Every year as the days get shorter and colder, I always find myself craving hearty comforting food. Unfortunately that usually means heavy, carb-loaded, fatty food. Sure, it makes evolutionary sense to bulk for the winter, but considering the temperature in my flat is practically equatorial I think my biological urges can and should be repressed. So, I’ve been pondering ways to trick my body into thinking that it’s getting stodge, and this is one of my current favourites.
Tag Archives: Italian food
As much as grand dinners and extravagant dishes are nice, and a fantastic treat, sometimes there just ain’t nothing better than the simple pleasures. Peanut butter fingers, bread covered with a thick spread of butter, a cheeky slice of cheese cut straight from the fridge, the perfect cup of milky sweet builders’ tea. These little gratifications are the things that perk up the humdrum of daily life.
I’m so excited. In just three teeny tiny little sleeps I’m off to Italy on holiday (whoop, whoop!) and it goes without saying that the thing that’s at the forefront of my mind is the food. As I mentioned in my recent PDO post, in Italy produce quality is paramount and celebrated. The very best Italian meals, the ones that really stay with you, are the simplest, where the finest quality ingredients are prepared humbly, allowing the flavours to shine. Two such ingredients, which I’m lucky enough to be ambassador for, are the distinctive and historic products, Grana Padano Cheese and Prosciutto di San Daniele.
As I think I’ve made astoundingly clear over the last two years, I’m a great lover of Italy and, more specifically, Italian food. The thing that I love about Italian food, which sets it apart from other cuisines for me, is the way it respects and celebrates produce. You very rarely sit down to a complex Italian dish. A typical Italian plate of food is simplicity at its best. Few ingredients, simply cooked, allowing the intrinsic qualities and flavours shine. In fact, when I’m in Italy, which I try to be as often as possible (roll on June and Puglia, whoop whoop), my absolute favourite meal is the lunch we serve every day, no cooking required, only beautiful local produce. Just bread, the most beautiful red ripe beef tomatoes, a selection of cheeses and (my own personal heroin) prosciutto, all served with an ice-cold beer. So, when I was approached by Consortium of Prosciutto di San Daniele and Consortium of Grana Padano Cheese to be ambassador for these two iconic Italian products, it wasn’t a hard sell.
Spaghetti Carbonara is a long running obsession in my family. My Dad’s obsession, that is. He must have tried every recipe under the sun and we must have sampled dozens of versions. With cream. Without. Some claggy. Some too wet. Some too eggy. Just never quite right. Alway nice, but never reaching the dizzying heights of perfection. Then not too long ago, Dad finally served the ultimate rendition and it reminded me of the pure and fantastic simplicity of Spaghetti alla Carbonara. Eggs and bacon. Perfect in every language.
I think by now my regular readers will have gathered that I’m a complete and utter Italiaphile. I love the country, the people (my grandma being one of them), and most of all the food. Despite it’s no doubt devastating effect on my (ever-growing) waistline, I have pasta two or three times a week and, as with most people I’m sure, I have my favourites that never fail to delight and satisfy in equal measure. Most are ready within 20 minutes – surely one of the major perks of pasta – and all are delicious.
Sage is my favourite Christmas herb. In fact, it’s probably my favourite Christmas flavour. It needn’t be reserved for Christmas at all of course (one of the best uses of sage is gnocchi tossed in sage and butter – perfection), but around Christmastime I always seem to go a little bit sage crazy. This year was no exception and I found myself with an absolute glut of sage to use up (aw, shame). Short on time and energy (due to a rotten cold, which I still have, wail!), I decided to experiment with some sagey pastas to work my way through my sage excess.