Continuing the traditions

In honor of Mother’s Day,  I am remembering my Mama today and how I learned the gift of hospitality from her. As the youngest of five children, I remember our home bustling with family, friends and people who worked for us in the restaurant. Our dinner table was always at least ten people deep.

In the Italian culture, hospitality is at the core of our being. We celebrate every milestone and holiday in life with fervor, and usually around food. My mother’s dinner table was a testament to that! She welcomed everyone, whether you stepped foot in our deli, restaurant or our home. People always told me that they always felt welcomed and part of the family.

Today, in my restaurants and my home, I have carried on that tradition of treating customers or friends like they are coming into my kitchen for dinner. I love the social aspect of our restaurants. I have met wonderful people over the years that have started out as customers and now are my friends. Some of these friends I have known for the better part of twenty years, and some are new friends.

Thank you, Mama, for leaving me with this very rewarding and fulfilling gift of hospitality…I cherish it!

I wish all Mamas a very Happy Mother’s Day.

Birthdays have always been celebrations with family!

Balancing a busy life…

juggling

Enjoying a day at the winery

“You must be busy all the time, I don’t know how you do it. I could never…”.
That’s what I hear all the time. Yes, it’s true, but I don’t know any other way. My life is centered around my restaurants. Long vacations have been far and few, and the few times have been planned in a pinch, depending on staff at that time. Social life is small because most people socialize on weekends when we are working our busiest nights. Our weekends or days off are usually at the beginning of the week to mid-week, so our downtime is different than most of our friends’ schedules.

Our days off generally are tying up loose ends for our businesses. For us, there is no such thing as a totally relaxing, do-nothing day off, but we do try to intertwine pleasure. So, we might be able to grab a bite out, dine with family members or visit our daughter at college for dinner. (This is my favorite thing to do).

You’re on 24-7 with a restaurant business. Every day off is a finger-crossed day that you won’t get a phone call that needs immediate attention. So the cell phone is a blessing and curse..lol.

Although most of my time is spent in one of my restaurants, I have great employees who manage to keep the training rolling despite our absence on given days.

I lead a very busy life but also very simple and boring!

Cordiali Saluti,

Lucia

Entertaining 

Sitting with a colleague the other day, we were having a conversation about entertaining at home. She then mentioned that the other evening she hosted some friends for dinner and asked me  how I felt about how it takes hours to prepare a meal and then it’s devoured in twenty minutes. 

I didn’t have to think about my reply!  I got so excited because I receive such satisfaction and joy watching people eat what I’ve prepared and then compliment what they’ve eaten. 

I am a nurturer by nature. I put so much of myself in my cooking and entertaining. As a plus, I get to do it personally and professionally in my restaurants. I enjoy visiting a table of patrons in my restaurant and asking how they enjoyed their meal. I love seeing them fulfilled and pleased with the whole experience just as I do in my own home. My business is just an extension of my satisfaction. Who can be unhappy about that?One of our many family celebrations.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Most Italians know that Christmas Eve dinner is celebrated with a fish meal. If you are Italian and Catholic, you know this is a form of fasting; no meat in the anticipation of the birth of our Savior Jesus. The seven fishes represent different things seven meaning perfect is rooted in biblical numerology, seven days of creation, seven sacraments, seven virtues or even seven gifts of the Holy Spirit….wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord (wonder)

In my family, we uphold the tradition and celebrate with seven fishes. We start with appetizers (fish salad made from calamari and lobster, shrimp with cocktail sauce, crab cakes), linguine with white clam sauce and then two different fried or baked fish dishes (usually flounder and salmon).

This is a holiday that I do not host due to the demands of owning restaurants. So, we celebrate at one of my brothers’ homes.

Christmas is a nostalgic time of year. I find myself thinking of my mother often through my baking, decorating and cooking. My childhood was not a typical American childhood, as I was raised by Sicilian immigrants. There was no Santa for me; I knew from a very young age he did not exist. I would wake up Christmas morning to no Santa gifts under the tree. Yes, I know it’s sad, but I survived. 🙂

This led me to be a great Mom. I gave my daughter the gift of believing and started my own Christmas traditions in my family! We go to Christmas Eve mass, open our gifts  Christmas morning, eat cinnamon rolls while watching “A Christmas Story” and all-day movie marathon, and end the day with a beautiful Christmas dinner with my mother, father in law and husbands brother and his family.

May the peace of this beautiful season bring you a new year filled with many blessings of joy, health and prosperity.

~Lucia

Fish salad
Linguine with white clam

Christmas Day

Thanksgiving…My Favorite Holiday.

Thanksgiving. My Favorite Holiday. It’s about gratitude and comes before the giving holiday Christmas. As a restaurant owner, we look forward to the holidays business-wise. We can count on an upward swing in business because people tend to have less time to cook and/or are feeding large gatherings of family and friends.

For my family it is a welcome day of rest, considering we work seven days of the week feeding others.  I host Thanksgiving in my home, usually for anywhere from 25-30 people. Yes, we are a large Italian family.

I host Thanksgiving for a few reasons. One reason is that when I was growing up, my parents didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. They were off-the-boat Sicilians; in Italy, there is no Thanksgiving holiday. We did gather on that day to eat together, but Italian dishes were on the table…NO turkey! So I would get upset and tell my mother that when I have a family some day, we will ALWAYS celebrate with a turkey, and that we do!!

I usually have to make two turkeys to feed my gang, and everybody likes to leave with leftovers. I find it therapeutic to cook my Thanksgiving meal for my family because no one is expecting any gourmet meal. just the usual suspects: turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and a few vegetable sides. Simple for me, as cooking in my own kitchen for others brings me so much peace and joy.  My mother spent most of her life in the kitchen cooking, and it is a place in the home that gives me such warmth and is filled with so many memories.  Especially memories of the people that are no longer here with us they live through us cooking in the kitchen!!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING… MAY YOU FIND YOUR GRATEFULNESS IN THE KITCHEN LIKE I DO.

All the best, Lucia