Results tagged Italy from David Lebovitz

Slow Food: Salone del Gusto (Part 2)

curedporkprodcuts

Now that I’ve had a few days to digest everything I tasted at the Salon del Gusto, I thought I’d show you a fraction of what was on offer.

ricotta vanilla beans

The event was an unparalleled opportunity to sample foods from all over the world, with a focus on Italy, of course, since that’s where the event takes place. That meant an abundance of cured pork products and Italian cheese, like handmade ricotta which you could taste just after it’d been made, but also Mexican Chinantla vanilla beans, so ripe, fragrant and oily…and a few bars of chocolate stacked up here and there.

chocolate bars

Continue Reading Slow Food: Salone del Gusto (Part 2)…

Slow Food: Salone del Gusto (Part I)

After returning from my first-ever visit to the Slow Food Salone del Gusto in Torino, Italy, on Monday, I began writing up the event, and looking at the photos I’d taken. As I wrote, I found myself writing a but at length of what this event was, and wasn’t, and how people (including me) perceive these kinds of events. I didn’t go with any agenda; I was simply interested in seeing what the Salone was all about, as I’d heard it was very interesting from some people I respected in the food world.

salonarabicman

Unlike the perception I, and other folks have, the Salone del Gusto was not a bunch of rich, elitist folks swilling wine and congratulating themselves on what fabulous folks they were for going “green” or indulging in “peasant foods.”

Continue Reading Slow Food: Salone del Gusto (Part I)…

Pistachio Gelato Recipe

pistachiogelatoblog.jpg

Although each year it’s getting harder and harder to remember that far back, I still recall when I was younger, during the summer in New England, we’d head to the dairy store for ice cream. Often I’d order pistachio; the vivid green color and the crunchy bits of pistachio were somewhat exotic to a timid little David growing up in pre-Martha Connecticut.

As I grew up, I learned the truth about pistachio ice cream (amongst other things). Mainly that it was usually made with artificial colors and flavors—not the real thing. So when I wrote Le Perfect Scoop, I thought long and hard about including a pistachio ice cream recipe. But I couldn’t in good conscience include a recipe that costs 20 bucks to make, which is similar to what I call the ‘Quarter-Cup of Squab Stock Syndrome’.

Continue Reading Pistachio Gelato Recipe…

8 Tips for Choosing and Using Olive Oil

Olive Oil Tasting

A recent post on Marinated Feta elicited some interesting comments and questions about olive oil. Here’s a few tips that I follow when buying, using, and storing oil:

1. Keep olive oil out of the light.

I know you’ve spent a lot of money on your oil and you want to look at all those pretty labels lined up on your countertop. But too bad; it’s one of the absolute worst things you can do to oil. Light destroys olive oil, and other specialty oils as well, so stow it away. Nothing destroys olive oil faster than light. Except heat.

2. Keep olive oil away from heat.

That means don’t store your olive oil on that shelf above your stove, even though that’s where it’s handy. Keep it away from sunlight as well. It’s best not to store olive oil in the refrigerator. If you do, when you take it out the condensation can dilute the oil and cause it to spoil quicker.

Continue Reading 8 Tips for Choosing and Using Olive Oil…

What Is Gelato?

gelato

How does one explain, in a few short paragraphs, something that’s such a critical part of Italian life, like gelato? If you’ve spent any time in Italy, especially in the summer, it’s hard to look anywhere and not see an Italian balancing a cono di gelato, often while balancing the omnipresent cell phone at the same time.

But everyone, from suave businessmen in Armani suits to grandmothers chatting on a stroll with friends—they all eat gelato. And like the tiny shots of espresso taken from morning ’til night, it’s a part of Italian life and consumed everywhere, all-day long. Granita di espresso on a roll for breakfast anyone?

Gelato‘ means ‘frozen‘ in Italian, so it embraces the various kinds of ice cream made in Italy, and that’s the best definition one can offer.

More than most countries, food in Italy is fiercely regional: in the north, near Torino (Piedmonte), the food is very earthy with white truffles and hazelnuts appearing in various dishes. At the other end of the boot is Sicily, where the climate is far warmer so the flavors lean towards citrus and seafood. And in between are lots of villages and regions, including the Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, Campania, Tuscany, and Puglia, among others.

The gelato made in the north of Italy, where it’s cooler up near the mountains, the gelato is richer, often made with egg yolks, chocolate, and most famously, with gianduja, the silky-smooth hazelnut and milk chocolate paste. In the south, ice creams tend to be lighter, and flavored with lemons and oranges. In Sicily, granite are prevalent; slushy shaved ices that are almost served like a drink, with a spoon and a straw to slurp them up, as well as fruit-flavored sorbetti.

But getting back to gelato…as mentioned, gelato means Italian ice cream. But what makes it different?

Continue Reading What Is Gelato?…

Delving Deeper Into Coffee

Because I’m out of my mind, once I get something stuck in my craw, I’m not okay until I get it all figured out once and for all. I guess that’s why I’m a baker. Because I’m insane. When I got my new espresso maker, I became obsessed with that too, and I needed to figure out how to pull the best espresso out of it as I could, like they do in Italy.

So what did I do? I went to Italy.
Mais oui.

Coffee

Although I got a lot of questions answered there, new ones kept popping up when I got home. And when I posted about my trip there were some enlightening comments, especially from Greg Sherwin of CoffeeRatings.com. I clicked away, delving deeper into his site where there was much top-notch information and we began corresponding.

Continue Reading Delving Deeper Into Coffee…

Making Perfect Espresso at Illy

When I told a friend that I was going to Italy to learn how to make coffee, she responded, “You just dump the coffee into a filter and pour water over it. What else do you need to do?”

Well, since you asked, plenty.

barista.jpgredespresso.jpg

Illy barista Giorgio Milos shows off his skill, and one of my first efforts to match his

First of all, there’s an important distinction between ‘brewing coffee’ and ‘extracting espresso’.

Brewed coffee is steeping ground beans in hot water, which any fool like me can do, whereas making espresso involves a couple of crucial steps and the deft use of a high-pressured machine combined with several specific techniques. It’s not easy to make the perfect espresso, but anyone can make a pretty decent one, even using an inexpensive home machine.

And how do you know what a good espresso is?

It’s a very tiny cup of deep-brown liquid, just a couple of sips, not bitter-tasting, but rich, complex and lingering, which endures on your tastebuds for 10-15 minutes afterward—one singular, perfectly-extracted shot of true Italian espresso.

I was really anxious to visit Illy, since I’ve been having trouble getting just the right little shot to taste good at home. Mine was either too watery, or bitter and virtually undrinkable, even though I was using a very powerful espresso maker. But I was also curious why the espresso in Italy tastes so much better than it does anywhere else, even in the humblest caffè. So when Illy invited me to come to their roasting plant and Università del Caffè in Trieste, I cleared my calendar and jumped on a plane.

So what did I learn at Illy?
I learned that anyone, even me, can pull a great cup of espresso at home.
Here’s the 1, 2 and 3′s of it…

espressofoam.jpgfavoritebarista.jpg

Moreno Faina shows off a perfect crema while a barista keeps the Illy staff fueled all day long

1. Start with good coffee.

This seems like a no-brainer. But I have a friend who said his vinaigrettes never tasted as good as he’d like them to. When I pointed out that you can’t make a good salad dressing with crappy olive oil from Trader Joe’s, neither can you make a good cup of espresso unless you start with good coffee beans correctly roasted and packed.

Continue Reading Making Perfect Espresso at Illy…

10 Things I Just Learned About Coffee

illyespresso.jpg

1. One espresso has 2 calories.

2. The word ‘coffee’ is pronounced almost the same in every language around the world.

3. After water, coffee is the second most widely-consumed beverage in the world. (Tea is a close third.)

4. When you drink coffee, your brain shrinks a little, which is why some advise drinking coffee if you have a headache.

5. When making an espresso, 65% of the caffeine is extracted from the beans, whereas the French-press method of making coffee extracts 98% of the caffeine.

6. There are two hundred flavors components present in raw (green) coffee beans, but roasted beans have over two thousand present.

7. The first steam-pressured espresso machine was invented by a Frenchman in 1901.

8. In Italy, 80% of the coffee consumed is espresso while the other 20% are milk-based coffee drinks like cappucino.

Outside of Italy, those numbers are reversed.

9. The espresso-pod of coffee was invented in 1973 by Illy coffee.

10. 52% of all coffee imported into Italy comes through Trieste, whose harbor is almost entirely dedicated to coffee importation.

Speaking of coffee, I just returned from a visit to Illy where I was their guest at their Università del Caffè where I learned the art of making espresso. I had hands-on lessons from their expert barista, Michele Pauletic and delved into the craft of extracting the perfect little cup of true Italian espresso. Excuse the little bit of hyperbole, but it was truly a life-changing experience. And although I merely scratched the surface of understanding this complex drink, I have a much better understanding of what coffee is and how to get the best cup possible.

My view flying into Trieste, over the Dolomite Mountains

As soon as I come down from the buzz I got from all that coffee (one day I counted I had 9 cups of espresso), I’ll be focusing more on what I saw and learned…and I invite you to come along in the next few installments here, from my trip to Trieste.