Kris Caputo Hurley
Favorite food: I’ll pick savory over sweet any day. I don’t have one favorite food. I like good food and that can be a number of things depending on the occasion, location, etc. However, if I had to pick something I’ve also loved and always will love, it’s pizza. A thin Margherita pizza with a glass of chianti would make me happy any night of the week. Try Trattoria dell’Arte in Manhattan if you can’t get to anywhere in Italy. And, for sweet, again it depends on time and place. I love anything red and chewy for candy. If I could zap a dessert from anywhere it would be gelato. Anywhere from Italy is just fine by me.
Favorite local restaurants (formal dining, ethnic, neighborhood bistro): I’ve only been to Mulvaney’s once for my wedding anniversary last year. We sat outside on the patio. I loved the ambiance, and the food was just as memorable. I did three small plates, which I hear is the way to go. The eggplant parmigian – traditional, no pasta, just eggplant and tomato sauce – was my favorite. I dream of going back but my formal dining experiences will be limited now that my little Luke was born in December. I don’t have a local ethnic favorite. I know there are wonderful restaurants in Sac but I find myself to be much more adventurous with my food choices when I’m out of town. I’ve certainly eaten at ethnic restaurants in Sac but they seem far too mainstream to mention. I think this question requires a “hole-in-the-wall” response. My favorite neighborhood joint is The Shack. I actually discovered it through an FH colleague. “The Shackers” are a group of us from work and our hubbies (and now my son). We like to head over on Thursday nights for Gary’s ever-changing theme menus. I haven’t been in weeks because of travel and other week-night conflicts but I miss the casual outdoor patio, local musicians, and friendly faces. They decided to stop serving breakfast on weekends which makes me very sad. Bring breakfast back, Gary and Jen!
Favorite dining experience of all time: I’d have to say it was a meal in Italy (of course) while backpacking through Europe. My companions and I traveled to Cinque Terra hitting all five fishing villages and landing “on top” in Monterosso. We grabbed a seat at an outdoor cafe with ocean views. The menu was in Italian – which isn’t totally intimidating but my Italian is far from fluent – and all I ever order on the coast is seafood. “Gambero” or some dialect of shrimp stood out on this menu so that’s what I ordered. I expected jumbo pawns peeled and deveined as often presented here in the states. What I got was a magnificent clay pot filled to the rim with a broth so divine I could just drink it right now. Within the broth were 10 or so (it was a pretty big pot) giant prawns (as I envisioned) but the eyes, tails and tentacles were all in tact. It’s the first time I can remember having to chop off a head and suck down the meat. I’ve been addicted ever since.
Earliest food-related memory from childhood: Kopp’s Frozen Custard in Milwaukee, Wis. I lived there until I was 11 years old before moving to California. It is the richest, most delicious “ice cream” I’ve ever had. We used to spend our summer nights – walking sometimes – at the local creamery. It’s been renovated since to a gigantic warehouse-type facility. I remember the small, brownstone building that served chocolate, vanilla, and one flavor of the day. Always on a cone. Everyone says the burgers are to-die-for too, but I’d kill for the frozen custard. I can still get my fix by ordering it online.
Most impressive dish you’ve whipped up using only ingredients on hand: Never done this. Never will. I have to follow recipes verbatim or I panic. I love to cook, but I’m not a good one.
Favorite family recipe: My Nonna’s gnocchi. The problem is there is no recipe. It’s a “little of this” and a “little of that.” It’s actually the combination of the homemade sauce and tender potato pillows that makes it the most heavenly dish. Americans drown their pasta in red sauce. Italians lightly coat their pasta in the yummiest tomato sauce you’ll ever taste – if you’re lucky enough to know someone from the homeland. My father and his family are from Calabria.