Italian Adventure - 16th Feb 2011

Post date: 07-Feb-2011 12:48:01

For the last 2 supper clubs I've had the extreme luxury of having a helper from the University of Gastronomic Sciences (can you believe there is such a place!), in Colorno, Italy. Reena left her previous life as an American microbiologist to follow her dream. She is doing a Masters in Food Culture and Communications and her thesis is on, you guessed it, Supper Clubs!!

As part of her study, I set her the task of designing a menu for us. We were a bit overdue for some European food and so what I asked her was to take us on a tour of the most memorable food she has experienced in Italy over the last year. Much of this was cooked for her by her new friends and acquaintances, so she is having the recipes sent over and we will recreate them, to take you on the gastronome's tour of Italy!

Here is her menu in her own words:

Ciao Tutti!

My time in Italy has been the most stimulating, inspiring, and memorable adventure of my life. All the Italian regions, as well as other European countries that I have traveled to during my master course were breathtaking and unforgettable, but I found that the friends and strangers I have met along my journey and around the table will forever be in my heart. I have chosen a menu in which the food represents different memories of my travels.

Come join us on a culinary (and nostalgic) tour of Italia!



Aperitivo (dappertutto, naturalmente!)

- Mozzarella di Bufala - buffalo mozzarella

- Salami

- Olives

Primi (Toscano, Parma, e Piemonte)

- Ribollita - traditional Tuscan vegetarian soup

- Ricotta e spinaci tortelli con prosciutto di parma in crema rosata - handmade ricotta and spinach tortelli in cream sauce with parma ham

- Rucola, pomodoro, cipolle insalata - Rocket and Tomato Salad

Secondi (Sicilia e Toscano)

- Alici marinate - marinated fresh anchovies

- Coda di Manzo - hearty oxtail stew


(Napoli e Friuli Venezia Giulia Region)

- Tiramisu e struffoli con noci

- Walnut Strudel (Friuli-Venizia Giulia Region)

- Caffe with Napolitano biscotti

- Focaccia in Genova:

redolent of my seaside memories of Camogli in Genova, where we followed our noses into a cool and shady alleyway where the children were chasing their dogs and the nonnas from above were hanging their linen out on their flowery balconies. As the Italians do, we elbowed and shouldered our way to the front of a focaccia bakery that had no sign or display, only a local, ravenous crowd and loudly yelling bakers proving to be an advertisement in and of itself. The yeasty aroma tantalized our sea-salty lips. We sat on the mollusk spotted boulder rocks by the water as we tore apart and licked every crunchy grain of salt and burst of cherry tomato nestled into the oily focaccia.

- Olive Oil marinated anchovies with pine nuts, orange, coriander, and parsley, in Sicily:

Ah, Sicily. I fondly remember my first night when I arrived. It was my first experience spending a long period of time with Italians. First stop: dinner at Lele Coco’s, our Sicilian friend, where I was greeted warmly by everyone. We clapped and cheered as Lele proudly presented our meal freshly picked that morning at the open-air seafood market only steps away. The silky anchovies danced in my mouth. The pine nuts revealed a sensually toasted aroma. The citrus and herbs gave a playful, invigorating balance. What made it even better? Lele told me he invented this recipe that morning! We dined underneath the night sky with vibrant Sicilian ceramics and antique lanterns surrounding us, and the faint sound of crashing waves filled our ears, and the taste of the Mediterranean lingering on our palates

- Ricotta and spinach tortelli in a crème sauce with parma ham and sprinkled with Parmaggiano Reggiano, Parma:

This dish was served on one of our very first courses! After meeting eeny, meeny, miny and moe at the pig farm, Cascina Costa – we were all very happy to be greeted by so many oinks and floppy ears – we marched up to Taverna del Castello high above a misty and dewy country landscape where we dined on the Prosciutto di Parma we previously saw aging in the farm and washed it down with the dancing bubbles of Lambrusco, which is also produced in the nearby region.