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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.


Spinach Soufflé

Preheat oven to 350 Heat butter in a two-quart sauce pot over medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic for three…

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Oyster Dressing

Preheat oven to 350. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook the sausage for 5-6…

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Pesto Potato Salad

Place potatoes and salt in water and simmer on low heat until potatoes are tender. Drain and allow them to…

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From my travel journal October 7, 2011: Everything here is so loose. Tuscans are even more laid back than Southerners. We are quickly learning that there aren’t a lot of specifics here. Plans, roads, addresses are obscure concepts and mere suggestions. It’s kind of a maybe-so-maybe-not-no-big-deal-either-way society. Throw in a passion for food and living, and one could get used to living around here pretty quickly. The stress level is so low I can almost feel my hair growing back.

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The best spinach I have ever eaten was served at the Viola Club My travel journal entry October 8, 2011: It’s nice though, to know that every day I drive down a road that has over 2,000 years of history on it’s surface. Via Roma connects Barbarino Val D’Elsa to the larger town of Tavernelle Val Di Pesa. Yesterday we ate the second best meal we’ve eaten during this six-week journey. There is a little joint on the Via Roma that winds through the town square of Tavarnelle. It’s a coffee shop in the morning, a café in the afternoon, and a pool hall at night. Perfect. The Viola Club (named for the lavender color of the Florence “football” team) is the local hangout for a few dozen 50-80 year old men who might not be practicing Catholics, but are surely practicing card players. They are there in the morning. They are there at noon, and they are there in the evening. They are a jolly bunch who drink coffee, joke, tease, argue, and play cards. The first time I went in there, I watched from a corner table as they gave one of the men in their ranks a continual hard time. He endured a few hours of ribbing about his hair treatment. I got the feeling that he had used some type of over-the-counter hair dye recently (very obvious seeing that he was in his late 70s, and his hair was a solid blanket of jet black), and had probably stayed away from his friends at the Viola Club for a few days. I happened to be there on the day of his return and the ribbing was relentless. His friends kept calling him “Berlusconi” because of the hair dye— a reference to the current Italian Prime Minister. I wanted to film the scene, to try and remember, and they— in a very jovial manner— brought me over and said I should film the Prime minister. The Viola Club isn’t much to look at, but the food is very good and cheap. Paolo is the sole server. His mother, Giuliani, is the cook, and his father works the bar and the cash register— a true family operated business. The food is excellent and I have gotten several ideas for “An Italian Palate” there. In Italy spinach is purchased fresh in a market or chopped and rolled into individually portioned balls.

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Spinach Flan

Cibreo in Florence is one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Chef Fabio Picchi serves a light-as-air spinach flan as a course on his tasting menu. This is my version, which is a nice, light vegetarian first course option.

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Roasted New Potatoes

This is a supper staple at the St. John house. On steak night I cook these potatoes.

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Green Beans

Quick, simple, flavorful.

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Not Your Ordinary, Average, Everyday Cheese Tart

One of the easiest recipes in the book. There are a lot of versions of this recipe floating around. This is mine. It is not a true tart for many reasons, but that’s what I call it. Once you taste it you’ll love it, and you can call it whatever you like.

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