One week in Italy: a visual (and tastebud) story
|February 18, 2011||Posted by ameliaps under Italia, italy, travel, trip|
Week one was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, for work (and I won’t get into the details of that, other than it was an amazing, out-of-this-world experience, listening to incredible people talk about how to make the world a better place…but that’s another story…).
Week two was visiting my family in Italy: Rome first, then Sorrento (passing via Naples for pizza and sfogliatelle!).
I am including below a visual storyline of my week in Italy. I think the images speak for themselves. Lots of great walks and lots of great foods: many of them simple but incredibly tasty (that’s how I like it). I hope you enjoy and feel like you joined me virtually on my travels!
My steps walking on the sanPietrini (the famous ancient Roman square pebbles)
And for something totally different and totally modern in a city of ancient wonders, here’s me visiting the newly created MAXXI museum, the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts.
Salumeria Ruggeri in campo de’ Fiori, with all the delicacies
The “bollito” we had the next day with the meat (chicken and beef) from the consomme’, served with mostarda di frutta
Appetizers at my parents’ home: “palline di mozzarella” (delicious, delicate mozzarella kneaded with egg and flour then fried) and crostini with butter and salt-packed anchovies (rinsed then soaked first in white wine vinegar then oil) and grilled eggplant with pink pepper
Super fresh fish, baked with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and a squeeze of fresh lemons, served with a sauce of finely chopped parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and minced garlic. On the side, a “gatto’ di patate”, a souffle’ made with mashed potatoes, Parmesan and eggs.
Boiled cauliflower (has to be still very firm) seasoned with an emulsion of some of the boiling water, olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and chili pepper. And a salad of crunchy, juicy “puntarelle” (literally means “little tips”, and is a variety of chicory, with serrated leaves, like those on dandelions, which are trimmed and curled in a very peculiar and very “Roman” way) seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, anchovies, salt and garlic.
My mother’s adorable zuppette inglesi: a small trifle with layers of chocolate custard, topped with Savoiardi (or pan di Spagna, if available) soaked in Strega liqueur and/or Cognac, then again topped with lemon crema (custard) and finally with an “amarena” (a sweet syrupy, sun-dried sour black cherry). OH my!!!
My mother’s mini-deliziose (short crust rounds filled with ricotta-lemon zest-strega, rolled in chopped hazelnuts, and dusted with powdered sugar – I posted the recipe a while back, here) and more of her zuppette inglesi, this time served in little white ramekins and topped also with some of the sour cherry syryp.
Bigne’ di San Giuseppe: a kind of piped donuts (more like crullers really) topped with a swirl of custard and a sour cherry, and typically served for the day of San Giuseppe – Saint Joseph (March 19).
On our way to Sorrento, we stopped by in Naples, for lunch:
Pizza in Napoli!!! Pizza Da Michele on Via Sersale, since 1870: very rustic, and only 2 kinds of pizza: margherita and marinara. Typical ‘decor’ with saints, copper pans, and wood fire oven. No reservations.
“Sfogliatelle“, being made at an ancient Naples bakery (antico forno fratelli Attanasio) and eaten fresh out of the oven: Oh! the aroma. Flaky, crispy hand-rolled puff pastry, filled with delicious custard, semolina, and a very small touch of candied citrus peel. I like the “Santa Rosa” version, topped with custard and sour cherries (by now, you must have found out how fond I am of these bursts of sun-kissed fruits!).
More pastries and cakes from the antico forno (from left, clockwise): bigne’ di San Giuseppe (see description above), Easter pastiera, sfogliatelle lisce (same filling as the sfogliatelle but with a short pastry), roccoco’ (a Christmas cookie), zuppetta napoletana (puff pastry sandwiching rum-dipped sponge cake and cream), and torta Baba’ con fragoline (rum Baba’ in the shape of a cake).
Crostatine con fragole di bosco (small tarts with a touch of apricot jam on the bottom, topped with a white custard, fragrant alpine strawberries – a.k.a. fraise de bois -, and a very thin layer of fruit jelly)
And now a few meals and foods I ate/saw in Sorrento:
Caseificio Apreda with all its wonderful home-made cheeses: caciottine, provoloni, mozzarella (regular and smoked), and a bag of Sorrento walnuts. A vespa and a cross at the entrance of the cheese store
Simple lunch, in my mother’s kitchen, with the fire on: Sorrento walnuts, focaccia (white pizza), olives, prosciutto, caciottine, smoked mozzarella, and my nonna’s pizza di scarola (endives, pine-nuts, olive, capers, olive-oil pie), with a glass of white wine
Sorrento is famous for oranges and lemons. Rightfully so. I would start the morning with a glass of freshly squeezed oranges with the added touch of one lemon. Perfect balance of sweetness and tartness.
“Saltimbocca” (a pizza sandwich), pizza Margherita, taralli and various cookies, Da Franco, a very rustic but yummy place on the main corso (Corso Italia). Make sure you start the evening with the focaccia, fresh mozzarella and some of the freshly sliced prosciutto from their deli section.
Following are a few wonderful desserts from pasticceria-gelateria Primavera (my other favorite bakery is bar Pollio, but it was closed for renovation):
Glorious Baba’ in all its decadent versions: the classic (with a rum glaze) -and my favorite-, filled with cream and fruit, with custard and sour cherries, with whipped cream and fragoline (fraise de bois)
From the left, clockwise: delizie al limone (a specialty of Sorrento: a sort of profiteroles with a lemon-lemoncello cream), chocolate ganache profiteroles with sweetened whipped cream, and zuppetta napoletana (puff pastry sandwiching rum-dipped sponge cake and cream). My favorite? zuppetta!
From the left, clockwise: tartine ricotte e pera (pear and ricotta tartlets, another typical Sorrento dessert, often also in the shape of a round cake, with a very flaky, hazelnut crust), crostata alle fragoline di bosco (delicate fraise de bois tart), testa di moro con nocciole (a sponge call ball rolled in hazlnut with hazelnut filling), deliziose (short crust with sweet ricotta cream), and cannoli siciliani.
More bakery products (bigne’ -mini eclairs-, crostatine -tartlettes-, paste di mandorla – almond paste cookies-, biscotti di amarena – biscotti with sour cherry jam-): often wrapped up in a golden tray and brought as a gift to the Sunday hostess.
Lastly, a message of peace, as we approach Easter season:
This is called a “Palma di confetti”, and it a very ancient tradition, hand-made for Easter Sunday as a message of peace to be carried in church by the children: it is a little tree made from a core of metal wire wrapped in tissue, studded with almond confetti-candy, small pink spring flowers and olive leaves. The adults carry olives branches with very small caciocavalli (a kind of hanging, pear-shaped provolone, sometimes also shaped as braids) hanging from them with pastel-colored ribbons.
I left with a piece of my heart still in Italy.