Cereals À La Italienne, By Mara L.

I have been incredibly busy in the last few days, and so I am slower than I like in writing my culinary notes for Jens’ blog. I have been busy for the obvious reason that, finally, the summer is near. This means, the heartwarming life in Italy is near! Not, of course, that departure would be easy. Leaving for more than a few weeks is like moving (including the psychological upheaval of ‘who am I?’, ‘where am I going in life?’, etc.). But more than that, panic is creeping up: I’m not sure that I want to leave. Isn’t Manhattan the only place on earth where one can be oneself? Thus, a time of conflict!

Copyright 2006 Jens Haas

And therefore, a time to remind myself of a part of my life which will fall into place once I am back in Italy: Grancereale biscotti for breakfast. For those of you who don’t know them, these are cereal cookies, from the venerable company Mulino Bianco, part of the omnipresent Barilla Group. How can I live one day without Grancereale? In fact, I can’t! This is the best ‘healthy’ cookie you can possibly think of. Come to think of it, I don’t know how I am getting through all the meals at my desk without my dearly loved Grancereale cookies. (There are a few varieties, but I like to the one that came first, Grancereale Classico.)

If any proof were needed for the obvious truth that Italian cooking is the best in the western hemisphere, I think it could be this: Germans and Swiss have been eating ‘muesli’ for centuries. Italians have certainly never eaten anything like muesli. But with the wake of health-conscious eating, who invents the perfect muesli-cookie? The Italians.

If this blog reaches any bussiness-people out there, here’s an idea: Become the sole importer of Grancereale cookies. If I ever run out of ideas in architecture, this is my back-up plan. It would feel like a ‘good deed’, and I would finally get rich!

Coming up: Manhattan Summer Treats

The Best Fish Restaurant In The World, By Mara L.

In my last entry to Jens’ blog, I imparted a secret well kept by the upper class of Salzburg. And surely, we all need a piece of real cake on first returning to Europe. But we are also dying for the pleasures of getting lost in *summer* (this being a rather vague category, but I trust immediately intuitive to anyone who ever had a summer). For that, we need to travel south, preferably to a place which kills all activity prior to sunset. Say, Sicily. Here, I have a rather adventurous recommendation.

Copyright 2005 Jens Haas

Starting late in the day (unfortunately, it is very hot once you get going), you go to Selinunte, an ancient site at the southwest coastline of Sicily. The remains of the Greek temples are located right at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. For me, Selinunte is the most amazing archeological site on the entire island. The point is to get there just about early enough to still get into the excavation site, but late enough to make this, eventually, a dinner excursion.

Hot as it is, you can only visit the temples for so long. At the eastern side is a small barrier on the road that connects the temples, and from here you walk down to the beach. Now is the time to delay, and perhaps even swim for a bit. Finally, when you can plausibly claim that it’s evening, you walk further east, straight along the beach, until you get to a white-washed wall, behind which (or rather, on top, it is some sort of terrace) you’ll find one of the best (but nicely low-key) fish-restaurants of the island. I certainly don’t want to bore you with references to the Sicilian aristocracy, but this place has been recommended to me—in precisely the above fashion—by an actual prince, or ‘principe’, and it does live up to the recommendation!

All of it, that goes without saying, only works, and has the right kind of feel of total indulgence, if you walk all the way from the temples.

Coming up: Cereals À La Italienne

Raspberry Cake In Salzburg, By Mara L.

When starting this food-series for Jens’ blog, I promised advice for the newly arrived, those who find themselves in New York, painfully aware that there is nothing to eat they like, knowing that one shouldn’t openly say this. But I also promised my most sacred tips for culinary delight in Europe. If you are not among the unlucky ones with regular jobs (is it even possible to leave Europe under such dire conditions?), you are sure to plan your various trips for the next couple of months right now. So this is the moment to impart one of my best-kept secrets.

Rather conveniently in the middle of various attractive places (such as Italy, the alps, Switzerland, etc.) lies Salzburg. Perhaps the Festspiele are too much for you, too much Salzburg, as it were. The exact right amount of Salzburg is provided, I think, by a tasty little piece of cake from one of the tiniest cafés and confiseries in town—outside the tourist’s well-trodden path, but just by a few steps, on the other side of the river, and thus easily in reach: Café Ratzka.

Copyright 2006 Jens Haas

The confiserie, run by a family, refuses to enlarge the business, which caters to Salzburg’s oldest families (and, make no mistake, this means real money, and standards about as high as the most absurd aristocratic pretensions can induce). They refuse to enlarge it because all fruit for their tartes must come from the family *garden*, in order to be just as outstandingly delicious as it could possibly be.

Coming up: The Best Fish Restaurant In The World