I recently had an unorthodox craving for Key Lime Pie. It was one of my favourite desserts back home because there's a chain of restaurants called Cactus Club that features it as a signature dish. Surely there was no hope in finding one here in Italy (the cheesecake isn't even the same!) so I knew I'd have to find me a recipe and make one of these bad boys! The result was completely satisfying...!
This week has literally FLOWN by and I didn't even have the chance to do a proper Wednesday recipe so here it is, albeit belated. This recipe comes from the book Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy and is just fantastic, although I found the chestnut flour to be the most challenging ingredient to track down back in Canada. Be warned, while gnocchi seem really easy to make, they are actually difficult to get the hang of in the sense that you need to develop an understanding of when the texture is correct (otherwise they end up overly floppy or overly hard and chewy). Have fun, see you in the Recipes sections!
There are a number of things that I just can't stop eating in Italy, my personal list is very eclectic and includes: any gelato with caramelized figs, any pizza with anchovies and capers, piadine with prosciutto cotto, mozzarella, and tomatoes, pasta allo scoglio (seafood pasta), olive all'ascolana, and finally...these. In English, I think we call them Amarena cherries, they are small, dark, and sour and delicious. This brand, Fabbri, is famous for preserving them in a kind of hyperglycemia-inducing syrup that you can pour over gelato or just slurp by the teaspoonful like me.
This should probably not even be allowed to be called a recipe, it's that easy. Since you know I've been obsessed with artichokes lately (see this previous post), I thought this recipe would be perfect. You eat these with your fingers and preferably with a bib as well depending on how much you like olive oil. See you in the Recipes section!
Happy first day of April everybody! Tomorrow is my Four Months in Italy anniversary so I'll try to think up a fun post for it. Today is Recipe Wednesday so I thought I'd share this radicchio lasagna that has become quite popular with Massi and I. Radicchio has been all the rage lately at the market (must be its season) so I tried incorporating it into a lasagna. It comes out nice and hearty, possibly even tastier than a normal lasagna. Shock and awe people, shock and awe. Find it in my Recipes section!
It's already Sunday and the weekend has flown by. I will do a post about what we got up to tomorrow since we had beautiful weather and got to spend most of our time outdoors in the sun. Yesterday night we were out and about in Milan and Corso Como was filled to capacity with Italians and tourists pretending it was already summer, flaunting their outfits hidden under coats or just choosing to sport the look-of-the-moment: the faux fur vest. In the meantime, here's another reason why I love Italy: they have AWESOME yogurt flavours here! Why can't we have sophisticated flavours in Canada? These three are my favourites so far (from left): Citrus Fruits of Sicily, Almond Milk, and Biscuit.
This is a warm oven-baked dark chocolate pudding cake. I've only ever made today's recipe once, but it turned out PERFECT and literally takes maybe 15 minutes total since the bake time is only 6 minutes. Check it out under Ricette up top!
It seems like everywhere you go, someone has una tosse (a cough), it always happens during the change of season due to the air the Italians say (la colpa d'aria is to blame for many a sickness). For the weekly Wednesday recipe, I thought I'd actually share something rather unconventional- my Dad's secret cough "syrup". It's not actually just my dad's recipe, but an Asian one in general I think. Let me just say, that as a trained pharmacist, this concoction usually works better than alot of commercial products. Personally, I never used other cough syrups. It's great for coughs as well as to soothe a sore throat. My brother, a musical theatre enthusiast and singer used to drink it pre- and post- shows to calm his throat and to get it back into shape. It's made out of regular Coca-Cola and ginger! "Recipe" (if you can call it that) under Ricette. Check it out and let me know if it works for you!
When I was in Canada, I really overlooked the artichoke. It's one of those intimidating, foreign-looking types at the supermarket that you think couldn't possibly be worth all it's scary spiny-ness. I always thought that until one steamy, summer's night in Rome, in a little trattoria with a rickety table about to keel over on cobblestone...I had my first carciofi alla romana (artichokes done Roman-style). It came out too hot to touch and was probably the most beautiful thing I had seen all day- although that happens alot when you're in Rome. I ate it with my fingers (not sure if that's faux pas), peeling the layers away one by one and sopping up the olive oil with crusty bread. It's one of those food memories, a food-gasm I suppose, that I just cannot get out of my head. So lately I'm obsessed with artichokes and unfortunately, I think we must be on the end of it's much-esteemed season as it's often called 'il re dell'inverno' (the king of winter), and winter's pretty much history.
In case you didn't know, in Italy, you eat the foods of the season. Fruits and vegetables have a specific set of months that you can eat them in. THIS IS A COMPLETELY NEW CONCEPT TO ANY CANADIAN. This is for obvious reasons as almost everything at any given point of the year in Canada is imported from a more tropical place, so if you fancy say a pomegranate, you can probably find one even in the dead of winter. It's a beautiful thing what's going on here in Italy though because Italians only eat what is grown and available in each season. I remember my first trips to the supermarket without this knowledge...I wanted to satisfy a berry craving and in looking high and low for blueberries or raspberries, I asked Massi where they might be hiding. The sheer shock on his face that I would be looking for berries OUTSIDE of berry season is indescribable. It may have been followed by shaming and a wagging of an index finger in my face accompanied by words like impossibile and ma sei matta (but you're crazy). So word of advice newbies to Italy, if you don't see something at the market, it's out of season. Actually come to think of it, the Italians treat foods like fashion- you best pay attention to the key pieces of each season lest you give yourself away as totally ignorant!
It's Wednesday, but instead of my usual recipe, I thought I'd write about the Milan Food Tour that I took with my friend Kyra, from Germany who is also living in Bergamo. It's still relevant because it's still on the topic of food, plus if you take the tour, you get the recipe for Mondeghili which is one of many typical Milanese dishes you taste along the way! First off, let me say I am obsessed with food tours. It all started with the Original Greenwich Village food tour in New York City, followed by the NoLita tour a year later with Massi where we (fittingly) learnt all about the influence of Italian culture on the neighbourhood. The Milan Food Tour was my hat-trick (when you score three times in a row, used a ton in hockey talk).
There is something rather voyeuristic about going on food tours, I always feel as if I'm sneaking into someone else's life, in this case, the life of someone who lives and breathes Milan and knows it's ins and outs and all it's beautiful nuances. On this tour, you get taken into seven different locales ranging from a gelateria to prosciutteria, and you'll be immersed in ambiances from trendy to antique. One thing is certain- you would never stumble upon these places on your own, and even if you did, you wouldn't know what to order. Our guide was Mirella who is piemontese but has lived in Milan for more than ten years which proved to be perfect because she personally went through the long-drawn process of discovering the city all those years ago and hand-picked all of the stops on the tour.
It was an incredible way to spend three-hours on a Saturday in Milan. Not only do you get to stuff your belly with food, you also get to hear Mirella's antidotes about Milanese culture as she points out highlights around the Brera neighbourhood that you trek on foot. One of my favorite stories was how she told us about wealthy Italian ladies who sometimes take their own pans to the Antico Pastificio Moscova (one of the stops) to be filled with a made-from-scratch lasagna. They then can take their pan home to their businessmen husbands and pretend that they slaved away all day in the kitchen (when really they went shopping on Via Montenapoleone all afternoon). Food highlights for me included my cannella (cinnamon) and zenzero (ginger) gelato, the cuts of 27-month aged prosciutto and culatello (to take an entire one home would cost you upwards of 400 Euros!), and hanging out at Princi amongst the most fashionable and attractive crowd I've ever seen (although it was Fashion Week at the time, so that might explain things). The other part about this food tour that made it fun was the fact that you get to socialize with extremely interesting, like-minded people who are typically lovers of food and travel. It's an absolute hoot to sip aperitivi and share stories in the company of people who have also been all over the world.
My Top 5 Tips for Going on the Milan Food Tour:
1. Don't eat breakfast: I made the mistake of stopping for a cappuccino and cornetto before heading to the stop because I was starving, don't do it! The first stop will be your breakfast.
2. Make sure you don't have big plans afterwards: You will be either drunk or so full that you won't be able to move, or both. Come prepared to have a few drinks, it's five o'clock somewhere anyways!
3. Bring your camera: So many great food photo opportunities as you'll see below.
4. Wear your walking shoes: There is definitely walking involved so make sure you're comfortable.
5. Be fashionable: The last stop is the Princi (a trendy eatery) location next to Corso Como and it's a pretty fashionable area of the city. If you want to hang out at the end of the tour, best be dressed the part or risk being kicked out (just kidding, but you'll feel more local if you have a nice pair of shoes, overcoat, and sunglasses...!).
A huge grazie mille Mirella and Milan Food Tours, it was a literal slice! Now for the best part, scroll down for all the food photographs...!
Besides Milan, the company also provides tours in Florence and Rome. Click the button below to contact them by e-mail. You can also reach them at +39 0552398855 or at www.milanfoodtours.com.
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Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned writer and wine drinker from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.
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