Craving Italy? Get your fix with my online tour, podcast, and online shopping!
Who isn't craving Italy right now as we're unable to travel? If you're especially missing Florence, be sure to try my interactive online food tour Craving Italy Online Food Tour.
I'm launching my new podcast, Craving Italy, very soon.
We'll be talking about Italian language, food & wine, travel, mishaps & adventures, and much more.
Tune in for updates and links to the podcast!
The ideal choice would be to order everything from Italy, and I can help you do that if you've got time to spare.
If you would like to support local shops, I'm offering survival kits for your taste buds that are craving Italy, and to help the shops here get some business during the pandemic.
These boxes only take 1-2 weeks to arrive, and are created to bring small shops into your home.
For those of you in North America who seek immediate gratification, I've put together
a list of things I adore, choosing them for quality and reasonable pricing,
straight to your house from Amazon. Get your quick fix this way, and then I can
help you order more directly from producers and shops here in Italy.
Let's start with cheese!
Parmigiano and Grana Padano are both traditional hard cheeses made with cow's milk,
great for nibbling by the slice alone or with balsamics, honey, or jams...
added to salads...
and of course excellent for grating over pasta!
On the other hand, pecorino cheese is made with sheep's milk but can vary in many ways- depending on where and how it is made, how long it is aged, what it is rubbed with on the outside. There are endless possibilities! I've chosen some from Tuscany and Sardegna, both famous for their pecorino cheese. These are eaten on their own or with sauces and honeys. I did not add pecorino romano because it is widely available already and you've probably already tried it. The pecorini below are superior, in my opinion.
Traditional Balsamics of Modena & Reggio Emilia (DOP CERTIFIED)
aka The Real Thing!
These contain no wine vinegar and have been made for over 1000 years by families
in Modena & Reggio Emilia.
IGP Certified Balsamics:
The ones I've chosen are very good, but not the real thing, due to less aging or ingredients.
Mostly cooked grape must and some wine vinegar added.
Saba (sweet, cooked grape must) - an affordable substitute for traditional balsamics if you want to treat yourself every day but on a budget. Most of the flavor, but less of the health benefits, since it is lacking the naturally occurring antioxidants and acidity of the real, DOP balsamics. These were, and still are, traditionally produced in the same region as balsamic vinegar. Often, families who didn't have the means to make traditional balsamics made this quicker and easier condiment.
White balsamic condiments - fantastic on salads, fish and poultry, grilled veggies, fruit! There are lots of white balsamic condiments out there and the flavor varies quite a bit. I'm including two that are sweet but not too sweet, and just the right amount of vinegar kick.
For the best pasta, you want ones that are bronze cut (this gives them that added "edge" and helps them to hold the sauce better. In addition, you want pasta that has been air dried, not machine dried. I've chosen some of my favorites, from Tuscany and from Gragnano- the land of great pasta.
But is is pointless to buy good pasta and then serve it with bad tomato sauces (ie most things found at the grocery store!). To make a good sauce, you should start with tomato alone- not a sauce with herbs and ingredients already added. My favorites are Agromonte and Mutti. I'll be posting some recipes that you can make in 10 minutes or less, just using a few ingredients, like the ones below.
Sweet tooth? I've selected cantuccini (aka biscotti di Prato) if you're craving biscotti, plus other traditional desserts from Italy, like panforte and the Colomba traditional Easter cake. And if you want to have a great coffee, I've picked out my favorites for using with the stovetop Moka pot or in a French press.
Full disclosure: These are links I've created and I will (hopefully!) make a little money should you choose to purchase via these links. I promise I have chosen products for quality and reasonable pricing in their category, and only ones I would eat and share with friends and family.