Tag Archives: Teddy

Teddy’s Cannara

The small town of Cannara, my temporary home during my 3 month Italian sojourn, is undeniably small. And this is a great thing! The 10 or so minute stroll from the idyllic countryside farmhouse to town center brings you past the single supermarket, the pizzeria, the bank, the hardware/convenience store, the town monument, then plops you down at the bar. I’m using the definite (the) rather than indefinite (a/an) article here because, well you can be sure it’s the bar because it’s the only one in town. While on one hand this means fewer options, you don’t need anything else when you arrive to Bar Blue Sky and the baristas know how you take your coffee, or you start to pick up the rules of the card game that seemingly every male over the age of 60 in the town congregates to play in the late afternoon every day. For two weeks each year, however, this small town becomes the center of Italian cultural and culinary fascination during the Festa della Cipolla.
Cannara is known throughout Italy, and to some extent even throughout Europe, as the place where the best onions are grown. The onion is the agricultural legacy of Cannara, and this two-week long festival celebrates the bulb by opening pop-up restaurants throughout the town with onion themed menus. All the cooking sends out the smell of onion through the town and beyond, drawing visitors in on the scent streams from far and wide. And a crazy thing happens – this small town suddenly becomes absolutely bustling! An estimate of visitors over the two weeks I received from every Umbrian I know was between 60,000 and 70,000. This is for a town that my own estimate would say has about 1,000 residents, so you can imagine the change of scenery!


At nights during the festa, the town is alive with dangling lights, live music, local artisan vendors selling their wares, and, of course, innumerable onion dishes from which to choose at the various temporary restaurants. Hiring a staff to work for only two weeks is likely a tall task, so they skip it altogether – the employees are composed of town locals, coming in pretty much any age imaginable (I’ve seen some 7 year old-waiters and some 70 year old-waiters) who volunteer when they can throughout the course of the celebration. And because everyone is excited to try the once-a-year food options, the lines are huge. Arriving late on the last night of the festival, Cal and I had no time to wait and instead pulled the real clever move of eating at the best actual restaurant in Cannara – Perbacco – with the talented chef Ernesto and his delightful wife and host Simona.
We ate roasted onion; we ate onion soup; we ate onion pizza; we ate onion cream; we ate onion ice cream (shockingly good). It was a full meal and a satisfying meal, and Ernesto made the perfect wine recommendation for two novice drinkers – he so casually explained that the bottle of wine satisfied all of the specific areas of our interest (from Umbria, dry, not heavy but with enough body, spontaneous fermentation) without us even giving him any criteria. And, lo and behold, two novice drinkers finishing a whole bottle of wine together (and a digestivo) led to a pretty fun evening! We stayed at the restaurant for about three hours, taking up conversation with the Dutch spouses seated next to us and reveling in the fashion choices of the visiting population ambling our typically sleepy streets.


To end the night, we made our way to the Onion Disco Pub. To my knowledge, this outdoor bar and venue is closed for all but these two weeks of the year, so you have to know that folks make the most of its brief opening. The music bumps from here across town most nights of the festival, and it is where people gather after having dined on their onions and need to start – or keep – drinking. It was the largest – and youngest – crowd I’ve ever seen in Cannara, singing along to the band’s covers of classic Italian pop hits. Once tired, we left the scene and headed home, thankful for the short walk from the center of our small town.


A dopo,



Cannara Festa della Cipolla (Onion Festival) Read more

The small town of Cannara, my temporary home during my 3 month Italian sojourn, is undeniably small. And this is a great thing! ...

Teddy’s Cannellini Semplice and Radicchio Brasato

Here’s a meal I prepared recently: fagioli cannellini semplice e radicchio brasato. This meal combines a staple of my Italian cooking experience and a new recipe that is applied from the techniques and approach I’ve come to learn in my time cooking in Umbria.


1 can/jar cannellini beans
1 yellow onion
1-2 carrots
1-2 stalks of celery
Parmigiano reggiano
Fresh herbs/seasoning
white wine, chicken/vegetable stock &
lemon zest

Start by preparing a classic soffrito: dice your onion, carrot, and celery, and let them sweat on low heat with a bit of oil, butter, or both. Cook until translucent.

Once the onions and carrots are soft, you can add a pinch of salt and the rest of your aromatics (typically I’ll go for some crushed red pepper to give the dish some heat, or you can add herbs like rosemary and thyme).

Once the pan is smelling fragrant, add your rinsed beans. Cook until you’re satisfied—if you want the dish to be dry, cook until the beans are warm and you’re done! If you want a stew-like quality, keep the temperature low and add some white wine, chicken/vegetable stock, or even just some water. Option to toss in more butter to get a rich, velvety texture.

Once you have the consistency you’d like, pull the beans from the heat and top with some parmigiano and, if you’d like, some lemon zest. This is the dish I always cook for myself on the elusive rainy day in Los Angeles.


In Umbria, radicchio is typically roasted over a fire then finished with salt and oil, maybe some lemon juice, and it is a delight. I hadn’t been using the oven recently, however, and wanted to put it to use:


1 whole head of radicchio
1 yellow onion
Red wine
Olive oil

Preheat to 450-500—you just want it to be hot.

Quarter your radicchio lengthwise. Put a pan on medium-high heat, add a splash of olive oil and a small pat of butter. Place the radicchio into the pan to sear its outside—it should brown and even start to blacken before you flip it, about 2-3 minutes a side.

Once the radicchio is seared, transfer the quarters into a baking dish. Slice the onion and add into the baking dish.

Take your bottle of red wine and pour into the dish until the radicchio is about 1/4 submerged, then add just a bit of water to bring the liquid level to just under 1/2 of the radicchio.

Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once it’s out of the oven, feel free to drizzle with some good olive oil!

A staple of my Italian cooking experience Read more

Here's a meal I prepared recently: fagioli cannellini semplice e radicchio brasato. This meal combines a staple of my Italian cooking experience ...