In the United States, we eat our salad before the first course or entrée at dinner.
In Italy, salad is served instead after the main course.
For Italians, salad — generally dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, aromatic balsamic vinegar or wine vinegar, salt and pepper — is intended to cleanse the palate and aid in digestion.
The acidity of the vinegar and the fresh lettuces refresh the mouth and tastebuds (in anticipation of dessert!).
And the olive oil helps to settle and balance the digestion.
But there’s another reason why Italians eat their salad after the main course: the acidity in the vinegar competes with the acidity in wine and can often overwhelm the palate and thus attenuate the flavors and aromas of wine.
Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci (pictured above in a seminar he led last week in Austin, Texas) is making his New York Wine Experience debut this week, pouring the Tenuta Il Poggione 2007 Brunello di Montalcino (see details below). He is also pouring his wines at the Terlato Wines International Trade tasting (details below).
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Terlato Wines Tasting
111 East 56th Street
between Park & Madison Aves
New York NY
Featured Wines: Rosso di Montalcino 2011, Brunello di Montalcino 2007, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Paganelli 2007, and Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Paganelli 2006 (magnum)
Featured Wine: Brunello di Montalcino 2007 – booth #6348
Above: The “vaporetto” or “water bus” of Venice.
One of the most important things to remember when you travel to Italy is that Italian reserve ciao as a salutation for friends and family. Buon giorno (good day) and buona sera (good evening) are used in any and all professional settings and when strangers meet and/or interact.
Most don’t realize that if you say ciao to someone you don’t know, it could be interpreted as condescension or an insult. (When you address someone you don’t know with ciao, it implies that you belong to a higher rung in the social ladder. The President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano can say ciao to someone he meets in a shop, for example, but if you or I say ciao to a salesperson in a shop, it will be met with a cold shoulder.)
So whether you dine in a restaurant, visit a retail shop, or buy a ticket for the vaporetto water bus in Venice, always use buon giorno (boo’OHN JOHR-noh) or buona sera (boo’OHN-ah SEH-rah) to greet the waiter, salesperson, or ticket seller.
These expressions can also be used to say good-bye. For the next post in our “speak like an Italian” series, we’ll write about good-byes.
That’s Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci (right) last night in Austin with legendary Texas wine writer Wes Marshall, who named the Mazzoni Pinot Grigio his “wine of the week” in July 2013.
“A food wine extraordinaire,” wrote Wes. “This is the kind of wine you want to buy by the case.”
We’ll be posting more notes from Alessandro’s trip in coming days.
Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Prosciutto Toscano, Prosciutto di Cinghiale (wild boar prosciutto, also from Tuscany)…
Prosciutto is one of those foods that defines Italian gastronomy. It’s one of the country’s most ancient dishes (dating back to Roman times) and one of its most delicious.
But what good is prosciutto if you throw it on to a Hobart deli slicer and allow an overly heated blade to ruin it?
In Italy, prosciutto is sliced using slowly run blades, often hand operated. That’s the key to correctly slicing prosciutto: if the blade runs to fast (and is not sharp enough), the resulting friction will heat the steel and consequently melt the prosciutto.
Many restaurants in the U.S. are now using reproductions of old Berkel slicers — the gold standard in prosciutto slicing. And many restaurants in Italy are having old Berkels restored and refurbished: there’s something about the blades on the old models that makes them slice better than the newer ones. Perhaps because they were beveled by hand, they never slice too thin (which would result in the prosciutto falling apart) but just thin enough that the prosciutto still melts in your mouth.
Your best bet? Ask your grocer to slice by hand.
love LOVE fresh fruit.
And they serve fresh fruit at nearly every meal.
When you visit Italy’s major cities, it seems that nearly every neighborhood has its own fruttivendolo (FROOT-tee-VEHN-doh-loh), a store that sells primarily fruit (as well as produce and other groceries).
Of course, who wouldn’t eat that much fresh fruit if you had the natural abundance of gorgeous, delicious fresh fruit that the Italians do?
When you visit a fruttivendolo, be sure not to touch the merchandise.
Have a look at want you want and then tell the shopkeeper how much you want of each fruit (in weight).
She/he will weigh and bag it for you.