Customs

Tortellini in brodo is a Modena treat

Before I visited Modena, I kept seeing references to the city as the home of stuffed pasta. It made little sense to me, but when I arrived, I discovered that the signature pasta of the region are those diminutive stuffed crowns known as tortellini. (They also serve tortelloni, which are much bigger and go better with tomato sauce.) Specifically, the classic dish of Modena is tortellini in brodo: the little pastas served in a strong chicken broth. Every home cook has a family recipe for the broth—and most people just go to the market and buy terrific fresh tortellini from local producers like Doremilia (www.doremilia.it). I got a chance to see Doremilia's pasta factory in the hill village of Monchio di Palagano, about 45 minutes...Read More

What to buy in a Dublin grocery store

Whenever we visit Dublin, we make sure to enjoy lots of incredible butter and cream since we can't bring any home. (U.S. Customs frowns on such dairy products.) Fortunately there are lots of other good Irish foodstuffs that we can pack in the suitcase. For cheeses, we make our purchases at Sheridans Cheesemongers (see earlier post), but here are some of the things that caught our eye in a neighborhood Dunnes grocery store: Irish soda farls Pat's mother still remembers her own mother, who hailed from Northern Ireland, making soda bread farls in a round pan on the top of the stove. First she would shape the dough into a circle and then cut it crosswise into four pieces, the so-called farls. This style of...Read More

What to bring home from a British grocery store

Whenever I visit a British grocery store I scour the shelves for the most unusual items. But it's really the comfort foods that define a cuisine -- or at least taste like home. That's the lesson I learned from a lovely woman in Leeds who had lived and worked in Taiwan for 15 years. When I asked her what I might want to buy in the city's big Sainsbury grocery store, she immediately rattled off the items that she had most craved during her years abroad. At the end of every visit home, she would pack herself a big care package for her return trip to Taiwan. Here are the foods she couldn't do without: Heinz Tomato Soup. It's ultimate comfort food. Heinz Baked Beanz....Read More

Say cheese in Montreal

The graffito above pretty much says it all. Montrealers love their cheese. We've been in Montreal for most of the last month doing the research for Food Lovers' Guide to Montreal, to be published next spring from Globe Pequot Press. (See our first volume in the series, Food Lovers' Guide to Massachusetts, under the tab ''Some Books.'') We have to admit that we are staggered by the explosion in artisanal cheese-making in Quebec. La Belle Province is beginning to rival La France when it comes to great fromage. Many of Quebec's best cheeses are made from raw milk, but thanks to NAFTA, all Quebec cheeses are allowed into the United States, even though similar cheeses from France might be banned. Gilles Jourdenais, owner of La...Read More