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.

Italian Apple pie: torta di mele!

Autumn, autumn…winter is just alle porte! And so it is family time!

Italians are really bounded to their families and cold months are a perfect occasion to get close to your relatives and spend some time together! So what to bring in occasion of a warm family reunion?

Italian apple pie

Well let us tell you: una bella torta di mele! Apple pie Italian style! If you are not new to Italy you’ll probably know almost everything about pasta and lasagne (and more than that if you took part in  our Florence Food Tours), but we are not only that! Let us guide you in the sweet side of Italy!

Italian apple pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you’ll need:

  • 4 apples

  • 8⅚ ounces flour

  • 3½ ounces butter

  • 5⅓ ounces sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 4 ounces milk

  • 1 lemon

  • ⅗ ounce baking powder

  • salt

Heat the oven to 200° C while you prepare the cake.

The process is easy and it will be faster if you have a friend/partner/family member peeling the apples for you! ;)

Another thing about Italians: cooking is something social, so not only your Italian apple pie will be a great contribution to your family reunion, but you can invite a cousin or a sibling over to help you prepare it!

Start by mixing the sugar with the butter in a bowl. Stir it until you have a creamy and uniform mixture. Add the eggs, the flour, milk (you can substitute also with any almond/rice/soya milk), the lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the baking powder. Mix until the dough is creamy again. You and add a little bit of milk or water if it is too thick!

At this point, if no one has done it for you yet, peel the apples. Slice 3 ½ of them and cut the rest in small chunks that you will add to the mixture. Butter and sprinkle with flour a round baking tin and pour the mixture. On the top of it, place the sliced apples as in a radial (or in whatever shape you want them to form).

italian apple pie

Bake for 40-45 minutes in the preheated oven. Once ready, for how yummy it may look, let the cake cool before slicing!

Some nonna will also want to decorate it with some icing sugar on top! Other modifications can be adding some pine nuts or some cinnamon.As you can find out in our Food Tours Italians also like to be creative!

Cooking is something serious in our country, so any innovation is welcome if it comes from solid basis! Take your time to become familiar with cooking and baking and then find your way!

Buon appetito and enjoy your family reunions!Italian apple pie

Risotto alla zucca: an Autumn must!

Autumn is here! Landscapes are getting orangish and brownish, sky is blue, rain is back again in Italy after a long dry summer! Tomato, eggplant, zucchini season is almost over…but no despair!! It is time of one of the greatest pearl of our vegetable gardens: butternut squash! Starting from the end of September on, these curiously shaped vegetables enter Italian houses and take place as decorative elements of livingrooms and kitchens, to be used in the following months for great vellutate and risotti! You’ll notice this seasonal change also in food shops and window decorations in Italy. If you don’t trust us, come and see it yourself and join our Italy Food Culture Tours!

risotto alla zucca

In October, it is very likely that your nonna will serve you the first risotto alla zucca of the season! If you want to be as seasonal as we are, here you go an easy recipe for this creamy, tasty and warm dish!

 

Ingredients (serves 4-5 people)

1 Tbsp unsalted butter or few spoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 onion

1 garlic clove

1 lb butternut squash, diced ½ inch

1 tsp salt

1 tsp rosemary

6 ½ c water or broth

500 gr risotto rice

Parmesan cheese, grated

 

Directions

As for everything in Italy, you can follow different schools for the risotto. One makes the famous soffritto (onion and garlic base for any sauce) with butter, the other with extra virgin olive oil. So make up your mind and go for your favourite option!

 

In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium high heat. If you are using the extra virgin olive oil, just pour few spoons to the pan and add diced onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, until golden. Dice the squash in ½ inch squares and add it to the pan together with salt, rosemary, and ½ cup of water (or broth).

Risotto alla zucca

Cook until the squash begins to turn tender. In the meantime, bring the remaining 6 cups of water (or broth) to a boil in another pot. Add the rice to the squash mixture. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the water gradually, stirring and waiting until the water has completely absorbed before adding any additional water. Continue to cook the risotto this way until the rice is soft and creamy. It should be around 30 minutes but it all depends on the quality of the rice you are using. Once the rice has reached your desired consistency, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh, grated Parmesan cheese. Serve warm topped with additional Parmesan cheese and rosemary for decoration!

Risotto alla zuccaAdd a good red wine to your table and toast to this great Autumn!

Schiacciata con l’Uva Recipe

Schiacciata con l’Uva:  waiting for the wine

 

uva
There is something Italians love as much as their mums: that dark red/purple liquid called wine. No surprise then that in Tuscany, one of the most important areas of wine production in Italy, there is lots of excitement and expectation when we come closer to the time  of the year where the yearly wine production will finally “be released”. That is, in early Autumn. Wine harvesting in Italy starts at the end of August and by the beginning of October the vino novello (not aged fresh made table wine) will be already on our tables. Get to know more about Italian culture and traditions with us along with our Food Tours!

While waiting for the real stuff to be ready, Tuscan people make use of the grapes as much as they can. Schiacciata con l’Uva is a product of this sense of expectation. Traditionally made with a a bunch of the grapes of the harvest, this grape pie is very similar to the focaccia dough, but sweater.

Schiacciata con l'Uva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nowadays, many Italians do not harvest their own grapes any longer so they choose to use uva fragola grapes for this recipe! You can choose to use whatever grapes you find available in your country! Try to go for the  most organic option you can find!

Ingredients

FOR THE FOCACCIA DOUGH:

  • 5 Cups white flour

  • 2 Teaspoons instant east

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

  • 1 3/4 Cups Warm Water

FOR THE FILLING & TOPPING:

  • 2 bunch of grapes

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • Rosemary

  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil

Put the flour, three olive oil tablespoons, salt and yeast in a bowl. Mix and start adding the warm water little by little, while stirring. Continue to add water until the dough begins to thicken and you are able to knead it with your hand. At this point, continue “to work on” (as Italians say) the dough for around 5 outside the bowl, on a lightly floured flat surface. Make a ball with your dough and place it back in the bowl, after sprinkling some flour on it so that it doesn’t stick to your ball. Cover it bowl with a kitchen cloth or a plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm spot for around an hour or more.

impasto schiacciata con l'uva

 

Divide the dough in half, and place half on a large baking pan. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, and scatter half the grapes over it. Sprinkle with half the sugar and rosemary.
At this point, add the other half of the dough over the dough in the pan. Stretch it and pinchi the two doughs together. Spread the other half grapes on the top. Leave the dough to rest while preheating oven to 180 C° (375 degrees F). Bake the focaccia for around 30/45 minutes until it is golden brown.

schiacciata-con-luva

Ecco fatto! Italian early autumn taste on your table!

To be enjoyed as a snack with your afternoon tea! Feel like trying more?

Come along with our Florence Food Tours!

Octopus and potatoes salad: easy and summery

 

Who said that Italian culinary tradiion is all about pasta? Italian cuisine has a lot to say also about fish! This recipe is going to join your need of fresh flavors and Italian taste!

Octopus and potatoes salad

It is great as a starter, as a main dish and also as finger food if you provide toothpicks. The must-follow rule is quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh parsley. Italian cuisine makes great use of this herb, but it is strictly fresh and never dried! So let’s try to stick to these simple rules to get some real taste of Italy! When you visit, have a look at our Food Tours to discover more about Italian culinary tradition!

For this fresh and easy recipe the ingredients should be easy to find. There are many small variations of this recipe that can be adapted to your personal taste! Just give it a try!

Ingredients for 5 people

1 kg of octopus

5 big/1 kg potatoes

1 clove of garlic (optional)

Few bay tree’ leaves

Parsley

1 lemon

Salt

Pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

As first, place the potatoes in boiling water until cooked. You can choose whether to cut and peel them before or after boiling them! Just be awareh that if you peel and cut them before it will take less time to cook and you should be careful not to over-boil them! If you boil them intact, check with a fork: when they are soft they are ready! Drain them in cold water and put them aside cut in big pieces. Here, it all depends on your taste, if you prefer to cut them a little bit smaller, then cut the octopus in pieces of the same size!

potatoes

Clean the octopus and cook it in boiling water together with the bay tree’ leaves until the meat will become white and tender (it will take usually around 30 min). Once ready, leave it in its cooking water until it cools. It is important to do so, in this way it will stay nice and tender.  Once cool, drain and cut into pieces. Place the octopus and the potatoes together in a bowl.

Octopus salad

And now the seasoning: add the entire clove of garlic peeled (only if you like and are ok with garlic), chopped parsley, the extra virgin olive oil, the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

The best would be to leave the octopus in its seasoning for at least half an hour before being served. Enjoy it with a great dry white wine. We will give you also some ideas for wine-food combination during our Food Tours in Florence!

octopus and potatoes salad

 

The ultimate Italian summer salad dressing

saladsSummer is coming and it is time to get fresh! Bring all of your creativity in the kitchen and start getting mad on salad! Salads are just the best solutions for fresh, easy, quick and yet nutritive lunches! Parmigiano reggiano and bresaola, mozzarella and tomatoes, rucola and cherry tomatoes…you can really create anything out of simple ingredients!

Strawberry salad dressingEver tried adding fruits to your salads? Strawberry with vinegar is just one of my favourite! Not talking about regular vinegar of course but of aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar)! One of the greatest characteristics of this specific type of vinegar, traditionally produced in the central city of Modena, is that it renders all good flavours just taste even better! Try it if you don’t believe me! During our Florence Food Tours you’ll get the chance to try aceto balsamico with cheese and strawberries and trust me it will drive your taste buds crazy!

Here you go with a simple and quick recipe for your Strawberry Salad Dressing with aceto balsamico!

Ingredients

1 cup of strawberries (5/6 big strawberries)

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

4 tsp balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt

Instructions

Blend the strawberries, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt in a blender or a food processor. Mix until smooth and serve it in a bowl next to your salad! You can even choose to cool it a bit in the fridge! In that case, be sure to prepare it a bit in advance and take it out right before serving the salad!strawberry salad dressing

As simple as this! Now you just have to compose your salad and pour as much vinaigrette as you like on it! I suggest a spinach, walnuts and gorgonzola salad for your first try for your strawberry salad dressing !

strawberry-salad

I have tried also this vinaigrette adding few leaves of mint and it does taste even fresher if possible! Some other options are adding poppy seeds to the dressing or a pinch of mustard!

Just experiment and find the right combination for you!  Looking forward to hearing your feedbacks!

 

Fried Pizza: because pizza is always pizza!

Fried Pizza

Fried Pizza

How many types of pizzas have you tasted in your life? There are so many extravagant version of this typical Southern-Italian dish that it is sometimes impossible to distinguish original Italian ones. Well, there is always something new to try! You know what we are talking about if you’ve joined one of our Roma Pizza Tour!

One of the specialities of this tour is the fried pizza! Yes, you got it right! As if pizza was not good enough, we decided also to fry it! This recipe is of Neapolitan origins and it is called Montanara recipe, which takes its name from the montanari. I montanari  were the mountain peasants, who apparently used to eat fried bread dressed with tomatoes and cheese.  Just to give you an idea of how easy this recipe is!

So here is what you need to try to do Fried Pizza at home:

Ingredients

  • 800 gr basic pizza dough

  • Mozzarella (better if buffalo one)

  • 1 clove garlic , peeled and finely sliced

  • 400 gr good-quality tinned plum tomatoes

  • oregano

  • fresh basil

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • salt

  • black pepper

  • vegetable oil

It is better to prepare the tomato sauce first, so that once the dough is ready you can just dress it and enjoy your fried pizza while still warm. So, first of all heat a saucepan, pour few spoons of olive oil and add the sliced garlic. Cook gently over low fire. When the garlic turns light golden, add the tomatoes and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, turn the fire off, add some basil and put to one side.

Tomato Sauce for Fried Pizza

Now you’ll just have to fry your pizza base and it is ready! Let’s suppose here that you have already your basic pizza dough ready. Divide it in 12 balls of around 60 gr each and then flatten them to obtain a disk-like shape. Every disk of pizza is going to be fo 8-10 cm of diameter. At this point, heat 2 cm of vegetable oil on a frying pan and fry each pizza for 2 minutes or so on each side. Put the dough balls in the oil only when it is really hot. Remove them with tongs and place them on a tray with some kitchen papers, so that the extra oil is absorbed.

Fried Pizza

Now spread each one of the little pizza with a spoonful of the tomato sauce and tear over some mozzarella and few leaves of basil or dried oregano.

Here you go! Easy, tasty and colorful! Don’t forget to try the original Montanara recipe when you pass by Italy!

 

#LasagnaForEveryone: an easy lasagna recipe

There is something about lasagnas that I really can’t tell. As if it could embody all the flavors and all that makes up Italian identity. Lasagnas  is home…

Now, lasagnas  is almost everywhere in the world, but please, please, please do stay away from bad imitations! That doesn’t mean it has to be complicated! You can prepare lasagnas yourself following this very easy lasagna recipe, without spoiling it with shortcuts.

Lasagna: the best of Italian Food

It won’t be like the one you can have in Italy, but it will get really close to it. Have you tasted the best lasagna in Milan? You will have the chance of trying the real authentic taste of this dish at Pastificio Moscova!

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound pork sausage

1  can tomato Sauce

1  can tomato Paste

1  canned chopped tomatoes

1 glass of red wine

1 celery stalck

1 carrot

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 middle-size onion

1 teaspoon of sugar

Salt and black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

800 ml of béchamel sauce 

The best way of making lasagna is to cook the ragù sauce a day before. It is just a matter of fact: it tastes so much better the day after. To prepare the ragù heat some extra virgin olive oil in a large pan or a pot (where all of your sauce will fit in the end) and add diced garlic, onion, carrot, parsley and celery. This is the base for most of Italian sauces and the ingredients added are called odori all together. Let them fry for some minutes and then add the ground beef and the sausage over medium heat until browned. That’s where the wine comes in. Over high heat, add a generous glass of red wine until completely absorbed. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, sugar, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now if you have time, the longer your ragù cooks, the better it will taste. So if you have some time, let it cook even for few hours over low heat. You can add water any time you see that it is necessary for the sauce to remain of the right texture: not too dry and not too liquid.

easy lasagna recipe

Once the ragù is ready, let it cool for some minutes (or wait the day after if you can). Preheat the oven at around 180 °/ 356 F. Your lasagnas is almost ready! Start with a layer of lasagna noodles in an ungreased 9 X 13 inch baking dish, then spread the first layer of meat sauce,  few generous spoons of béchamel and parmesan. Repeat layers and top with last 3 noodles and the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining béchamel sauce and cover everything with a nice layer of grated  parmesan. Bake for around 50 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. And here you are!

easy lasagna recipe

 Enjoy and do not add anything on it!!!! It will taste just wonderful the way it is! ;).  An easy lasagna recipe that will help us spreading the right lasagnas taste all around the world!!!! And if you pass by Milan, to join us and taste the best lasagna in Milan!

 

Butter and anchovies: easy crostino topping

Having some friends over for dinner on short notice? Don’t panic! The trick is to start with some good and filling appetizers! Surprise your guests with the starters and they’ll enjoy the rest even better! And if you have no time for shopping, we have a perfect idea for you!

All you need is bread, butter and canned anchovies and here you go with a great Italian starter: crostini burro e acciughe! Sometimes the simplest things are the best!

Butter and anchovies crostini topping

If any of you have passed by Italy already, you might have tried it along with our Florence Food Tour, during which you get the chance to taste Italian crostini in Florence.

Now, as you know there are many crostini toppings in our tradition. You might now some of the very standard one: tomato and basil, black olives… Burro e acciughe is something that doesn’t come to your mind easily, but believe me it is a pleasure for your mouth!

As ingredients, we’ll list what it would be better to use, but surely any surrogate will do:

  • Tuscan bread

  • Good quality unsalted butter

  • Good quality anchovies, in oil or salted.

  • Pickles baby capari (if you like)

Butter and anchovies crostini topping

Tuscan bread is the one that best fit this recipe. If you don’t have, just use what bread you have. Cut as many slices as to have at last two crostini per person. Toast the bread and let it cool some minutes. Spread a good layer of butter on the slices and, depending on the size of these slices, lay one or two anchovies on the top. You can add a capari as the final touch on your crostini burro e acciughe. And there you go, you are ready to offer your guests an original and finger-licking Italian starter!

If you do want to taste Italian crostini while in Florence let us know! We’ll make sure you’ll get the best out of your stay!

 

Torta Fedora: the best of Tuscany

Italian culinary tradition is wide and varied: all kinds of pasta sauces, the many versions of lasagne, tasty meat stews, pizzas, and last but not least: the desserts. There are so many of them that there is always something new to taste. One of the less-known ones is Torta Fedora, a real delicatesse of Tuscan cuisine. A soft heart of puff pastry, whipped cream and sponge cake covered up with a crunchy layer of dark chocolate.

Torta Fedora

Torta Fedora

I bet we already made you drool! No despairs though, you’ll get the chance to try this tasty dessert of our cuisine during our food tours in Florence!

And in case you like it, and we bet you will, here is a simple version of this recipe that you can try at home. The only thing that you might struggle to find is the alchermes liqueur, which you can replace with any another kind of gentle and
Alchermes and Maraschino

Alchermes and Maraschino

sweet liqueur. Some versions of this cake is with maraschino, a liqueur obtained from the distillation of Marasca cherries.

Here is what you will need:

1 roll of puff pastry

1 disk of sponge cake

550 gr whipped cream

Icing sugar as required

Few spoons of milk

For the chocolate crust:

150 gr: dark chocolate

1 spoon of water

2 spoons of honey

Icing sugar as required

For the bagna (to soak the sponge cake):

65 g of water

35 g of sugar

50 ml of alchermes liquor

It would be better to prepare the sponge cake the day before or – don’t tell anyone we suggested you-  you can buy already-made one. First thing, you’ll need to bake the puff pastry. Before doing that make sure you poke few holes on it using a fork, gently brush it with some milk and sprinkle it with some icing sugar. Bake at 180° until golden brown.

While you wait for the puff pastry to bake, prepare the bagna, with which we will soak the sponge cake. Pour the water together with sugar in a small pot. Once it boils, you can leave it cooling a bit and then add the alchermes liqueur.

At this point, take the puff pastry out of the oven, cut it the same size of the sponge cake and lay the sponge cake on it. Pour the bagna all over the sponge cake and now our base is ready to be topped with a thick layer of whipped cream. Let now rest the cake in the fridge for at least few hours.

Cioccolato a pezzi

Let’s now prepare the chocolate topping. Cut the chocolate in pieces, put it together with 2 spoons of honey and a spoon of water in a small pot and let it melt in a bain-marie. Let it cool, sprinkle some icing sugar on a clean surface where you can pour the chocolate. Add icing sugar until it gets thick enough to make a ball out of it. Let it rest a bit until it becomes a malleable dough of chocolate.

At this point, place it on a long piece of baking paper and roll it out using a rolling pin. Now it is all up to you: decorate your Torta Fedora as you wish with the “chocolate papers” you made! You can also add some icing sugar if you want it to look nicer!

Torta Fedora

Well, if Torta Fedora doesn’t sound easy to make, we can assure it tastes good! Don’t miss our food tours in Florence next time you are around, during which you’ll have the occasion to ask more tips for this recipe to the local “artisans” of desserts!