Sunday, 17 July 2011

A night in Italy or on your "Italian" sofa

If you are dreaming of a trip to Italy to discover the beauty and flavours of what it's called the Bel Paese (the beautiful country), well I can help you to do that staying on your sofa. I know it is not going to be exactly the same, but trust me: following my suggestions you will taste a bit of Italy. And those sensations, perfumes and flavours will bring your mind directly there!
You will have to buy some "magic" ingredients that are quite rare, but not totally impossible to be found.

First ingredient is a cheese. But it is not a normal,common cheese.It's called Pecorino di Fossa, it is  mainly from sheep milk but the recipe allows as well some cow's or goat's and it is originally from Sogliano al Rubicone a little city in Emilia Romagna, not that far from the Adriatic coast.  It has ancient origins and goes for a particular and long (around 10 months) ageing process that gives it intense and singular aromas. When ready, the cheeses are kept in cellar conditions till the beginning of August when they are going to be wrapped with leaves, put in large cotton bags and  stored in tufaceous hollows (fossa), closed with wooden lids. The cheeses will then stay there for 90 days and will be taken out on November the 25th, Saint Catherine day, with a large traditional feast in the city. This process is responsible for the unusual and poignant flavours of the Pecorino. It is rich, pungent, vegetal, spicy ad has complex aromas of musk, truffles and wood.

Second ingredient is arbutus (corbezzolo) honey. Of course this is not an ordinary honey. It is actually quite rare and produced mainly in Sardinia and Tuscany. It is very healthy, it has antiseptic properties and it is supposed to be a very effective natural remedy for asthma. But these are not the reasons for my choice. This honey has a nutty colour and herbaceous aromas, but also a particular perfume of untoasted coffee beans. It is sweet only at the beginning, then slightly astringent and has a final, persistent and surprising bitter twist. Its intensity will make a perfect match with our Pecorino and it will sharpen its fragrances, balancing the spiciness. 
If this in still not enough to bring your senses miles away and make you feel like sitting in an traditional trattoria...maybe you need a  good bottle of red! In this case there would be plenty to suggest but my personal choice tonight is going to be Aglianico. This deep and masculine red from Basilicata (or Campania) with its strong, powerful tannins will finally clear your mouth and will leave you with a persistent desire of turning this dream into reality.