Category Archives: Food and Restaurants

Do You “Apericena”?

Posted by in Food and Restaurants,Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle | February 13, 2013

Blog 2.13.13 pic 2 In the ‘80s a new trend emerged in Italian social life: meeting friends and family for an “aperitivo” (aperitif).

This idea of a pre-meal drink, consumed most often with company in a café’ has since then become the natural end of an evening stroll into town. It’s also a great way of filling the time gap between the end of the Mass and the family lunch on Sundays; the perfect option for friendly gatherings.

When the trend began, having an aperitivo went like this—you’dorder your drink of choice (sodas, campari, prosecco or wine for example) and snack on complimentary mini pretzels, salted peanuts and green olives.

To keep it fresh and to compete with each other, cafes’ have gotten more and more inventive over the years, not necessarily in the cocktail selection but accompanying them with an ever increasing amount and variety of finger foods.

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A World Without Nutella?

Posted by in Food and Restaurants | February 6, 2013

The food history buffs will be pleased to know that Nutella was invented by Pietro Ferrero – master baker and founder of Ferrero, the chocolatier – in the early 40s. Due to WWII, cocoa and chocolate were in short supply in Italy. Using hazelnut (abundant in the Piedmont region) for Ferrero’s chocolate spread allowed Pietro to extend his company’s slim chocolate supply and stay in business. Several decades later, Italian kids and adults alike would not be able to imagine a world without Nutella. The best way I have to describe how we feel about this breakfast and snack staple is asking you – my American readers – to think about the role Peanut Butter has played in your childhood and allergies permitting, your current lives.

Over the years Italian have become inventive on how to use Nutella not only for spreading but also for baking and here’s one of my favorite Nutella recipes: the Rotolo alla Nutella (Swiss Roll with Nutella).

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Food—The Italian Way

Posted by in Food and Restaurants,Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle | January 30, 2013

blog 1-30-2013 pic 1Food and cuisine are such an integral part of the Italian culture that not talking about them would be a travesty.

To be honest, I’ve never heard in Italy the “mangia, mangia” that seems to be such a standard expression in Italian-American families. BUT I’ve also never visited anybody’s home there and not have been offered some type of food (sweet or savory depending on the occasion and the time of day) along with the ubiquitous offer for a “caffe’” (espresso that is – always!).

While traveling to Italy and depending on your choice of accommodation, a certain number of your meals will be taken in restaurants. Everybody is so used to eating out nowadays that I’m sure the idea doesn’t frazzle you, but while traveling in Italy there are two factors to consider: the language and the menu structure.

Let me explain:

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Cure your Winter Blues with Saffron

Posted by in Food and Restaurants | January 23, 2013

It’s winter and it’s cold here in Chicago and it’s time for hearty dishes and comfort food. One of my comfort foods of choice is the Risotto alla Milanese. Despite the fact nobody in my family is from Milan, this dish has been a staple in my mother’s kitchen forever. Most probably because it’s a fabulous way to put “leftover” chicken broth to use.

Here’s the recipe I’ve always used when making Risotto alla Milanese:

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Elaine speaks Norma (Pasta alla Norma)

Posted by in Food and Restaurants | September 27, 2012

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of introducing to you Elaine Trigiani and her passion for Italian culture and food. Today’s recipes are her “gift” to us as we slowly transition into the Fall.

I’m personally not a fan of tomato sauce, so her option of Norma in bianco is definitely a favorite of mine!

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Posted by in Food and Restaurants,Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle | July 12, 2012

I had lunch with a dear friend on Sunday and I was surprised to see a “panzanella salad” on the menu. My friend ordered it and was quite pleased with her choice.

It made me remember my maternal grandmother, who was fond of panzanella – a very simple, peasant style summer dish. She would often make it for my brothers and I during hot summer afternoons as a snack.

The recipe in itself is very simple and it’s a great way to use stale bread, but there are two secrets to make this a fantastic dish:

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Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Posted by in Food and Restaurants | June 6, 2012

We had a guest last Friday evening, a former colleague of mine was in the States on business and joined us for dinner. When asked what I should prepare for him, without hesitation he answered: “bucatini all’amatriciana!” as many “true” Romans would. He even brought over a pack of bucatini (very thick spaghetti) and a recipe (just in case I had forgotten it!).

So today’s recipe is courtesy of my friend Alessandro.


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Crema di fave e pecorino (Creamy fava beans with shaved pecorino toscano)

Posted by in Food and Restaurants | May 9, 2012

I just received the June issue of La Cucina Italiana (US edition), I came across this recipe and felt I had to share it.

“Fave & Pecorino” (fava beans & pecorino) is my father’s absolute favorite spring lunch, and this recipe has an interesting twist, especially since it’s still kind of chilly out there!

I adapted the La Cucina Italiana recipe slightly but you can get the full version here.


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A Regal Choice

Posted by in Food and Restaurants | May 1, 2012

The Amalfi coast has been a “hot spot” in Italian traveling since the “golden age” of the ‘50s. In those days, Hollywood superstars and European aristocracy flocked to the high-rise, breathtaking coast south of Naples and the tabloids were crammed with shots of Cary Grant sipping espresso in the piazzetta (main square) in Capri or Grace Kelly buying handmade sandals in Positano. Quickly this part of Italy became one of the most glamorous summer destinations and it still is to this day. Anybody who has been at least once to the Amalfi Coast has picked his or her favorite town and place to stay and will return time and time again. I am no different. Of all the Amalfi coast towns, I LOVE Positano and quickly converted my husband on his second visit to this area last June.

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Do You Speak Italian Coffee?

Posted by in Food and Restaurants,Tips, Trends, Custom & Lifestyle | April 26, 2012

Who doesn’t need a jolt of coffee at some point during the day? Especially if you’re on vacation and trying to see it all!

And who doesn’t have very specific requirements for their coffee (or coffee based drink of choice)?

Now imagine being abroad, somewhere you don’t speak not understand the language, and trying to get that perfect cup………… yeah…. tricky!

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