My pre-Christmas festive sentimentality was finally satisfied over the last few weeks when I went home for some lovely traditional Italian respite and most importantly seasonal food! I know I have been promising this for some now, but Christmas has given me the time and inspiration to pull together all the information on the beautiful regional variety of Italian cuisine and ingredients. In essence for me it is rediscovering the joys of Italy.
In order to break all of the information down into digest-able bite size chunks, I have separated the 20 regions of Italy into 12 sections, joining the smaller and similar regions together. Each of these sections will represent a different month that regional section is most connected to in terms of seasonality and produce, and each week, I will post a recipe from the menu typical of that region.
I hope you enjoy my Italian nostalgia, learn something new and get a bit of inspiration over the coming year, I’m planning to make 2014 a corker!
To kick off January I’m focussing on the two northern regions, Trentino Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia.
These two regions are notorious for their alpine Appennine mountains, plunging lakes and valleys and seasonal temperatures. Although parts, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, touch the coast, it benefits from the tourism this brings and the root vegetables such as potatoes and turnips that are grown in the fertile plain overlooking to the coast.
The regional cuisines are a mixture of preserved gastronomic tradition of ancient peasant dishes that favour the simplistic and nutritious and of borrowed Germanic alpine recipes from over the boarders. Berries are a common ingredient in recipes from the vast forests in the region and are often a key ingredient for strudels which are a popular dish in this area. Wheat, buckwheat, spelt, millet and sorghum, the common crops from the areas are found in lots of regional dishes. Hearty peasant food that uses the produce of the land such as soups and stews are key dishes, such as sapororitissima (bean soup).
Prosciutto di San Daniele DOP – renowned sausage from Friuli-Venezia Giulia produced according to century-old working methods.
Montasio DOP –A cow’s milk which is a PDO of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. A cooked semi-hard cheese that is cylindrical in shape. Full, nutty and slightly sweet flavour and a dense texture.
Ricotta affumicata (Smoked Ricotta) from Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
The Sauris ham – a salted cured ham, smoked and matured for at least 10 months, also recognisable thanks to its particular delicate smell and sweet and slightly smoked flavour. It holds DOP status coming from the area Sauris in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Speck – The typical preserved ham or Speck of Alto Adige has always played a fundamental part in the diet of the people of this mountainous area and is made exclusively with the best and leanest pork thighs.
Crauti – Homemade sauerkraut from Alto Adige.
Hauswurst – a sausage that is enjoyed in Alto Adige served with horseradish, pickles and sauerkraut.
Carne salata – Alto Adige beef marinated in a brine with juniper berries, herbs and pepper.
Garda Oil – The Garda oil P.D.O is a fine quality oil in which contains various types of olives from certain regions of Italy, including Alto Adige.
Soups – Popular in Northeastern Italy.
Minestra di trippa – a bread thickened soup with tomato sauce, vegetables and tripe.
Saursuppe – tripe soup, flavoured with herbs, onion, nutmeg and white wine.
Orzetto or Gerstensuppe -Barley soup made with vegetables, onion and garlic speck.
Bruscandoli or wild hops are found all over the North-eastern regions of Italy and frittata is a popular recipe to use the ingredient, click here to get my version of a frittata favourite.