Thursday, June 19, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

I just got back from a few days in Rochester, Mn. I was there to teach a couple of classes at the Italian Living Store known as Sopra/Sotto.

Sopra/Sotto carries beautiful Italian pottery, linens, oils, pasta, fancy food products and so much more. Located in the University Square Mall across from the Mayo clinic, a stop there is like a shopping excursion to Italy with out the expense of plane fare. This past week I taught two classes in their lovely kitchen that also includes a panini bar at lunch and a coffee bar all day long.

I will be back there teaching July 15 and 16. On Tues. night I will do a Shrimp Boil class that will be a nice alternative to the tiresome barbecue and on Wed. afternoon I will teach a desserts class. If you live in the area give them a call at 507-252-5522 to register for a class or go on line at

And while you are in the area, make sure and have lunch at the newly open Chester's and eat al fresco on the new "Peace Mall." in Rochester. This town has a lot to offer besides the best medical care in the world!

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Monday, June 9, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

For those of you living in Iowa or traveling to Iowa in the future, I have a tip I want to share with you. First of all I want to say that the Latin King is owned by my baby brother and his wife, Bobby and Amy Tursi. But over the past month I have had two of the greatest meals ever at their restaurant.

The Latin King is a Des Moines area landmark, located at 2200 Hubbell Ave. across from the A/D dairy and near the Iowa fairgrounds. ( The first occasion was a celebration for my son Patrick upon his graduation from Medical School combined with a 60Th birthday celebration for my husband, Bob. The second time we feasted there was for a Groom's Dinner.
On both occasions, the antipasti was unbelievably delicious. Bobby and Amy have that piece of it just right. The artichoke and olive salad is light, crisp and very fresh tasting. The roasted asparagus is brought in from a local farmer and is crisp tender and flavorful. On one occasion we had fried onion rings that are a signature item and I love the fried calamari with a robust marinara sauce or spritz of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Marinated zucchini in a light vinaigrette was also served as well as an assortment of Italian meats and cheeses.
On both occasions, Pat Morris, the Latin King's Long time chef got the pasta just perfect. Bobby and Amy have just returned from Italy with some new recipes. Amy's new version of a spinach and cheese ravioli were a hit and will be on the menu on select days. The evening of the groom's dinner we enjoyed the usual pasta, penne with a spicy marinara sauce with just enough heat to it that it made you want to eat more.

The entrees were outstanding for both events. The first was a sage stuffed chicken breast with the bone and skin on the chicken which made it succulent and moist. For the groom's dinner we had a choice of salmon, chicken spiedini or a New York Strip. The salmon was a huge portion of moist salmon with a light tomato sauce served with a potato croquette that is both crisp on the outside and smooth and cheesy on the inside. Bob ordered the New York Strip Steak, that was perfectly prepared at medium rare. The steak was juicy and the garlic butter over the top was just the right touch.

On both occasions we had cakes from outside bakeries to celebrate the special occasion, but what made the dessert special was the large scoop of Spumoni ice cream that was served with it. Strawberry, chocolate and cream de menth ice cream with large chunks of pistachios and candied cherries. creamy smooth and delicious.

On your next stop to or through Des Moines make sure and eat at the Latin King. With any luck my Dad will be there to greet you. Just make sure you let them know that the "big sister" sent you.

Buon appetito,
Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Greetings from Carmela's Cucina,

I attended a wedding last week-end in New York and went out a few days early to do a little sight seeing. One of the things I did was visit Ellis Island and it was such a great day that I just have to tell you about it.

My experience with my culinary tours to Italy is that it really is best to book your tour before you leave home. So I went to the Ellis Island web site at and booked space on the Staten Island Ferry which took us past the Statue of Liberty (an amazing sight) and then to Ellis Island. Admission to both sights is free, but you must book and purchase tickets for the ferry. (total of $18.00 for ferry tickets and audio cassette tape, which is a must.)

Our group actually spent 4 hours touring the museum with a short lunch break. It is a wonderful and informative tour and the 25 minute movie that we viewed, "Island of Hope, Island of Tears" was very moving.

The best part of the day for me was the Family Learning Center where I had hoped to find my father's records of his immigration from Italy to the United States. I was greatly disappointed to learn that it would not be possible for me to get his information as they only have records from 1892-1924 and Dad came through in 1930. But Bob and I quickly decided to try and located my Grandfather's records as he came through Ellis Island twice.

Having some information on my Grandfather and doing a little quick math, we figured the second time he came through, after WWI was 1921. We quickly entered all of the data that we had in the computer and got his information. We learned that Francesco Tursi arrived on April 30, 1921 from Terravechia, Italy through Naples, Italy. We were able to get a copy of the ship's manifest and that he was number 17 on the record and we were also able to get a photograph of the ship that he sailed on which was the Palasciano. We have it all mounted in a beautiful frame and will give to my father as a gift.

Since we still had a bit of time we did some research on my great-uncles as well and now have that information to pass on to my cousins. It was so much fun getting this information and I suggest that if you are interested in doing something like this that you go to the Ellis Island web site and find out how and when your own family members made their way to the "New Land."

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins