Olive Oil Feasts


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

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.

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.

Vincent Scordo, from the notable Scordo.com, recently posted a fabulous recipe, Ciabatta Roll with Tomato, Basil, Santisi Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Fillets of Anchovies. He’s a big fan of Santisi — and we appreciate his recipe. Santisi hails from northeastern Sicily in the province of Messina, and it is well matched to the BIG flavor of this sandwich. Take a look at Scordo’s site to see the beer that he matched with this sandwich!

A New Look at Olio2go

We were so lucky to host Domenica Marchetti in the new Olio2go store last evening. Our customers enjoyed speaking with her about pasta making (techniques for gnocchi) and their favorite recipes from her cookbooks: The Glorious Pasta of Italy, Big Night In, and Glorious Soups and Stews. We learned that her favorite region is Abruzzo, and it is just a joy to discuss all things related to food and Italy with her. Be sure to take a look at her blog, where you will also see our recent interview on olive oil.

Our guests were treated to two recipes from Glorious Pasta, and they rounded out their tastings with samples of Italian extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Big hits? Rosso from Villa Zottopera, Pamela Sheldon Johns’ Pace da Poggio Etrusco, and the Anniversary Balsamic from Compania del Montale.

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Whether you call it, late summer or early fall, this season is the ideal time for an evening of pizza.  Our test kitchen selections were crafted with Crudo Extra Virgin Olive Oil and we substituted Franca Franzoni Chestnut Honeyfor the “standard” wildflower honey in the recipe. The chestnut honey added a delightful, subtle nuttiness to the crust.

With this pizza dough recipe, you can make the dough in the morning, and return home in the evening ready to bake crispy and flavorful pizzas.

The two accompanying photos show our two sets of toppings:

Pizza 1: Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers, and Roasted Garlic,Shredded cheese, mostly mozzarella, topped with Arugula immediately after being removed from the oven
Pizza 2: Calabrese Salami, Black Olives, Tomatoes, Shredded cheese, mostly mozzarella

Shortcuts:
Il Boschetto Bruschetta Extra Virgin Olive Oil
De Carlo Sun Kissed Tomatoes
Trentasette Black Olive Spread

Use the linked Pizza Dough Recipe for guidance on baking time.

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the McLean Project for the Arts, Olio2go participated in “The Art of Italian Olive Oil”, a private olive oil tasting and luncheon in the MPA galley.  We enjoyed a tasting of four olives oils and two tapenade selections, the true magic was found in RSVP Catering’s pairing of the oils (and Vincotto Fig Vinegar) with their recipes. One very lucky guest received the Cutrera Gran Cru Tasting Set

— the door prize!

Santa Chiara Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2011

Principe di Mascio DOP Colli Assisi – Spoleto 2011

Gerbino Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2011

Pelliccia Estate Bottled Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2011

Vincotto Fig Vinegar

Maida Pomodori Secchi Crema Sundried Tomato Spread

Maida Olive al Cacao Pate

Orders noted with MPA and received by midnight on July 16, 2012 will be counted toward Olio2go’s donation to MPA.

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