Foodgasm of the Moment: La Festa del Cioccolato

I suppose if anything deserves its own festival, it’s chocolate.

The only question that comes to mind is: why did it take me thirty-odd years on this planet to attend a party in honor of chocolate?  Because, once again, Italy has its priorities straight.  That’s why.  Which other country would lovingly dedicate its time and energy to such humble pursuits?

These sagras, or festivals in honor of a specific gastronomic delicacy, never cease to amaze me, and bring a whole new perspective to life.  Stand after stand of fantastically-crafted delights. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s entirely possible that Italy’s role in the world may just be to teach everyone else how to slow down, and rather than smell the flowers, taste the (insert food of choice here).

After all, it is what they do best.

 

Foodgasm of the Moment: Italian Cheesecake

Foodgasm of the Moment: Italian Cheesecake

Yes, you read that correctly, America: the Italians have taken one of our only claims to culinary fame, and perfected it. They do it every time. First, it was cheeseburgers, then brunch… now this? Bastardi!

Creamy, delicious, and a mile high, this cheesecake ai frutti di bosco at Dolce (one of my favorite dessert places in Rome: http://www.dolce-roma.com/home/home_popup.asp#home) beats anything I’ve had in the States. Once again, it’s the freshness of the ingredients that makes the difference.

And I can’t forget to give a nod to its gorgeous neighbor on the left, the millefoglie, which is perhaps my favorite of all Italian dessert staples and always keeps me coming back for more.

Foodgasm of the Moment: Fiori di Zucca

Give me some fiori di zucca, and I am a happy woman.

These delicious flowers that blossom from zucchini plants are a national favorite in Italy – thrown in batter and fried, of course. Found in practically every bar, they’re one of the most popular, quintessential Italian street foods. But with minimal effort, you can quickly and easily make them at home.

There are variations on the recipe, but the simple and delicious one traditionally used in Italy is as follows:

Ingredients:

– Zucchini flowers
– Anchovies
– Mozzarella (the small “ciliegine” or cherry-sized ones work well)
– Egg
– Flour
– Salt

*If you want to get creative, alternative ingredients include (but are not limited to): buffalo mozzarella, burrata, provolone, sun-dried tomatoes, speck, ‘nduja.

Preparation:

Stuff each zucchini flower with mozzarella and anchovy (one goes a long way). Twirl the ends of the “petals” to secure the contents before battering. Heat sunflower oil and beat a couple of eggs with a good pinch of salt. Dip each flower in the egg, then roll it through the flour and drop into the skillet. Each flower only needs about a minute on each side until golden brown perfection is achieved…

A true Italian delicacy!

Foodgasm of the Moment: Pizza con la Scarola

Getting a private home lesson from a personal master chef: my mother-in-law, direct from Caserta…

La pizza con la scarola, traditionally made in Southern Italy at Christmas and New Years (but as far as I’m concerned any regular Saturday is a fine excuse).

What’s inside:

Escarole (greens)

Greek (kalamata) olives

Anchovies (sparingly)

Capers (rinsed, sparingly)

Pine nuts

Raisins (optional)

Hot pepper flakes

Christmas in Italy, step three: Il Primo

Christmas in Italy, step 3: 

Il primo (1st course) of linguine with fresh shrimp, zucchini, and pachino tomatoes, and secondo (2nd course) of baccala’ paired with frittura of calamari and shrimp.