Sunday Supper, Italia Style

Brad and I went to Italy last month and wow, did we eat well. There was a period of time when we used to travel and take cooking classes. It’s a great way to truly discover the region’s cuisine and if you’re lucky, be taken to the local market like we were in Merida, Mexico. But in Italy, I always feel our time is too short and have no desire to spend it in kitchens. Instead, I want to taste everything I can!

True Ragu, enjoyed in Parma

The thing I love about Italian cooking is it’s purity and loyalty to the simple combinations of the best ingredients. Seasonal and local are just a way of life. During our travels I find myself cataloging the dishes and noticing approaches that I might try to imitate at home with what we have on hand. This time I had a revelation about fish ragu. We were served this everywhere along the Liguraian coast (and the fish of choice was often Red Mullet) and I will definitely spend this summer trying to replicate my memory of these dishes.

During an afternoon in Alba I stocked up on some jars of truffle items (white truffle cream, black truffle honey and some shaved black truffles) and we also packed some incredible wines from the Rovero vineyard, where we stayed in Asti, into our suitcases for the trip home. Once the return jet lag wore off, I was eager to start cooking again and to begin to add to my repertoire with all my new inspirations, so we decided what better way to enjoy our Italian culinary booty than with some of our other food loving friends.

After much thought and a bit of research, here is the menu I cooked and served:

Asparagus with Poached Egg and Piemontese Fonduta Brad and I worked together to replicate this dish that we ate at a beautiful little restaurant outside of Asti. I found the recipe for the Fonduta in my copy of The Silver Spoon cookbook.

Prosciutto and Melon A tribute to our lunch pilgrimage to Parma – We’re lucky to have some great sources for true Prosciutto di Parma, but there is none better than what you taste at the source.

White Truffle Risotto with Piemontese Hazelnuts This was the best thing I could think to make in order to showcase these two precious ingredients. We ate wonderful risotto in Milano and it reassured me that it is a dish I indeed make well. After a day of incredible food and wine, each of our friends left saying, “oh, that risotto!”

Roast Pork Loin with Rosemary and Fennel Seeds, served with a side of Cannellini Beans A tribute to Toscana, where not only did we eat wonderful raost meats, but the beans! I simply soaked, slowly cooked and then stirred in some good olive oil and a bit of fresh rosemary. They were so simple and yet sublime.

*How could I forget?! A pause for some sweet gorgonzola and a bit of truffle honey…

Strawberry Semifreddo with Fresh Strawberries and Mint Sauce We ate a strawberry mouse with mint sauce in Asti and it blew my mind. Is there a better combination of ingredients with flavors like candy? I haven’t got a clue how to make a mouse like we had, and couldn’t find a recipe, but I love semifreddo and had much success with following this one.

Along with all of this our good friend Steve (who works for the importer, David Bowler, and never fails to complement my efforts in the kitchen with incredible wines), brought over some interesting Italian wines, including a great Lambrusco – which we of course enjoyed with the prosciutto. We also enjoyed a Barbera d’Asti and a Nebbiaia that we purchased from the lovely Rovero family during our stay. What a day, and night…

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