Tiramisu Tasting

This article is dedicated to a friend of mine who suggested I do a list of best tiramisu places (plus, it was recently the golden anniversary of tiramisu). There are over 12,000 restaurants in Rome, and I’d wager that most serve tiramisu, so I can’t tell you which is the best. Of the ones I’ve had over the past few months, these are some that I would recommend.

Before I moved to Rome, I didn’t like tiramisu. I realize it’s because in my experience, usually the tiramisu was a large cold clumpy mass, possibly made with alcohol. I don’t like the taste of alcohol interfering with my sweet dessert. I prefer my tiramisu to be creamy (more on creamy at the bottom) more like a trifle or Eton Mess.

An espresso size tiramisu from 3 Caffe.

Mimi e Coco (Via del Governo Vecchio 72, on one of the most picturesque streets in the center of Rome) serves a super creamy tiramisu in a glass, more like a trifle.

Mimi and Coco made one of the best I’ve tried.

Tre Caffe (Via dei Due Macelli 107, near the Vatican) serves a tiny tiramisu that satisfies.

Fisherman Burger (Via Ravenna 34) lets you eat it as you wish, serving the three parts separately.

Eat as you wish.

Di Qua (Via delle Corrozze 85B, near the Spanish Steps) have a creamy tiramisu that I even ate although I had no more appetite.

Matricianella (Via del Leone 4) also serves a creamy tiramisu.

Two Sizes (Via del Governo Vecchio 88, across from Coco e Mimi) serves tiramisu in two sizes, to go. You can take them as gifts or home to enjoy on your own.

Clear layers from Two Sizes

Many pastry shops and gelato shops will sell tiramisu and every (almost) restaurant will serve it. However, cheesecake and brownies are beginning to make their inroads.

From La Romana Gelateria, an ice cream chain.

A interesting note about saying something is “creamy” — I told an Italian that I liked the creaminess of something and she said, “no, not cream, panna.” The word, “crema” in Italian refers to pastry cream/custard. For whipped cream, one uses “panna” in Italian. There is a lot of whipped cream in Italian food. It’s offered at almost every gelateria to top off your gelato, they have desserts that are stuffed with whipped cream, and even a breakfast bun stuffed with whipped cream. Panna is manna to me. I like it creamy.

As for the best tiramisu… it’s probably the one you are currently eating.

Cheesecake Recipe from King Arthur

z3rihusRpSnpD2mnBIthGTHDV6i4Wex565rojIGlmjegFmsjmCZSwaJjcYXerb2HcQQywPeJR_0KYe5qCXBqQyoBsOTojfCk0drquPbYLbpIg0uCX0FyTVRzUIcQigVAwIM90e826K1H_H1ZuxbN0qxDM9a8Qxb2m1wed0oXONHiOlHgu7FFTaSPDlAs obsessions go, cheesecake is not one of mine. But, recently, I had a cheesecake that I actually liked. Here is the recipe from King Arthur’s Flour. I encourage you to read it out loud so you can enjoy saying “zwieback” — just because. Also, for the optional topping, I would simply cook some fresh berries with a bit of sugar. Keep it simple. Or serve fresh berries and not bother with making a sauce.

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs OR zwieback crumbs
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (1/3 cup) melted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 2 cups (2 large packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping (optional)

  • 12 ounce bag frozen raspberries, a scant 3 cups
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons sugar, to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Pie Filling Enhancer; use 1 tablespoon for a looser sauce, 2 tablespoons for thicker
  • pinch of ground cinnamon, optional

Instructions

  1. Select a pie pan whose inside top dimension is at least 9″, and whose height is at least 1 1/4″. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Make the crust by stirring together all of the crust ingredients, mixing until thoroughly combined.
  3. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan, making a thicker layer on the bottom than on the sides.
  4. Make the filling by mixing together the room-temperature cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla, again mixing until smooth. To avoid beating too much air into the batter, use a mixer set at low-medium speed. To avoid lumps, make sure the cream cheese is softened, and/or at room temperature.
  5. Set the pie pan onto a baking sheet, if desired; this makes it easier to transport in and out of the oven, and also protects the bottom of the crust from any potential scorching. Pour the filling into the crust.
  6. Place the cheesecake in the oven. Bake it for 20 minutes, then add a crust shield; or shield the crust with strips of aluminum foil. Bake for an additional 10 minutes (for a total of about 30 minutes). An instant-read thermometer inserted into the crust 1″ from the edge should read between 165°F and 170°F; the filling won’t look entirely set in the center.
  7. Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and set it on a rack to cool while you make the topping. Once the cake is cool, refrigerate it, covered, until you’re ready to serve it.
  8. To make the topping, place the frozen raspberries in a bowl to thaw. You can hasten the process with a quick trip through the microwave, but don’t let the berries cook.
  9. Add 1 tablespoon Pie Filling Enhancer, and stir until well combined. Is the topping as thick as you like? If not, stir in another tablespoon Pie Filling Enhancer.
  10. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, to taste. Stir in a pinch of ground cinnamon, if desired.
  11. Spoon the topping over the cheesecake, and cut slices to serve. Alternatively, cut slices, and top each with a dollop of topping.

The Blood Tree

The weather was hotter than the inside of a blister. Perfect time to go for a walk. So I went for a walk “in the jungle,” but really it was just on the outer perimeter of my lodge, in the Amazon. I was trying to be cool about the squidgy mud squelching up the side of my leather shoes, getting close to the bare skin of my ankles. I as trying to be cool. Then I got bitten by a spider. A zap of fire engulfed my ankle. I looked down. There was a tiny black dot on my ankle. Then it was gone. That’s how small it was. To my credit, I remained calm.

WHAT was I thinking?

There are times to remain calm. And then there aren’t. This wasn’t. Apparently.

IMG_1798.JPGThis I found out when I casually told our guide that I had a bite. Never have I seen anyone move that fast. I didn’t even see him move. One minute he was across a pool of mud. The next right next to me! Then he took out a small plastic bottle and rubbed my ankle. This was the sap from the “blood tree” and it’s a magical potion. My ankle no longer hurt and there was no bite. I wish I had some of that Amazonian jungle blood with me now. Then I’d have the remedy to all bites. Will a company start selling this some day? Will all the secrets go the way of the dodo?

Danish Strawberries

Once upon a year, in a little tiny land, at the top of Europe, there are strawberries so ruby and sweet. They arrive just after the sweet pea season. Visit Denmark in late August and you may may be able to get both. The strawberries are red like claret in the sun. Eat them fresh or covered in fresh cream. img_3802

Then, if you can find sweet peas in the pod, enjoy them as they are as succulent as crisp morning dew. But nuttier.img_3834

Oh, and they are healthy for you. How sweet is that!