I’m Back – My Summer Thineats in Italy

You’re right! Yes, I have completely disappeared into a world of my own, enjoying some of the most delicious cuisine in northern Italy; my hometown.

As most of you mythineater followers are aware of; I love to eat! I love to eat all types of food; good food though! I seem to have never come to terms with the fact of leaving the house and going out to pay for something that I could easily have cooked myself (and quite possibly even better).

I enjoy Italy especially, because food is a celebration; you go out and meet up with friends have about four hours sitting at the table enjoying each others company while enjoying some amazing food. No hassle, only pure enjoyment.

My husband and I live in Cervia, a beach town on the Adriatic Sea, in the province of Ravenna located in the Emilia-Romagna Region of Northern Italy. It’s a gorgeous, quaint little town where one of the things that I love to have and take full advantage of is FRESH CAUGHT FISH.
The fisherman get up at dawn, go out at sea and return in the early morn to sell fish at our local fish market, what they fish is what you make and eat that day.
Of course we have a couple of local “Pescheria” (fish store) that have other things as well and maybe fish caught that morning or the day before on the Mediterranean Sea. One of my favorites to purchase, something I always order or make at home is Vongole aka Clams. You make it in this delicious light wine sauce and they are divine and light. You can eat them alone or accompanied with any sorts of pasta, from Tagliolini to Bavette to Spaghetti.

These I haven’t yet mentioned , but I love just as much: Cozze aka Mussels, there’s just something about them so much flavor locked up in this black shell. I love “le cozze alla tarantina” cooked in a very light red sauce with just a hint of spicy. You get served some fresh toasted bread on the side and voilà.

Then they have something that cannot even be put into words of how delicious it is, don’t freak out I know that this is unexpected but it’s really one of my all time favorites, Polipo aka Octopus, yes you read right; Octopus. It’s delicious! Accompanied normally by boiled potatoes, you add some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, pepper and chopped flat leaf parsley mix it together and you have a party of luscious flavor in your mouth. Ah, Yes!

The list of seafood is infinite, anywhere from tartare to grilled, from broiled to poached, and from steamed to seared. The secret to why it tastes so amazing is that Italians don’t believe in flavoring their food too much, just a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper some parsley maybe and that’s it! You really don’t want to add too many ingredients and take away from that simple yet amazing flavor the seafood already has.

Then we go into the meats, we of course have some of the best charchuterie on the planet, I mean does it get any better than an amazing slice of Proscuitto di Parma, or Prosciutto San Daniele?! Or let me mention Culatello di Zibello it just melts in your mouth it has less fat on the outside and amazing in your mouth. We also have something called Bresaola, which is a lean meat aged as well and just very particular flavor almost a little peppery but oh, served with some rucola and Parmigiano shavings and a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil on top its to die for.

All of the above mentioned accompanied by none other than olives, amazing aged cheeses from Parmigiano Reggiano to Pecorino, also Mozzarella di Buffala or Squacerone con Fichi Caramellati (which would be a really soft, creamy, extremely fresh cheese accompanied by carmalized figs), I know but you have to try it to actually fathom what it tastes like.
I (and most Italians in this region) always have to accompany this with our local flat bread called ‘Piadina’ it’s crunchy on the outside but super soft on the inside, it’s hard to describe because you will not be able to get it anywhere outside of the Romagna Region (not even in Emilia) so it’s particular and delicious. Now there are other amazing breads out there to accompany this with; like a schiacciatina (just the Pizza crust), or a foccacia or of course any other sort of fresh-baked bread.

Then of course we have all sorts of delicious meats, salsiccia aka sausage, (this is very different from American sausage, it’s peppery and has some most amazing texture and oh so bad for you but delicious). Costolette aka ribs, just grilled though nothing else, yum. Pancetta aka bacon, but thicker and of course; delicious. The list goes on you’ll have the typical filleto (filet), Tagliata di Manzo (strip steak), Lonza (Pork chop), etc..

Always accompanied of course by vegetables, generally: Pinzimonio, which would be all types of raw vegetables, Fennel, Celery, Cucumber, Radishes, Tomatoes, Carrots, Endive, Cipollina, and Bell Peppers; chopped longwise and served with a small dipping cup on the side that has Extra Virgin Olive oil and Salt. You dip the vegetables in the mix and enjoy.
Of course, you also can have grilled veggies, spinach, mushrooms, rosemary roasted potatoes and “pomodori gratinate” aka tomatoes au gratin (which is basically breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and salt, sprinkled over a tomato half and baked in the oven). Or last but not least “radicchio ai bruciatini” which is sautéed radicchio with toasted pancetta and a balsamic demi-glaze.

And then, and then dessert! Dessert is something very particular in this country because it varies: You have Tiramisù, Profiteroles, Mascarpone, Zabaglione and of course Sorbetto and Gelato. But one of my all time favorites is Crostata di Frutta aka Fresh Fruit Pie, it has a really crunchy crust (my favorite thing: crunch) then crema della nonna (which is a cream made out of egg yolks, flour, milk and sugar), topped with fresh fruit; it’s hard to describe just how delicious it is. I love, love, love it.

Of course we all know about biscotti, but my favorites are the Scroccadenti they are practically the same as biscotti but with figs instead of the almonds. Delish!

The list of foods in this wonderful country are never-ending but this is all for now. I hope that you enjoyed.

Stayed tuned next blog will be about foods in Tuscany, Rome and Positano (the Amalfi); Yes, I’m taking you around with me. And no, I won’t forget to post recipes as well.