Luca and I did not spend the Lunar year school holiday feasting on dim sum and exploring the amazing collection of cultural treasures at the Asian Art museum as we had planned. In fact there was not even a chopstick in sight. We woke up and the lure of grassy slopes and ocean breezes was just too strong so our year of the snake celebration found us instead driving north across the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Reyes where we hiked, explored a Miwok village and ate a super delish lunch at Osteria Stellina.
We love, love, love Pt. Reyes. In addition to being stunningly beautiful in every season, there are a mountain of options to satisfy both our outdoorsy whims (the beach, the woods, the lighthouse, trails, swimming, bird watching….) and our foodie cravings (Stellina, Cowgirl Creamery, Tomales Bay Foods, Hog Island Oyster Company, Manka’s….). It’s close enough to San Francisco to make an easy day trip, but far enough to make you feel like you’re a million miles away. On this trip we walked along the Kule Loklo trail where we looked for bugs, spied deer peeking at us from the trees and explored meticulously reconstructed Miwok structures — some free standing and others built right into the hillside. Such a cool way to get a glimpse of the past and an entirely different way of life!
After our morning of happy wandering through grassy meadows, our rumbling tummies pointed us in the direction of Osteria Stellina where we didn’t get much further than Acini di Pepe in Brodo on the menu. Luca and I are both big time chicken soup fans, especially when done in a super simple Italian way, just pasta in a flavorful broth punched up with parmegiano reggiano and a pinch of minced parsley. When we make this soup at home it’s tempting to want to start adding this and that, but Stellina’s version reminded us of the beauty of keeping it simple. This soup was so good that the bowl, which started off in the middle of the table, quickly made it over to Luca’s side and the soup disappeared before I had the time to take even one more bite. If there was such a thing as a food pairing for a perfect day in Point Reyes, this might be it.
Acini di Pepe in Brodo
Acini di pepe in brodo is just a fancy Italian name for pasta in broth, in this case tiny round pasta (acini di pepe translates to “peppercorns”) which, in our house, also go by the name of “mini baseballs”.
- Make a homemade stock or pump up the flavor of a store bought stock (more details and tricks here). Throw in that parmeggiano regiano rind you’ve been hoarding (some cheese counters give away the rinds for free or will sell them to you for cheap.) Let it simmer gently for 30-45 minutes and taste. This is an occasion when it’s important to take the time to make sure your broth tastes great.
- In a separate pot, boil your acini di pepe (or pasta of choice) until done to your liking. Drain and toss pasta with a little olive oil and grated parmegiano reggiano. Set aside.
- When ready to serve, spoon your dressed pasta into a bowl and top with hot broth. Sprinkle with finely minced parsley and more grated parmegiano.