Authentic Italian Recipes


In May we visited Italy and the theme of this trip was “chilometrezero” or “Km 0” for short. This is a trend in Italy that promotes the use of entirely locally produced products, not to be confused with the movie “Km 0” or the mile markers throughout the world. See the Wikipedia entry Chilometro Zero for more on this trend.

KM02a

Tortellini Three Ways at Km0

Meat & Potatoes - Emilia Romagna Style

Meat & potatoes Italian style.

KM01a

Appetizers – Km0

In the US, we might call this farm-to-table or extreme locavore, but Km 0 seems different.

First Stop: Osteria Chilometre Zero by Tom e Ciccio

This trip, we ate at the restaurant northeast of Reggio Emilia near the Autostrada called “Osteria Chilometre Zero by Tom e Ciccio”.  See reviews and location here.

The directions using our iPhone map app took us within 1 Km, but not 0 Km.  We ended up on a farm road that went nowhere (thanks, Siri.)  Using our pre-iPhone skill of reading the actual signs on the road, we backtracked and followed the little white sign (clearly pointing the way in the opposite direction of what Siri said we should do) and found the place easily, except they apparently have recently renamed the restaurant, so the neon sign didn’t exactly match (it was actually a caricature of a Mexican guy advertising coffee – ??)

When we opened the car door after parking in the rear, we had a clue as to the extreme localness of the products based on the smell that made us think we had landed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, if you get my scent.  Yes, fresh, locally produced pork products are the theme here.  But there was much more to the menu on this day.

We had no reservation, and arrived about 8pm.  We had no problem getting a table way in the back, but the other two open tables quickly filled up.  The place might qualify as a “dive” in the US, but it was pleasant, friendly, and packed with locals.  The staff spoke no English, and there is no printed menu.  Instead, a chalk board gets parked next to your table, and you see the full menu of the day.  Also on the board on the wall is the list of where exactly each item on the menu came from.  We had no trouble interpreting the items with ample help from our cheerful waitress and our command of “restaurant Italian.”

The antipasti were an outstanding selection of salumi, lardo, and puffy fried bread.  In this area of Emilia, the word for the puffy fried bread is cresciontini, but we had previously found them in the Romagna area to the east just called gnocco fritto.  In any case, they were great with the meats. For the wine, we chose the local Lambrusco, which goes perfectly well with the somewhat fatty food.

The primi course consisted of three different ravioli dishes recommended by the waitress.  One vegetable stuffing, one beef stuffing, and one cheese stuffing.  All were better than what we’d had in a fancier restaurant in Bologna the previous day.

For secondi, we were a bit filled up, but dove in to maiale and manzo dishes.  The freshness of the meat and the preparation of each were simple, but really good.  We skipped dessert.

Cheesemaking at Fattoria Montelupa

Cheesemaking at Fattoria Montelupa

 

Next stop:  Fattoria Montelupa near Città di Castello east of Arezzo, north of Perugia for some fresh cheese. Yum.

The owners moved 40 water buffalo to this part of Tuscany some years ago from near Naples, where Tuscany juts its finger way northeast up into Emilia Romagna.  The buffalo seem to like it here just fine, versus the hotter climate in Campania.  The farm has accommodated the buffalo with a low spot to wallow in the cool mud.

Our host explained that the buffalo don’t like stress, and produce the best milk when free from stress.  Based on the taste and consistency of the resulting mozzarella product, we think these are pretty happy animals.  The farm is outside of town, but there is a retail store in town.  Whether it is because the cheese we tasted was made today from milk collected yesterday from a bunch of happy water buffalo, or because it is made with a different technique, the end result is a product that can’t get any better.  We were fortunate enough to also have fresh ricotta made from the whey byproduct of the mozzarella process.  The ricotta, too, was as good as it gets.  Total distance from buffalo to table – about 300 meters.

Tempting Salumi

Tempting Salumi

Al Fresco at Ghiandaio

Al Fresco at Ghiandaio

 

Next stop:  Il Ghiandaio

North of Città di Castello, a bit further east of Arezzo, but still in that little tip of Tuscany that juts up into Emilia-Romagna and Umbria, there is a tiny little store-slash-restaurant on the side of the highway. (Click here for a location map and reviews).

The proprietor of Il Ghiandaio  is a man who takes his craft very seriously and produces his own cured meats to sell in his tiny store.  The restaurant consists of a couple of tables in the yard next to the store.  The store sits behind his house, just off the Autostrada, exit Pieve Santo Stefano (Nord).

We feasted on six types of cured meats (actually, I lost count) including the one he called the “eel” because of its shape and size.  Also on the menu was the typical Tuscan crostini selection of green pesto made with celery leaves instead of basil, chopped liver, and a new one – fresh sausage, uncured, made on Monday (we were there Thursday).  It tasted like tuna tartare – really different.

The pigs are raised nearby.  Giuseppe Ferroni is the proprietor, but the pigs are raised by another farmer.  Signore Ferroni is a master at making sausage, salami, prosciutto, and anything that can be done with pork.  We highly recommend this man and his work.  Distance from curing room to table – about 50 meters.

If you take a trip through Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, and Umbria, let us know if you visit these establishments!

–Jeff

Colatura di Alici from IASA

It could be said that anchovies are polarizing – in a love them or hate them gastronomic way. Yet, anchovies and anchovy sauce are all the rage. National “news” publications: The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal have all covered this flavor sensation.

Anchovies are often added to pasta or vegetables in the southern lands of Italy. A classic preparation includes vegetables sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and dissolved anchovies. Or garlic, anchovies, capers, and a dash of spicy red pepper! With IASA Colatura di Alici, you can sneak in a bit of anchovy flavor without stocking anchovies in the kitchen. That’s the way some of us have been known to train the palates of family members! Also known as Garum, this fish sauce, Colatura di Alici adds that quick hit of umani — that hard to describe “extra” flavor sensation.

Colatura di Alici is a product of authenticity and tradition from Cetara, near Salerno in Campania. To watch a video on how the artisans create Colatura di Alici from Cetara in Campania, click this link.

Here’s a review of notable recent writing on Anchovies and Colatura di Alici (Anchovy Sauce).

Chicago Tribune Article on Venice includes references to Colatura di Alici on the Cicchetti of Venice

SFGate’s restaurant review of A16 delves into the menu: “roasted broccoli with Calabrian chiles and colatura di alici, a traditional Campanian condiment made of anchovy”

Ready for a midnight – or midafternoon snack? Stock up on good butter and good bread before viewing this New York Times video on Anchovies!

A recent edition of the LA Times features Nancy  Silverton’s Master Class on Anchovies.

We are re-sharing our friend, Vincent Scordo’s, review of Colatura di Alici and our own post, Acquired Tastes?

Here’s a fresh recipe from Elizabeth Minchilli’s beautiful blog: Pasta with Zucchini and Colatura.

Enjoy this video of Mimmo Corcione’s pasta dish with fried zucchini, sauteed spinach and spaghetti with Colatura: Spaghetti con Zucchine Fritte e Colatura di Alici di Cetara.

Ready to purchase Colatura di Alici — or Spicy Anchovies? Start here.

Agrumato Lemon HerbFabulous food blogger Adri Barr Crocetti took Agrumato Lemon & Herbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a test drive.

“…because the olives are pressed simultaneously with the lemons the oil exhibits a remarkable harmony of flavor…”

She packs recipe ideas into her post…with snacking ideas and a marvelous Fresh Mushroom and Herb Salad. If you are wondering about the Nepitella as we were, AllThingsTuscan has a post as well.

Click here for the blog post and recipes.

Nepitella seeds can be purchased here.

 Raccolto 2012 Selections

As we introduce each of our our Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oils, there are two questions we answer most often:

(1)     What is your favorite olive oil?

That’s something akin to which is your favorite child! I may have a new favorite on any day of the week, but most often, I have 2-3 to select from in my home kitchen (compared to 10-15 in the office kitchen). Some pairings work better or while others work best. Something luscious and fruity for an antipasto platter? Something peppery for a steak? Elements of spiciness on simple beans?

Today’s answers: Capezzana from Tuscany, Fonte di Foiano (Tuscany), Raro (Campania).

Tomorrow’s answers: Cutrera’s Primo DOP (Sicily), La Poderina Toscana DOP (Tuscany), Colli Etruschi (Lazio).

Next week is wide open — there are so many to choose from!

(2)     The other question is… “you don’t use these for cooking, do you?”

In all honesty, I do. The first several inches of any bottle are used for the best, freshest presentations, but when I get down to the last inch, I’m eager to move onto the next bottle. So the precious-but-little oil goes by the tablespoon onto roasted vegetables, in pizza dough, on focaccia, and even in a quick sauté of vegetables (like sautéed shredded Brussels Sprouts!)

With the right tools and the best ingredients, cooking is more fun and eating is very satisfying and great meals inspire the next meals!

Tucci_CookbookOver a hundred years ago, my Tucci ancestors emigrated from Campobasso. Syracuse is the first point of residence that I remember and a branch settled in Cortland by the early 20th Century. We still think of Cortland as the home to our branch of the Tuccis.

Several years ago, we had the opportunity to meet Stanley Tucci’s sister, Christine – on Christmas, no less. It seems that if we search long enough we could find a common point between our Tuccis in Campobasso and theirs in Calabria.

Just this week, while reading Vincent Scordo’s Blog, we realized that Stanley Tucci’s The Tucci Cookbook, was something that would be great fun to have, hold, and display at home. (We have a copy in the store, if you would like to see it). As soon as Olio2go’s holiday rush subsides, I plan to savor each page as I look through for recipes common to our families’ heritage.  

I may be responsible for a blip in the book’s sales as I purchased several copies for gifts for Christmas 2012.

There it was! In Florence, Learning the Secrets of Tuscan Food

I’ll admit, the photo of bottle of traditional balsamic vinegar (from the Modena consortium)** is what first caught my eye when I grabbed the Travel section of The Washington Post on Sunday, November 4, 2012. It called out to me, to cast everything aside, to delve into this view of food as Italian art for the senses.

Our favorite paragraph centers on tradizionale balsamico…

“She explains that traditional balsamic vinegar, not to be confused with what we Americans put on our salads, contains no wine vinegar; it’s a complicated syrup aged for at least 12 years in small barrels and verified by a European consortium. A small bottle of the luxury dressing costs between about $85 and $200 — or more — depending on how long it has been aged, and Florentines pour it over everything from steak to gelato. In addition to tasting the expensive traditional variety, we sip a plethora of more affordable hybrid balsamics and ponder their subtle undertones.”

At Olio2go we have authentic consortia-approved Aceto Balsamic Tradizionale di Modena selections as well as excellent younger selections, such as the notable Campagnia del Montale Anniversary Special Edition.

If, after reading the Washington Post piece, you’d like to know more about the other markets in Florence, Sant’Ambrogio prvides another look at the foods of Florence.

Any stroll through the cobblestone streets of Centro Storico in Florence will result in glorious surprises as you gain a enlightened appreciation for the food culture of Italy. Mercato Centrale has evolved over the years, and while still Mecca for food lovers, some choose to venture to the Sant’Ambrogio market on the eastern portion of the historic area to ship where the locals outnumber the tourists.

 For more even more fun reading on great Italian food, take a look at this piece on our sister store, Piazza Italian Market, in Easton, Maryland.

 

**This photo isn’t show in the online edition, but this is a bottle from the Modena Consortium.

 

Villa Manodori SelectionsDon’t miss this Forbes article on Chef Massimo Bottura and his new restaurant in Modena, The Best Restaurant in Italy or the Best Restaurant in the World. If you haven’t time to plan a trip or are unable to get those coveted reservations, you can still enjoy his artisanal work at home. Taste a masterpiece with a selection from his astounding range of Villa Manodori Balsamic Vinegars and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Villa Manodori Artigianale Balsamic Vinegar

Villa Manodori Dark Cherry Balsamic Vinegar

Villa Manodori Organic Balsamic Vinegar

Villa Manodori Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Go ahead, read the Forbes article and then visit Olio2go for Chef Massimo Bottura’s sublime selections.

Order online. If you are in the Washington DC area, stop by our store on Hilltop in the Merrifield area of Fairfax.

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