Linguine with Seafood in Parchment

Linguine ai Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio

Linquine ai Frutti di Mare al Cartocci - 1

Yes, everyone, it’s Christmas Eve and, as many of you who’ve been with me for at least one Christmas already know, it’s a night of great anticipation and luscious seafood for many of us Italians. In fact, more than a few households will celebrate tonight with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. In the past, I shared a rather tongue-in-cheek story of the origins of this Feast but, instead of sending you there, I thought I’d reprint it for you here. What’s this? You already know the tale? Well, just skip the paragraph that follows and head straight to the video. That should keep you occupied until the others catch up. So, here is one version of how the Feast of the Seven Fishes came about …

Prior to the changes brought by Vatican Council II in the 1960′s, Christmas Eve was a “fast & abstain” day, meaning only 1 main meal could be consumed and no meat was to be eaten all day. For most Catholics around the World, it was a day of contemplation and that one meal was nothing special. With Christmas coming within hours, all eyes — and appetites — were focused on the big day — and dinner — soon to come. Not so the Italians.  If tomorrow’s a big holiday and today you can only have one meal, why not make that meal special? And so they did. Can’t have any meat? No problem. With Italy being both peninsula and island, fish was very often more readily available than many meat products. And so it became a seafood banquet. Wait a minute! The Church may frown upon so grand a celebration on the eve of the birth of the Christ Child. Again, no problem. They made a point of serving seven fish, each one representing one of the Seven Sacraments of the Christian Faith. In one masterstroke, their seafood feast became an Act of Faith. What priest, bishop, or even Pope would dare interfere with these devout Catholics as they used the day’s only meal to commemorate the Seven Sacraments? (The fact that the clergy themselves were probably dining on an even more spectacular seafood supper didn’t hurt “the cause” either.) And so the Feast of the Seven Fishes was born and survives to this day wherever Italians call home.

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OK then. Is everybody here? Let’s continue …

I first saw this dish prepared almost 20 years ago. An Italian chef, Nick Stellino, hosted a cooking show on PBS. That one episode not only showed me how to cook seafood pasta, Pasta dei Frutti di Mare, but it introduced me to the wonders of using parchment paper to envelope a dish. Since then, although I’ve made this dish a few times, I’ve made seafood pasta often and baked fish and/or vegetables in parchment or foil even more frequently.

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Now, this one dish will give you 5 of the 7 fish needed for your feast. Please resist the urge to go for broke and add 2 more fish to the pot. All that will do is muddle the flavors or, worse yet depending on the seafood chosen, completely overpower the others. If you’re looking for suggestions, how about oysters on a half-shell, a nice octopus salad, a small salad with seared tuna, or a bit of baccalà salad. (A serving of baccalà in some fashion being the overwhelming choice of many Italian families.) Still not happy? Then do what I once did. Late one Christmas Eve afternoon, I was among the horde in a grocery store when I realized I was 2 fish shy of the required 7 for my own little feast. Not willing to spend any more time in the store while I weighed options, I went to the sushi counter and picked up a spicy tuna roll, before heading to the deli section to get a jar of pickled herring.  Fish are fish, after all.

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Speaking for my Zia and the rest of the Bartolini Clan,

We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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Frutti di Mare - Crudo

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Linguine with Seafood in Parchment Recipe

yield: 3 servings (See Notes)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb (225 g) fresh linguine, spaghetti, or tagliatelle — dried pasta may be substituted
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or grated, divided
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley, divided
  • 2 tbsp basil, chopped
  • 1 small can (14.5 oz; 400 g) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 c white wine, divided
  • 1/2 cup clam juice or shrimp stock (see Notes)
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram (2 tsp if fresh)
  • 6 mussels, (see Notes)
  • 6 cherry-stone or manila clams, (see Notes)
  • 6 scallops, cut in half (see Notes)
  • 9 shrimp (see Notes)
  • 3 calamari (see Notes)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped parsley and basil for garnish

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(Click any photo to enlarge)

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Directions

  1. At least 30 minutes before you are to begin preparing the sauce, place the clams in a bowl filled with cold water. Change the water at least once and be sure to brush the clam shells before cooking them.
  2. Prepare a simple tomato sauce:
    1. Place 2 tbsp olive oil in a small sauce pan over med-heat. Once hot, add the onion, the red pepper flakes, season with salt & pepper, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add 2 cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp of parsley, stir, and continue to sauté for another minute or so.
    3. Add 1/4 c wine, the tomatoes, 1 tbsp basil, season with marjoram, salt & pepper, and bring to a boil before lowering heat to a simmer.
    4. Allow to simmer until sauce has deepened in color and thickened, about 30 to 40 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary.
    5. Put aside 1/2 cup for the recipe and reserve the rest for another day.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 375˚ F (190˚ C).
  4. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until 2 minutes before the package indicates it will be al dente. (See Notes)
  5. In a large, deep fry pan with a lid, add remaining olive oil over med-high heat. Add remaining oil, garlic, and parsley to the pan and sauté until fragrant, about a minute or so. Add the clams and mussels, cover the pan, and sauté for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the squid, shrimp, scallops, clam juice, tomato sauce, and the remaining basil and wine to the pan. Cover, increase the heat to high, and boil the ingredients for about 2 more minutes.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, remove the seafood from the pan, and place in a covered bowl. Reduce the sauce by half,
  8. By now, the pasta should be drained. Add it to the boiling sauce, stir to evenly coat, and sauté for a minute.
  9. Add the reserved seafood to the pan, mix, and heat till warmed throughout. At this point, discard any shellfish that have yet to open.
  10. Meanwhile, take a large piece of parchment paper — or aluminum foil — fold in half and place on a large serving platter.
  11. When the seafood and pasta are ready, place them along the fold of the parchment paper. Garnish with parsley and basil. Working quickly, use interlocking folds to join the top and bottom halves of the parchment paper. (See Notes)
  12. Alternately:
    1. Use separate sheets of folded parchment paper, one per serving.
    2. Split the pasta and seafood evenly among the sheets. Garnish with parsley and basil. Fold each, as indicated in Step 11 above.
  13. Place the parchment packet(s) on a baking sheet and place in the middle of a pre-heated oven.
  14. Bake for 5 minutes and remove to a large serving platter or individual plates. Do not pierce the parchment until at the table.
  15. Serve immediately and watch as your dinner guests open their parchment presents and get a whiff of that steam. This is why you go through the trouble of putting seafood pasta in parchment.
  16. Do not serve with grated cheese for it will overpower rather than enhance most of the dish’s seafood components.

Inspired by Nick Stellino, “Cucina Amore”, Pasta al Cartoccio di Mare

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Linquine ai Frutti di Mare al Cartocci - 2

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Notes

To store the fresh seafood

If you are to prepare this on Christmas Eve, the last place you want to be that afternoon is standing in line at the fishmonger. Fresh seafood will easily keep in your fridge for 24 hours if treated properly. I would not recommend storing beyond 24 hours.

  • Remove the clams and mussels from their packaging and place in a colander. Cover with damp — not sopping wet — paper towels. Place the colander in a bowl in which some ice as been set. Do not use so much ice that it will immerse any of the colander’s contents when it melts or the mollusks may drown. Place the bowl with colander into your refrigerator until needed.
  • Leave the shrimp, squid, and mussels in their packaging and store in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Do not freeze.

To prepare the seafood:

  • The Clams: At least 30 minutes before they are to be used in the recipe, place in a bowl of cold water and soak. (Some believe adding a couple tbsp of corn meal to the water will cause the clams to eliminate any sediment.) Change the water at least once before the clams are needed. Just before use, scrub clean the shells with a small brush. Discard any that are open and that won’t close on their own power.
  • The Mussels: Before use, remove the beard (a thread mass on one side) and use a brush to clean the shells. Discard any that are open and that won’t close on their own power.
  • The Shrimp: remove the shell including the tail section, if desired. Save the shells to be used to make shrimp stock. Use a sharp paring knife to slit the top of each shrimp. This will reveal a dark-colored vein that should be removed.
  • The Scallops: these may be sold with a muscle attached to one side. It is about an inch long and /14 inch wide. This should be removed as it is tough and unpalatable.
  • The Squid: Use a sharp knife to cut each tube, creating rings that are a half-inch wide. If using the tentacles, cut them in half or quarters.

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Homemade Linguine Cut Two Ways

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You may find it easier to enclose your seafood in aluminum foil rather than parchment paper. The choice is yours to make.

Do not forget — as I did — to add a garnish of parsley and basil to each packet just before you seal them. Their presence adds to the aroma upon tearing the parchment.

Timing is everything with this dish. The seafood cannot be kept waiting for the pasta to be cooked lest it become tough and rubbery. If you feel that you cannot properly time the dishes together, go ahead and cook the pasta so that it finishes within a few minutes of starting the sauce. Pasta should be cooked about 2 minutes shy of al dente, as indicated on the package’s instructions. Drain the pasta, return it to the now-empty pot, coat very lightly with olive oil, and cover until needed.

You needn’t be an origami expert to fold and seal the parchment packets. That’s why the gods gave us staplers and don’t be afraid to use one.

As written, this recipe will give you 3 nice servings. If you wish, it will yield 4 primo piatto-sized servings, though you may want to adjust the amounts of seafood used.

The keen-eyed among you may have noticed that there seemed to be more seafood in the photos than was required by the recipe. You’d be correct. I usually buy a couple extra clams and mussels to account for any that may be spoiled and must be discarded. Not knowing that I had already done so, the fishmonger added a couple more, for the same reason. When I joked that the scallops looked “bad”, he agreed and added another 2 scallops to their previously weighed container. He then added 2 shrimp and another squid to their respective containers. This is how you earn life-long customers.

If you like, you can skip the parchment packets altogether and use this recipe to prepare a very good frutti di mare pasta. To do so, follow the recipe but cook the pasta for another minute before draining. Place the drained pasta into the sauce, as before, but cook it for only a minute before adding the seafood. Stir to combine, heat everything through, and serve immediately. Garnish with chopped parsley and basil.

This dish does not make good leftovers. None of the seafood will re-heat well at all. Try to prepare just enough to ensure your dinner guests are satisfied without having anything left on the serving platter.

As you may have noticed, I used a pastry brush to lightly coat the sealed parchment before placing it in the oven. There was no discernible effect to the parchment paper by doing this. Perhaps it’s because the oven temp was relatively low and the packet was in the oven so briefly. Whatever the reason, I won’t do it again for this recipe and excluded it from the recipe’s directions.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Zuppa Inglese - 1No series looking back at my family’s traditional Christmas dishes would be complete without including our recipe for Zuppa Inglesi. This highly anticipated dessert consisted of lady fingers that were “lightly flavored” with alcohol before being covered in lemon-flavored custard. There’s even an alcohol-free version so that no one seated at the table need go without. You can take a look at the recipe for this family favorite just by clicking HERE.

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Coming New Year’s Eve to a monitor near you …

Two Cellos and a Cherry

Booze

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193 thoughts on “Linguine with Seafood in Parchment

  1. you did it… an amazing seafood feast, I’m so jealous, as I am struggling to get my hallacas to gel properly. I added a little vinegar to the masa dough (hallacas are close to mexican tamales) and that’s preventing the starch from gelling (at least that’s my theory). I’m dehydrating them in the oven right now, and they taste delicious, but the texture isn’t quite there. 12 hours of work… they better set! 🙂 John, have a wonderful Christmas! if I don’t talk to you before the new year, I hope you have a wonderful new year’s eve!

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  2. Oh Dear John, your linguine with seafood in parchment puts my chicken en papillote
    to shame. 😉 ))) I have so much to learn from you. 😀
    Perfect dish and narrative for the occasion.
    I wish you and yours the Happiest of Holiday Season, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Like

    • Thank you, Fae, you’re too kind — and your chicken en papillote is a great dish, too. I look forward to preparing it.
      I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful Christmas with those dear to you and may you all have a blessed and happy New Year.

      Like

    • unless I’m in Italy, I rarely, if ever, order pasta in a restaurant, the only exception being frutti di mare. The best part of learning this recipe was learning how to prepare a good fruitti di mare. That’s all this dish is, though it’s presented gift wrapped. 🙂

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  3. Another great recipe, John!
    I’ve never prepared seafood pasta in cartoccio because I never understood the point of putting cooked pasta and cooked seafood in the oven. Now I understand, thank you! The smell that comes from the cartoccio when opened at the table is indeed worth it.
    I always add 3% salt by weight to the soaking water for clams as they will think they’re in the sea and start to purge themselves. Just water makes them shut in my experience. Rinse with fresh water afterwards to remove the salt.
    A very happy Christmas to you and Zia!
    PS
    We’re having eel stewed in tomatoes as just one of seven fishes, and more suitable for new year’s but very tasty. I’ve kept the eel alive in the fridge to avoid the line at the fishmongers.

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  4. Pingback: Linguine with Seafood in Parchment | Linguine a...

    • Thanks, Marie. I’ve already used shrimp in the pasta but that hot crab dip sounds like a real winner. And how about a little caviar atop the smoked salmon crostini? The possibilities are endless.
      In but a few hours, the madness begins at your house. What fun! Have a wonderful Christmas with your two Believers, Marie, and the rest of your family.

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  5. John- this looks so fantastic! If I get very ambitious, I might be brave enough to give it a go for New Year’s. All the very best to you, your Zian and the rest of the family. Happy Christmas!

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    • Thank you so much. Don’t let this dish intimidate you. It really is a question of timing and knowing when to add what to the pot. The shellfish take about 5 minutes to open while the rest is ready in just about 2 minutes. Once everything is in the pot, give it a minute or 2 to warm and get it into the parchment and, as I said, don’t be afraid to use a stapler. Do give it a try. You will be very happy that you did.
      I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas!

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  6. Looks wonderful. We will definitely be trying this. We were actually considering several different kinds of seafood for Christmas dinner. We opted for a Raclette dinner which will include shrimp and scallops. Christmas Eve dinner is homemade pizza though! Happy Holidays and happy eating!

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    • Thank you! Although I really enjoy this dish, I have to admit that your Raclette dinner really does sound good. I hope you’re going to blog the recipe. And as far as Christmas Eve dinners go, sharing a pizza with the men of your house, while 3 of them anxiously await Santa, is about as perfect a meal that there is. Have a wonderful Christmas!

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      • Well the Raclette dinner didn’t happen. With a sick husband it was just me and the kids so it was just not worth it, maybe for New Year’s dinner we will try again. Tonight was just the scallops, potatoes and broccoli. Pizza last night was great too. Of course we left the sick hubby at home, but the boys and I enjoyed it.

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        • Sorry that your plans needed to be changed. I hope your Husband is feeling better. I bet he was pretty disappointed. No matter your the age, no one wants to miss Christmas. “Just scallops”??? That sounds pretty good to me! 🙂

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          • Hubby was finally better today and made it back to work. He certainly didn’t enjoy sleeping through the day nor did I enjoy doing everything myself. The good news is the kids still had a great time! Plus the scallops were fantastic! I hope you had a great holiday.

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    • Thanks, Mandy. You’ll be happy to know that this dish is on the top of the list of meals to prepare for you. It will be my pleasure to serve you. 😉
      I hope you and your family are enjoying a most memorable Christmas and may 2014 be a year filled with happiness and good health.

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  7. Presentation makes a huge difference. I am hearing the ooh’s and aah’s when your dinner guests open their individual parchment presents and get a whiff of that steam and aroma. Would love to be one of those lucky guests. Beautiful photos and tutorial.
    A Very Merry Christmas to you and your Zia!

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    • Thanks, Norma. How I’d love to have you seated at my table! You captured this dish’s appeal so well. It’s that swoosh of fragrant steam that makes this dish so special and so well-suited for a celebration.
      I hope you and your family share a most wonderful Christmas.

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  8. Thanks for sharing. Looks delicious and as usual, your excellent instructions and photos make a “do-able” recipe. Buon Natale to you, Zia and the entire Bartolini clan!

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    • Thank you so much, Nancy. All that seafood can be a bit intimidating. This recipe is all about the timing. Get that sorted and it’s a snap to pull off.
      Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

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  9. Oh my… what a wonderful dish! John, it’s almost midnight here and I could sit down to a plate of your pasta right now, if it were at all possible! I’ll be back to look at the muppet link tomorrow, when I won’t risk waking up the entire family… 🙂 Wishing you and the Bartolini family much happiness and good health over the festive season and for the new year to come.

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    • Thank you, Margot. I don’t make this dish very often at all but it sure is good when I do. It’s worth cleaning the house for dinner guests just so that I can have some. 🙂
      Thank you for the holiday wishes and I hope that you and your family are sharing a wonderful holiday season, too, with every happiness in the New Year.

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  10. John it’s time for the calamari!!! (I think I say that every year, lol) Mary CHRISTmas…to you and yours, that recipe looks devine!

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    • Thank you so much, Maria, and thank you for the shout-out on FB. I made baccalà for my dinner tonight. Fried calamari will be made on New Year’s Eve.
      I hope you and your wonderful family share a most memorable Christmas, Maria.

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  11. What a wonderful feast, John! It looks so good and I can imagine the puff of steam from the parchment! I do love parchment cooking especially with fish, never tried it with pasta. I would love to make this and I know my children would love it but I think I have a shellfish allergy so I’m a bit reluctant to try them for fear of turning into the Michelin man!
    I may do it one at a time just to be safe 🙂
    I love Andrea Bocelli and even though I never understand what he’s singing half the time, I sing along anyway!
    Wishing you, Zia and the rest of the Bartolini clan a very Merry Christmas! Hope you have a wonderful holiday, John!!
    Nazneen xx

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    • Thank you so much, Nazneen, but you’re right. No matter how good, it’s not worth an allergic reaction. You can still make a version of this pasta, though. Smoked salmon makes a wonderful pasta, as does tuna. Prepare it until it is just shy of being ready, wrap it in parchment, bake it for a few minutes, and “swoosh!” Smell that heavenly aroma as you pierce the package. Yum!
      That Bocelli is gifted, isn’t he? I could — and do — listen to him for hours.
      Thank you for the holiday wishes, Nazneen, and I hope for nothing but happiness for your and all whom you hold dear in 2014.

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  12. I soooo enjoyed this post! I loved the story about the origin of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve – I tell you, Europeans really know how to live – and we’re lucky they brought their traditions to the States. And talk about a fabulous recipe!!!!!!!! Joyeux Noel mon cher ami John !!

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    • Grazie mille, mia Amica, e buon Natale!
      I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed this post and recipe. We on this side of The Pond would be living far better had not the Puritans been first to arrive. Imagine those United States! 😉

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      • I totally agree – I wish the first Europeans to arrive on these shores had been Italians !!! Then we’d have learned to slow down & ENJOY life !!!
        Get this, in Malta “Thank you” is Grazi Huffna – ‘Grazi’ – adapted from Italian, as you can see. And ‘Huffna” adapted from Arab. ‘Huffna’ means ‘handfuls’!! I love it!

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        • You are a font of knowledge, Cecile. If I ever make it to Jeopardy, I’m going to spend a week with you, learning as much as I can. I’ll be unstoppable!
          “I’ll take Maltese for 1000, Alex.” 🙂

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          • Yes – I AM a font of knowledge… truly random knowledge! That is,,, when my brain kicks in…. Sometimes I can’t even remember what day it is… ; o )

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  13. I haven’t received notification of your posts during the last weeks and I tought you were disappeared…
    Happy to hear from you John!
    Great dish…I love pasta cooked in parchment paper

    Wishing you an happy and joyful Chistmas
    ciao
    Silvia

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    • Hello, Sylvia! Cooking seafood in parchment can be a bit intimidating but it really is all about the timing. Get that right and it is really quite simple to prepare, as I’m sure you already know.
      I hope you and your family are enjoying a wonderful Christmas.

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  14. Booze! (excellent) I don’t have a tradition of cooking in parchment but i really really should, it has such a lovely sound, and I may embrace that old old tradition of only one meal on christmas eve, that has a lovely sound too. This dish is so beautiful i can just imagine the medley of flavours all playing together.. very tasty.. have a glorious day tomorrow John, and when you speak with darling Zia, tell her Merry Christmas and tell her that today I am donning my sunflower pinny to begin christmas dinner, just so she can have a little hand in my kitchen! c

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    • I was lucky enough that I never had to follow the one-meal-plan for Christmas Eve, Celi, though it wouldn’t have hurt me to do so.. They changed the rules before i was old enough to fast like the adults did. I was old enough, though, to enjoy the seafood. Oh, boy!
      I’ll be sure to tell Zia all that you’ve requested, especially that you’ll be wearing your sunflower pinny.. Since she’ll be in your kitchen, be aware that she’ll never say that you’re doing something incorrectly. Instead, she’ll say something like, “That’s an interesting way of doing that …” and you’ll know that she has a better way. 🙂
      I’ll be at Zia’s Granddaughter’s home for Christmas dinner, playing with her Great-Grandchildren. Don’t worry about Zia. She’ll be at another Grandson’s house, playing with her other Great-Grandchildren. 🙂

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  15. Pingback: Linguine with Seafood in Parchment | Linguine ai Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio | thegamidunyasi

  16. Very festive, John! My family does their own take on Feast of the Seven Fishes (we typically only have two or three fishes). Hope you & your family have a very Merry Christmas!

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  17. I just love reading your recipes! Not only are you a funny man, but you are so through in your explanations. This is a terrific recipe – I must try it at some point. Have a wonderful Christmas!

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    • Thanks, John. I feel very much the same when I read your posts. I’d love to see your take on this dish, especially the banter with Mrs KR at the end. I’m grinning already!
      I hope you both have a most memorable Christmas!

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    • E buon Natale a Te! Who carea bout the umbers, anyway. Once you get passed 3 or 4, most lose count. 🙂 I, too, made baccalà for dinner tonight. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. 🙂

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  18. Booze! LOL. I love it. And guess what we’ll be having next Christmas Eve dinner…the kids will absolutely flip for this seafood linguine dish!!! It’s right up their alley (and ours to!). The Bartolini Christmas Eve tradition will continue. 😉 (Your basic meat sauce is simmering away as I type.) Merry Christmas John. Have a wonderful evening and a fabulous day tomorrow. Much love, Kristy, Mike, Mr. N and Miss A.

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    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Kristy, but, oh, the pressure! I need to come up with a great dish for next Christmas Eve or I may lose my place of honor at your Christmas Eve dinner of 2015. I hope you all enjoyed the lasagna tonight. The Sous Chefs will need full bellies so that they can attack their gifts with gusto in the morning. What fun! Enjoy every second of it! May this be the bestest Christmas ever! 🙂

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  19. Merry Christmas, John, and our very best wishes to you and your family! Seafood is huge here for Christmas as well – although I suspect it’s weather rather than religion driven – a cold platter of lobsters, prawns and oysters and all part of a traditional Aussie Christmas, although not for me, as I can never face the queues at the fish markets! Your dish looks delicious for a colder part of the year though, and I’ll stash it away for then. I love how pedantic you are about not adding any more to the mix, and the extra step of wrapping in parchment must make it so special! xxx

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    • Thank you so much, Celia, and I wish nothing but the best for you and your lovely family. I’ve never experienced a Christmas season like yours and though I would enjoy it, I bet I would miss the cold weather — and you’ve no idea how surprised I am to have written that last bit. 🙂 I certainly would enjoy that seafood feast you described.
      I don’t know how things are in Oz but, here, the idea is more is best. If 5 fish are good in a dish. 7 would be better .. or 8 .. or 9. In a dish like this one, adding more seafood could very well ruin the entire thing. So much about Italian cooking is about balance. Restraint, rather than more, is the way to go. The parchment is there only for the steam effect when the paper is pierced. It is truly impressive and that aroma is just incredible!
      PS I finished the last bit of that sourdough bread with this evening’s baccalà. In a way, we had dinner together. 😉

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    • Merry Christmas to you, too, Azita. I’ve not bee receiving your posts and just re-subscribed. Hopefully that will “fix” things.
      Wishing you all things wonderful in the New Year!

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  20. Even tho’ ’tis the middle of Christmas Day here had to express my delight and thanks for a recipe I shall definitely prepare. Yes, had been told about the Feast of the Seven Fishes before: have to compare the versions . . .but wish I could have that today!! Actually have just been to Celi’s and your comment has made my day also: thanks for that too and have a happy, happy day when it reaches you! Meanwhile I am off for a long walk before facing the Day yet again . . . 🙂 !

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    • Thank you, Eha. A nice walk, looking for birdsong, would be a very nice way to spend a Christmas morning. It would be a very long walk here. Temperatures will remain well below freezing for the couple of days. The smart birds left weeks ago and took their songs with them. That Celi is something, isn’t she? She’s a remarkable person and one I’m very glad to have met. Kinda like you, Eha. 😉
      Wishing you the very best of this festive season. May birdsong accompany your every step.

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  21. Merry Christmas, John! What a wonderful feast you have before you. I confess to being a touch envious! It has been a pleasure getting to know you this year. Looking forward to more great stories in the future. Thanks John, for a very enjoyable read!

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    • The pleasure, Abbe, has been all mine. Your bog has quickly become a favorite and I look forward to your posts. I’m glad you enjoyed this post and hope one day you’ll make the recipe. Believe me, you won’t regret it.
      Wishing you and your family the very best of this festive season. Happy New Year!

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  22. John –
    “Not willing to spend any more time in the store while I weighed options, I went to the sushi counter and picked up a spicy tuna roll, before heading to the deli section to get a jar of pickled herring. Fish are fish, after all.” and “Coming New Year’s Eve to a monitor near you …(Two Cellos and a Cherry) Booze.” These two lines cracked me up.
    The history behind the Feast of seven fishes is so fascinating. What a rich, aesthetically appealing, flavorful – and beautifully historic – dish! Thanks for the education. I am considered becoming an honorary Italian – Catholic simply so I can enjoy this dish annually! 😉
    A happy Christmas and merry New Year to you, Zia and your large extended family from our clan.
    Cheers!
    Shanna

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    • So glad you enjoyed today’s post, Shanna, as well as the title for next week’s We try, here at the kitchens. 🙂
      This really is my kind of dish, combining 2 favorites, seafood and pasta. It really isn’t that hard to prepare. It’s all about the timing. Get it right and you’ll have a most impressive dish. That “swoosh” of steam rising out of the pierced parchment is really something!
      I hope you and your family are sharing the best of this festive season and wishing you all a joyful New Year!/

      Like

  23. This seafood and pasta dish…heck, just the raw ingredients alone… Make me want to jump through the screen and gobble them up. Wishing you, Zia and the Bartolini a very merry Christmas! And I’m looking forward to the orangecello and cherry recipes for New Years. 😉

    Like

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Betsy. It sure was fun preparing the dish “for the photos.” I rarely make it and whenever I do, I wonder why I don’t make it more often. I do hope you’ll try it one day. You’ll see what I mean
      I’ve been “sitting” on the liqueurs for 6 months. They’re Christmas gifts and I didn’t want to tip my hand with their recipients. Right now, they’re all chilling on my back porch. With an outdoor temp of 20˚, I’d say they’ll be just right for serving later today.
      I hope your Christmas will be filled with joy and peace, Betsy.

      Like

  24. Pingback: Linguine with Seafood in Parchment | Italian Fo...

  25. ciao caro amico! 🙂 long story, short: I’m comin’ over for the left-overs, O.K. 🙂 we’ve just had our X-mas lunch: dry Spanish ham and smoked goat cheese, duck thighs with bolets, figs, chesnuts, pear & chocolate ice cream and the famous “macarons”… 🙂 friendly hugs, Mélanie
    * * *
    X-mas reminds me that my both parents, RIP, were born on Dec 25/12… I’m really lookin’ forward to being tomorrow…

    Like

    • Buon Natale! Your Christmas lunch sounds wonderful, Melanie. I’m going to my Cousin’s home for dinner and have no idea what will be served. It will be a surprise!
      I’ll say a prayer for your parents. Buona sera.

      Like

  26. That’s a very interesting story! I am not sure I have read it before (or I forgot…) so thanks for sharing it again 🙂
    Loved the video too!
    I hope you are having a Merry Holiday Season! Merry Christmas!

    Like

  27. Buon Natale John! Thanks posting this recipe. After we talked about seafood pasta in parchment this year, I researched recipes but never got around to making it, I’ll try your soon. Loved the Andrea Bocelli with the Muppets clip.

    Like

  28. Merry Christmas to you, John, Zia and all the clan. I love that story and I hadn’t heard of it before. I was aware the Catholics were supposed to have meat-free Fridays and that is why there would be long and lengthy queues outside the fish and chip shops when I was growing up (I used to wish I was Catholic so we could join the queues). I love how the Italians managed to turn an austere and severe almost punishment into a much anticipated meal of feasting. Good for them! And what a great tip about using a stapler! Whatever works xx

    Like

    • I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas, Charlie. There are still quite a few who go without meat on Fridays. Zia and her friends usually go out to dinner for fish on Friday nights, weather permitting. Old habits are hard to break. 🙂

      Like

  29. Merry Christmas, John! What a fantastic recipe, I am always a bit intimidated by mixing several types of seafood, afraid I’ll mess at least one up.. 🙂

    but this is really amazing… Phil’s Birthday is on the 27th, and I’m still debating what to cook for him… this dish would be a winner with him, but I am a wimp… (sigh)

    Like

    • Happy Birthday, Phil!!!! Cent’ Anni!
      Don’t let the seafood intimidate you, Sally. It’s just a matter of timing. Get it all cleaned, prepped, and ready to go and then start your pasta. The parchment package is a gimmick. You can easily skip it and still have a fantastic dish.
      C’mon. Do it for Phil! 🙂

      Like

  30. Merry Christmas. What a an incredible recipe and accompanying photo of it in the parchment.
    Nice! Sharing with friends and family far and wide.
    Thanks for all your comments on the blog, John. For many, they are what people are looking for! You have a “comment following”! xxooRuth

    Like

    • Thanks, Ruth. You’re too kind. This is a great dish, Ruth, and not nearly as hard to prepare as you might think. It’s all about the timing. And it sure is a great tasting pasta when you get it to the table 😉

      Like

  31. What a great idea John, i used to baked soft white flesh fish this way too, usually barramundi, snapper or snow fish fillet…..
    It’s a combination of steaming and baking, preserved it’s own flavour and juice!
    Merry christmas and happy holidays, God blessed you all the way John!!!

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Dedy. Yes, I’ve cooked fish in parchment, too. They, also, have that great effect when the parchment is opened and the steam rushes out.
      I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and may your New Year be blessed.

      Like

  32. Love frutti di mare! We order it quite frequently from our favorite Italian restaurant, since cooking it yourself seems such a formidable task. Thank goodness for your recipe, now maybe I can start thinking about making it myself at home. 🙂

    Like

    • I rarely order pasta when dining out, the exception being frutti di mare. Fixing it at home isn’t really hard. That TV show did me a massive favor. Sure, the parchment is a neat trick but it really is a gimmick. Most importantly, I learned the sequence and timing for cooking the seafood. It demystified the dish, making it really accessible. I hope you’ll find that equally true. 🙂

      Like

  33. Auguri John! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. That dish looks wonderful and I’m quite tempted to make it for New Year’s Eve dinner. I grew up having fish and seafood on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t able to cook the dinner this year so hubby took over and made fish’n chips…he’s of Scottish and Irish descent you see. It was good but I sure missed your kind of meal, which was what I grew up on. Oh, and the eels! I still recall to this day my dad bringing home live eels. He would chop their heads off and their bodies would keep flapping about, often times ending up on the kitchen floor and scaring the begeezus out of my kitty cats! Fried or cooked in a tomato sauce, I loved it. I haven’t had it since my dad passed away and my non-Italian friends could never understand how I could eat such foods let alone miss it! Once again John, thanks for the memories! Buon Natale a te e la Zia! xoxo

    Like

  34. A feast fit for a celebration! Love this seafood and linguini dish ~ just perfect. Also loved the video with Andea Bocelli, we just saw him in concert, it was heavenly. Wonderful post, John, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!

    Like

    • Thank you, Judy. How I would love to see him perform. It’s been interesting to see him develop in front of American audiences. He seemed so shy at first, unable to speak but a few words in English. Now, in the video, he’s at home joking with the Muppets.
      I had a very nice Christmas, Judy, and hope that you can say the same, having spent it with your family and those whom you hold dear.

      Like

  35. wow, wow, and wow! That seafood looks so lovely and I envy you your Christmas meal 🙂 And I am so on board with your forthcoming Booze 😉 Hoping you had a lovely and Blessed holiday season. Still more to come, I guess. Speaking of: My New Year’s will be brighter because it finally occurred to me that I can go into my reader to get email notification of your postings. Finally, I’ll be able to keep up!! 😀

    Like

    • Christmas was wonderful, Liz, and I hope that you can say the same. I made the “booze” months ago but have been sitting on it. It was given as Christmas gifts and I didn’t want to tip by hand … er … gift baskets. The cat’s out of that bag now, though.
      I’m glad you found a way to get passed the notification problems. I sure wish WP would find and correct the problem. I know how frustrating it can be.

      Like

  36. I have always loved seafood and became even more fanatical since I was in Italy. That feast you presented is a world on its own, one that everyone should visit deliciously!
    I will be making shrimp Fradiavolo and linguine tonight and will give you a full report hopefully by tomorrow.

    Like

    • Thanks. I love shrimp Fradiavolo and am very interested in seeing how you prepare it. If you’ve been to Italy, I really hope you tried the Pasta al Salmone and the Linguine con Vongole. I dream about those 2 dishes and will have both within hours of my feet touching Italian soil again.

      Like

      • I lived in Italy for eight months last year. Spaghetti alla vongole is my favorite dish. There is a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere land in the town of Colorno, Parma which I frequented for this pasta. It’s called Vecchio Molina. Nothing beats their pasta!!

        Like

  37. Oh how I love holiday traditions and this is a delicious one! Bobby and I both love dishes with an assortment of seafood such as this. I bet your Christmas Eve was filled with lots and lots of MMMMMMMMMs.

    Like

    • Thanks, MJ. This is a dish meant for a gathering. It’s pure theater when the parchment is torn and that steam escapes. Even so, without the parchment, this is one great frutti di mare pasta. Get the timing right and you’re in for a fantastic meal. 🙂

      Like

  38. Your Christmas Eve tradition is a truly delicious one, and cooked in the parchment is very appealing. You put so much time and effort into creating a truly memorable meal and that it carries such familial tradition and importance makes it an even greater gift for those who share it with you! Food at this time of year is so infused with meaning and memory, and I’m so glad you share about your own history. Now I hope you can take a little break in the kitchen before moving on to the New Year’s events, but you have my curiosity piqued–Booze! The dessert looks fantastic, too, although I may not be able to eat any more sweets for a little while. The sugar switch was turned on and no one came along and turned it off for me. I had little choice but to keep indulging…hahaha! I can’t keep going at this pace without very serious repercussions, however. Now on to Happy New Year, John. I hope it will be!

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Debra. Christmas is such a special time and my family really did go all out when it came to our meals. Very often the dining tables of both families were swelled with guests and all could not believe the food set before them. Although mine is not at all a modern kitchen, it’s still twice the size of Mom’s, as is my fridge. Yet, she was able to prepare and serve all of these dishes. The miracle of the loaves and fishes pales in comparison. 🙂
      This week, I’ve the recipe of 3 liqueurs to share. Each takes time to make but you’ll have plenty of time to prepare them for next New Year’s. 🙂

      Like

  39. That looks like the perfect meal & I think I’ll go with it very soon. Thanks for the tip about stapling the parchment – head smack – never even thought of it but what a perfect solution since I usually end up fighting with the parchment until I’ve made a big mess of things.
    Christmas Eve was a grazing party and although we tried to come up with the 7 fishes, we fell short and started claiming that artichokes hearts looked enough like fish to count. I made lobster risotto for the main dish. I think we may have also cheated by claiming half the cherrystones were used for clams casino & the other half for half shell slurping., plain shrimp & coconut shrimp…let’s see, even with the artichokes we fell short didn’t we?

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  40. As you know, I don’t eat fish so for me Xmas Eve is still a day of fast! 😉
    What a great dish! My family would have loved it!
    My parents, who cooked the whole Xmas Eve dinner, are huge fans of the parchment paper cooking method. They say that the flavors “stay in the envelope”. 🙂
    I hope you and your zia had a wonderful Xmas celebration and I wish you both and Max a peaceful and successful New Year!
    Love,
    Francesca Xx

    Like

  41. Thanks for following my food blog. I’m so happy that I have discovered yours! I live on Vancouer Island off the west coast of Canada, so I have ready access to wonderful fresh seafood and cook with it frequently. I absolutely cannot wait to make this fabulous dish!

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  42. John, what a gorgeous and refreshing change from the dishes I’m used to seeing at this time of year, truly a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds! I absolutely loved reading about the history of the seafood tradition for Italians at Christmas, and your take on it was highly entertaining. Sadly, I’m a landlocked Canadian, but I’ll figure a way to use frozen fish and seafood to give this a whirl in the new year, because it positively begs to be tried. A very merry Christmas to you and yours, and all the best in 2014!

    Like

  43. What a sumptious looking dish! Warmest Christmas greetings to you and Zia — late, but ’tis the season to slow down a bit! Looking forward to all your kitchen has to offer in the new year.

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  44. Sorry I got here a few days too late – you know how it’s been! I hope you had a wonderful couple of days, we thought of you and toasted you and ZIa 🙂 Wonderful recipe and I so agree with not putting too much into it. I’m contributing to a New Year’s Eve supper and I think it will involve a scaled own version of this beautiful dish. Buon Anno if we don’t “speak” before, Un abraccio x

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  45. How’d I miss that story? Love it! And not waiting until next Christmas to do this. I do my mother’s seafood pasta – never have done it in parchment – this will be a fun new way for me. Adding some sushi – very sage advice. Grand posting. Happy 2014! May it bring you all sweet things.

    Like

  46. That looks particularly delicious. I’ve always been interested in doing a 7 fishes feast, but have never gotten around to it. (And, if truth be told, I’m not much of a fish cook.) We did have a Vietnamese version at a restaurant in NYC a few Christmas Eves ago and it was really fun. Hope you had a lovely holiday.

    Like

  47. What a gorgeous dinner for Christmas Eve.. but I think it would be heavenly on New Year’s Eve! These little packets are so delicate and pretty, I can imagine a guest being served one on a beautiful table set for New Year’s. I don’t think we’re doing a special evening this year, but I’ll keep this in mind for our next dinner party! And.. bring on the booze:D I hope you and your family had the most wonderful of Christmases and I hope you are enjoying a lovely Christmas holiday!! xx Barb

    Like

  48. Bonjourno John! This is a 7 fish pack of wonder. A wonderful way to celebrate Christmas eve or any time you want to impress your guests. Your fish monger was very good to you as your selection of seafood looks very fresh. Of course any dish with your homemade pasta is already top notch. Wishing you a very safe and happy new year celebration. Take care, BAM

    Like

  49. Amazing post as always John. Yum, we had seafood at Christmas also and it’s gorgeous to see how you’ve cooked it en papilotte, amazing! We made fresh egg noodles with a pasta machine last weekend. So much better than purchased noodles or pasta. Made me think… who invented the pasta machine first? Italians or the Chinese? I’ve read a bit about Marco Polo but I need to do a bit more research I think! 🙂 Hope that you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. Happy New Year to the Bartolini’s for next week!! Thanks for being a wonderful blogging friend this year John 🙂

    Like

  50. More picture-perfect edibles from you, John–a grand and fitting way to enjoy the holidays indeed. Hope Christmas was superb and that 2014 will be filled with every good thing for you and your loved ones. Joy, peace and infinitely satisfying food all through the year! Cin Cin!
    Kathryn

    Like

  51. Wow, John that is quite the feast and such a great tradition that Italians love to do! I totally remember how I used to cook my fish and even chicken wrapped in foil….so moist and juicy and tender. I laughed when you said nobody needs to be an origami expert when folding the parchment paper. 🙂
    I’m sure everybody thoroughly enjoyed your feast. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a happy new year! 🙂

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  52. It’s so nice to be here this evening and catching up. I have to say that I’m having flashbacks to my childhood in NY when many an aunt was busy in the kitchen on Christmas Eve preparing squid and the other fishes. Cooking the fish in parchment is brilliant and I’m glad you mentioned omitting the cheese (that would surely ruin the beautiful flavors of the fish). I have to print out your post for my little Momma as I’m sure she’ll get a kick out of reading it and will probably share a few family “kitchen stories” I’ve not heard.

    Best wishes to you and yours in the coming new year!
    Allison

    Like

  53. I love the way the Italians were clever enough to out wit the Vatican! Your recipe is an absolute feast. Loved the idea of the parchment it is an early Christmas present of seafood all wrapped up ready to be opened. Another recipe I am noting down to use. The video clip was so lovely too.

    Like

  54. Pingback: Warming Up to a New Year and An Invitation « Eat, Play, Love

  55. Great post, John. I love the idea of pasta in parchment–and I laughed thinking of your rounding up all seven fishes. Tuna roll and pickled herring it is! Happy New Year and thanks for all of your good cooking and stories this past one. Ken

    Like

  56. I loved the story of how seafood dinner on Christmas Eve came about… because for years and years, for no other reason that it felt right, we have been having Christmas Eve seafood dinner. We eat seafood all year, but somehow that meal is the most special and memorable. That said, this year although we dined simply and deliciously on local fresh ‘sand’ prawns the taste of which took me back to my childhood, and Bloody Mary oyster shooters, your seafood with linguine – indeed there does look to be more seafood than pasta – would be lovely also. I may have to, as I did with your baked ham, make it an occasion during the cooler months 🙂

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  57. Catching up with you at last, John and salivating over this fragrant seafood feast!

    By the way, I found some buratta, when I was down in Melbourne and served it (with a Marcella Hazan tomato sauce with onion) for a special treat on ‘Boxing Day’ – to great acclaim, thank you very much!

    Like

  58. Pingback: Squid Ink Pasta with Clams and Bottarga | from the Bartolini kitchens

  59. Hi John! I stopped by my favorite Chicago food blogger to see if you had posted about oysters before. This was the closest I found! 🙂 Do you have any suggestions of where to buy fresh live oysters in the area?

    Like

    • Hey, Susan! Good to hear from you. I get much of my seafood at the FISHGUY market at 4423 N. Elston. Just last week they advertised a sale on oysters. I would suggest getting on their email list to learn of their weekly specials. Recently, they’ve had fresh morels, porcini, and assorted wild mushrooms, soft shell crabs, ramps, etc.

      You could also try Eataly on Ohio St. They aren’t cheap but you can get free parking for an hour, 3 hours free if you spend $. In that neighborhood, free parking is a great deal! They have a great selection of seafood and it’s where I get my squid ink. They’ve got restaurants on the 2nd floor where you can grab a bite.

      I hope this helps. Give FISHGUY a call, 773-283-7400. You may get lucky and the oyster sale is still going. If you do not see what you’re looking for, be sure to ask. They’ve plenty in the “back”. They, also, have a few tables set up for lunch. I hear the lobster rolls are good, tho I’ve not eaten there yet. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  60. Pingback: Stewed Cuttlefish and Squid | from the Bartolini kitchens

  61. Pingback: Happy Holidays! | Eat, Play, Love

  62. Pingback: Seafood Pasta al Cartoccio (Seafood Pasta in Parchment Parcels)

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