cittanuova....stuff. Milanese memories.

Earlier today I was looking through some travel photos and stumbled across some from my initial trip to Milano to research the foods and design stuff for a restaurant that we wanted to open in East Hampton, NY. That restaurant became cittanuova in June of 2004.

The restaurant has stood the test of time....this past year has been busier than ever and we continue to expand our food and wine offerings to other parts of Italy.

Here are some photos that inspired us on that trip. Food, wine and design. If you have been to the restaurant you will pick up on some of these things. A little fun.

Pizzaology: The Pizza Lab at cittanuova

At cittanuova in East Hampton, NY we installed some new pizza ovens in July. We have been having a lot of fun since that time.

Tonight, for example, we decided to trot out some pizza variations based on traditional Roman pasta dishes. We did Pizza alla Carbonara and Pizza all' Amatriciana. Both turned out nicely. Saturday is our busiest night so in the coming nights I want to explore Pizza alla Gricia, Pizza Cacio e Pepe and more.

We won't just stick to Rome on this journey. Trust me. If there is a classic Italian pasta from any region of Italy we will make a pizza with it as well. Why? Why not? Food should be fun.

Pizza alla Carbonara at cittanuova.

Recent food at cittanuova in East Hampton, NY

Here is a little slideshow of some of our recent dishes at cittanuova in East Hampton, NY. Go to dinner with a few friends. Drink some good wine. Relax and enjoy the pleasures of the table. Talk and catch up. Most importantly HAVE FUN!

Food Pictures

Sometimes it is best to say nothing. Sometimes pictures are cool enough.

Roasted Chicken with Rapini and Fingerling Potatoes, Rosemary Jus at cittanuova

Garganelli Bolognese at cittanuova

Pizza with Bacon, Red Onions, Grana (no tomato sauce) at cittanuova

Pizza Marinara...garlic, San Marzano Tomatoes, oregano, sea salt at cittanuova.

Cotechino with Polenta, Grana & Herbs at cittanuova

Bucatini all' Amatriciana at cittanuova

Passera con Scarola, Patate e burro limone at cittanuova

Insalata di verdure tratati:  Chopped vegetable salad with pecorino toscana, finocchiona and red wine vinaigrette at cittanuova

Where Food Comes From: The Joy of Eating Local

No matter where you live you can eat locally produced food. Vegetables grow virtually everywhere and many can be stored during the cold winter months. As a kid growing up in Iowa I ate locally raised vegetables, preserved by my mother and grandmother, all year long.

As a chef cooking on the eastern end of Long Island we are hitting our vegetable and seafood stride right now. The tourists who frequent the farm stands have come and gone. What they left for us is the best of what summer has to offer. The tomatoes are great, there tons of herbs, cucumbers and lettuce are still plentiful and the fall squash, cheese pumpkins, potatoes, cauliflower and more are abundant. It doesn't suck.

Out here on the tip of Long Island, under the surface of the Atlantic ocean and Long Island Sound, we have tuna, striped bass, black sea bass, fluke, flounder, clams, scallops, mackeral, squid and much more. All in season.


Caprese Salad: A Tired Beast Do Over

The caprese salad, an old warhorse that so many people love, has been in need of a makeover. In the past barely ripe tomatoes, shitty mozzarella and weird sauces have characterized this Italian classic.

My version is simple....yet somehow unique. Good indredients steal the show. Heirloom tomatoes that have never seen the inside of a cooler, mozzarella di bufala from Campania, great olive oil from Liguria or Sicilia, fresh basil from the garden and sea salt. Simple.

One other important consideration is to cut the tomatoes into nice, thick wedges. Thin slices suck. You want the tomato flavor to flood your palate.

My example is here:

A proper Caprese salad.  Not wimpy.

The Raw Stuff

Today I took the five minute drive to the farm where I have been buying the bulk of my tomatoes, squash, eggplant and other items for cittanuova in East Hampton, NY. The farm is known as Balsam Farms and they have been supplying me with delicious produce for years.

A lot of what we are using right now we don't even cook....cut 'em up, add a few other things and you're good to go.

Pictures tell the story. Take a look and let me know what you think.

The Farm Stand

Melons...we like those with prosciutto san daniele.

Squash of many different varieties....thinking fall menu.

Baby peppers.....nice for peperonata that we like to serve with local fish.

Tiny tomatoes...sweet and delicious!

My faves....heirloom tomatoes.  Beautiful with a little salt and good olive oil.  Basil, too.

And some gorgeous sunflowers....great for dressing up a table or the porch.  

Sourced: Food Stories

As summer in the Hamptons winds down and I have more time to write I want to return to the topics of food sourcing, agriculture and eating real food.

I think, as a culture, we have strayed far from things that are good, healthy and nutricious in the world of food. I try to stay close to my food. The food that I serve in our restaurants and the food that I personally consume.

Right now, in East Hampton, NY, most of my vegetables and fish are coming from suppliers who are less than 20 miles away. Tomatoes that have never been refridgerated, eggplant, melons, herbs, zucchini, green beans, fluke, swordfish, tuna, lobsters, clams and much more are a phone call away. I like this. During the summer months much of America can eat this way.

How do you do it? Go to farmer's markets. Plant a garden if you have the space. Get to know your local farmers because there are a lot of them around the country that would love to sell you food directly instead of through a third party. Or a fourth party.

Avoid megastores, supermarkets and chains. They want to sell you crap.

Google it. Google can hook you up! You can eat real food, local food and food that isn't trucked or transported by railcar from thousands of miles away. A tomato that has never been inside of a cooler is a revelation. Revelations are nice.

Local stuff from Balsam Farms.

Local Tuna

Our tomato situation

A radish is nice.

Local Zucchini

Local fingerling potatoes from Balsam Farms in Amagansett..

Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomato from Balsam Farms

Braising the "polpo" for our Octopus Salad

Summer truffles from Italy.  The end is near.

Source well and eat well.


Summer in the Hamptons: The End is Near

Another summer is coming to an end in the Hamptons. My 21st season of cooking food for people to eat is almost finished. It has been a good summer for local ingredients, farmer's markets and business in general.

Burrata with Local Tomatoes

Panzanella with local tomatoes, basil, onions & red wine vinaigrette

Local heirloom tomatoes from Balsam Farms in Amagansett.

Sungold cherry tomatoes, eggplant and squash from Balsam Farms.

Our bruschette from cittanuova

Pollo alla Milanese at cittanuova

Insalata Carciofini at cittanuova

The vegetables are coming: East Hampton in Early August

I love cooking food, eating food, taking pictures of food and telling stories about food. All food has a story.

As a chef who has been cooking for about 30 years I think this makes sense. Before I was a chef, or a cook, I worked on farms in Iowa. I am keenly aware of the agricultural relationship with cooking food for people to eat.

I have said it before and I will say it is the final act of agriculture. We can speak of technique when it comes to cooking. We can speak of sourcing the ingredients. We can talk about restaurants in a conceptual conext but at the end of the day we are engaged in the act of making things raised in an agricultural setting edible. Maybe for ourselves. Maybe for customers. It doesn't really matter. And we cook wild things, too. Same deal.

I cook in East Hampton, NY. Our local agriculture is allowing me to work with these ingredients to make food for you. Sometimes we look beyond the local things to keep life interesting. But mostly we roll local.

Local heirloom cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and sungold tomatoes from Balsam Farms in Amagansett, NY.

Fingerling potatoes from Balsam Farms in Amagansett, NY.

Summer truffles from Italy.  cittanuova is an Italian restaurant and truffles taste good.  A taste of summer in Italy...only in East Hampton, NY.

Our pantry at cittanuova....olive oils, other oils and vinegars that allow us to bring a taste of Italy to East Hampton, NY.