For this trip, however, I'm flying up there with my adorable grandpa for his brother's 80th birthday. I haven't seen this side of the family in a long time, so I'm really looking forward to it. Uncle Benny, my grandpa's brother, is hilarious and tells those authentic stories you always love hearing from your elders. Grandpa + Uncle Benny = dynamic Sicilian duo. I am literally going to be laughing the entire time! Both of them can seriously cook, too. My great grandmother Josie (grandpa & Benny's mother) was also an unbelievable cook. They lived on a farm in Sicily, and she could do wonders by turning a small portion of food into a delicious, big meal that would feed everyone. It's in our blood to cook, there's no doubt about it. Especially Italian food.
concrete jungle where cooking dreams are made of
This leads me to tell you all some pretty exciting news. My grandpa and I are heading to CBS studios in Manhattan on Friday to meet with the casting directors and the producer for a show called "My Grandmother's Ravioli" to see if he will make it on the show! Some of you may have seen the pilot on Cooking Channel a few months ago. It features Mo Rocca, who doesn't know how to cook, but learns from grandmothers and grandfathers that are great home cooks with favorite or unique recipes. Those of you who have met my grandpa Frank, know how perfect he would be for this show. The man has a disco ball in his living room and throws parties consisting of an Italian feast!
This was the entry I wrote about grandpa Frank:
" Picture it: Sicily 1955, Frank decides to leave his farmland and come to America at 14 years old with my great grandma Josie. Both under 5 feet tall, left everything behind and passed through Ellis Island, NY. One thing they did not leave, though, were the recipes that have been passed down from generations of Grisafi's, and that I hold close to my heart today. My grandfather Frank was always well-liked for his hilarious sense of humor, his cute Sicilian accent, and of course, his unforgettable Italian dishes. He opened up Roma's Pizza in Great Neck, NY for 20 years, until it burned down in 1989. Years later after owning his own limo company, he retired and moved to FL, where he now cooks everything out of his little kitchen at home. We'd all gather at grandpa Frank's for dancing (he has disco balls and a dance floor in his living room), drinks, and the best Italian smorgasbord around. I'm talking baked ziti, chicken parm, eggplant parm, all kinds of pizzas straight from the oven, fresh baked bread, salads, sausage and peppers appetizer (Sicilian-style), and his absolutely delicious meatballs! When cooking with my grandpa, you'll hear words like "peases" instead of "peas," stories from when he lived on the farm in Sicily, how they used his 1939 Chevy in the TV series ‘Kane and Abel’ back in the early 80's in downtown NYC (there's a great photo hanging up in is house to prove it), and the beautiful waterfall he designed on his patio (and dreamed of having since he was young), where you'll find herbs, flowers, birds, and bistro tables with the signature "Cinzano" umbrellas hovering over them. It is truly a beautiful sight to see, especially when cooking up some of the best Italian food you can feast on! My grandpa Frank has always been an inspiration to me, whether it be my passion for cooking as well, or as one of the most generous and caring people in my life. I would love for him to have this opportunity to share that with Mo and all of the viewers also.
... Can't stop thinking about those meatballs now. I think I'll have to call up grandpa Frank and put an order in! I can guarantee he'll answer the phone with "How you doin' Ash-a-ley." :) "
|this is the only photo I have of my grandpa's restaurant. unfortunately, the photo size is very small so I can't make it any bigger.|
|My grandpa and I on my birthday last year :)|
I will be keeping everyone updated on what happens on Friday. Fingers crossed that things go very well!