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Valentines Dinner

Maybe celebrating Valentines day isn't exactly chic, but I have always had the opinion that you need to find a reason to celebrate and celebrate one another, so the lovers holiday is a great occasion to treat yourselves to a nice evening. Over this holiday, I always advise my customers, especially the gentlemen, to prepare a particular dinner for the special evening and accompany it by his partner's favourite bottle of wine. First of all, we know that women tend to prefer white wine, the most important thing is to choose the correct wine to exalt the meal. A Valentines dinner should be elegant and light, particular flavours must not be missing from the evening, and a selection of cheeses are preferable to serve at the end of the meal. I advise customers to start with a small aperitif of prosecco, home made tartlets and other finger food, but without making too much. This will present the dinner in the best of ways. For the rest of the dinner, choose that which you prefer to eat, even a traditional menu adding a touch of elegance.

... and don't forget to toast with a good Italian wine!

Nicola's tales

My dearest friends, here we are again talking about that, which we are most passionate about, that which helps us pass many a fine evening and that fills our hearts and gives our eyes a treat: food! For us Italians, as many of you know, food isn't just about eating, it is much more than that. It is a way for us to spend time together and to give those we love a treat. I have a childhood memory of my grandmother and how she showed us affection through cooking our favourite dishes for us. I remember her calling and asking, "will you come to Nonna's for lunch? I've made your favourite!" For us, food is our daily life and it means family. This is the reason I love my job, because I help those who need it to make their important events special. When the children leave for university and are due to come back, the mothers want to make their favourite special dishes, when a man wants to make a loving dinner for his partner, when a group of friends want to have a get-together one evening, I am with them and I toast with them!
You don't need to be a chef to eat well, it is more than enough to have the right quality of product, a simple sandwich can be gourmet and an antipasto can be a delicacy! My cheese deli is always available for your delicious evenings!

Christmas Appetisers

Good morning everyone! This morning I got to the shop early, I tidied up the counter, finished decorating for Christmas and started to think of what to suggest to my customers for the dinners that they are usually enjoying over this period of the year with friends as they celebrate with those who won't be with them on Christmas day. There are many regular customers that trust my advice to the letter and helping them really is a pleasure for me. First thing in the morning, Mariateresa came in, a girl who has lived in Rome for a long time, a large portion of her family is here with her to enjoy the festive season with her and she would like to organise an aperitif for everyone to toast and enjoy a few hours together.We thought up a menu together and discussed cold cuts. First of all I advised her to make toasted sandwiches with fontina cheese and Tuscan roasted ham, this is not a simple sandwich, but rather a gourmet variation. We also talked about a classic soft white bun with a thin layer of savoury butter and a good Cinta Senese salami. We decided that ham cannot be missing from the table and we chose together one sweet and one mature.

It is obvious that we need a good bottle to toast with so I passed the word to my friend Luigi  and gave his sound advice to Mariateresa regarding which wine to purchase. In a few days we shall here how the evening went but, for me, celebrating a little along with my customers is the best thing.

The history of Barbaresco: the great wine of Piedmont.

Today I'd like to display my eye for wine by presenting you with one of the best Italian wines, which has been called the great wine of Piedmont. Barbaresco is a wine of ancient origin and was even quoted in Tito Livio's monumental History of Rome. According to ancient tradition, the Gauls arrived in Italy because they were attracted to this exceptional wine that got its name from that, which used to be a region of Cuneese; barbariche that erupted in Italy before and after the falling of Rome.

Much time ago, Barbaresco was actually called Nebbiolo or Barolo but afterwards, with the adding of muscatel and passaretta, the wine took on a unique taste, giving it  it's own personality. the Barbaresco has been mentioned in 1799 when the general Melas celebrated his victory over the French by asking for a glass of Nebbiolo Barbaresco.

It was so until Professor Domizio Cavazza, expert enologist, commenced the production of Barolo that we know today.

I shall give you a very earthy word of advice: Barbaresco goes exceptionally well with rich and full first courses, a glass of Barbaresco and a plate of fettuccine with truffles will make your day better.

 

Chocolate

For me it's always a pleasure to chat to you, even more so when I have the possibility to talk about a great passion of mine... Actually, a passion of my whole family, chocolate.

Every time we think about eating something good, one of those things that makes the moment really satisfying is inevitably chocolate. We always have a thousand hesitations before eating a piece of chocolate because it is fattening and it gives us spots... It is, however, one of those snacks that puts a smile on our faces.

Chocolate can be used in a thousand ways, just think that in a typical Roman oxtail recipe, a touch of class is given to it by grating plain chocolate on it. But the really exquisite thing to make with chocolate are cakes, we can list thousands but one of the easiest and tastiest to make is the "stracciatella" chocolate chip cake, a great sweet idea to have for breakfast for the whole family.

A good plain chocolate can be an optimum dessert when served with rum and makes for a very chic end of meal treat if both of the protagonists are of high quality: the plain chocolate has to be the real thing, at least 70% brings out the flavour of the rum... Would you like to know the special finishing touch? A Cuban cigar, and the taste will be perfect!

The choice of pasta

When we think of Italian cuisine, pasta automatically springs to mind. I'd say that this association is more than correct. However, I would like to highlight that not all types of pasta are the same and above all do not go with every kind of condiment. In my shop you can find pasta, snacks and above all you can buy high quality pasta online. The quality of the pasta is fundamental for the creation of a good dish: consistency, precision in cooking and the capacity of absorbing the condiment are all characteristics that make a product excel.

If we think of various Italian recipes, we think of tradition but surely the Italians made variations of the indications and passed them along from mother to daughter. Take the Spaghetti all'Amatriciana, for example. There's no doubt about it that this type of sauce goes very well with the type of pasta but many choose to use the penne style of pasta as an alternative and I must say that I have also chosen this variation once or twice with my children and they really enjoy it. Another idea that I'll give you, is to try mezze maniche style of pasta with a carbonara sauce; in this case I prefer by far this style to a traditional spaghetti. Do you know why? ...the guanciale bacon goes inside the pasta and it all blends together very well and what's more, it is much easier to cook for many people.


If you have a pasta salad in mind, I'd like to suggest fusilli pasta. It is pretty to look at when mixed with tomatoes, cheese, tuna, sweetcorn and it stays al dente.


With a little fantasy and something in the fridge, you can make an absolute quality plate of pasta and enjoy a lovely lunch with the whole family.

Aldo's ham sandwich

It's true that my "figure" doesn't lie, surely my passion for food is quite obvious, for taste and all things yummy! My customers tell me that, when I describe the Italian cold cuts available at my counter, I always make their mouths water and they can't leave without buying something good. For me, food is happiness, conviviality, the explosion of tastes is new and unique every single time.

This morning a regular customer came to my shop, a kind woman, bubbly, a sporty woman who pays attention to her physique, but there is one thing she can't resist- ham. And as I always have done with all of my customers, I got her into bad habits and every time she walks into the shop she manages to find a different ham to try. Some are cut by hand, others using the slicer, and when I see the smile in people's eyes at the very taste, I feel well paid!

She trusts my judgement every day and at lunch eats ham and bread followed by a fruit, every time we choose a different ham and bread together, even if she goes in fads, this lady has preferred Parma Ham for a while now but is trying culatello. I plan to let her try matured ham next. This woman is right: a glass of Italian red wine and a ham sandwich are a real treat to the palate.

Anna's whims

I have been working here for many a year, my shop has become my home and slowly over time I have been decorating it exactly as I always wanted it. I have always loved being amongst many people and I have always thought that a successful gathering is not only necessary for my clients, but for me, too. I know what food shopping is all about and, in an Italian families choose their food with passion to take to the table! We live a more frenetic life, nowadays, but in Italy, quality food is still our motto.

I see it every single day: my clients walk in to buy pasta and some snacks to whip up a quick lunch but everything has to be of high quality. My whims, for example, are the tastiest and every Sunday are there for my family to enjoy together. It has become a ritual, that of trademarking the Sunday table with artichokes in oil, Neopolitan broccoli, sliced aubergines  and so much more that, at only the thought of them, my mouth is watering!

After toasting all together with a good prosecco and having eaten some of my delicacies, we all sit at the table and enjoy our hearty Italian Sunday lunch. It has been weeks that my sons have been asking me to make the recipes of passioneitaliana.com and bit by bit, we are trying them all! Our house is so joyous with these really tasty treats!

Balsamic Vinegar: Mario's touch of class

The Italian cuisine is considered a poor person's cuisine, our Mediterranean diet, famous throughout the world, is as simple as can be whilst containing all of the vitamins and nutrients for good health. We say "you are what you eat" and I believe that to be so. Not only this, but I am always for the opinion that it is the quality of the ingredients that makes the great difference, not only in food that is good for our health but also determines if food is or isn't named high quality cuisine.

With my passioneitaliana.com colleagues, we ponder upon many a discussion about products, which are made in Italy, about the theory that our land should be treated as gold as it is that, which gives us our produce. These meetings usually come about around a dinner table, and each of us brings a speciality from our own shop. Just the other day I decided to prepare a series of bruschettas, with my spiced oils as condiments, I obtained real particular and tasty flavors, with oil and garlic, chilli, Tropea onions and capers, all with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil added and balsamic vinegar from Modena.


I am not here to tell you what my colleagues Elena, Aldo, Anna and others brought to the table... I'll tell you only that Luigi made a keynote on red wine from Montepulciano and... Obviously we drank it!

Nicola suggests: il Pecorino of Crete Senesi

Last weekend I took a trip to my favorite farms to discover new cheeses being made and to taste the ones that I have been proudly suggesting to my customers for years. This happens often for my business and every time I take one of these "taste trips" with my family, there is always something new to discover, not only in the food, but also in the wonderful scenery that Italy has to offer.

Last weekend my work took me to Tuscany, more precisely to Pienza, where I went to get the Red Skinned Pecorino di Pienza cheese of the Crete Senesi. I couldn't even begin to tell you how tasty this product is, I'll tell you only that my children have tried it in a thousand different ways, in every way possible, with many different condiments. My wife, notebook in hand, wrote down all of the different things we tasted for our friends.

The red skinned Crete Senesi Pecorino cheese has a delicate taste but is decisive at the same time. A white cheese of medium maturation with a light spreading of concentrated tomato around the outside, this cheese is without a doubt the most characteristic of the area of Vergelle. Served with pear and honey, it makes an elegant starter. Also served with  onion and ginger relish or a blueberry jam, or even with chilli. Always accompanied by a Rosso di Montalcino wine... It is an exhilarating experience!