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Cooking Note by Note with Vivica!

Vivica featured on Nicky D Cooks's CiaoPittsburgh Blog!

Vivica with Nicky Stadel (center) and Paolo Pecchioli (aka Don Magnifico, left) [Photo courtesy of CiaoPittsburgh]

During her time in Pittsburgh for Pittsburgh Opera's production of Rossini's La Cenerentola, Vivica shared her enthusiasm and delicious talents for Italian cuisine with CiaoPittsburgh author Nicky Shadel, known to Foodies in the Steel City as Nicky D Cooks.

As I began the interview, Nicky writes, Vivica charmingly kicked off her pumps and curled her legs under her. She has such an unpretentious air about her.

When she travels with her husband, Massimo, who is from Italy, she has to make sure that he has the right type of coffee 'because the Italians with their coffee...'

Vivica's eyes light up as she describes all the wonderful food and dishes that Massimo cooks for her. She describes several dishes, which include some of her favorites: the wood-grilled, marinated chicken in garlic and hot peppers; the skillet potatoes in broth and butter; and Bistecca alla Vivica (flank stank), [which] Vivica was kind enough to share! Scroll down for this wonderful recipe!

Click here to see the full text of Nicky's article, Opera Music, Food and Fun: From the Boot to the Burgh, on the CiaoPittsburgh website!

A tremendous Grazie infinite goes out to Nicky for her wonderful article!


Bistecca alla Vivica

Flank steak is *totally* easy: I'd eat it every day, but I use lots of garlic, and it's rather mean if you eat it before running off to rehearsal...

So: the trick is, you make parallel slices about 1/4 to 1/2 way through the meat, going across the grain of the meat. You can cook it like that, but I usually slice again, perpendicularly to the first slices, making X-shaped slices all along the piece of meat. The flank steak can be a bit tough because of the grain of the meat, but making the slices before you cook it reduces the toughness of the finished product. [It also helps to make friends with your local butcher, so that he or she can direct you to the best available flank cuts at the best prices!]

Then, put as much garlic as you want in the incisions in the meat (remember that you only sliced through 1/4 - 1/2 of the thickness of the meat). I usually just smash two cloves of garlic and then break them up into little chunks that fit into the incisions. If the garlic is nice and deep into the slices, you do not need to worry about it burning: if it is just resting on top of the meat, it will get charred in the broiler!

Finally, put the steak into the broiler. Depending upon how done you prefer you meat to be, in 7 - 10 minutes, it is cooked and ready for plating. Salt and add herbs to taste after removing the meat from the broiler. Buon appetito!



Polenta e latte

Put this in the category of "bland foods I love." Massimo says that polenta with milk used to be a typical morning food in "Olde Italye." No one eats it anymore, but at least it isn't an affront to Bella Italia!

One (1) part Polenta
Three (3) parts water

Stir constantly while boiling! The trick is to put the polenta in cold water rather than waiting until it boils: if you put it in hot water, it just makes big lumps.

Put the polenta in a bowl and pour milk over it.

Arancie alla Massimo

Peel two (2) oranges, removing all the pith [the white part] as well, and slice -- perpendicular to the sections -- into about 1/2 inch - 3/4 inch-thick slices.

Place slices on a serving plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pour on about 1.5T of extra-virgin olive oil and 1T of either Balsamic or white-wine vinegar, making sure that each slice of orange gets a little 'rainfall' of both olive oil and vinegar.


This is really refreshing side-dish and pairs well with roasted meats. I was going to say that it would go well with roast hamstah (and it would!), but it would probably put some people off....