Lookie whose blog I found today: Carlo Middione, an Italian chef extraodinaire

Carloskitchen
While having my latte this morning, I suddenly had a craving for
biscotti –you know, the proper, porous, Italian kind, with only almonds
and not much else? The ones that are so hard they are damn near
inedible until dunk into a cup of hot coffee? No, I wasn’t thinking of
the American Biscotti which -though not nearly as icky as
American-style Scones (aka the Doorstop Variety)- are cakey, dense, and
can be filled with any number of weirdo ingredients.

What’s all this stuff about biscotti got to do with this new blog I
found? Well, the best biscotti in San Francisco are from this little
restaurant called Vivande on Fillmore St. The chef and owner of
Vivande is Carlo Middione. I googled his name this morning,
hoping to find the recipe for those delicious biscotti of his, but what I
found instead was the man had a blog!

When I first moved to San Francisco I sublet an enchanting flat on Clay st with an open view of Alta Plaza park. Carlo Middione’s Vivande Porta Via on Filmore st. was only a couple of blocks away, serving a deceptively simple menu of delicious home-style Italian food -I followed Patricia Unterman in her Food Lovers’ Guide to San Francisco there. Vivande became my favorite canteen, a place I could drop by when I wanted a simple plate of Tagliatelle with just a kiss of soulful Ragu, or a decadent Venus Jewel Box, a pale yellow pouch of ham, peas, and the most delicious Béchamel sauce. The to-go counter -the porta via part I understand- was also often a lifesaver on busy days, where I could pick up Putanesca sauce or those gnarly-looking but most supremely addictive Hand Pies filled with chicken and mushroom for a quick meal.

But the best thing at Vivande, for me, was their biscotti (ok the Earthquake cake was right up there too!). I had to have one to begin my day properly. But over the years I went there less and less. I kept moving farther away, first down the hill to Green st, then a bit farther out in Pacific Heights, and then out of town all together. I hadn’t been back there in so long I almost forgot about the place. But how lovely that it’s those wonderful Biscotti that brought this restaurant and the chef back to my attention again.

I spent the morning reading through the posts on his blog, and what a hoot they are! Carlo Middione is a wonderful teacher, I once had one of his cookbooks –paging whoever borrowed it years ago from me, I want it back, NOW!- and still remember how easy to follow the recipes were. His blog has the same instructive spirit, but also got a load of spunk and highly opinionated opinions that make for such a fun read -start with his post on how to make Polenta his way and see if you find him as neat as I do.

I have to get back to the restaurant one of these days –I hear a bowl of pasta and a chocolate ‘earthquake’ cake calling my name, and of course a bag or two of those biscotti to take home!

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11 Responses to “Lookie whose blog I found today: Carlo Middione, an Italian chef extraodinaire

  • Ryan said:
    October 25th, 2006 at 4:55pm

    What a great find! I am adding his RSS feed posthaste. I would assume Vivande serves a decent cup of espresso, which would make it worth the trip.

  • Scott at RealEpicurean said:
    October 25th, 2006 at 5:46pm

    I recently received some delicious white chocolate and lingonberry which were delicious. I know that’s not terribly authentic, but they were lovely none the less.

  • barbara said:
    October 26th, 2006 at 12:08am

    That is exactly how I make my Polenta. Just checked my post to see where I got the idea from it and here’s what I wrote. “The polenta method I use originates with Carlo Middione, was published in The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and then in The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander.” I had no idea who Carlo Middione was. Thanks Pim, now I know.

  • Harold Elder said:
    October 26th, 2006 at 6:55am

    Pim,
    Perhaps you and most of your regular readers are too young to remember Carlo Middione’s great PBS series. For old guys like me, our first introduction to him was via this series. I did find a mention of his TV history on the restaurant website. The show was a no nonsense introduction to great, basic Italian cooking. It was wonderful for those of us who live away from one of the coasts and lack the ethnic diversity that most cities take for granted. Nice update on a wonderful chef.

  • Matthew Bowden said:
    October 27th, 2006 at 5:45am

    Pim… Did you find the recipe ?. Or did you just make the polenta instead.
    I havent had really good biscotti since I was last in Rome this year. Got me thinking about it now.

  • Ivonne said:
    October 27th, 2006 at 4:07pm

    Pim,
    Thanks for pointing us to Carlo’s blog.
    And thanks for the mention of Patricia Unterman. I bought her guide when I visited San Francisco last spring and fell in love with her writing.

  • Owen said:
    October 30th, 2006 at 3:35pm

    Woo-hoo! What a great find! I LOVE Carlo and Vivande – haven’t been in a long time but used to go when he was in the Opera Plaza – an old friend of mine used to sous-chef for him – she says he was the best chef she ever worked for.

  • Kevin said:
    May 8th, 2008 at 4:18pm

    In the last couple weeks, I see Carlo has posted a couple polenta recipes and some cooking tips…might be worth checking out.

  • Jim said:
    May 28th, 2008 at 1:21pm

    Thanks for this post on Carlo; Vivande is my favorite stop while in San Francisco. Loving what I saw of your site, I will be a frequent visitor, and your post on Café Du Monde. I am right now setting in a Motorhome just across the Mississippi from New Orleans after a week wander the streets of this great city, having late morning breaks with scrumptious beignets. Two great posts!

  • ny catering said:
    July 11th, 2008 at 2:13pm

    a great experience!

  • Daniharned said:
    June 16th, 2011 at 9:42pm

    I WOULDL LOVE TO KNOW THE RECIPE FOR HIS COPPA, GOAT CHEESE, ??? SALAD WHICH I HAVEN”T HAD SINCE MOVING FROM SAN FRANCISCO.

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