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Belcampo Butcher Shop – Santa Monica, CA.

In Nancy's Articles, Poultry On May 31, 2017 0 Comments

A few months ago, I discovered Belcampo Butcher Shop in Santa Monica. When I walked in, I could immediately sense the great welcome I was about to experience. Meet Belcampo’s manager, Charlie.
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Poor Charlie – I whined about how I missed that pure, wild chicken meat that we served at family meals in Italy. Charlie asked me to elaborate and I did. I told him that chicken used to be gamey and you literally had to “pull” the meat off the bone. So he pointed to the fresh chicken breast in the shop’s refrigerated case. Now, poultry doesn’t get any fresher than this. See the chicken stock bones in the background? That’s right – you can make a delicious broth without buying an entire chicken!
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Charlie told me that Belcampo gets poultry from farms where chickens are pasture-raised. This means the birds live on the ground, scratch soil and catch bugs. I learned that any supplemental feed (grains) given to these chickens does not contain GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). They are NOT treated with antibiotics or added growth hormones.

Look at this chicken. Although not plumped-up perfect, its color tells you the meat is healthy. Compare it to chicken we buy at local supermarkets where the chicken meat is yellowish-white (i.e., it’s possibly chlorinated).
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After being educated on good poultry by Charlie, I asked about other food items sold at Belcampo. I was impressed by the sausages. Again, notice their bright pink hue. Yup – they’re super fresh. The eggs are deeply-colored. This is how you can tell the birds are cage-free and forage.

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On a final note, I went home with a Belcampo chicken; I stewed it. It was indeed gamey and I had to pull the meat off the bone – just like the pasture-raised chicken in Italy. I’m so impressed!

Belcampo also carries beef, pork and salumi, as well. Check it out – you’ll love all of it!
Belcampo Restaurant and Butcher Shop
1026 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA. 90401
Tel. 414.744.8008
http://belcampo.com/ask-belcampo/

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Butcher to Table/La Grotte des Fromages, Montreal

In Nancy's Articles On February 10, 2017 0 Comments

Many of you have asked which restaurant serves authentic Italian foods such as the ones I’ve taught in my culinary courses. My latest discovery is in Montreal – Du Boucher à la Table/La Grotte des Fromages (From Butcher to Table). It is a cheese and meat deli that has now become a trattoria. It lets you BYOB without charging a corkage fee. This eatery has cool people, great southern Italian foods and a staff that rocks!

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To start with, the butcher shop next door supplies the restaurant with homemade sausages, salami and prosciutto.
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Keep in mind that Montreal, Quebec is home to two waves of Southern Italian immigrants. Some arrived at the turn of the 20th-century – my grandfather of the region of Molise was part of this group. The second wave, including my Neapolitan father, arrived in the 1950′s.

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The succeeding generations of Italians have cherished the foods they were raised with. One of these dishes is orecchiette with rapini and sausage. At Boucher, prime extra virgin olive oil, homemade sausage and rapini coat each bite of pasta. It doesn’t get more comforting than this on a cold February evening!
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Even non-meat eaters can enjoy the feast here. The tuna tartare is melt-in-your-mouth fresh. No chewing is necessary.
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For you carnivores, the stinco di agnello is lamb shank braised in a demi-glaze sauce. A gentle touch of the fork, and the meat falls right off the bone.

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When I tasted the rack of lamb, I was astounded by the fact that it didn’t have that gamey odor. So I asked Boucher’s manager Dominic, “How do you manage to get that lamb odor out of this exquisite meat?” He responded, “Quebec sheep graze by the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean’s salt evaporation permeates the grass. In turn, the grass’s salt results in tender and odor-free meat.”
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After our feast fit for a king, Johnny gave us a tour of the butcher shop next door. Notice the 45-day old aged beef that he’s pointing at!
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Boucher also carries fine gourmet foods. The Sicilian sea salts are flavored with chili peppers, fennel and more.
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Of all the honey varieties imported from Italy, my favorite was the eucalyptus honey.
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Many thanks to All at Du Boucher a la Table and to Dominic who always ensures a fine dining experience!

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We loved this place so much that we went back three times!
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Du Boucher a la Table – La Grotte des Fromages
4919 Rue Jarry E, Saint-Léonard, QC H1R 1Y1
Tel. 514.321.3733
Text & Photographs ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Tom George Restaurant – 7th & Grand, Downtown Los Angeles

In Nancy's Articles On January 17, 2017 0 Comments

I’m so glad Tom George, a Cal-Italian-Hungarian restaurant – decided to take its vibe to downtown Los Angeles. One of its owners, George, stated that this LA eatery is one of his newest babies – a distant relation to other restaurants he operates in Budapest, Hungary.

As soon as you walk into Tom George, the “red” ambiance immediately puts a smile on your face.
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How can you go wrong with a red bar? Its warmth makes it all the more easy to reach out for one of its signature drinks – the “I Like Hendricks”!
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Like? It was more of an immediate love affair with this drink whose name boasts gin, gin, gin – laced with lemonade! I need two more, please.

Wondering, “what’s the Italian here?” For starters, we ordered a pizza that looked like it just arrived from Naples.
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Our Pizza Margherita’s crust was authentically wood-fired and topped with sweet tomatoes and fresh basil. The Cal-Italian element is the addition of goat cheese, instead of mozzarella. Neapolitans will definitely frown on this – only because they didn’t think of this innovation!

BTW, the Pizza Margherita was indeed invented in Naples in 1889 by chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi. It was to honor the visit of Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I. The pizza’s colors (red, white & green) were inspired by the Italian flag.

Next up – the burrata. And yes, it’s as good as it looks.
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If you’re on a no-carbs diet, as I am, the Ahi Tuna with roasted tomatoes (a special request, on my part) is a definite specialty here. It’s so fresh that it melts in your mouth.
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While I was enjoying light gourmet fare, I detected a distinct aroma of truffles. Now, this is right after my Hendricks drink and a couple of glasses of wine. Man – I thought I died and went to gastronomy heaven! I barely heard someone saying that gnudi, a Hungarian specialty, are made with ricotta. Tom George serves these smothered in porcini sauce, topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and black truffles. This dish crowned our food orgy. Don’t these gnudi look scrumptious?
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Gnudi are not to be confused with gnocchi, Italian potato dumplings. And, of course, Tom George proudly serves the best goulash you can find anywhere!

Finally, here’s one of the best flourless, chocolate cakes I’ve tasted anywhere.
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As for George of Tom George? He’s your warm, Hungarian host who’ll ensure high quality all around, especially with his attentive staff. We were served by Chris and Rosina who were on top of every minute detail. I was definitely wowed!
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Note: Last Saturday, we decided to go downtown from LA’s Westside by Metro Rail. We exited at 7th Street Metro Rail Station & walked two blocks to Tom George. Can’t wait to go back to the restaurant by Metro Rail, enjoy my “I Like Hendricks” and not worry about driving!

Tom George
707 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA. 90017
424.362.6263
tomgeorgela.com

Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Exclusive Art & Gastronomy Tour: Mexico City with Nancy Real October 6 to 11, 2016

In Nancy's Articles On June 28, 2016 0 Comments

EXCLUSIVE ART & GASTRONOMY TOUR: MEXICO CITY WITH NANCY DeLUCIA REAL

Dates: Thursday October 6, 2016 – Tuesday October 11, 2016
(6 days/5 nights)

“Most of you know my style in teaching art history and cooking – I give all of myself! Thus, as a tourist, I expect great quality abroad.

Join me on this exclusive tour of Mexico City (also known as Distrito Federal). As Mexico’s largest metropolis, it is the country’s economic and cultural hub. Mexico City has many well-known museums and is a leader in international gastronomy. We will visit my favorite spots. Let’s discover the rich, pre-Columbian heritage – always by our side –fused with a contemporary world. You will be astounded!”- Nancy

Note: AS OF AUGUST 1, 2016, THIS TRIP IS SOLD OUT

MEXICO CITY TOUR (REASONABLY-PRICED LAND PACKAGE ONLY) INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:

Nancy DeLucia Real will lead thIs tour in Mexico City.
-Transfers from Mexico City International Airport to hotel and from hotel to airport (upon departure from Mexico City).
-5 nights stay at the 5-star Hyatt Regency Hotel, Polanco (exclusive & trendy neighborhood);
Image.HyattReg.Room Guest Room at Hyatt Regency Hotel

-Welcome drink upon arrival at hotel;
-City tour (on air-conditioned motor coach);
-5 buffet breakfasts (international foods);
-3 lunches;
-2 dinners;
MEXHR_P424_Rulfo_Brunch_Antipasto_88267_med A Buffet Breakfast Station at Hyatt Regency Hotel

-Transportation via air-conditioned motor coach with English-speaking guide from Mexico City;
-Entrances to all sites and visits with guides to:
-Zocalo (Mexico City’s main plaza or square);
-National Palace (site of Mexico’s ruling class since time of the Aztec Empire) with tour of Diego Rivera’s murals on the History of Mexico);
Image.Rivera.Mex.MuralDiego Rivera Mural at National Palace

-Templo Mayor or “The Great Temple” (one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital, Tenochtitlan);
-Museum of Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) – Mexico’s most prominent cultural center. We will view Mexican Muralism by José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros;
-The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven (the largest cathedral in the Americas, and seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico);
-The Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan, known as La Casa Azul (The Blue House), a historic house and museum dedicated to Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo;
-Lake Xochimilco (Mexico City’s “Venice”) – we will enjoy a ride on a trajinera (a gondola-like boat) and explore the lake’s pre-hispanic history re: its canals;
-El Sabado Bazaar – an indoor/outdoor hand crafts and paintings market (with free time to explore);
-National Museum of Anthropology – this museum contains archaeological & anthropological artifacts from Mexico’s pre-Columbian era, including the Stone of the Sun or The Aztec Calendar Stone;
-Chapultepec Castle – this was the 19th-century residence of Emperor Maximilian I & Empress Carlota, built on a hill that was sacred to the Aztecs;
-Soumaya Museum – built by Carlos Slim, the museum houses 66,000 art objects, including works from pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica to European masters (Auguste Rodin, Salvador Dali, Tintoretto, and more);
-Free Evenings – an opportunity for you to discover new restaurants, cafes and entertainment highly suggested by Nancy Real.
-Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe – this is Mexico’s national shrine where it is believed the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin;
-Teotihuacan Pyramids – We will visit the pyramids in the holy city of Teotihuacan (‘the place where the gods were created’), located North East of Mexico City & built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D.
mexico-cultural-sightsTeotihuacan Pyramids

-Tips to porters, bellboys and maids at hotels and waiters for all included meals;
-Hotel and VAT taxes.
ALL OF THE ABOVE IS INCLUDED IN THIS EXCLUSIVE LAND PACKAGE.

FOR DETAILS, TOUR PRICE & BOOKING YOUR TRIP-
CONTACT NANCY DeLUCIA REAL by email – thekitchenbuzzz@gmail.com or telephone 310.962.4043.

Image.N&VSoumaya2015 Nancy & Victor Real, Soumaya Museum, Mexico City November 20, 2015
Text & Photograph of Nancy & Victor Real, Soumaya Museum ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real
All Remaining Photographs ©Wikipedia

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Nancy’s Trips – La Rioja Wine Region (Spain)

In Nancy's Articles On August 9, 2014 0 Comments

On April 11, 2014, my husband I drove from Victoria-Gasteiz (located in the Basque region of Spain) and set out for the autonomous community of La Rioja.  Driving into the Rioja valley is fairly straightforward and the scenery is spectacular.

ImgeLaguLookoutOur first stop was at the medieval city of Laguardia, located in the province of Alava. This 13th-century city is a perfect gateway to La Rioja. Perched up high and on rock foundations, the city remains intact. It is surrounded by walls, ramparts and has four entrance gates.

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In the Middle Ages, Laguardia had 2,500 inhabitants. Although the town has not changed much, its population presently consists of 1,500 people. I certainly did not expect to find a well-conserved city such as Laguardia. We drove through one of its gates, Portada de los abuelos. Since vehicles are not allowed to drive through town, we parked here and began our walking tour.

We immediately noticed thirteenth-century reliefs outside the church, Iglesia de San Juan. Since I am so enamored of history, art and culture, you can imagine my amazement!

ImgeLaguChrchReliefMy husband and I immediately felt transported to centuries past. As we walked through the main plaza of Laguardia,  I quickly obtained the town’s historical information.

ImgeLaguPlazaAlthough it is small, Laguardia’s streets are lined with bakeries, a few restaurants and bodegas or wineries.

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We visited Bodega El Fabulista - this is one of Laguardia’s most famous wineries.

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Here, we were escorted to underground tunnels that were once used for food storage during times of war in the Middle Ages. When wine production took off in the region, these underground tunnels were found to be ideal for the fermentation of grapes.

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I was astounded to discover (through our guide) that some of the floors inside Laguardia’s homes date back to the 15th and 16th-centuries.

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As we treaded along ancient pavements,  we noticed two tables holding some awesome sculptures. They were entitled, Esculturas de el viajero or The Traveler’s Sculptures. Aren’t they cool?

ImageEsculViajOur next stop left me flabbergasted – it was the wine bodega called Marques de Riscal , dubbed “The City of Wine”, located in the town of Elciego. From a distance, I immediately spotted the oeuvre of Frank O. Gehry (he also designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles). As I stood there with my mouth agape, I had no words to describe this architectural masterpiece.

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The building designed by Gehry is a hotel and not the winery itself. To me, the Hotel Marques de Riscal is a living, breathing marvel. The colors of the aluminum panels are symbolic of the wine produced here. Deep purple reminds us of red wine, while the gold panels stands for white wine. Finally, the silver panels represent the seal placed over the cork and bottle top. I think this is such an ingenious idea!

Image.MarquezRisHotelThe hotel boasts about 43 rooms, including 9 executive suites. While rates are high, it is quite a treat to spend some quality time here. At sunset, while standing on their balconies with a glass of wine in hand, hotel guests can enjoy unsurpassed views of the vines, the town of Elciego and the Sierra de Cantabria - the local mountain range. There are two restaurants featuring the haute cuisine of La Rioja. The Restaurante Gastronomico Marques de Riscal features a list of 300 international wines.

This brings us to the winery. One of the oldest wineries in the Rioja region, Marques de Riscal was founded in 1858 by Guillermo Hurtado de Amezaga.  Today, this bodega exports 60% of its wines to nearly 100 countries.

Image.MarquzTourVinesYou’ll learn all the details of wine production through amazing tour guides.  The interiors of the winery are astounding, not only because of the enormity of the production but also because they sparkle!

MrqzBarrelVaultOne of my favorite parts of this wine tour was, of course, stepping into the wine shop and restaurant. Beginning with the personnel, there’s much that impressed me. Undoubtedly, Spaniards are extremely courteous to their visitors. At Marques de Riscal’s shop, I felt at home. The service I received here was beyond all of my expectations.

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ImgeMarqzBodegaThe wine selections are fantastic and the gastronomy items are delightful.

ImgeMarqzWineOrngHave you ever heard of wine salt?

ImgeMarqzWineSaltThe wine shop restaurant looked so inviting. I didn’t get to enjoy any tapas (Spanish appetizers) here because our visit took place early in the morning. However, we’ll make some together in my upcoming culinary course.

ImgeMarqzRest I  suppose we’ll  have to return to Marques de Riscal soon. It was fabulous!

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I highly recommend a trip to the medieval town of Laguardia and the winery, Marques de Riscal, both located in La Rioja region

Also, be sure not to miss the Haro Wine Festival in the town of Haro, in La Rioja region. The celebration takes place on June 29, the feast day of the town’s patron saint, San Pedro. Dressed in white and adorned with red scarves,  everyone  follows a procession through town. After a mass, the wild ritual begins – everyone tosses wine on each other until they are completely drenched and turn PURPLE!

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All Text & Photographs © 2014 Nancy DeLucia Real, with the exception of photographs re: Bodega El Fabulista and Haro Wine Festival above.