Wednesday, August 18, 2010



I have two tips for you today. First go to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market during the week. Yes, there are fewer vendors, but there are also fewer people that make shopping difficult. Second, the Basil is just perfect now, so it is time to make Pesto.

I have not gone to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market on a Saturday for years because it is just too crowded for me. I have enjoyed the market in Edina on Thur. afternoons, the market near our lake home and then my husband will bring whatever I need on when the vendors are on the Nicollet Mall. But because a friend and I are having a dinner party tonight, we decided to make the trek down to the market yesterday and loved every minute of it. We were able to buy what we needed, actually had time to speak with the vendors and enjoyed the experience greatly. We vowed to do this frequently in the future.

High on the list was two large bunches of basil, which I have turned into tasty Pesto. I made enough this morning to supply us for most of the year. I freeze it in 1 cup containers and it usually is enough for a pound of pasta. If you use less, then just pour it in to an ice-cube tray and when frozen you can store the cubes in freezer bags and drop them into soups and stews. Pesto, it's a really good thing.

Enjoy this Pesto recipe from my cook book, Carmela's Cucina. And if you would like a personalized copy, contact me through my web site at


2 cups fresh basil leaves
4 medium-sized garlic cloves
1 cup walnuts or pine nuts
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Process the basil, garlic and nuts in a food processor with a steel blade until finely chopped. With the machine running, pour in the oil in a thin steady stream. Add the cheese, a pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper. Process briefly to combine. MAKES 2 CUPS.

Buon appeito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins

Sunday, August 8, 2010



We found ourselves in town this weekend for the first time in awhile. So, we got up early and went to Mass, followed by brunch at Collete in the Hotel Sofitel. Recently remodeled, it is much more open and colorful than the former Chez Collete. But the French pastries are better than ever. Bob and I split an egg-white omelet with goat cheese, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and then splurged on the croissants. Perfect way to start a new week. Try it you will like it too. OOH, La, La.

Buon appetito,


Wednesday, August 4, 2010



This is summer RESTAURANT WEEK in the Twin Cities, so I am trying to take in some new eateries. Parma 8200 in Bloomington was my choice on this hot, humid summer day.

Parma 8200 just opened about six weeks ago and is one of the many restaurants owned by the D'Amico brothers. While the service still needs some improvement and the location needs better signage the food for lunch was just perfect.

I was joined by four other female friends and we had a nice long lunch in the high energy space. Because of the special week, they were offering a $10.00 2 course lunch. I went for the Watermelon Salad with sweet basil, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese. Other offering included Fried Sicilian Rice Balls which sounded too hot and heavy for this hot day and Bruschetta of Tomatoes which sounded a bit ordinary to me. The Watermelon Salad was small, but refreshing and satisfying. I plan to try and duplicate it for a dinner party I am co-hosting in a few weeks.

For my main course or Secondi I chose the Chilled Shrimp Salad, with fregola, and corn tossed with a tarragon vinaigrette. I do wish it had a few more shrimp, but for a $10.00 lunch again it was the perfect size. There were also chopped green beans and asparagus in the salad.

We passed on desert because of course we are all dieting. The lunch I ordered was fresh, delicious, light and just what this weight watcher needed. And the company was great too.

Try Parma 8200, I think they are going to be a great place to dine once they have the kinks in their service worked out and some better signs leading to their establishment.

Buon appetito,

Carmela Tursi Hobbins