Food & Wine Experience
AN ITALIAN FOOD JOURNEY
Our journey through the Italy of taste starts in the South.
1. FOOD: CAPONATA
Here we are in Sicily. The region that floats in the warm Mediterranean Sea with its triangle shape. This conformation earned it the ancient name Trinàcria with explicit reference to its three cusps, represented by today's Capo Boeo (or Lilybaeum) to the W, Punta del Faro (or Capo Peloro)) to the NE and Capo Isola delle Correnti to the SE.
The name Trinàcria was used by Homer in the Odyssey, but also by the historians Antiochus of Syracuse, Timaeus of Taormina and Thucydides himself.
The Romans instead translated the name Trinacria into Trìquetra, meaning 'triangular'.
Sicily was also referred to in antiquity as 'the island of the Sun'. The symbol of the island represents, in fact, a face surrounded by sun rays.
Caponata (capunata in Sicilian) is a typical product of Sicilian cuisine.
It is a mixture of vegetables (mostly aubergines), seasoned with tomato sauce, celery, onion, olives, capers, sugar and vinegar. There are numerous variations, depending on the ingredients.
Caponata, widespread throughout the Mediterranean Sea, is generally used today as a side dish or appetiser, but since the 18th century it has been a main course, accompanied by bread.
The etymology goes back to the Spanish caponada, a word with a similar meaning. It must be considered a true popular etymology that traces 'caponata' back to 'capone', the name used in some parts of Sicily to refer to the lampuga, a fish with fine but rather dry meat that was served on the tables of the aristocracy seasoned with the sweet-and-sour sauce typical of caponata. The people, unable to afford the expensive fish, replaced it with cheap aubergines. And this is the recipe that has come down to us. Some say that the name of the dish derives from 'caupone', taverns of sailors.
Caponata is included in the list of traditional Sicilian food products recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
WINE: LA CAPINERA
Grape variety Inzolia Production area Municipality of Licodia Eubea - Tremollito area Vineyard age 00 years Type of soil volcanic, tending to limestone and clayey Fruity flavour.
This wine is suitable for all occasions, its fruity taste and pale yellow color, pleasant taste, with a delicate bouquet, are all characteristic notes of our land of Sicily.
Inzolia is a grape variety typical of the lands of Sicily where it is known under many different synonyms such as: Insolia or Ansolia is characterised by its white berry of Greek origin. In Italy under a different name (Ansonica), Inzolia is also cultivated in Tuscany and is present in many Mediterranean regions.
History of the grape variety INZOLIAIt is thought that the Greeks brought Inzolia to the western part of the Mediterranean between the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. during one of their migratory waves that swept through southern Italy. The ancients came to this part of the Mediterranean precisely in order to find new arable land and set up new colonies, which is why they also brought their vines with them, being lovers of the wine they consumed during symposia.
The characteristics of Inzolia:
The preferred growing area for this vine is western Sicily, particularly between the provinces of Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo, although it is also widespread in other parts of Sicily. Its productivity is quite high and it is resistant to the most common vine diseases, especially if the soil is located near the sea. The salty environment helps the plant defend itself against mould.
It germinates late, within the first days of April and then ripens around mid-September. The bunches are medium-sized and bear berries with a thick, yellow, tannin-rich skin and firm, crisp flesh.
We leave Sicily and the Mediterranean Sea to travel to the region of Leopardi, or the great Raffaello.
2.FOOD: PASTA WITH CIAUSCOLO
We are in Le Marche, on the Adriatic Sea.And on the plate we find a traditional country recipe prepared with a typical cured meat from this area, ciauscolo.
A spreadable salami with a tender taste, cooked together with cherry tomatoes and then with excellent pecorino cheese.
This first course goes well with another white wine, Verdicchio.Verdicchio is a grape variety found only in the Marche region.
The name Verdicchio clearly derives from the colour of the berry, which retains evident shades of green even when fully ripe.It is a wine that also withstands long ageing.
Fresh and fruity, there is a bitter note at the end.Velenosi Verdicchio Querciantica is a white wine of great freshness and character. In the glass it appears bright straw yellow in colour with greenish hints.
The olfactory bouquet is composed of pleasant floral notes, fruity hints of green apple, and sweet spicy sensations of honey.
3. FOOD: CANNELLINI BEANS TUSCANY WAY
And so here we are ready to cross Italy, ... wide, not long.And we find ourselves in Tuscany.
Same parallel as Marche. Tuscany is also more famous for some of its dishes that have travelled the world. Today we taste cannellini with rosemary. A typical peasant side dish that we of course accompany with excellent Chianti Classico extra virgin olive oil. The Pruneti.
And so here we are ready to cross Italy, ... wide, not long.
And we find ourselves in Tuscany. Same parallel as Marche.
Tuscany is also more famous for some of its dishes that have travelled the world. Today we taste cannellini with rosemary. A typical peasant side dish that we of course accompany with excellent Chianti Classico extra virgin olive oil. The Pruneti. And we unexpectedly pair this dish with a wine that will prepare our palate for dessert.
WINE: VIN SANTO
A drop of Vin Santo.Nectar of Hospitality
This wine has legendary origins; there are various theories about the origin of this name; the first mentions date back to the beginnings of Christianity, perhaps to indicate a pure wine particularly suited to the rite of Mass; Continuing the search for the probable origins of the term, we arrive at 1348, when during the plague that broke out in the Siena area, the dying who ingested the Mass wine administered by a monk apparently exclaimed 'vinsanto' for the sensations of relief they felt; the conviction spread that this wine had miraculous properties, giving it the epithet 'santo' (holy).
Another version traces the origin of the term to 1439, the date of the Council convened by Pope Eugene IV to discuss the union of the Western and Eastern Churches. As many as seven hundred high Greek prelates were present, including the humanist Cardinal Bessarion, bishop of Nicaea, who, tasting some sweet Tuscan wine, is said to have exclaimed: 'But this is Xantos!' (wine produced on the Greek island of Xantos), later transformed by those present into the Latin adjective 'santus'. Another explanation refers to the production cycle of vinsanto, based around the most important religious festivals in the Christian liturgical calendar.
Some press the grapes for saints' days, others for Christmas and others for Easter. Some bottle Vinsanto in November, while others bottle it in April. The less romantic, but probably more plausible, origin is the association of this wine with its common use during mass.Traditionally, Vinsanto was made by picking the best bunches of grapes ('per scelti' harvesting) to dry them out by laying them on mats or hanging them on hooks. Once the grapes were dried, they were pressed and the must (with or without marc, depending on the tradition followed) was transferred into wooden casks of various sizes (usually between 15 and 50 litres) from which the vinsanto from the previous production had just been removed. During this operation, care was taken to ensure that the dregs of the previous production did not come out of the casks, as they were believed to be responsible for the success of the vinsanto itself, so much so that they were called the mother of vinsanto.
The caratelli were sealed and placed in the attic of the manor house or in an attic, as it was believed that the strong summer-winter temperature fluctuations were beneficial to the fermentation and/or the wine's aromas.
It was generally believed that three years of fermentation/ageing was sufficient for the production of a good vinsanto even if some producers aged (and still do) it for more than ten years.
One quintal of fresh grapes usually yields only twenty-five litres of vinsanto. The traditional production system was due to technical factors: the fermentation difficulties of a must with a high sugar concentration.
The solution to this difficulty, the lack of hygiene in the container and the use of lees from the previous successful production, while effective, imparts certain typical scents to the wine that are sometimes appreciated by consumers and sometimes not.
Many substances that should be foreign to the wine are also concentrated in the so-called mother.In modern production, therefore, there is a tendency to use only new or relatively new wooden containers and to trigger fermentation with the inoculation of selected yeasts suitable for high sugar concentrations. There is also a tendency to have the same hygiene/sanitary rules for Vin Santo as for all other wines and foods.
Many producers, however, add a small amount of madre to recreate the spectrum of traditional flavours.Vin Santo (or Vinsanto) is a type of dessert wine. This traditional Tuscan and Umbrian wine is made from Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes. It can also be made with Sangiovese grapes and in this case we speak of vinsanto occhio di pernice. It can be either of the amabile or dry type; suggested pairings are with dry pastries, shortcrust pastry and Tuscan cantucci biscuits.
Vinsanto can also be consumed as a table wine: the abboccato type goes with fresh marzolino cheese, the dry type with raviggiolo.
In Umbria it is consumed with fave dei morti, an almond paste biscuit typical of the period of the Commemoration of the Dead, with ciaramicola (a typical Easter cake) and ciambellone (or torcolo). It is common to make 'cantucci e vin santo'; a glass of vin santo served with cantucci. These biscuits can be soaked in wine to soften them and accentuate their flavour. But we do not stop in Tuscany and for our dessert we go north, to Piedmont.
4. FOOD: ROYAL TEMPTATION
Here we find the tradition of gianduja, the chocolate with hazelnuts, which inspired Nutella... or creams like this mouth-watering Nocciolato. And indeed in Piedmontese chocolate we now dip into it, as did the Savoys, the Italian royalty, who used to dip a nice Savoiardo into their gianduja cream. This is in fact what ladyfingers are called in Italy.