Ridiculously cold temperatures, such as those that are descending upon Minneapolis in the coming days, call for foods that warm your bones and your soul.

It’s so cold that you can toss a glass of water outdoors and it will freeze before reaching the ground.

It is so cold that there is ice on the inside of some of our windows.

It is so cold that the governor ordered all public schools closed for the safety of the children.

Here’s what predicts for tonight:

Temperatures 1.5.14

The big bold number is the actual temperature, and the “feels like” number represents the windchill factor.  The poor Befana; she is going to freeze her wart-covered nose off tonight.

We, on the other hand, have stocked up on groceries, made a giant pot of minestrone, started the (gas) fireplace, and have no plans to leave the house for the next 36 hours or so.  After dinner, we’ll sit down in the living room and enjoy some piping hot caldarroste, roasted chestnuts, with a bottle of red wine.

Prized across the Mediterranean basin, caldarroste are cold-weather street food at its best.  During winter months, caldarroste stands line the major shopping streets of Italian cities, luring residents and tourists alike with the warm, toasty aroma of the roasting chestnuts.  For a few Euros, you can walk away with a piece of butcher paper fashioned into cone-shaped container of chestnuts to keep you warm as you finish your outdoor stroll.

It’s simple to make roasted chestnuts, which we also call castagne, at home, too.  In Italy, Stefano grew up going to the woods of Monte Scalambra to gather chestnuts with his family.  They would peel away the prickly, outside layer, which had split open by the time the chestnut had fallen to the ground, and toss the nut into a basket.  Ten or twenty kilos later, they would load up their harvest and drive back to Rome.  Traditionally, chestnuts are roasted over an open fire in a large pan with holes in the bottom of it.  However, they can also be roasted in the oven.

Cara remembers eating castagne at Stefano’s mother and father’s house in the winter months in Rome.  Much more skilled at peeling chestnuts, not to mention checking for the occasional unsavory larva, Stefano’s father, Andrea, used to peel one for her, and then one for himself, ensuring that she got her fair share.

We enjoyed our castagne with a bottle of Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto, a little brother to the powerful Sassicaia wine.  A blend of Cabernet Savignon and Merlot, this wine can be enjoyed in its early stage.



Soak your chestnuts in water for 2-3 hours before preparing them.

Preheat the oven to 205°C/400°F.

Drain the chestnuts.  Using a sharp knife, make a horizontal cut through the outer shell, slicing from one side to another of the rounded side of the chestnut.  Cover a baking tray with parchment paper, and arrange the chestnuts on top.  Roast in the oven until the chestnuts swell and open up, and the meat of the nut is golden brown and slightly charred.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.  Peel the outer shell off with your fingers, and enjoy with a glass of red wine.

This entry was posted in Appetizers, Desserts and Baked Goods, Holiday Recipes, Recipes and Wine Pairings, When You Visit Italy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Caldarroste

  1. Adri says:

    Oh my, but what fierce weather! I hope you guys will be OK. What ever is there to do but stay in, stay warm and enjoy your family. Seeing this post brings back memories. My mom used to love to roast chestnuts at Christmas. It was pretty hysterical considering that we were in Southern California. Yet there we stood, we four kids out by the barbecue, just imagining frost nipping at our fingers and noses. We stood by and listened to my mom’s stories of cold winters in Buffalo, New York and my dad regaled us with tales of Winter in Steubenville, Ohio. As you can imagine we four kids whose idea of cold was 40 degrees F. couldn’t quite relate, but our parents loved to tell the stories of the street vendors! Stay warm and be safe, and I hope you weather turns civil very coon. Happy New Year to you all!

  2. It seems to have warmed up (a bit) here on the East Coast, but the weather is miserable. Keep warm! Munching on freshly roasted chestnuts sounds like just the ticket, perhaps washed down with a little red wine, for medical purposes…

  3. You’re right ~ it’s perfect weather for roasting chestnuts. Most coincidentally, we got a pint of chestnuts in our CSA box this past week, so I’m going to roast them tonight ~ temps here in VA are supposed to drop to single digits. My mom had one of those pans for roasting over the open fire, but I’ll just pop mine in the oven. BTW, I associate roasted chestnuts not only with Italy, but also with New York City. When I was little we’d go into the city to see the tree at Rockefeller Center and buy roasted chestnuts from one of the venders on the street corners. I can still smell the aroma of the chestnuts, mixed with exhaust from cars and rising steam from the subways. Makes me nostalgic! Buon Anno, Due!

  4. Simona says:

    Happy New Year! I wish I could send you some warmer weather. Those numbers look positively scary. Keeping as many people as possible at home sounds like the wise thing to do. Caldarroste are definitely called for. I hope the Befana stopped by anyway 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s