Monday, November 02, 2009

Italy - culinary memories

Less is more in Italian cuisine. These gnocchi de quattro formaggi is a good example. Boiled potato, eggs and flour dumplings served in a sauce with four cheeses. My friend John is a gnocchi fan, and these were enjoyed at Navona Notte in Via del Teatro Pace in Rome. Here are a few other culinary memories from their visit in Roma and Amalfi.

Melanzane alla parmigiana

Eggplant parmigian is a great dish. Thinly sliced aubergine, layered with tomato sauce and cheese.

Melanzane alla parmigiana does not come from Parma, but probably from Sicily, that introduced aubergines to the Italian cuisine.

This is a dish that is easy to make, but it is time consuming, as you have to slice the eggplant, flour them and fry them lightly in olive oil before you assemble the dish.

Wanna try it? You'll find a recipe on Divine Eggplant here

Frito Misto

A frito misto is made from different ingredients, turned in flour or batter and then deep fried in hot olive oil.

A wide range of ingredients may be used in a plate of frito misto. Meats, fish and even sage leaves and slices of mozzarella cheese may end up in the sizzling oil.

This plate frito misto of seafood was actually the best one John and Øystein had during their Italian vacation. It was served at "Pizzeria Da Maria" in Amalfi.

Spanish fried bait - see story here

Insalate Caprese

This traditional salad originates from Campania, the region in which Amalfi is located. Its name means salad from Capri. It consists of sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil leaves drizzled with olive oil.

Making this dish at home, you are recommended to use only the best ingredients. Try to find sun ripened fresh Mediterranean tomatoes, high quality Buffalo milk mozzarella, and extra virgin olive oil. Without them the salad may end up bland and boring.

My ultimate Insalata Caprese moment took place in the ancient Tuscan city of Lucca 10 years ago. The pungent aromas of the fresh, thinly sliced, deliciously sweet Italian plum tomatoes, the rich and soft mozzarella, and fresh basil made me nearly cry.

No wonder why non-Italians use so many ingredients in our home-made Italian food - to get more flavour! With high grade ingredients you are taught the fact that in genuine Italian food less is more - than enough!

John’s insalata Caprese was ordered at Rome airport. I do not know whether he had one of these Lucca moments there. He did not say, but I’ll ask him.

Bufala mozzarella and other delicious cheeses - see story here

Vin Santo and biscotti

And then to the sweet end of the culinary journey. The title of this picture is RomeAirportComplementaryDrinkWithCookie. That explains it all, doesn't it?

You often get a small surprise after a good meal, a cookie or rather biscotti, a sweet crisp delicacy with almonds, and what I think is a classic Vin Santo.

These sweet wines originates from Tuscany, and are not unlike a French Sauternes or an Hungarian Tokaji, and is served with desserts, blue cheese, or even foie gras.

I love the crispy almond cookies. They are very sweet, even compared to the vin santo. I had my first taste in Siena in the year 2000 and I loved it so much, that I brought two packets home with me. They are a perfect end to a good meal, served with ice cream or just by themselves.

Vin Santo and Versinthe - see story here

How to make this food yourself - see films on YouTube:

1 comment:

John said...

This was a pleasant surprise!

I have since tried making parmigiana di melanzane at home using an Italian recipe I found on the internet and translated to English using the Google translator. I was pleasantly surprised with how straightforward it was to make - and how well it turned out. The recipe can be found here:

Someday I'll have to try your version, Tor! :)