Love at first bite- Italian cuisine
Evolution of the Italian cuisine
It is difficult to decide where to start when talking about the Italian cuisine. That is something that has lasted for centuries, so it cannot be represented in just a couple of sentences. It has undergone significant changes with the discovery of the New World and the arrival of potato, tomato, pepper and corn. It is the most popular cuisine in the world, and of course, my favorite. I think all my favorite things come from Italy.
Italian cuisine exudes simplicity. The simpler the recipes, the better the taste. That reminds me of Serbian barbecue, meat is just salted and thrown on the grill. There are no complicated marinades or spices that affect the final flavor. I don’t think all of the spices are needless, or that they can ruin the taste of home prepared meat. I think you should enjoy both, but in a different way. When I grill fish on the barbecue, I just put salt… no marinade is necessary.
What are the main points of Italian gourmet food?
Wine, of course, then cheese and coffee (I refer to espresso).
And what are our first associations to Italy?
Isn’t it pasta, parmesan, minestrone soup, risotto, tiramisu, pizza, ice cream and pesto sauce for everyone?
Prosciutto, wine, cheese, seafood
Within Italy, the food depends on the region in which it is prepared. For example, cooked meat is most common in Northern Italy, also polenta, soups and rich desserts. The region around the river Po is famous for its Fontina cheese. This region is under a major impact of the neighboring France, so butter and rice are main ingredients.
In case you didn’t know, Campari (beverage) comes from Italy, the region around Milan, and it is made of different grasses. Also, the Northern part of Italy is known for its Christmas cake Panettone, which we made last winter (see recipe here), then there is pesto sauce, made of pine nuts, sheep cheese, garlic, basil and olive oil. Homemade is always better option, than buying the already made product in the store. I’ve tried it multiple times and the flavors cannot compare.
The entire Italy smells on pork products (prosciutto), but also seafood.
I feast my eyes on it whenever I see prosciutto, and thank God, it is everywhere. Isn’t your mouth watering the instance you think about slicing them into thin pieces, and putting them in your mouth, while they melt like butter?
When I’m in Verona, but also in all other parts of Italy, I can always try everything that is typically Italian and maybe something more, if there is something from that very region that is well known worldwide.
Thus, I never fail to miss the palette of salami and prosciutto (speck, prosciutto, Milanese, salami, pancetta).
Besides meats, Chianti grapes and wine of the same name are another characteristic of Florence. My favorite middle-category price wine is Amarone, it can be bought in our wineries too. If you happen to pass by one of them, give it a try, it makes all the rest of them momentarily fade into oblivion (at least that was the case with me).
The best known cheeses are: Pecorino, Ricotta, Mozzarella. This should be all consummated just until you get sick of it, because it is a unique opportunity you won’t have again, after you get back home. At home, in our shops, those are just cheap copies, but sometimes, just that can be more than enough.
This is what shops in Verona look like, there are dozens of them, mostly in the small side streets (you can see the prices as well). Basically, everything is significantly cheaper than in Belgrade, at least for 40%. That is why, on my way back from Italy, I look like a building construction and a cheese shop… and just how do I smell of goats and sheep, with more or less mold.
Now, the fresh ones, such as ricotta, plain cow, or buffalo milk mozzarella:
I would remain here the entire day.
I always wonder when our fish shops are going to look like this:
Shrimp and gilt-head brim
Octopus and Mediterranean scallop (big seashells in the picture, they are great and can be bought a piece):
Oh, my hungry eyes, they should be fed, what can I tell you… and then I fed them by the recipe here.
Once again, my hungry eyes, if I could, I would stick all these in my pocket.
Don’t make the me worst one among all of the children, do you also have a wish to do so?
If you want to be a pro in preparing Italian dishes, then it is the best to learn some tricks how to prepare:
Pasta– 4l water, 25g salt, and 500g pasta, and the result should be al dente.
Risotto– we prepared it here.
And here is how Italians do that originally… one of forms of agritourism in Verona is Corte San Mattia, were I stayed, a family estate, traditional cuisine, domestic wines, home grown olives. A million dollar view, and risotto, but preparing it live (risotto in pesto sauce):
And then, risoto in donkey ragù
How many meals per day?
What is very important for Italians is having three meals a day and a lot of cups of espresso in between. Breakfast is a light one, usually with some pastry and a big cup of coffee with milk (cappuccino). A usual meal consists of smaller plates at the beginning, with spicy food to open appetite, and then one or two main courses with meat, fish, vegetables and salad. A simple dessert in the end and a cup of espresso.
Cappuccino is drunk only early in the morning, never after 12a.m.
Italians strictly take care what they combine what kind of pasta with. There are different shapes, spaghetti, fusilli, pene, fettuccini, tagliatelle, lasagna, cannelloni, linguini, macaroni, farfalle… if only they knew that we gave up trying to remember all that, and divided it simply into spaghetti and macaroni.
Pasta with Corte San Mattia (duck ragù):
And a salty cake in parmesan sauce (eggs and parmesan).
Penne arrabiata, a great choice of an appetizer, it triggers appetite (Restaurant on Lago di Garda). My version of pasta with Italian sausage is here.
Where to eat?
Linguini with seafood, i.e. Mediterranean scallop (capesannte), tomato and a fennel cream:
Baby octopus on rocket salad with sour fennel
Italian simplicity: just salted European anchovy, straight from the butter bowl, yet they look so great. Here is revealed some more Italian knowledge on ‘sense for pretty and attractive’.
I tried all this in one pretty restaurant (near Ponte Pietro) named Antica Torretta and which I would highly recommend.
You can watch your meal being prepared there.
If you’re in love and want a romantic dinner just for two of you, be sure to go to Fontanina restaurant. You are going to enjoy every moment and flavor in it. You are always going to remember it. I couldn’t even imagine what the menu combinations looked like, and not to mention the taste of them.
Where not to eat?
In another restaurant, which wasn’t very praiseworthy, you can enter it if you take right turn from the Corco Porta Borsari, which is actually this street in the picture, you can even see it on the right, a noticeable amber building:
And its name is S.Euffemina:
A building to orientate towards is Gardello tower, next to Piazza delle Erbe (it is known for its clock at the top of the tower), which has been closed for decades, and has only been opened in 2016:
My meal, unlike all of the other ones, was Atlantic cod with polenta, Baccala alla Vicentina con polenta in Italian. The rest seemed like… you know, just ok.
Near restaurant, there are a lot of smaller bars, I mentioned for a possible peaceful evening out.
Where to for cake?
I love passing there because there are a lot of windows with cakes, so I feast my eyes on them, on candy this time. If I don’t happen to try some of the pub desserts, I come to these shops, and I am starting my diet on Monday, so everything is ok.
After all of this… I don’t think even Monday is going to save me
If you are near Duomo (the main church of Verona), there is a great garden for a short break, of course with some cake. Isn’t it like heaven?
My choice was the green cake… combination of chocolate and marzipan (some sponge cake and chocolate filling inside).
I love chocolate, so I always decide for a dessert with chocolate combination (there is chocolate everywhere, inside and outside), and it was the case with this one I ate in Lago di Garda as well. I was lucky to take the last one, and everyone was looking at my plate.
When talking about home variations, there is great homemade crostata… which we finished in one moment.
We added some season fruit:
It has always been a challenge for me to stay fit when I am in Italy, be that during the spring or winter period. There are a lot of simple and great ideas for a delicious meal. We are going to cook a lot in Italian way, because it isn’t so time consuming in these hectic days.
And for the end of the day, when I’m tired from enjoying in searching, I can always use a glass of homemade wine in the company of a good friend. This time, we were out of the town in Agritourism San Mattia.
The only thing you are left to do once you’ve tried out everything, is to wait for the next visit there. And in the meantime, you are on diet starting on Monday.