Creamy Goat Cheese Tomato Pasta

I am a total sucker for a creamy tomato sauce. Unfortunately, they tend to be a little disappointing. This is the exception.

The goat cheese flavor is pretty pronounced, so if you’re not a fan, this one isn’t for you. The original is here, but I made lots of changes (chief among them: cutting out the bacon – sundrieds really fill that meaty, umami slot for me). That said, the technique is the same and I might employ it in the future. As a plus, this comes together very quickly.

2 shallots, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
100 g (roughly) oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and sliced thin, oil reserved
2 T white wine
1 14.5 oz/400 g can stewed tomatoes
1 small pinch salt
1 small pinch sugar
1/4 t dried oregano
1 large pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 lb/500 g short pasta (1/4 c pasta water reserved before draining)
3-4 oz/100-125 g spreadable goat cheese (Ziegenfrischkäse)
lots of torn basil leaves

Heat a deep skillet over medium low heat and warm 1-2 T reserved sundried tomato oil. When oil shimmers, add shallots, garlic and sundried tomatoes and stir frequently until shallots and garlic are tender (3 minutes). Add wine and cook until 3/4 reduced (and the boozy smell is gone). Add canned tomatoes, salt, sugar, oregano and red pepper flakes and reduce heat to low. Stir to combine, crushing tomatoes with spoon. Allow sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, then remove from heat and set aside.

Cook and drain pasta, returning it quickly to the pot off the heat. Add goat cheese to pasta and stir well to coat. When goat cheese is well distributed, pour in tomato sauce, again stirring very well. If sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta water to loosen it to your desired texture. Add torn basil and stir until just distributed. Serve immediately.

St. John’s Terrace

St. John’s Terrace
http://www.stjterrace.it/
street: Via Gabi 7, Appio Latino, 00183 Rome
email: info @ stjterrace.it
phone: +39 335 63 96 671

View from St. John's TerraceWe were in Rome for the first time last month and it left quite an impression. Actually, it started leaving an impression before we even got there – shopping for accommodations took my breath away. I knew that it would be expensive, but the types of places that I usually look for were well beyond what I will spend per night. It quickly became clear that hotels were out of the question, so I started sifting through B&Bs and vacation rentals. That’s how I found St. John’s Terrace. Continue reading St. John’s Terrace

Ca’ de Memi

The Joint


Agriturismo Ca’ de Memi de Scquizzato Ottorino
via Roma 4/B
35017 Piombino Dese PD

Tel.: +39 049 93 66 516
Mobile: +39 349 69 87 953
Email: info@cadememi.it
Web: http://www.cadememi.it

For our last minute trip to the Veneto, we stayed at Ca’ de Memi, which I found in a rather roundabout way. I knew we wanted to stay near Roncade in order to pick up wine from Castello di Roncade. But I didn’t want to stay there; we stayed there last time and, while we enjoyed it, I wanted to sample some other offerings of the region. Continue reading Ca’ de Memi

La Esquina del Tomatillo

The Joint

Morelos 601
Downtown Puerto Vallarta

Phone: +52 322 22 29434
Web: http://www.eltomatillo.com.mx
Email: cheftomatillo@gmail.com


Cliff

We first experienced this restaurant under its previous name, Xitomates, in 2009 or 2010. We tried to visit again this year, and show my parents what a swell restaurant we’d found for somewhat upscale Mexican food, but were surprised to find that its name had changed. We passed on it then, but returned a few days later to give it another shot, after noticing some similarities between what we’d had last time and the current menu offerings. We were not disappointed. If anything, the prices on the items seemed a little lower compared to what we remembered. Same great salsas, same friendly service. Really pleased it’s still going, even if under another name. Check this place out if you’d like to eat a nice meal downtown without the touristy Tex-Mex flavor or Marina sports bar atmosphere.

Sarah


I was very disappointed when we first passed this place. All I could tell was that 1) this was where Xitomates used to be and that 2) this place wasn’t Xitomates. That said, we gave the place a shot on our last evening there and thank goodness we did. It was the same basic place – so much so that the container that they served the chips in still said Xitomates on the side. And the most important part – the exquisite salsas were the same. We split a mixed quesadilla appetizer (one pumpkin, one cheese and squash blossom and one huitlacoche) which was lovely and full of unusual flavors. My main course was a chile relleno filled with ratatouille. It was light (which goes down really well in the heat), but filling and the flavor was really fresh and intense. For dessert, we split a crème brûlée. We had high hopes for this; as Mexican flan is a thing of beauty, we assumed they would probably do other custards well, too. I love being right.

Rollie’s

The Joint

Rollie’s

USA/Canada Telephone: +1 831-216-4493
Mexico Telephone: +52 329-291-3347

Cliff

No address here — not sure why. We sought out Rollie’s on the recommendation of my parents more or less on a whim. We’d heard that Memo’s wasn’t as good as it used to be, and we wanted to take Rachel on a little adventure out of Puerto Vallarta to see other towns in the area, so we walked to the airport, snagged the first bus headed to Sayulita for a taste of the legendary Rollie’s Breakfast.

We wandered a bit, but finally found the place, following a tip from the Sayulita Life website. Mom told us to check out the menu to get the story behind each dish. She was right: each one had a paragraph about the origin, relevance, or significance. I opted for The Worker, named for the employees of the restaurant, since it’s their favorite dish at the end of shift. It’s a butterfly flour tortilla hidden under layers of melted cheese and chunks of tomatoes and cilantro and refried beans (you can choose from several starchy toppings) and chorizo (which I added on). It came with a warning that it’s quite spicy and they would be happy to provide a mellower version for me. I opted for full-strength. Rollie said “the Worker? With chorizo on it? Woo!”

Woo, indeed.

Great place for breakfast, with a nice mixture of diner and local specialities. Motivates you to plan a day trip to Sayulita so you can arrive before they stop serving breakfast.

Sarah

Rollie’s is pretty delightful. From the moment you walk in and see an assortment of ceiling fans, the childrens’ art on the corkboard and the shelf for borrowing book, it becomes clear that this is a community institution. Rollie himself greeted us and chatted over refills of coffee and we watched as he made the rounds to every seated table.

I had the delicious chilaquiles, corn tortillas in a mild, flavorful chile sauce with a side of Rollie’s famous fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. A starchfest? Yes, yes it was. It was also lip-smacking good. And I offset the starchy explosion with a lovely (and HUGE) pineapple smoothie. So that’s not entirely bad for me.

If you want to head up to Sayulita for surf-watching and beach going, definitely visit Rollie’s. It’s quite a treat.

Balham B&B

The Joint

28 Old Devonshire Road
Balham
London
SW12 9RB

http://www.balhambandb.co.uk
Tel.: +44 20 8673 7179
Mobile: +44 7941 960 199
Fax: +44 20 8675 8058
Email: georgina@balhambandb.co.uk

Cliff

Loved it! We visited at a rather dreary time of year, but it was easy to see how lovely it would be to stay there in the late Spring. Georgina, your hostess, is the traveling gardner’s dream B&B proprietor, with her own garden at the house and a wealth of information to share about garden tours and events in and around London.

Each morning we had a scrumptious breakfast while chatting with Georgina about our options for the day. The breakfast highlight for me was the crumpet — perfectly done with homemade fruit preserves as a special treat after the eggs and bran flakes. What a great way to fuel up for tromping around London!

I was a bit dismayed at first at the distance from Balham to the city centre, but we quickly realized there are lots of options. Balham station is a tube stop as well as a national rail stop and if you’re flying in from Gatwick for a stay at the Balham B&B don’t take the Gatwick Express: you’ll overshoot the stop and have to backtrack quite a bit.

The Balham and Tooting area lends itself to walking around at night. I enjoyed the halal markets and cafés and restaurants in the area very much. It was a side of London I had not seen before, having only stayed in closer to the big city, and I’m glad I got to see it.

Sarah

We planned this trip with somewhat less lead time than is usual for us. Because places we’ve stayed in London have varied wildly with regard to quality, and because staying in London is usually an expensive proposition, I was looking all over the place for accommodation possibilites. Enter guardian.co.uk, the website for UK newspaper the Guardian. I don’t use this as a resource very often, but when looking for England-specific information, their travel information is pretty good. As luck would have it, there was an article touting London’s best B&Bs right there on their travel page. After sifting through all of the options and whittling them down according to pricing and vacancies, we ended up with the Balham B&B and our hostess, Georgina.

This is easily the best place we’ve ever stayed in London. Balham is a southern neighborhood of London, between the larger neighborhoods of Clapham and Tooting. The B&B is about equidistant between the Balham and Clapham South stations on the Northern line and is in a lovely row house, right off of the main drag. Georgina was a wealth of information about Balham and various cultural offerings throughout the city (museum and gallery exhibitions, music performances, botanical gardens, etc.). And she serves an absolutely wonderful breakfast with eggs, streaky bacon, yogurt, cereal, fruit – you name it, she’s got it. The guest room is large and comfortable, with a dresser and two closets and plenty of room to stash your suitcases. The guest bathroom was also roomy, stocked with fluffy towels, robes and slippers, plus an assortment of organic soaps, shampoos and lotions for our use.

One special note about the guest bed: this has got to be one of the most comfortable beds we’ve ever experienced in a hotel, vacation apartment or B&B. I am looking forward to going back to London at our earliest convenience just to sleep in that bed again. Some more.