In February, my family spent a week in Rome and stayed at the most incredible hotel, Albergo del Sole al Pantheon. It is billed as the oldest hotel in Rome, dating back to the 15th century, and its rooms contain some really interesting architectural details (not to mention skeleton keys to open the doors – I kid you not!). The hotel’s location is prime, in the middle of a piazza, smack dab in the center of the city, walking distance to all of the major tourist attractions, and overlooking the Pantheon. This was the view from our window:
Need I say more?? I’m sure I don’t, but I will add another reason to love this hotel – breakfast. Every morning, they serve an incredible buffet breakfast on their rooftop terrace which includes everything from an assortment of freshly baked breads and platters of prosciutto, cheese and hard-boiled eggs, to fresh fruit, granola and homemade ricotta. Yes, homemade ricotta cheese – thick and creamy and warm. Spread onto the rosemary focaccia, it was pure heaven!
I returned from Italy determined to try my hand at making ricotta. I collected quite a few recipes, among them, one from Ina Garten’s book How Easy is That? (thank you, Norma!) I tweaked it slightly and it was absolutely, mouth-wateringly delicious! I love thick ricotta cheese, so I strained it for a good long while. The end result was rich and creamy and the closest thing to what we had in Italy that I’ve tasted.
I will work on the rosemary focaccia, to be sure. Until then, breakfast is a slice of Italian toast, a layer of arugula leaves, the homemade ricotta, a few tomato slices, salt and pepper. If I have prosciutto in the house, I might throw that on, too. For those of you, like me, who don’t love cereal and other “breakfast” foods, this is a perfect way to say Buon Giorno!
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and salt. Bring to a rolling boil, then remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar and allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes until it begins to curdle (It looks pretty unappetizing at this point. Keep the faith). Pour the mixture into a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and set over a large bowl. Let the ricotta drain for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, check the consistency. If you’d like it thicker, continue to let it drain. When you are satisfied with the consistency, put into the refrigerator. It will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.
Makes approximately 2-3 cups.