April 29, 2010
Italy is renowned for its wealth of fruits and vegetables. One such vegetable is Asparagus. The Consorzio Asparago Piacentino has been actively promoting the healthy attributes of this elegant vegetable with the tagline – a Sana Tentazione or a healthy craving.
According to materials from the Consortium, Asparagus are famous for its characteristic as an antidepressant, as an antioxidant and for its high level of fiber. Additionally it has a variety of amino acids that can be considered a diurectic.
In promoting Italian products, consortium countrywide are now referring to the length of the chain between suppliers and consumers. The shorter the better is the idea. Additionally, food producers are once again promoting the idea of eating fruits and vegetables in season and the use of few chemicals.
This asparagus consortium is located in Northern Italy in the province of Lombardy but there are numerous consortium throughout the country. Piacenza is a town that most people associate with salami and other charcuterie products as well as the delicious but not dietic gnoccho fritto.
Whether eating gnoccho fritto with charcuterie or tasting the delicious asparagus from these parts, this lower part of Lombardy has some interesting food and wine traditions.
April 27, 2010
Food is a topic that is on everyone’s mind and these days what is genuine Italian is a hot topic. This evening, three owners of Italian Specialty shops in New York city will share their secrets and talk about smart shopping. The lecture is part of a series of six educational lectures organized by Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo’ and the Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani.
The panel includes Lou DiPalo of Dipalo’s Fine Foods whose family originally hails from Basilicata. DiPalo’s family opened its first shop in 1910. Today’s store is much larger than any of its previous incarnations and Lou’s son has opened his own wine shop next door.
The second guest at the lecture will be Louis Coluccio Jr of DColuccio & Sons in Brooklyn. Louis Jr. is very entertaining and passionate about food, especially those that his family has been importing for decades.
The third speak is Antonio Magliulo of Buonitalia in the Chelsea Market. Buonitalia is very well known in New York restaurant circles and many order directly from his wholesale business. There is also a lovely cafe’ within the premises and many consider it to have some of the best espresso in New York. All told, the evening should be exciting with tidbits and new information. I’m looking forward to going.
April 26, 2010
Whenever the munchies overcome my weak will power and I feel like something tasty but not too heavy that is authentic Italian and reasonably priced, one of my favorite destinations in NYC is Bocca. An elegant eatery in Gramercy, a neighborhood packed with culinary heavyweights, Bocca is a Roman restaurant that offers culinary specialties for every palate. Executive chef David Buico has designed lunch and dinner menus that feature the most savory old time Roman classics, like Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, home made pasta served with precorino romano and coarse black pepper, Maccheroni alla Gricia, bronze casted and slowly dried pasta served with guanciale, coarse black pepper and pecorino di fossa, Maialino al forno e carciofi alla romana, slow roasted suckling pig with roasted fingerling potatoes and artichokes, and many other favorites.
But that’s not all – something else is worth mentioning, something that many restaurants don’t really pay too much attention to: the bar menu. At the bar it is possible to satisfy any craving and the crowd’s favorite is Supplì al telefono (Fried rice balls “on the phone”).
Filling yet smooth, Supplì al telefono is a dish that is very popular in Rome and it’s not unusual, when making risotto, to make some extra on purpose in order to make these delicious rice balls using the leftovers (common belief is that when the rice is older it holds together firmly so that the balls do not break during the frying process). The name comes from the dish’s visual effect, meaning that when you bite into the supplì the melted mozzarella that is hiding in the flavorful rice flows out in long strips, somehow resembling the cord connecting a telephone handset to the hook. Arborio and/or Carnaroli rice is perfect for making supplì.
Supplì can be seen as a variant of Sicily’s arancini or Naples’ palline di riso or as a kind of croquette.
By Natasha Lardera
April 22, 2010
While visitors to New York might stop at Zabar’s or Dean and Deluca looking for local delicacies and foreign foods, no visit to the Northern Italian city of Milan would be complete without a stop at Peck. Peck is a Milanese institution and has been around since 1883.
Peck is renowed for both food and wine. It offers products for sale as well as prepared foods to take out and has a restaurant and a tea shop. It also has a very well stocked wine shop where you can find many foreigner as well as Italian wines, somewhat of a rarity.
Peck has also begun to sell some of its wares under a private label at airports in Italy so if you can’t make it to Milan but are flying through Italy, be sure to pick something up. They sell all sorts of sauces, pastas and olive oils made specifically for the store. The best way to sample Peck’s foods though is to come to Milan, a city which is much overlooked but which is always ready to welcome weary travelers.
Peck is located in the center of the city right near the Duomo of Milan in via Spadari. Try not to miss it on your next trip to the Lombard capital.
April 20, 2010
The urban winery has become part of city life in many parts of the world, including New York City with City Winery. At City Winery, you can learn how to make wine with winemaker David Lecomte.
In Milan, La Vineria has taken the concept a step further and has reproduced what many Italians grew up with, vino sfuso (wine from the tap) in containers to bring home in the city.
La Vineria is located in a side street off of the Navigli, the canals of Milan. They offer wines in large tanks which can be put into your own containers or they will bottle it for you. La Vineria also sells olive oil. Both the wines and the olive oil are offered at farm prices just as if you went to the winery to buy it out in the country. This was the idea of the founder of La Vineria, Aaron Brussolo, and the experience that he wanted to recreate.
To give you an idea of the difference in price, most supermarket wines in Italy are sold at 3 euro and up for a 750 ml bottle of wine. La Vineria sells its Vino Sfuso at 1.80 euro per liter. They also deliver wine to your home and sell it in a Bag in the Box.
April 19, 2010
Milan has become quite an international city thanks to its’ stylish fashion shows, design fairs and museums. The city is in tumult and looks more like Shanghai than its previous incarnation as construction companies create skyscrapers, new industrial parks and public architecture. Much of the new construction is in anticipation of the Expo 2015. A large part of the Expo is going to be dedicated to food, according to panels in an exhibit about famed Chef Gualtiero Marchesi at the Castello Sforzesco. The Castello itself which sits smack in the center of the city has undergone many renovations and now is a hot tourist stop with many exhibits, among them one on Gualtiero Marchesi. Marchesi is perhaps the most famous of all Italian chefs with two restaurants, one in Milan and one in Franciacorta in a town called Erbusco. Early on, Marchesi was experimenting with different cuisines such as the Japanese one and mixing traditional Italian dishes with new oriental accents. He is also the first to place gold leaf in risotto and many other innovative tricks. A new exhibit dedicated to the Chef opened Saturday, April 17 and runs until June 2010. Marchesi himself will be on hand for a few cooking demonstrations. Don’t miss it if you are in Milan.