My mom and I went to Osteria Mozza when she was visiting me in LA in April. We had a wonderful meal that ended with several of Pastry Chef Dahlia Narvaez's amazing desserts. My mom tasted the Torta Della Nonna and declared it the best cake she'd ever had. (I was insulted!)
I am now visiting my parents at their house on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution in Upstate NY. To celebrate my mom's successful completion of radiation therapy, I set out to recreate the cake. I used Mario Batali's recipe, figuring it would be the same as the one used in his restaurant. It wasn't, but was still quite good--maybe not the best cake my mom has ever tasted, but hopefully up there.
By the way, shopping for ricotta cheese in Upstate NY is quite different than doing so in California. Two weeks ago I was at Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. There were several varieties of freshly made cheeses made from both cow and sheep milk. There were tasting spoons to sample the subtle differences in the cheeses. There were knowledgeable counter people offering serving suggestions and telling me about the provenance of the milk. At the roadside market in Upstate NY, in contrast, I asked at the deli if they made their own ricotta. The woman shot me a nasty look that implied my absolute stupidity and simply said, "it's cheese."
Friends gave my mom the locally grown strawberries also to celebrate finishing her treatment and another friend made the strawberry jam. I have never made jam before, so I went over to her house to learn about the process and "help." The taste of the warm jam right as it was being canned was pure strawberry essence incredible. It is wonderful on the ricotta cake (and on toast spread with butter and ricotta as I've been doing a little too frequently).