After our first trip to Portugal recently, we’re now off on our next adventure and we’re bringing you with us. This time we’re visiting Italy for great wine and delicious food.
Courmayeur, Italian Alps
Find love at first sight with Courmayeur Mont Blanc in the Italian Alps, where you can savour the sense of the slopes with a signature cocktail from Le Massif’s Bernardo Ferro. With these fragrant herbal flavours, you will be transported to this wonderful Alpine region.
- 2cl of Vertosan Genepy
- 2cl Aperol
- 2cl Cointreau
- 1cl raspberry syrup
- 8cl Fripon (sparkling white wine from Aosta Valley)
- 1 raspberry/1 orange slice to garnish
- Take a wine glass and fill 2/3 of the glass with ice
- Add ice into the shaker with all ingredients apart from the Fripon white wine
- Drain any melted ice water from the glass.
- Shake vigorously and pour into the glass
- Add the white sparkling wine
- Gently mix, add garnish on top and serve
Fresh Egg and Mountain Spinach Pasta Tagliatelle
Especially created for Courmayeur Mont Blanc by Head Chef Agostino Builas, this fresh egg and mountain spinach pasta tagliatelle brings the Aosta Valley to your dinner table. Combining delicious Alpine flavours, this is one to perfect now and impress with at dinner parties in the future.
- 400 g/14 oz fresh egg and mountain spinach pasta tagliatelle
- 40 g/ 1.4 oz ground walnuts
- Wild thyme sprigs 200g/7oz alpine pasture
- Fontina Dop or equivalent cheese
- 0.2 litres single cream
- 500 g/ 17 oz Aosta Valley beef (shoulder cuts) or equivalent beef
- 50 g/ 3.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 50 g/ 1.7 oz carrots
- 50 g/ 1.7 oz onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cooking juices
- For the ragu, peel and chop the onion and the carrot, then mince them with the meat. Brown the mix in a pan with extra virgin olive oil. Baste with cooking juices and let it simmer for approximately 12 hours.
- At the end of the cooking period, season with salt and pepper to taste, keep the ragu warm and set it aside.
- For the Fontina cream, cut the Fontina cheese into pieces and add the single cream. Pour the mix into a glass or polycarbonate container and put it in the microwave for one minute or more depending on the power of the oven, being careful not to bring it to a boil. Filter the cream obtained, keep it warm and set it aside.
- Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Once it is boiling, add the tagliatelle and cook for approximately three minutes. Drain the pasta, add it to the pan of ragu and mix well over high heat.
- To serve, create a bed of sauce on each soup plate with the Fontina cream, put delicately the tagliatelle on it, sprinkle with the ground walnuts and garnish with the wild thyme sprigs.
From the Italian Alps we venture next to the Lombardy region, home of the classic risotto. For a dish full of rich flavours and Italian flair, try this rustic celeriac and chestnuts risotto – perfect any time of the year. “I am not a big fan of celeriac but there are certain flavor combinations that just works so well to almost change your mind about a certain ingredient,” says Danilo Cortellini, Head Chef of the Italian Embassy. “Take this creamy tasty risotto for example. The sulphurous note of the celeriac is so well balanced by the sweet nuttiness of chestnuts and hazelnuts and all is bound together by the aromatic touch of the rosemary.” Find the recipe here.
The Lombardy region is also home to Disaronno®, the world’s favourite Italian liqueur. Lovers of the drink will be excited to know of the launch in the UK of Disaronno Velvet. This refreshingly smooth cream liqueur with the unmistakable taste of Disaronno can be enjoyed over ice for a unique tasting experience and to bring out its smooth texture.
Created with the summer months in mind, Disaronno Velvet has a lower ABV than the iconic Disaronno at 17% and will be available in major retailers for consumers to enjoy as a treat during this enforced period at home or in the garden on a sunny day.
Disaronno Velvet (50cl) is available in major retailers with an RRP of £15.
Staying in the north of Italy, we travel next to Trentino, which sits at the junction between two climates and several culinary traditions. Its cuisine is a melting pot of ingredients and methods, ranging from olive oil from the shores of Lake Garda, cheese from a mountain dairy, pasta, local venison, and maybe some apple strudel made from apples from the Val di Non.
Parts of the province also offer superb conditions for wine-making. Sparkling Trentodoc Spumante, elegant Marzemino, sweet Vino Santo: for every course there is something delicious and distinctive to drink to compliment the flavours. Visitors need simply to pick a venue – whether it’s a mountain refuge, a Michelin-starred restaurant (there are six in the region), or a buzzing local pizzeria – and prepare to indulge their tastebuds! Discover more about this culinary hotspot in Italy at www.visittrentino.info/en/taste/food-wine
Travelling to the northeast of the country is the region of Veneto, stretching from the Dolomite Mountains to the Adriatic Sea. Venice is the region’s capital and the hotel we’re staying at here is Grand Hotel Dei Dogi. Alessandro Caro, the Bar Manager at La Voga within the hotel, has created a cocktail called Lady Rose, which is light and floral. With natural ingredients inspired by the hotel’s stunning botanical garden and delicate flavours of Italy, this cocktail is refreshing and showcases expert mixologist skills. Here’s what you need to recreate it at home:-
- 40 ml infusion of Verbena, Mint Tea and Orange Blossoms
- 20ml Homemade Rose Petal Syrup
- 40ml Moscato Fiori D’Arancio Colli Euganei Maeli
- Raspberries, Blackberries and Mint Leaves for garnish
- To infuse: soak the tea bag of in boiling water and allow to cool
- To make the rose petal syrup: boil water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Next, mix in rose petal and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the syrup and allow to cool
- Fill a glass with ice to cool
- Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake well
- Serve in a tumbler and fill with crushed ice.
- Stir and garnish with berries and mint leaves
Interested in wine from the Veneto region? Look no further than the Biscardo, Oropasso, Veneto, Italy, 2017(£10.99). An unoaked blend of Garganega and Chardonnay, this wine takes on a bit of weight from maturation on yeast prior to bottling. Crisp and zippy with a citrus driven acidity, this wine boasts delicate floral notes alongside yellow plum and ripe apricot.
We can’t travel to Italy and not have a Negroni. To enjoy a refreshing and summery twist on the classic, the Renaissance by Julian Biondi – Beverage Consultant and Founder of “BarOmeter Consulting” from Tuscany Now & More is a great one to try. Perfect for an evening spent in the garden, it’s easy to make and equally easy to drink. Think Pimm’s Cup with the taste of Tuscany.
- 25 ml Tuscan Vermouth Winestillery (or any other Red Italian Vermouth with a bitter note, such as Punt e Mes)
- 25 ml Amaro Ruffino (or any other Amaro with a nice herbal and bitter note, such as Nonino or Averna)
- 15 ml Peter in Florence London Dry Gin
- 15 ml honey & thyme syrup
- 15 ml lemon juice
- 1 slice of cucumber
- 1 slice of orange
- Tonic water
- Chill a highball glass with ice
- Combine all ingredients (excluding Tonic Water) and shake well
- Strain the cocktail into the glass and top with tonic water.
- Stir gently
- Garnish with a sprig of thyme and orange slice
Gnudi, from Tuscany Now & More’s expert chefs
Gnudi is a traditional Tuscan dish of gnocchi-like dumplings made with ricotta cheese instead of potato, with semolina. The result is often a lighter, “pillowy” dish, unlike the often denser, chewier gnocchi – true Italian comfort food.
- 500g fresh spinach
- 350g ricotta
- 100g grated parmesan
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons flour, plus extra for dredging
- Salt and pepper
- Ground nutmeg
- While you wash the spinach, place a pot of water on the stove. Bring to boil, add a handful of cooking salt, and the spinach. Once cooked, drain and squeeze the spinach making sure to remove any excess liquid. Place the spinach aside or if you prefer more flavour, saute in a frying pan with olive oil and garlic.
- Finely chop the spinach, and stir in a medium bowl with the ricotta, parmesan, two eggs, flour, salt, pepper and ground nutmeg (optional). Using a spoon, scoop out portions of the mix (about the size of a walnut) and, using damp hands, roll smooth and round balls. Dredge in flour, tapping off any excess flour and place on a floured surface. Set aside in a cool place covered with cling wrap until ready to cook, or refrigerate up to 24 hours.
- When ready to cook, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and slide gnudi in. Remove the gnudi using a slotted spoon when they float to the surface (after around 3-4 minutes). Toss with a butter and sage sauce, or fresh tomato sauce.
Sicilian wine offers huge character. The Terrafusa – Storta 2018 (£16.15) is a premium vegan rosé that’s fresh and extremely quaffable. Its complex taste of floral and grapefruit notes will invite you back for more.
The Terre Di Giumara, Caruso E Minini (£12.50) meanwhile is a blend of two Sicilian grapes, Frappato and Nerello Mascalese. They each give the wine a freshness and weight that makes it eminently drinkable and satisfying with every sip.
And then, of course, Sicilians are renowned for their Arancini. Or Arancine if you come from the western side of Sicily; the east call them Arancini. “To me it doesn’t really matter as I love them no matter the name!” says chef Danilo Cortellini.
“Crunchy, flavoursome, stuffed rice balls. You could find plenty of versions of this recipe, which differ in stuffing and in shape. Vegetarian, with meat, some even with pistachios, which sounds delicious.
For this particular recipe I went all green and vegetarian, as I chose to stuff them with spinach and mozzarella. It is a very easy recipe and you can shape them as you please to use them either as starter or smaller as canapé. They are perfect to share if you’re planning a BBQ with friends. Also, if you want to save yourself some time, this recipe can be prepared ahead of time, and can be stored in the freezer.” You can find Danilo’s recipe here.