Dear Food Diary,
It's unfortunate we couldn't experience a lot of Italian food due to time limitations. We did at least got to try some amazing food from Italy. Everything related to food was a boutique experience for us. Supermarkets had something new on their shelves, the bakeries had an arrays of fresh bread, and the dishes all had fancy Italian names with a place of origin or backstory.
As you may have figured by now, we are very serious bakers and everything related to bread will get featured here! This time we share a cool innovative supermarket bread cabinet. It was a non-glove touchy way to pick your bread. In the Balkans they provide plastic gloves and the amount of plastic waste is atrocious.
On a previous tour in Vietnam, we were in a Walmart and shoppers were feeling and squeezing fresh baguettes until they found their favourite one - it was nasty. Luckily there is a better way to get bread without wasting so much plastic.
Tajarin (Piedmontese ribbon pasta)
Fresh pasta is much better than packet pasta, but no one have time to make fresh pasta these days. An Italian family we stayed with got us some fresh pasta all the way from Cuneo. It was made a day or two earlier and you can still smell the freshness. To appreciate the pasta, it was cooked and served with butter and a few sage leaves. It was a nice little starter dish to the meal that followed!
Tortelli ricotta e spinaci
It looks like Asian dumplings or could be mistaken for ravioli, but this is "tortelli". Every piece were identical and made perfectly. It didn't need a sauce so you can still taste the pasta and filling (ricotta cheese and spinach). It was cooked in water and sage, leaving a light fresh herbal flavour. Without salt you can certainly appreciate the individual flavours.
Capsicum with Bagna Caöda
The red capsicum is roasted until soft, served cold in olive oil (extra virgin, of course) and topped with garlic. The sauce that accompanied the capsicum was rich with creamy garlic flavours. It's fascinating seeing the Mediterranean diet use so much olive oil, yet it is absolutely fine because it's one of the healthiest type of oil - "liquid gold" as some might call it.
Vitello tonnato is a Piedmontese dish of cold, sliced veal covered with a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce that has been flavored with tuna. It is served chilled or at room temperature, generally in the summertime, as the main course of an Italian meal or as "an exceedingly elegant antipasto for an elaborate dinner." — straight from the Wikipedia page
Acciughe al verde (Anchovy in green sauce)Another Piedmontese dish made of salted anchovy filets, soaked in olive oil and served with a green sauce. Once again, a small dish but full of flavours that you only want to have one or two, and enjoy slowly over time - not gulp down like a hungry cyclist.
And for the next course
We had a pleasant dining experience with the Pareti family (see Trip Status #16) on our first night together. We were so used to one course meals that within 15 minutes we'd be done eating. However, being special guests, we had an additional course for dinner. We were taught how cheese were eaten since there are so many to choose from, the different taste and smell, the colour and strength.
For cheese you start with the lightly flavoured ones (something like ricotta), then a stronger yellow one (parmesan), and then the real stinky stuff (blue). We've been told not to drink water afterward, it's better enjoyed with wine. — from our previous blog
And now for the sweet tooth
Frittelle di mele (Apple Fritters)We had this sweet treat at a cute cat themed restaurant in Dulceacqua. It's a simple and popular dessert made of thin apple slices dipped in batter and deep fried.
Pesche ripiene (Stuffed Peach)
The peach has been softly cooked with the core removed, and filled with a sweet stuffing. The stuffing is like crushed chocolate biscuit held together by condensed milk. It's a half good (fruit) half bad (sugar) kind of dessert!
A quintessential Piedmontese dessert, bunet is a creamy pudding made primarily with cacao, eggs and amaretti, and flavoured with rum. Together with pannacotta and other creamy puddings, it belongs to the category of 'dolci al cucchiaio', or 'desserts that you can eat with a spoon'. Bunet often comes in the shape of a brick and is served in slices. Alternatively, you can use single-serve pudding moulds.
We had this at two places, both differently done. Above was from Cuneo and below from our host Ausilia in Lomello.
This cafe treat was found in Milano near our host's home. John took us there the morning we were leaving and boy were we glad we didn't miss out. It was a filled donut, heavy with ricotta filling and coated in white sugar. It was an energy packed sweet perfect for a day of cycling.
Italy is a big country in terms of food. We couldn't visit all the places and try everything, but at least we did our best discovering new food where we cycled through. Next time we'll do a food tour and visit Italy's many regions just to try their food!