An Italian common street food: Porchetta

An Italian common street food: Porchetta

An Italian common street food: Porchetta

An Italian common street food: Porchetta

Porchetta is a savoury, fatty and moist boneless pork roast typical of central and northen Italy. It consists in a deboned, emptied and seasoned pig. Although its origin is still uncertain, the porchetta is commonly found as a street food. The realisation is not difficult! Do you want to cook it at home? Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 5kg pig loin: deboned and with pork rind
  • 1kg piggy shoulder
  • 2 tsp minced black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbs fennel seeds
  • salt
  • 8 bundles wild fennel plant
  • lard

Procedure:

  1. Debone and remove the pork rind from the piece of shoulder. Clean the pulp obtained from the clots and set it aside.
  2. Take the pig loin and regulate its shape by levelling off the sides. Separate the pulp of the pork rind from the short side, the one where the roll will be closed.
  3. Distribute the pulp (set aside earlier) over the whole pig loin to obtain a uniform layer. Season the inside part of the loin with fennel seeds, abundant salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then add also the bundles of wild fennel and in the end roll the loin very tight.
  4. Tie the loin with twine and protect the two extremities not covered by the rind with aluminuim foil.
  5. Transfer the porchetta on a baking tray and put into the oven at 160°C for 3 hours. Then, remove the aluminium foil and put the porchetta on a grill, in order to lift it from the tray. Distribute on the surface an abundant quantity of lard and oven it again at 200°C for 1 hour. During the last 10 minutes, raise the temperature to the maximum level.

    Porchetta Sandwich

    Porchetta Sandwich

How to eat the porchetta: The Porchetta can be served cut into slices or in a sandwich. The best when it’s just cooked.

Come to Italy and try the original porchetta during our Afternoon Food Tour with Beer Tasting in Rome you will surely love it!

 

Meet your local guide in Rome: Renato

During a pizza tour

During a pizza tour

Planning your vacation to Rome? Then you have to check which tour to book and who’s the best guide in town!
Renato is an energetic, passioned Italian guide who fell in love with Rome at a young age and his passion for the Eternal city is still burning greatly! If you’re a foodie and want to try something different that takes you our of the beaten paths, Renato and his food tours, are perfect for you: a great mix of culture, italian delicacies, humor and lots of smiles!

Name:  My name is Renato and it’s hard for people to get it right so don’t worry if you mispell it or misunderstand, at the end of the day, I’m just glad if you can remember me and our experience together 😉

Nationality and Hometown? Italian. Southern Italian to be exact. I’m originally from a small town of the Campania region. but i’ve been living in Rome since 1999.

Name of tour you lead and where: I’m leading Food Tours, Bike&food tours and segway tour too!

Hi, this is Renato!

If you are not from the city you are based in for tours, what originally brought you there? I moved to Rome to study, at least that’s what I told my parents to convice them, but I did graduate. Above all, I was eager for life and that you can really get in a big town such as Rome 🙂

Your favorite part of the tour: The orange trees park on the Aventine Hill. I could stay there for hours, looking at the city from that perspective.

Orange Garden at Aventino

Orange Garden at Aventino

Favorite Local Restaurant in your city: Restaurant “Maccheroni”, near the Pantheon. The carbonara they make is to die for!!

One thing visitors to your city can’t miss: Trastevere area: it’s charming, intriguing and still medieval. A unique part of Rome.

Favorite Travel Quote? A Roma, non basta una vita (Silvio Negro) – For Rome, a lifetime is not enough.

What’s next on your travel bucket list?  New Orleans, Mississipi! I want to breath and leave the jazzy groove and try the cajun and creole specialty! Can’ wait!

What is your favorite Italian city to travel to?  Venice. It might sound a cliche but I can’t help it!

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? Come prepared and bring a lot of patience too 🙂

What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving? Jewish style artichoke

Carciofi alla Giudia

Carciofi alla Giudia

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? An elderly couple asked me to stop right in the spot where 30 years earlier they had taken a picture and they wanted to take the same picture.

What do you like most about leading tours? Good vibes from the people

Renato on tour!

Renato on tour!

What makes your tour unique? Enthusiasm. I get excited every time I tell people stories about Rome.

A most special Italian bread: Cecina

A most special Italian bread: Cecina

Cecina, Italian special bread

Cecina, Italian special bread

Have you ever heard about “La Cecìna”? If not, la Cecina is an easy-to-make savoury pie composed of chickpeas’flour, water, salt and extravergin olive oil.

Despite it is considered as a poor meal and used as an alternative to bread, its Genoese’s origin is quite interesting! The legend of the Cecìna narrates that it was born by chance in 1284, when Genoa defeated Pisa in the battle of Meloria. One day Genoa’s galleys were involved during a storm and the drums of oil and some sacks of chickpeas that they were transporting, spilled and mixed with salty water. The sailors recovered what they could but some of them refused to eat it and left them under the sun. The result? It became a kind of fritter. The next day, starving to death, they ate the mixture and discovered its deliciousness! Once came back to Genoa, the sailors tried to cook it into oven and the discover was incredible.

Nowadays, the Cecina is a typical dish of the Mediterranean coasts, especially in Ligurian and Tuscan kitchens.

If the curiosity hits you, try this simple recipe.

Ingredients for two pans of 22cm (diameters):

  • 180g chickpeas’ flour
  • 600ml water
  • 1tbs salt
  • 80ml olive oil
  • Black pepper
A slice of Cecina

A slice of Cecina

Procedure:

To prepare the Cecina, you will simply need a bowl and a whisk. Put the chickpeas’ flour into the bowl, add salt and gradually the water, and in the meanwhile mix well the compost with the whisk in order to avoid lumps. Add half of the olive oil and the remaining water. At this point you will obtain a very liquid mixture. Cover the bowl with wrap and let it rest for about 30 minutes. What remained of the olive oil will be used to cover the two molds (it doesn’t matter if the oil isn’t equally distributed all over the surfaces). After this, distribute the mixture into the two pans. Preheat the oven at 200-220° and cook the Cecina for 15-20 minutes. If you cook the two pans at the same time, remember to alternate them on the ledges of the oven.

The Cecina is ready when the surface is gold and the peel seems to lift. To finalize the recipe, sprinkle the Cecina with black pepper and serve it hot. It can be served as appetizer or as a second course.

If you are food-lover and especially if you love Italian food, book an Afternoon Food Walking Tour in Florence with us! There’s a lot more to be discovered!

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony ;)

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony

Hello, my name is Tony!

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony. Italy Food Culture Tours. Planning a visit to Rome? Here are some tips from Tony, The Best foodie guide in town!! Tony will lead you to his favourite places and restaurants, with tips on how to make the most of your stay in Rome.

Name:  My name is Tony

Nationality and Hometown? I’m Italian and proud roman

Name of tour you lead and where: I lead the Food tours, bike&food tours and also segway tours!

What’s your favorite part of the tour: The delicious slice of pizza outdoor, in the middle of the street inside the magical frame of  Campo de fiori market.. an authentic spot of italian life.

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony

The lovely “Campo dei Fiori” square

Favorite Local Restaurant in your city: “Dar filettaro” (translated from roman: the filet guy 😉 ) you cannot miss this, because it’s the first “roman fast food ever”. The place is near Campo dei Fiori  square.

One thing visitors to your city can’t miss: The Jewish Ghetto, this area is like a natural movie set. You’ll feel like stepping into ” Roman Holidays” or “La dolce vita”, I promise!

What’s next on your travel bucket list? The east, Asia. I want to go to Vietnam, a country with great culture, places and people! I can’t wait!!

Overview of Matera

Overview of Matera, it’s beautiful!

What is your favorite Italian city to travel to?  Matera, the italian Jerusalem. This city is one of the many pearl of our unique country, as well as being one of the most ancient towns -still inhabited- in the world. I wish it was more appreciated nationally and internationally.

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? The tip of using your heart…travelling to our country must be an initiative completely natural and spontaneous to fully appreciated our culture.

The delicious "Pasta alla Gricia"

The delicious “Pasta alla Gricia”

What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving? Of course it’s the pasta alla gricia. Might have heard of pasta all’amatriciana, well this is the ancestor of amatriciana and one certainly needs to try both to learn how they’re made and which is your favourite. 🙂 If you’re an expert on Italian food, you could try this at home!

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? The most memorable experience, was a marriage proposal during a Segway tour, by night, in Rome….an offer which is impossible to refuse!

Meet your local guide in Rome: Tony

Here we are on a food stop of our tour!

What do you like most about leading tours? To meet people from allover the world, to interact with them and to share our culture and backgrounds. There’s always something to learn, from every single person.

What makes your tour unique? My passion! To me this is not only a job but it’s a way of living and share all my love for my beautiful city.

Italy Food Culture presents: “Meet your local guide: Daniele!”

Italy Food Culture presents: “Meet your local guide: Daniele from Milano!”

We’ve been away for awhile but are now back with new entries and new posts! This time we’re taking you to Milan to meet Daniele a witty and personable local guide, that is waiting just for you, to make the most of your visit!

"Hi, this is me!"

“Hi, this is me!”

Name:  Daniele Umberto Lampasona

Nationality and Hometown? I’m originally from Catania, but live in Milan.

Name of tour you lead and where:  I’m in charge of leading the food tours and beer tours. Yes, beer too, because Italian craft beers are terribly good and won’t disappoint any beer lover!

If you are not from the city you are based in for tours, what originally brought you there? As many other families, also mine moved for work reasons from south of Italy to Milan, the richest city of our country. I was 1 year old, so basically…I followed them.

Your favorite part of the tour:  My favourite part is the wine tasting at the enoteca (italian word for wine shop): it’s always a wonderful shop, with wonderful people… and certainly wonderful wine! 

Favorite Local Restaurant in your city:  Rather than a specific place, I prefer recommending neighbourghoods where to live an experience. So I like to suggest the Navigli area and Brera – my favourites – which are so full of restaurants and each focusing on different products, that you can just go there and literally follow your nose.

"The best part of the terraces is the view!"

“The best part of the terraces is the view!”

One thing visitors to your city can’t miss: Going up to the roof of the Duomo (here’s useful link to book a Duomo tour) and actually walking on its tiles. It’s hard to find a similar opportunity in the whole world, and the view from up there is amazing!

What’s next on your travel bucket list? Next week I’m going to Lithuania!

What is your favorite Italian city to travel to?   I’m totally in love with Rome: there are so many things to see and to do that. Although I’ve lived there for a while and I’ve visited it many other times, I always find something new around!

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? Clear your mind from stereotypes and relax.

"mmm...this is mouthwatering delicious"

“mmm…this is mouthwatering delicious”

What’s the food that someone must try in your city before leaving? The combo ossobuco with saffron risotto is a must!

What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had on one of your tours? Having a prosciutto tasting with some people from Australia who were prosciutto producers and we discussed about all the varieties and the differences between the Australians and Italians cured meet, most memorable!

What do you like most about leading tours? The possibility to learn from each person in my tour groups.

What makes your tour unique? A light and funny atmosphere, seasoned with deep knowledge of the tour. And of course, my hair! 😉

Meet yout guide: this month is for Debora!

Welcome back to our “Meet Your Guide” post!

DEboraThis month we are going to meet Debora a very sweet guide from Milan, who’ll tell you all about food and history and fashion, afterall you’re in Milan!

 

Name:  Hi, I’m Debora

Nationality and Hometown? I’m Italian originally from Monza a town north of Milan.

Name of tour you lead and where: I’m very fond of our gourmet tours and I lead the Food Tasting Tour and the Beers&bites walking tour.

Monza's Formula Uno Circuit

Monza’s Formula Uno Circuit

If you are not from the city you are based in for tours, what originally brought you there? I was born and raised in Monza, which is mostly famous for the “Formula Uno” races. Monza is a tranquil town with a great historical center and a big, lovely park, the green beating heart of the city. I love enjoying the energy of a big city like Milan while working but go back home at night to a quite, comfy town where I can rest.

Debora (in red) during a food tour

Debora (in red) during a food tour

Your favorite part of the tour: The best part of the Food tour is the Brera district: one of the most beautiful in town. I love to walk about the area filled with locande, art galleries, caffetterias, osteria and to show the connection between art, culture, history and the Milanese cuisine to all visitors.

Drogheria Milanese

Drogheria Milanese

Favorite Local Restaurant in your city: Milan is a metropolis where one can find all sorts of place and personally I like very much shops like “Temakinho” where fine sushi is served with Brasilian cocktails! Despite the many original offers one can find, Milan has a deeply rooted gastronomic culture, that you can discovery at design and fashion restaurants like “Dametra” or “La Drogheria San Marco”, here traditional cooking is served, rivisisted or fashionably served to fully immerse oneself in the Milanese style.

What’s next on your travel bucket list? I wish to visit the entire world! But The United States are very high on my list!

Bergamo's Duomo

Bergamo’s Duomo

What’s your best travel tip for those coming to visit Italy? When visiting north Italy, my suggestion is to plan a long stay in Milan and use it as “base” to travel around the smaller cities, like Monza (my hometown), Bergamo and Mantova all while experiencing the locals life in Milan.

If Debora convinced you, don’t hesitate and book you foodie tour in Milan!

Warm up your winter with an Italian cappuccino

What’s better than a hot, foamy cappuccino to start the day?

Hot cappuccino

Hot cappuccino

For us, cappuccino is like morning fuel, it’s absolutely necessary to start the day and it has to be foamy, creamy and hot. Italians are used to good food and they are extremely demanding about it. After all, a good cappuccino can make your day and a bad one, on the other hand, may ruin it.

The secret for a perfect cappuccino is the foam that should come in a rich, creamy and consistent layer. You can ask for some cocoa powder or cinnamon on top.

But what is this cappuccino? Basically consider that is based on a regular espresso, milk and foamed milk. The creamy foam strictly requires whole milk.

The perfect pairing for a perfect breakfast is with a buttery, fragrant brioche. Yes, we know that the correct name for this pastry is croissant, but we call it brioche anyway. If you want to feel and act like a real local, try to order breakfast standing at the counter and saying: Cappuccino e brioche, per favore!

Usually we don’t order a cappuccino in the afternoon since it’s considered a breakfast drink. I mean, they’ll serve it to you but if you want to feel like locals, don’t order it after 11 a.m. ;-).

cappuccino-e-brioche

cappuccino-e-brioche

But what’s the origin of this drink? First of all, the name literally means hood, or rather small hood, since it recalls the brown color of the habits used by the Capuchin friars. The first version of this drink appeared for the very first time in Wien, where the first cafés were opened in 18th century and where once a Capuchin friar, asked the barman to mild his coffee with some milk and spices. The first cappuccino was born.

When Austrian have conquered the central and northeastern Italian territories, they  brought with them their habits, “Kapuziner” included, and it became popular mostly in the area of Trieste.

Actually the cappuccino as we know it, descends from these first versions, but has some differences and it became popular only from the beginning of the 20th century, when the first coffee machines were patented by a brilliant, young Italian mechanic born and raised in Milan: Luigi Bezzera. From then on, it has spread all over the world!

Being so proud of our fellow citizen (and being cappuccino addicted), we couldn’t not include this drink in our Food Tour in Milan. The first stop of the tour is in a bakery that smells like fresh bread where we taste cappuccino and a sweet pastry. Drooling? Come and taste a cappuccino in Milan with us!

We bet that now you’re dying for a cappuccino 🙂

Autumn in Tuscany: the traditional Mushroom Soup recipe

Autumn in Tuscany is marvelously colorful  and smells like mushrooms and chestnuts. Imagine how cozy could be to savor a hot, fragrant soup looking at the foliage outside the window…it really warms body and soul.

Autumn in Tuscany

Autumn in Tuscany

Mushrooms are typical in traditional cuisine and bring us back to a time when the ingredients were the seasonal ones and when people used to cook what the nature had to offer. Also that’s why the original recipe uses mixed mushrooms, since this is what you find when you go pick them! A mixture!

Still nowadays in countryside, grandparents go to find mushrooms in woods with their grandsons and they teach them how to recognize the good ones (if you’re not an expert, do what we do, go to a good shop and buy safe mushrooms ;-)).

Mixed mushrooms

Mixed mushrooms

Here there’s an easy and tasty recipe for you, to enjoy this special comfort food with your family and friends. The ingredients and the preparation are simple, like in most of the traditional Italian recipes.

What you’ll need (4 servings)

  • 800g mixed mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 ripe red tomatoes
  • chopped parsley
  • 1l vegetable broth: face the truth,the secret is in the broth, if you’ll prepare it fresh, your soup will  taste far better. It takes a little longer but at the end you’ll  say: I made it!
  • home-baked sourdough bread (I’m pretty sure that your favorite bakery sells it ;-))
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

How to prepare it

First of all, mushrooms should never been washed, but gently wiped using a damp towel.  They’re spongy and washing them under running water means spoiling them since they’ll absorb the water and will lose their aroma. After that slice them thin. Boil for few seconds the tomatoes, peel them and remove the seeds.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, sauté the garlic, then add mushrooms and pepper. After sautéing a couple of minutes , add chopped tomatoes and all the broth. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 15 min.

How to serve it

Toast the bread slices and settle them at the bottom of the soup-tureen, pour the hot soup on them and serve it!tuscan-mushrooms-soup

Give your soup a twist 😉

To make it extremely lavish, pour your mushroom soup into single soup-tureens and cover the surface with some grated Parmigiano, put in the oven and wait until it makes a crispy, golden crust then serve it…hot and delicious!

Like many traditional recipes, the traditional Tuscan mushroom soup is 100%  vegetarian, have you noticed it? And if you serve with gluten free bread is also enjoyable by who needs a gluten-free diet, a truly delicacy for everyone!

And least but not the last, let’s talk about the wine! As every good meal deserves, also the mushrooms soup needs to be paired with a good red wine and our option goes for a bottle of red Chianti, the king of Tuscan wines. It will soothe the palate and the soul.

If it happens to you to come to Tuscany, grant yourself a treat and join our Food Tour in Florence, a real dive into the food tradition and a chance to visit traditional places spotted by locals!

GRAPPA AND ITS MULTIPLE USES

If you have in mind to visit destinations in northern Italy you can’t ignore grappa. Let’s say it, in Italy a meal can’t be considered finished until you drink the so called ammazzacaffè…which can be literally translated into “coffee-killer”, since is meant to dull the caffeine effect.

A glass of grappa

Each Italian region has its own traditions in terms of ammazzacaffè, but we can say that if in southern Italy usually restaurants serve the world-famous Limoncello, in northern Italy what will arrive on your table is grappa. Of course many restaurants have Limoncello, but since you’re here, why don’t try something local? And honestly after a rich Milanese menu there’s nothing better than a little glass of grappa to help the  digestion. After all, as old (and wise) people say: a devil drives out another.

If you’ve never seen it, imagine that grappa can be transparent, golden or brownish and contains around 40% alc/vol. It comes from the distillation of pomace and, exactly like for wine, the taste depends on the grapes used to make it and on the aging. If aged in wood barrels, the color turns into yellow or darker and it gets a nice vanilla taste.

Let's spray some grappa!

Let’s spray some grappa!

In our Milan Food Tour, we figured  out a way to taste it…by spraying it! Our clients decide if to spray it directly in their mouth or on a hand and then to smell it…Don’t worry, for tougher people small glasses are provided ;-). We picked a variety of grappa distilled from a sweet grape, with a nice floral bouquet of honey, vanilla, almond and fruits like apple and pear. We promise, even the most hesitating person was surprised by how sweet and smooth it can be.

But speaking about habits, how do we serve it in Italy? Basically we drink it straight in small glasses, or we add it to the coffee to make the so-called caffè corretto (literally “corrected coffee”). The quantity served depends on you and on where you are, don’t be surprised if in simple trattorie in country side we bet that they’ll pour you a bigger quantity of it! If you’re hosted by a local family it may happen that after dinner the host proudly opens for you his liquor cabinet and describes you the features of each variety of grappa in it.

If you don’t like to mix your coffee with grappa, you can “rinse” the cup with some grappa after that you finish the coffee. Just put a little amount of grappa in the cup, stir and drink…yummy!

But grappa’s multiple purposes are not finished yet! It can also be used to give a twist to a simple fruit salad. The best is with peaches, just slice them, add some sugar and some grappa and eat them…you’ll be surprised by the taste! Same with gelato, try to put some on top of your vanilla, pistachio or chocolate gelato and tell us if it’s not delicious.

Last but not least, try to put some on meat before putting it on the barbecue, it will give it a special taste and the meat will be more tender.

We bet you’re curious now, then join our walking tour in Milan, learn about grappa’s multiple, creative uses and make a toast with us.. Cin Cin!

About Prosciutto, Culatello and other treats

Summer is around the corner, and we are convinced that some tips about Prosciutto, Culatello and other treats could be useful for your summer parties 🙂

From the green, gentle hills of the province of Parma, come some of the most refined Italian specialties: Prosciutto di Parma, the Culatello and last but not least, the Parmigiano.

Prosciutto di Parma

Prosciutto di Parma

The real Prosciutto di Parma is produced following a rigorous, traditional method where no preservatives are involved, but only salt, skill and care. The real one is not too salty, has a delicious perfume and melts in your mouth when you eat it…mhhh. To be sure that you’re buying real Prosciutto, check carefully the skin of the prosciutto that you’re buying and look for the crown-shaped brand PARMA.

On the other hand, the Culatello – the King of cured meats – which comes from the best part of the leg of the pig, looks similar to the Prosciutto but is drier, the slice has an oily surface and the taste is stronger. Also the production is different, since instead of being aged in dry places, is kept in humid, old caves and, believe us, all of it gives them the distinctive, unique flavor.

When you buy Prosciutto or Culatello, be sure that the host slices them fresh under your eyes, like it happens during our Milan Food Tour. And as we say to our guests:  eat them with hands, they will taste even better!

How to taste them

When you have such great ingredients, the best recipes you can prepare are the easiest ones.

Italian flair on a cutting board

There’s nothing better than putting some prosciutto, some Culatello, chunks of Parmigiano and black olives on a old-fashioned wooden cutting board…easy and tasty.  Ah, don’t forget crusty bread, a good glass of wine or beer (a good Bonarda or a fresh ale could be perfect) and a little bowl of aromatic honey to put on the cheese.

 

Prosciutto e Melone

Prosciutto e Melone

Prosciutto e melone

When it’s summer, buy a sweet orange melon, just slice it and wrap some Prosciutto around each slice..the sweet-salty combination is literally delicious.  You can serve them as an appetizer before lunch or dinner and accompany with a glass of white wine like a Vermentino or a Chardonnay.

 

Parmigiano reggiano

Parmigiano reggiano

Formaggio con le Pere

(Veggie option, go for cheese!)

In Italian there’s a sentence which sounds more or less like this: Don’t let the farmer know how good cheese is with pears. Seems obscure? Just try to pair Parmigiano chunks with ripe sweet peer slices and a glass of Sangiovese or Cabernet and then let us know.

Share your experience with us!

PS: If you want to taste Culatello and other treats, if you’re fallling in love with italian food, please, discover this 10 things to do and see in Milan ( there’s our Beer Tour, too!)