It’s a sign of our interconnected times that Roman food expert Katie Parla is coming to Chapel Hill next week for a dinner and book event.
Parla is a food and travel writer based in Rome who came out with a cookbook earlier this year, “Tasting Rome.” The 256-page cookbook is filled with classic and modern Roman recipes, history lessons and cultural snapshots. The book is filled with stunning images by photographer and co-author Kristina Gill.
Here’s the short version of how Parla ended up with this enviable job: She visited Rome as a high school sophomore and took advantage of generous travel grants while at Yale University to return during the summers. She moved to Rome after college graduation in 2003 and planned to become a wine sommelier; she eventually got a degree in Italian gastronomic culture. She’s parlayed that expertise into a food and travel writing career.
One of Parla’s fans is Chef Teddy Diggs of Chapel Hill’s Il Palio restaurant at the Siena Hotel. In July, Diggs was headed to Italy and planned to spend two days in Rome. On a whim, he sent an email to Parla via her website but thought his note went unanswered. Actually, her response ended up in his spam folder. On the first morning Diggs was in Rome, he got an Instagram message from Parla and the pair ended up having dinner together.
Over that meal of pasta carbonara and braised meatballs, Diggs and Parla decided to collaborate on a dinner together when Parla was visiting the States this month. And so on Nov. 15, Diggs will cook a five-course Roman meal and Parla will explain the dishes’ history and Roman culture.
“Katie will be talking, curating the whole event,” Diggs explained.
And diners not only get to enjoy a meal, they get to take home copies of her book.
Il Palio at Chapel Hill’s Siena Hotel is hosting a dinner at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15 featuring Katie Parla, author of “Tasting Rome.” Diners will enjoy a five-course meal with wine pairings and receive a signed copy of Parla’s book. Tickets cost $125. For reservations, call 919-918-2545.
To see the full menu, go to katieparla.com/event/tasting-rome-dinner-chapel-hills-il-palio.
Il Palio is at 1505 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill.
Simmered Beef with Tomato and Onion
Liberally salt the beef with kosher salt for at least four hours and up to 24 hours ahead of time. From “Tasting Rome,” by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill (Clarkson Potter, 2016).
1 pound beef shin or shank, nerve removed, and salted in advance
1 cup dry white wine
3 onions, divided
10 whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram
Pinch of peperoncino or red pepper flakes
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Place the salted beef in a large pot with water to cover. Slowly bring the water to a gentle simmer over low heat, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Then add the wine, carrots and 2 onions, the peppercorns and the cloves. Cook at a low simmer until the beef is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Transfer the meat to a plate and shred it with tongs or two forks. Coarsely chop the cooked carrots and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the remaining onion. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, then add the marjoram and peperoncino and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook until the sauce has reduced slightly and becomes less acidic, about 15 minutes. Add the shredded beef and carrots. Stir well, then cook for 15 minutes more to allow the sauce to come together and reduce slightly.
Serve immediately as a stand-alone dish, or use as a sandwich filling on a soft bun or crusty bread.
Yield: 4-6 servings