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.
February 19, 2010
Capers are small green fruits that grow on bushes in the Mediterranean. They are particularly prevalent in Italian cooking in the South and can be used as a condiment or for seasoning. They are quite salty in general and the version from Pantelleria, an island off the coast of Sicily, are particularly salty. Capers tend to grow on rocky coasts.
Capers or Capperi. as they are called in Italian, have a very flavorful aroma. The ones from Pantelleria are a designated product, or an IGP which means Indicazione Geografica Protetta. This special designation is given to products from Italy that are characteristic of the location where they grow. The Capperi from Pantelleria must be conserved under sea salt. Before using them, the salt is usually washed off.
Capers are used in a host of Italian specialities from Neapolitan and Sicilian Pizza to puttanesca sauce and even alone with a bit of oil on pasta. Italy is a nation of “navigatori e marinai” or sailors and every sailboat crew knows to bring capers along for an emergency meal with pasta. Capers are also used with fish and on Pantelleria, they are fried in a dish with potatoes, put into salads and made into a special pasta sauce.
Capers are said to have good nutritional value. They are very low in Cholesterol and are a good source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin E, Niacin, Calcium and Manganese, and a very good source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Copper. However, they are high in sodium. That said, they are also known to be an aphrodisiac.
February 11, 2010
Bergamotto or Bergamot is a Citrus fruit which is grown in 45 towns in the Province of Reggio Calabria in Calabria. This interesting pear-shaped fruit with a somewhat rough skin is designated a denominazione d’origine protetta product or DOP. Essential oils extracted from this fruit are used in the perfume industry.
The tree is called the Citrus aurantium var. bergamia (also known as C. bergamia), of the Rutaceae family and is also known as the Bergamot orange.
A Bergamot is quite different from an orange or a lemon or other citrus fruits and only grows in this area of Calabria on the coastline. There is a consortium to promote and protect the fruit.
Bergamot oil is used not only in perfumes but also in cooking. It is added to traditional dishes in order to lighten the flavor. Bergamot oil can be used to contrast sweet notes in food such as crustaceans but it can also be used to offset strong flavors in game meats. One of the many uses of Bergamot oil is in sorbet or sorbetto.
Bergamot oil contains hundreds of cemical components and is also used to make cosmetics and soaps. The oils also have antibacterial properties and the product is often used in the pharmaceutical industry as well.
Last but not least, the oil from this versatile fruit is also used in after dinner liquors and in teas and infusions.