Please excuse my personal pesto recipe. I've always made pesto in a food processor. This is wrong. The other day I learned Il Bottaccio's recipe (using the same ingredients as my recipe in approximately the same proportions). However, the procedure is quite different. They begin by using a mortar and pestle to break down the pine nuts, garlic, and basil leaves. The ingredients are crushed together making their flavors perfume almost immediately. Grinding in parmesan and then drizzling in the oil makes the pesto flavor much stronger than just using a processor. They finish it off in a blender, but that original step truly makes the sauce sing. So, if you don't have one already, add it to the shopping list!
It's starting to become extremely hot on this side of the Atlantic. Combined with the heat of the kitchen, it is extremely important to stay hydrated. I've always been a fan of club soda, La Croix, Perrier, and my sister's favorite Big K brand club soda. However in Italy it's become all I drink. We buy huge 2 liter bottles of the stuff to keep in the walk-in for the personnel. I think because I enjoy the refreshing bubbles I drink more of it! Whatever it is, I am hooked!
Fresh mozzarella was always a part of our antipasto platters in Rome. I cannot get enough of this unbelievably creamy handmade cheese. The large blocks they sell next to Kraft singles in America are a disgrace to the huge balls made freshly each day in Italy. Two days ago at Il Bottaccio we received a Styrofoam box containing two precious balls of freshly made mozzarella, made that morning in Naples, Italy. The balls were the size of cantaloupes that gushed out milk as you cut into them. Taking a bite of the fresh cheese was insane. I have never tasted anything so incredible. We served it with sliced Roma tomatoes lightly tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper. With only 2 weeks left abroad, I am crossing my fingers I can find a cheesemonger at home that can bring me that same satisfaction!