree, Sicily alone could make up a 6-part series! Looking forward to season two.

Posted by
222 posts

'Dear Stanley,
We hope that you and yours are doing well. Just wanted to offer our services as location scouts for the next episodes of your wonderful 'Searching for Italy' series. '

signed,
all above posters

Posted by
2498 posts

I accept this offer on behalf of Stanley Tucci.
I am done. The end.

Posted by
31216 posts

I also really enjoyed the Sicily episode, and will also enjoy watching all the reruns. My visit to Sicily was the first time I've tried Pasta alla Norma and that was one of my favourites.

I also enjoyed watching Stanley prepare dinner for his crew (Milan episode?). I'm not sure what he prepared, but it looked good!

Posted by
1811 posts

Not that my humble opinion matters one whit to Msr. Tucci, but I think he did a great job overall. I may have to order one of his cookbooks.

Only once did I see him visit a chef or guide I've seen in other travel series. That was in the Tuscany episode, when he talks with white-haired Fabio Picchi, who was featured in Season 1 of Phil Rosenthal's damn good series 'I'll Have What Phil's Having'. There, Picchi hosts Phil & his wife, actress Amy Horan, at his dinner theatre, which to me bordered on over-the-top Italian stereotypes, the 'bellissimo!' to clueless tourists by mustachioed waiters kind of thing I can't stand when visiting the homeland. I've seen this 2 or 3 times in my visits to Florence--only there & actually nowhere else in my travels--and I love, love, love Firenze except for that aspect.

Actually, there are similarities between the two shows--camerawork is superb on both, but kinda sorta both hosts are a little too effusive with their praise overall, Rosenthal almost to the point of sounding like the village idiot. At least Bourdain (No Reservations/Parts Unknown)--who had ultimate creative control from CNN--was honest when relating he was pissed off, hungover or even 'stopped up'. Can't imagine Tucci disclosing anything like that to his viewers.

Here is a cool link to details on Tucci's visits for each of the 6 episodes. My highlights? La Scoglio and Sal de Riso (Naples/Amalfi Coast), his visit to Rimini (Bologna), Osteria del Treno (Milan), Florence's Mercato Centrale (Tuscany).

https://www.italofile.com/searching-for-italy-stanley-tucci-season-1/

Posted by
47 posts

I watched Big Night again yesterday. It was even sadder than I remember. However, I am wondering who I have to kill to enjoy a big slice of timbalo? IF we go to Liguria and Tuscany this July, it's going to be the holy grail.

Posted by
1727 posts

I need to find Big Night, I didn’t see it originally when it first was released in the 90’s.
I’m thoroughly enjoying his series Searching for Italy. Each show is different and very engaging. Love it!

Posted by
12085 posts

OK, Panzanella....
Does anyone have a fave personal or website recipe that someone who has a kitchen 'cuz it came with the house can make?
Light on the garlic?

Yes, my fine foodie friend Jay, you can laugh at me.

Posted by
1811 posts

Kate, laugh at you?! Nope, we would laugh with you...

Geez, it doesn't look that hard to make. Ina Garten's recipe looks decent, which uses no garlic. Love the sweet/sour aspect of the basil and capers:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/panzanella-recipe-1944317

I think the key is for all the ingredients to be fresh, crisp and tasteful. I'd almost wait until you are guaranteed some tasty tomatoes, since they are the cornerstone. And I think you want the bread to be somewhere between fresh Italian & croutons in texture, to hold up to the dressing & not get sogged-out. Two-day old?

Posted by
2498 posts

Kathy & Jay,
If I may interject- I can attest to Ms Ina Garten’s Panzanella Salad. It is my summer go-to when the tomatoes are at their peak. I think the capers are the key ingredient. I also like a light Balsamic Vinegar dressing as well. Jay, so true- fresh crisp vegetables and add the croutons at the end with vinaigrette.

Ina’s salad recipes are great. My favorite Fall Salad is Roasted Butternut Squash salad with warm Cider Vinaigrette. Wonderful.

Edit: FYI, I like Paul Newman’s light Balsamic Vinegar. As far as garlic I use Penzeys minced garlic. Excellent substitute for fresh. Not bitter!

Posted by
1683 posts

My husband and I are loving the Stanley Tucci show. Yes, he is very different from Anthony and Phil Rosenthal (who I also love on Somebody Feed Phil), but I appreciate the differences. Food + travel is a winning combo!
We are headed to Chicago in June and can’t wait to visit several of the restaurants featured on Somebody Feed Phil. Now, we need to go to Italy to eat too!

Posted by
12085 posts

Geez, it doesn't look that hard to make.

Yeah right. Understand that I can screw up Jello, for Pete's sake.
It looks achievable, though, even for me. Thank you!

Can I bizbag the garlic in the vinaigrette? Looks like a LOT.
Ooooh Janis... Want me some Butternut Squash salad! When's dinner? 😉

Posted by
2498 posts

Kathy, you can absolutely decrease the garlic. I use less garlic myself. I think Ina goes a little overboard with salt, so I decrease to taste. Enjoy the salads!

Posted by
1811 posts

Kate, I hereby authorize & sanction you to cut the garlic down to a quarter-teaspoon, or eliminate it altogether--maybe a dash of garlic salt instead. Really, I'm not a big fan of raw garlic in stuff, and this is coming from an Italian. Cooked, where I can toast it and get out the bitterness, fine.

In lieu of making a dressing altogether, you would do well with Brianna's Home Style Blush Wine Viniagrette. And if you have some of that dark, syrupy, really good balsamic vinegar, drizzle a little bit of that as well.

Posted by
8008 posts

Well....these were finally showing at a time that is before my bedtime,lol. Caught Tuscany, Milano and Sicily. They are so good!

I can't believe how much butter is being used!

I wanted the recipe for the fried rice dish the Nigerian lady made for the table. It looked delicious.

Janis...thank you for posting this way back when!

Posted by
12085 posts

More thanks are in order, Jay and Janis. Especially appreciate the shortcut tips!
Garlic: I've no idea why so many U.S. Italian restaurants & recipes of all sorts load so much of the stuff. Maybe I'm especially sensitive to it but, IMHO, a little can go a long way.

Posted by
796 posts

I too love Ina Garten's Panzanella recipe. It is one of my favorite things to introduce people to. (bad grammar there)

As for Mr. Tucci. I did watch the shows and enjoyed the travel but still not convinced he's a great host. Sicily was sure a great episode. It's the only region he has highlighted so far that we haven't visited yet so it gave us a nice overview.

Posted by
2498 posts

Thanks all for adding your comments to this thread. It’s been fun sharing! I think many of us have appreciated his personal journey & inspired us to embrace his purpose- sample the culture, history & cuisine. It’s series like these that inspire us to travel to places we have not experienced or perhaps revisit.

Posted by
2498 posts

Kathy,
I was searching for some recipes we made on our Tuscany Culinary Tour a number of years ago. Lo and behold I found the Panzanella recipe! And guess what, no garlic in the vinaigrette!

Posted by
12085 posts

Wonderful, Janis! I'll just leave it out of Ina's recipe. :O)

Posted by
1811 posts

I was searching for some recipes we made on our Tuscany Culinary Tour
a number of years ago. Lo and behold I found the Panzanella recipe!
And guess what, no garlic in the vinaigrette!

I must dig through my files and find records of our 3 cooking classes--in Taormina, Greve-in-Chianti, and Salerno. All different from each other, all wonderful. That's where I really connected with the Tucci series. His conviviality is his strength, and my wife keeps saying 'he's SO cute!'. Yeah, I tell her, he was real cute in the Hunger Games!

But cooking classes, the more private and less touristy the better, are what helps us connect on these trips. Gotta find a perfect one in Rome for the next journey, a year from April.

Posted by
1549 posts

here's a "famous" cooking class in Ravello, it seems a little slick for me but Alex seemed to enjoy it.

And if you like this taste of Alex, make sure to watch the Secret Italy series. It's similar to Stanley's series but she's more, shall we say, effusive. And I thought her dining in Naples looked better than Mr. Tucci.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRR2THwps4I

Posted by
2498 posts

Thanks pfred for sharing Alex’s series. Looking forward to revisiting some of the areas featured.

Posted by
796 posts

Thanks for the tip about Alex Pollizi - we have watched her Italy series and now are onto Spain. I find her very delightful and fun to watch. I'd pick her over Tucci as a travel partner for sure.

Posted by
4378 posts

OK, since cooking classes have been discussed in this thread, I’m tacking on this information:

Frequent Travel Forum contributor Bets started a new topic, about virtual cooking classes. The thread title says French, but Italian (naturally) came up in responses, as well. I responded with some details about Zoom classes my husband and I - and over a hundred others - have been taking during the pandemic, and there’s even a free easy Flour Gnocchi class this Saturday, April 3 - 1:30pm Eastern Daylight Time. Chicca Maione does great recipes, the classes are tremendous, and there’s even a cooking club with a great deal on 6 classes. Details in my posting here:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/hungry-for-french-food

Posted by
222 posts

Tonight's David Rocco 'Rome' episode included a visit just like Tucci's, to that same women's prison-farm where the inmates make artisanal cheese.
I am done. The end.

Posted by
1811 posts

I may have mentioned it upthread, but I have become enthralled with British chef Rick Stein's Mediterranean Escapes: https://www.amazon.com/Rick-Steins-Mediterranean-Escapes/dp/B08FRP9HMV

Each of the 6 episodes offered on Amazon Prime are well-fleshed out & beautifully-shot, especially considering it was filmed in 2007, with 15 years less technology. As one reviewer said, one learns about the history and culture through the food. I've seen the first 4--Corsica, Sardinia, Catania/Puglia, and Corfu. Talk about deep dives--I can't count the number of times I said, 'I didn't know that!'

The final two episodes are Mallorca & Morocco, so it is not totally Italo-centric. But definitely worth watching. I've also seen Stein do a Far East Asian series that is fabulous as well.

Posted by
222 posts

So tonight was the Calabria episode of the series 'Gino's Italian Coastal Escape', our first glimpse on TLN network. He showed his wry sense of humour here and there. That and showing good footage of Tropea, kept this from being yet-another chef-in-southern-Europe affair. His good nature and lack of pretense add value as well. Looking forward to his future episodes.

I am done. The red Tropean onion.

Posted by
222 posts

David Rocco's Rome and Venice episodes turned out to be 2-parters each. Tonight's 'part two' Venice focused on Giudecca and Mazzorbo, plus a tour of the old Dorsoduro 'squero' boatyard where gondolas are made.
His young family was evident throughout almost all of tonight's showing and their enthusiasm made things even better.
Good to see these series acknowledging lesser-known places throughout.
Bravo!
I am done. the gondola

Posted by
2498 posts

Thanks Gregg for sharing the programs- "The Tropean Onion" & "Gondola." Always nice to hear from you. Keep us posted!

Posted by
222 posts

Along the same lines, the 'Magnifica Italia' series from 2006-09, is available on YouTube in their full 55 min. formats. Current showings on TV seem to chip those same episodes in half. For example, today's TV episode on Emilia Romagna left out Bologna, plus other locales.
This series probably predated drone travel footage, so one assumes that the impressive aerial footage was done by helicopter. Superb editing throughout, with just enough on-the-ground coverage ('Giuseppe, shown here in his glass-blowing studio...') to result in a nice balance. The musical soundtrack is a bit over-the-top, all soaring and dramatic emotion, but it certainly supports the fantasy, the illusion.

I am done. the footage

Posted by
222 posts

Was not planning to further top this thread, but just had to after just seeing Kathy McCabe's 'Tuscany' episode. This showing had a very good variety of topics, but it became immediately apparent that she seemed to be using a superior camera crew, waaay better cinematography and production values than previous. So the autumnal scenery really stood out. Bravo!

Worth it just for the visuals alone!

I am done. the fall season in Chianti region