The gift of friendship (+ Sunday Braciola recipe!)

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mise en place


It is rare that I wax nostalgic. I have been told, without any argument on my part, that I have no sense of past. That may indeed be the case but sometimes daily life forces me to reassess my world outlook. A phone call from a long-time and long ago friend and a visit to another was enough to give me pause.

I have at times been envious of those who are able to maintain long relationships. A number of friendships that started out when you were one person and continued through the journey to who you are now. They share each other’s changes, triumphs small and large, challenges and disappointments. Through every stage they stay in contact and remain both loyal and loving. There are some of us who did not allow that to happen.

My parents were part of a unique clan-like group. A group of eight grew up together, lived near each other, shared their parenting stages, the middle years with its advantages and then the last years, as one after another left their company, shared sorrow. Whenever I went back and saw them together in their very predictable gatherings I was happy for them but I also felt sorry for them. No new members were invited to bring new experiences and new insights.

I believe that by not carrying any baggage and not being part of a static social group I was allowing myself to grow. I do not have regrets but now I understand more clearly what I chose not to have or be part of.

Distance is the major disruptor of relationships. It can be either a tearing experience or a liberating one. It offers an opportunity to remake yourself. To start from scratch and associate with those whose views and personalities are new and different. The result, however, is that it makes it easier to leave behind what and whom you have, indeed, left behind.

My relocations and personal journey via my career trajectory was the fuel for my approach to relationships. I am sure that many of you have shared in this lifestyle. Now without the distractions generated by an intense work life I want to shore up those connections that have remained. Most of those come from those who refused to let me get too far away from them. I cannot thank them enough.

Friendships take some effort. Reeling in someone who is starting to distance themselves is a conscious decision. It may require travel and expense or it also can be accomplished with a text or call at just the right time.

There is more behind me than in front these days, so I intend on reinforcing a few bridges as well as starting down a few new roads. I hope to run into a few of you along the way.


Everyone has their memory of the family dinner at one of the relative’s houses. For us, it was Sunday “Up the Block” as one set of grandparents lived up our street and the other just down the other block. You could smell the food at her front door. This is one of the mouthwatering dishes Mary DeMarco served us. It uses an inexpensive cut of beef that is seared and simmered. It also requires a bit of dexterity as it must be tied. No need for the fancy butcher’s knot, just cut short pieces of string and it will do fine. Do not be intimidated. This is not as hard as it reads as once the ingredients are laid out it goes fast. Remember “Mise en place”

  • 1.5 pounds of flank steak (Pounded as flat as you can get it.The butcher may be able to do this for you)
  • 4 cloves of garlic smashed and diced
  • 2 red bell peppers roasted, peeled and cut into strips (jarred will be fine)
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 4-5 basil leaves chopped *pesto can be substituted
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1qt tomato puree (or your own tomato sauce from the freezer)
  • Butchers twine cut into 3 inch strips (available at the grocery)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Lay the pounded steak on the counter and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Smear the chopped garlic over the steak.

Cut the mozzarella into circles and place on the steak end to end.

Place the strips of red pepper over the mozzarella.

Lay the basil over the cheese.

Sprinkle the parmesan over the layers.

Sprinkled the breadcrumb over the cheese.

Slowly roll the layered steak into a cylinder ( you may need your sous chef to assist).

Place each piece of string under and around the cylinder and tie tightly.

In a large pan heat the olive oil then carefully sear the rolled steak until it is just brown then set aside.

Add the red wine to the pan scraping the “grumpies” from the bottom. Add that liquid to the tomato sauce.

Place the rolled steak back in the pan and cover with the sauce.

Bake for 35-40  minutes at 375 degrees

Remove and let cool.

Slice into circles and serve over the tomato sauce accompanied by the best red wine you have.

About this Author

Edward Aloise

Edward Aloise Previous Co-Owner/ Chef of Republic Cafe and Campo Enoteca and currently the principal in Republic Restaurant Consulting.