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 :-)

Mozzarella di bufala: the real taste of mozzarella

mozzarella di bufala

Mozzarella di Bufala

Apologies if what we are about to say might sound harsh to you, but we have to reveal you a cruel reality: whatever you think of mozzarella, you have no idea of what a real mozzarella is like until you try a mozzarella di bufala. Imagine the taste of the soft clouds of heaven… well that taste will sure resemble the one of mozzarella di bufala: juicy, creamy and slightly sour, a mix that drives all Italians crazy.

This kind of mozzarella is usually bigger and the texture is indeed very different from a normal mozzarella, which usually is addressed as fior di latte. Whenever in a pizzeria, you’ll know it is a good one if it has at least a margherita with mozzarella di bufala on the menu.  That is why it can’t be missing in our pizza tour in Rome! Anyhow, the best way of enjoying this kind of cheese is to eat it alone, as a separate dish. Useless it is to add oil, salt, oregano or any other kind of sauce. It has already such a peculiar taste that it will enough to carry you away.

Italian water buffalo

If you wander what the difference is with a normal mozzarella, that is an easy question to answer: mozzarella di bufala is produced with the milk of domestic  Italian water buffalo.

This milk is higher in calcium, protein and lower in cholesterol than cow’s milk. Not only, Mozzarella di bufala is manufactured under strict regulations in precise areas: in in Lazio, Campania and near Foggia in Apulia. Mozzarella di Bufala produced in Campania region bears the “Mozzarella di Bufala Campana” trademark and DOC status granted in 1993. In 2008, the European Union granted Mozzarella di Bufala Campana a Protected Geographical Status. You’ll probably find mozzarella di bufala produced elsewhere and we strongly advise you to stay away from imitations. Instead, you could consider a trip to Italy to enjoy the beautiful experience of a the real pizza with a real mozzarella! Check out our pizza tours!

Last but not least: mozzarella di bufala shouldn’t be kept in the fridge, but at room temperature on “its own water”, which means in the water were it was when you bought it! If kept in the fridge, it should rest at least 20 minutes outside before being served!

Formaggi toscani: an amazing bite of Florence

tagliere-4big

If you think of cheese, probably the first thing that will come to your mind will be France. But Italy has some aces too, in the matter. Tuscany, for example, is quite big in the cheese field: have a taste of Florence‘s deliciousness!

In Tuscany many different caseary products are made, but the king of all formaggi toscani is Pecorino. And, furthermore, there’s not just one kind of pecorino… 

Let’s talk about this creamy wonder a bit more. Pecorino means “sheep cheese”: it’s made from sheep milk and its taste depends from many things. First of all, its aging time.
Young pecorino tastes sweet, it’s soft and it almost melts into your mouth. It’s perfect with a light red wine or a rosé and even with some white vernaccia; very good as well with nuts or honey (another very typical tuscan product) – tuscan raw prosciutto, though, might cover its flavour a bit too much. With some grated fresh black truffle, though… it’s quite a love story.
Often you can find it served at the end of a meal, not a real dessert but almost one, a sweet taste to refresh your mouth.

cacio fresco

Semi-aged pecorino, that you often recognize for its reddish “skin”, is more intense, more solid. It’s the perfect merenda: two slices of tuscan bread, some pecorino and prosciutto and there you go with your panino. All the tuscan kids ate this during their lessons break. Seriously: all of them.
Its yellow colour and its great texture, its flavour not too strong but already bald makes it also the perfect appetizer. It’s often combined with strong honey (such as chestnut honey) or mustards, and it’s great with beer – sometimes they sell beer cheese as well and it’s pretty often a semi-aged pecorino.

formaggio-e-birra

Aged pecorino looks either really yellow or really white, according to its aging process, it’s quite hard to cut and to eat but, it may looks almost dry, but – it’s my absolute favourite, so forgive me if I’m getting romantic – at the taste it’s like an explosion. Do you remember the famous Ratatouille’s scene where the mouse imagines the flavours like a colourful symphony? There we go. Red wine is its match, salame (tuscan salame of course) its companion, and you can really experiment stuff with it: try it with honey, or with balsamic vinegar… grate it on your pasta and add a little pepper and you will have one of the most famous plates in the tuscan kitchen. Or… with figs or pears, of course (there’s a motto that says: don’t let the farmer know how great pears and cheese will match / al contadino non far sapere quanto è buono il cacio con le pere).

ppichi-pecorino-e-miele

So these are the most known ways to taste Pecorino; keeping aside all the great flavoured kind: with pepper, with chili pepper, with truffles… Florence has plenty of these little cheese shops, but if you happen to walk through the Valdorcia (the valleys around Siena, like San Quirico or Pienza) you’ll find one special kind of heaven.

As I said, though, there’s not only Pecorino: Tuscany also produces great Stracchino, for example, a very soft – almost liquid cow cheese. If you’re brave enough you might want to try the other great tuscan merenda, the panino with raw sausage and stracchino!

Yes, that’s another level of bravery. But a “gottino” (a small red wine glass) and this, are the grown up merenda. Actually it’s not so easy to find anymore, and I highly recommend you to either buy it from a superfresh certified butcher shop or to try its more secure version, the one they also give you in restaurant, oven baked crostini with the same mix… or pizza! I cannot decide which one I like best.

crostini

Guess with what does stracchino matches greatly as well? With prosciutto, of course! Forget Hawaii pizza and ask for a prosciutto e stracchino. Or – veggie version: an apple and stracchino pizza! It’s pretty grand, I promise.

So, get fit and get ready, because once you’ll be here, while exploring the city with us, you will have the chanche to train nothing but your tummy!

Cantucci mon amour!

948-cantucci-la-ricetta-originale-toscana

If you spent more than one hour in Tuscany, and probably even so, you definitely have tasted Cantucci. Highlight of our Florence food tour and highlight of almost every tuscan traditional restaurant, Cantucci and Vin Santo are considered the perfect couple and the best dessert. Its flavour not too sweet, its crunchy consistence make them a great after dinner, the sweet touch that won’t cancel all the great flavours that you ate before.

Cantucci (or “Cantuccini”) tradition is spreaded all around Tuscany, but exactly, where are they from? Ask that to a Florentine, they will say: From Florence! Ask that to a Pratese, they will say: from Prato! Ask that to a Senese, they will say: From Siena!

We tend to agree with the Prateses and give them the honour of having created this crunchy, long shaped cookies. Infact, history tell us that in 19th century a pastry chef from Prato, Antonio Mattei called Mattonella, perfectioned the famous recipe and make it a classic that won lots of faires and prizes, included a mention at the world famous Universal Exposition in Paris 1867! The “bottega del Mattonella” (“Mattonella’s shop”), is still working in Prato and it is considered an important legacy keeper. Moreover, Cantuccini are also called “Biscotti di Prato”, so…

So, how are these Cantuccini made?

What makes them so special?

Cantuccini are golden, hard cookies with a long shape and on the inside an explosion of peeled almonds, whole or in pieces. Their peculiarity comes from the fact that this cookies are actually “bis-cotti” (twice baked): first they go into the oven in the shape of soft almonds baguettes, then they are cut in pieces and put back in the oven until they take their nice, hazely colour and crunchyness!

cantucci

Their name might come from latin “cantellus”, which means “piece of bread”: that is because their shape actually reminds of a slice of bread, maybe one or two days old. The kind of bread that peasants like to use to cook (pappa al pomodororibollita… anyone?) or dip in some red wine! So probably that’s exatcly how it went: I like to imagine a cook who wanted to prepare soft cookies with almonds – similar maybe to the Senese Ricciarelli – and they got so hard they crooked teeth, and then he thought “hm, let’s try with wine” and found the delicious sweet Vin Santo… Maybe that’s just my imagination, but I’m pretty sure we’re not so far from the original story.

Cantucci-con-Vin-Santo

The original recipe actually had also dried fruit and spices, now it has a bit evolved and went minimal: and that’s a good thing because the taste of 2 centuries ago was quite different from ours, we could find it a bit too strong. Then again, the actual flavour fits perfectly with Vin Santo – so well that sometimes the wine is also in the cookies dough. That’s why, even if tradition wants us to dip the cookie into the wine, chefs recommend to try them separate, tasting a bite of Cantucci and then a sip of wine in order to distinguish all the great flavours.

They are not that hard anymore. And they make them in many different flavours! With hazelnuts, with chocolate, with pistachios… It’s your call anyway: what will you choose? Tradition or Gourmet?

 

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!)

Liquid gold: some facts about Italian Olive Oil

What do you know about Italian Olive Oil? For sure, if you tried our Florence Food Tour, you know it’s really tasty. Maybe you did eat a bruschetta or two, on your Tuscany trip. And I’m sure you enjoyed it.

Olio-di-oliva

Tasting olive oil straight is the best way to judge its quality. You can do it pretty easily by yourself (if you try a guided lesson, though, you will learn lots of useful stuff) a little in a small glass and warm the glass in one hand, while covering it with the other. Now put your nose into the glass to sense the aromas. Hopefully, it reminds you of things like fresh olives, grass, bananas and apples. Hay, cardboard, vinegar, mud and mustiness are some of the aromas that indicate an olive oil has gone bad.

The flavour matters a lot too. Try the green Tuscan oil, quite ticklish on the tongue, that tastes like fresh artichokes, or maybe the golden southern oil, from Puglia or other southern regions, that has a smoother taste. This depends on the variety of the olive, on the terrain, on the climate. The way it’s made it’s the same for every good one: after olives are picked and washed, they’re crushed – sometimes between two big stones, but now more commonly by steel blades. The resulting paste is stirred to release the oil droplets in a process called maceration, before being spun in a centrifuge to pull out the oil and water. After the water is removed, what is left is olive oil. The picking process might be pretty different though. In Tuscany we pick the olives from the trees, while they’re still greenish (that’s why they have that “fresh grass” flavour), while in Puglia farmers wait for olives to fall naturally on big nets on the ground. Therefore, this oil tastes more mature. If you manage to try them one after the other, the difference will be enormous. But I bet you won’t be able to decide which one you like the most – well, you can always assign them different purposes.

olive02

We cook with olive oil… basically everything. We use it to cook, to fry, to make cakes, we even make ice cream from it (have you tried it? Do it, it’s amazing)! Some gourmet chef invented the crème brulée with olive oil on the side, and it’s a fancy mix.

There’s a lot of stuff you can do with olive oil: why do we keep choosing it over and over again, even when we do have cheaper products? Well, it’s not only because of its flavor. Infact, olive oil is one of the ealthier products on Earth (and yes, we keep telling that to ourselves while eating fried stuff). I will always suggest to use olive oil for cooking. Believe it or not, is skinnier than any other oil, and lighter. Replace other fats like butter with at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil every day, eat lots of veggies and go for a walk. I mean, if you kill an entire parmigiana di melanzane, you cannot blame the olive oil for feeling “loaded”, do you?

So, what makes olive oil so good for health? Well, for example, olive oil is extremely high in oleic acid which is used to reduce blood pressure. Olive oil also contains many antioxidants including vitamin E, carotenoids and oleuropein. Researchers are doing their job, founding out that it might be a real help for heart diseases and even for cancer, but this is something we do not know for sure yet.

What we know, is that it is a major “fountain of youth”: it contains a high amount of polyphenols, which helps the cell renewal. That’s why there is also a large market for olive oil soaps and skin care products, of course: but I really do suggest you try, once (maybe not with “olio nuovo”), to wet your skin with tepid water and then moisturize, until absorbed, with some olive oil drops. The result is amazing, I do that sometimes. No, I actually do something else, I make myself a scrub with sugar, honey, lemon and olive oil, and my skin is thankful every single time. You’re welcome too.

crema olio

Do not though – seriously, do not – use it “to improve your sun tan”. This is actually the most dangerous thing you might do. It burns, it’s oil, it fries up your skin and so much for eternal youth. Use protection, and eat a great cucumber-carrots-oil-salt-and-pepper salad after your day at the sea!

Just one warning: be sure that you’re using a true extravirgin olive oil. Lots of cheap products are the result – just as for Aceto Balsamico – of a mix of different oils or chemicals, or are made with non-italian olives. Of course greek or Turkish oil might be good: but cheap imported products aren’t probably the same thing. So, how to manage when a tasting is not possible, like in a supermarket? I have two tips. One is: do not rely on the price. Always check the tag and the ingredients. But if it’s suspiciously cheap, leave it there. The other one is: treat yourself! Buy the “DOCG” products and you’ll be safe, sound and happy.

The very last thing I want to share with you about oil is about its storage. Oil, because of its chemical composition, suffers a lot from oxygen. Therefore, if you buy a big bottle, either you finish it really quickly, or you fill a lot of little bottles and close carefully the others, storing them in a dark and dry place, and opening them only once you finish the previous one. They will mantein their properties much better.

Cannoli alla crema

Hello everybody! Thank god it’s Friday they say… any plans for the weekend? I, for one, intend to spend the whole Sunday relaxing at home, with good books, good movies and… good food!
Sunday in Italy is the traditional day when, after the big lunch with the family, you eat “pasticcini”. You go to a nice pasticceria and you pick them, one by one, filling up a carrousel with these delightful small pastries. Like for example one of the best italian desserts, the one you tasted in our Milan food tours… Cannoli alla crema (or, as we say in Tuscany, “diti alla crema” – that’s actually “fingers with cream”)!

diti

They are called cannoli because of their shape, but they are not made with the same crunchy paste. Infact they’re much sweeter, still crunchy though! So why not impress your family, or friends, or special ones, by making your own cannoli? Here’s a recipe ridiculously easy and… incredibly good!

Warning: for this dessert you will need a metal “cannoli tube”. Or you can make your own following these instructions.

Ingredients

 For the paste

1 puff pastry roll

Sugar

One yolk

For the cream

250 ml milk

2 egg yolks

85g sugar

25 g Manitoba flour (or potato flour, or mais flour)

1 pinch vanillin or half of a vanilla stick

1 washed lemon peel – only the yellow part, never the white one. Large stripes!

First of all, we’re going to prepare our “crema pasticcera”, which is the yellow and thick cream you find so often in our pastries.

It’s not a long process but you have to be very careful and precise.

crema

Mix the eggs with half of the sugar and the flour in a saucepan – better if it’s nonstick. Then, in another saucepan, heat up the milk with the other half of the sugar, the lemon peel and the vanillin (or the vanilla stick). The more lemony you want it the more peel you’ll add – remember it has to be pretty delicate though.

When the milk’s almost boiling remove it from the fire and pour it slowly, still mixing, in the other saucepan. Once they’re blended, heat up again on a low flame, stirring with a wooden spoon or a whip all the time.

Now it would be the right time to turn on your oven, 210°C (410°F).

Keep mixing for a minute from when it starts boiling, then turn the fire off. Take off the lemon peels and the vanilla stick if you used it, pour everything in a bowl and let it rest and cool down.

This cream is supposed to be thick, so if you feel that it’s not dense enough, keep stirring on a low fire until it’s ready. You can also add a bit more flour, just melt it with a sip of tepid milk or it will create ugly clumps!

****

Let’s make the paste now. Take your puff pastry and unroll it (or stretch it out if it’s home made), it doesn’t have to be thin. Cut in in stripes of around 1,5 cm large, on the long side. Wet every stripe with some water.

cannoli tube

Butter up your tubes, then roll each stripe on a tube (the wet part on the outside so every turn of paste will adhere better to the other one). Brush cannoli with the yolk and cover with some sugar, then put them in the warm oven. Keep the high warmth for 5 minutes then lower it up to 170°C (338°F) and leave the cannoli baking until they’re golden on the outside – or a bit more, as you prefer.

Now the delicate part. Slowly and carefully take the tubes off the paste (really slow, it’s a very friable material).

Fill the pastry puff cannoli with your cream (you can use a professional sac a poche if you have it, or just a normal clean syringe) and… serve.

Tips: if you already have strawberries… just put them on the plate. It’s a pretty dynamic duo!

Pizza In Teglia at home!

When you think of italian food – not regional, just italian -what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

You thought pizza, didn’t you. And you’re right! Pizza is truly the one food that every italian loves. But… does it mean that we all love the same pizza?

Not at all! There is the flat and thin pizza, almost burned on the crust (my favourite, I dare say), there is the thick and soft one, there is the half way between the two. But rest assured: pizza is round-shaped.

Well, not true. If you wander around Rome, for example, and look for pizza, you might easily find this strange friend of ours: the Pizza in Teglia (pizza in the tray). And you can make it too! First of all, go taste it with the help of our Rome food tours.

pizzateglia1

Then you can start making your own, at home.

First thing first: dough is the most important thing in this recipe so be careful about every single gram of flour or drop of water!

It’s a long process and you won’t be able to eat your pizza the same day you started, but you can easily keep eating it the day after you made it: it’s yummi even cold!

INGREDIENTS FOR 1 TRAY

Flour type 00: 500 gr.

Water: 400 gr

Salt: 15 gr

Baker’s yeast: 3 gr

Oil (olive extra virgin): 1 tbs

a fistful of durum wheat flour

In a large cup you will put the flour and 200 gr water, then you have to start mixing with a fork. Melt the yeast in some water, and add it to the dough. Keep mixing until you have a grainy texture. Now you can add salt, oil and the remaining water. Keep mixing while you do that!

teglia1

Now you can rest your arms and leave the dough into the cup, covered with a clean rag, for about 10 minutes.

Cover the kitchen table or any other plain surface you want to use with some durum wheat, topple the cup and fold the dough from the sides, with your hands.

Pour a bit of oil into the same cup used before and put the dough back in it, with the folded side facing down. Cover it with some wrap and let it rest on the lower shelf in the fridge… for about 20/24 hours!

The day after you can take your dough off the fridge, and leave it warming up in room temperature.

Again cover the table with the durum yeast wheat and stretch it out with your hands, not too thin.

Move it on an oiled baking tray and let it rest, again, for 3-4 hours, still covered with wrap.

teglia2

Heat the oven up to 250 °C.

Season your pizza the way you want (really, now you can do exactly what you want) and bake it for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 230°C and keep cooking for 10 minutes.

pizzateglia3

Now… it’s ready.

How’s your favourite pizza?

 

Inspired by Balsamico!

The “Aceto Balsamico” (balsamic vinegar) is a particular dressing that italians either love or hate.

gocce-e-travasi

It has a very strong flavour – you shouldn’t use more than one or two drops on your meal or it will cover everything up -, and an old and fascinating history.

The original “Tradizionale balsamico di Modena” is a high-costly product, made from cooked grape must, aged at least 12 years, and is protected under the European Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) system. How to describe its flavour? You should really taste it to understand. And, once done, you will surely acknowledge the difference between what they sell in common shops – and its often ‘basic’ red vinegar mixed with caramel – and this little treasure.

There is, luckily, a half-way: a compote of ordinary balsamic vinegar with the addition of reduced grape juice in varying proportions, without any aging, or cooked wine aged less than the prescribed 12 years. Just avoid the caramel.

Aceto Balsamico comes from Emilia Romagna, and is really ancient: the legend wants it to be produced since the 12th century, but some say that their inspiration comes directly from… Egypt! As strange as it may sound, it is not that unbelievable. The roots of Balsamic Vinegar were found in the cooked must and an Egyptian funerary painting demonstrates that the production of the first sweetener used in the Mediterranean area dates back to long time ago, at least to 1000 B.C. Even for the cooked must the Roman era was a great one and there was a specific verb referring to this action called defrutare. Strong flavours and long time fermentation makes it actually a pretty good food-preserver. When there’s no fridge at home, you have to do with what you have: grape and salt will do.

Anyway, somehow this sweet-and-sour seasoning arrived in Italy, then the emiliani made it the way we know… and we’re here, in the 21th century, and the balsamic is one of the most beloved dressing from chefs all over the State. They use it in ways you would never imagine – it’s vinegar after all! Then, well, all you have to do is taste its flavour and imagine how to use it! 

1) With strawberries.

A few drops on a strawberry bowl – they have to be real strawberries, red and juicy and in spring! – just a few drops and some vanilla ice cream and you’ve created an unforgettable break!

2) With meat. 

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All kinds of meat, honestly: I cannot imagine where Balsamic tastes poorly. On red meat, it enhances its flavour and “cleans up” a bit the greasy aftertaste, with white meat it gives them a twist and makes them much more enjoyable, with fish (lake fish) it’s the perfect mix for both the previous situation. Avoid salt if you use balsamic – it would taste too sour!

3) With cheese.

Forget honey, Balsamic is the new gourmet, and this is probably the best solution to look great with your guest. It only takes a platter, balsamic vinegar, some slice of cheese (just not too aged), a punch of nuts, a glass of red wine: you will have a classy aperitivo: tasty and classy, perfect to impress!

4) With Parmigiano Reggiano

aceto-balsamico

You might say “cheese was point 3!”, but I’m not talking about pasty cheese as before, when I imagined some fresh pecorino slice. This is about the true, the one and only Parmigiano Reggiano. They make in the same region of Balsamic – do you think it’s a coincidence? Same story here, it mustn’t be the “24 months old” or more, it has to be fresh and young, also because it’s way less salty.

5) As a lunge balm, instead of herbal compress.

Nope, just kidding. The word “balsamic” comes from Greek word “balsamon” (perfumed oil) and means only that its smell is so powerful that it might have curative effects. Not proven scientifically, though, but wouldn’t you admit to feel much better after tasting something great? So, my last tip is just this one: smell the Balsamic, and – like a little chef mouse – invent your own flavour!

 

Warm up, eat on! 5 comfort winter soups

Hello foodies!

What’s better than something warm, in those days when the night arrives sooner and sooner? A warm blanket, a cozy armchair, bae’s arm… and when it’s time to cook, a warm comfort soup for soul and belly.

If you lack of inspiration, or worst: if you think that soups are boring, you’re going to read something that will definitely change your mind! Five warm, delicious soups – so simple and yet so unconventional that you’re going to ask yourselves – why exactly didn’t I think about that before?

Here we go!

- Potato and ginger soup

Transform a super-basic potato soup, the one with big potato pieces still floating in the broth into something quite curious, adding pieces of ginger roughly cut. Boil together and you will know a whole new world of flavors: the lemon-y spicy fresh ginger will add to the soft texture of the potatoes a touch of joy, and you won’t get enough.

- Lentil soup with yogurt

Greek yogurt, actually. Add it to your lentil soup to give it that nice touch of stranger that will renew your wanderlust, and get ready to pack.
If you want your fantasy to get even better: add some cumin. And don’t freak out if Aladdin appears in front of you!

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- Barley and speck soup

Yes: you prepare your wonderful barley soup, light and health and good and everything it’s fine, but you still miss something… maybe that tasty, smoked flavor, that only this particular prosciutto has? Add it to a little soffritto before boiling the soup and you will be immediately transported into a wooden shelter under the snow, with the fire cracking and some grappa in front of you.

- Savoy cabbage and pecorino romano

Another super healthy-super boring soup turned into something really, really amazing: when you’re almost done and the cabbage is cooked, add (a lot of) grated pecorino romano and pepper! It’s basically the winter version of spaghetti cacio e pepe – just don’t tell the romans, keep it between us!

- Pumpkin soup and coconut milk

This is actually a “vellutata”, you need to overcook the pumpkin before mixing it with spices and coconut milk. The flavor will be spicy and sweet at the same time, with a sunny yellow color that will cheer everyone up!
Prepare some roasted bread to dip, it will be required and necessary.

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Ps: well, let me tell you – a good old minestrone will do its job as well!