LIVE LIKE AN ITALIAN

How to Open a Wine Bottle

Even though screwcapped wines are on the rise, you still should know how to properly open a bottle of wine the traditional way. After all, there’s nothing like the romantic ritual of pulling the cork from a bottle. Corks aren’t going out of style any time soon, which means you’ll always need at least one wine opener at home — especially if you want to enjoy the range of Mazzoni wines.

There’s more than half a dozen styles of wine openers available to use — from traditional corkscrews to the friendlier electric wine openers — but which is best all depends on your own preferences. Explore the major styles below to find the one that’s right for you.shutterstock_214100599

Twist & Pull Corkscrew

This is what many consider to be the “basic corkscrew” — and the first corkscrew patented, by Samuel Henshall, in England in 1795. The “twist and pull” method may sound simple, but this wine opener can be difficult to use, and definitely not a foolproof way to uncork a bottle of wine.

The Winged “Butterfly” Corkscrew

Perhaps the most popular wine opener in American kitchens, this double lever “wing” corkscrew has been around since the late 1800s. It isn’t the worst way to open your wine, but I’ve often found it has its flaws. The screw part of the device too often shreds apart even well made corks, so I’ve thrown mine away.

The Waiter’s Friend Corkscrew

This is the most versatile, affordable, and reliable corkscrew there is. If you’re a serious wino, you need one of these. My favorite waiter’s friend variation has a double-hinge to helps you get better leverage when removing a cork. Most come with a small knife for removing foil, and this method leaves little trace of having been used on the cork. It requires moderate skill, but after a few bottles of practice you’ll be a pro!

The “Bunny Ears” Lever Corkscrew

This wine opener has grown in popularity over the years because it’s so easy to use. Two handles wrap around the neck of the bottle, and a third handle is used to pull a lever over the top of the neck. With a simple push and pull open of the lever, you’ve done the “hard” work of uncorking the bottle. This single lever wine opener may require minimal effort, but you need maximum space to store them, so it’s not the best option if you’re low on drawer space like me.

Electric Wine Opener

It doesn’t get much easier than this. With the push of a button, these electric corkscrews do all the pulling and uncorking for you. It’s especially helpful if you have weak wrists or encounter difficulty when opening things. Just be sure to keep it charged!

And what if you need to open a bottle of wine but don’t have access to any corkscrew? Well, people have opened bottles with knives, scissors, and even with their shoes, but I wouldn’t recommend any of that. Always stick with a wine opener. If you don’t have one already, now is the time to go buy a waiter’s friend corkscrew. They’re inexpensive and versatile, and small enough to fit in your pocket wherever you go.


Mazzoni Wines Applauded by Sommelier Sara Lehman

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via Somm in the City

This January, Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci visited the United States to present his wines in a series of tastings, including a luncheon at Ai Fiori in New York City. Joining him at this event was Sara Lehman, author of the blog, Somm in the City.

Praising Alessandro for his “charm, passion, and knowledge of food and wine pairings,” Lehman also lauded the wines themselves, saying:

“The Pinot Grigio’s acidity paired beautifully with the creaminess of the soup…notes of citrus and minerality make this Pinot Grigio one of my top favorites of all time!”

Mazzoni Vermentino Chardonnay quickly became a highlight as well:

“This wine was striking with tropical fruit notes…I will admit, I fell in love with the Vermentino blend and absolutely could picture this as a perfect poolside wine, brunch wine, or daily spring/summer sip.”

To read Lehman’s full review, click here.


The Great Wine Glass Debate: What Should You Drink Mazzoni Out Of?

If you’ve ever set out to buy a new set of wine glasses, you’re already familiar with the abundance of options available. There are an overwhelming number of styles and shapes to choose from — crystal or glass, with stems or without, clear or colored. And don’t forget about the wine glasses designed for specific grape varieties. Do you really need a special Pinot Noir glass to enjoy a glass of it?

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via Riedel

I remember when the Austrian glassware company, Riedel, released a new wine glass specifically designed to drink Malbec out of a few years ago. I was intrigued by the idea. I’m not generally a big drinker of Malbec — at least not the ones from Argentina. Often, I find them too high in alcohol and hot on the nose, with super ripe fruity aromas that aren’t always pleasing. But maybe this new Malbec glass could change that, I thought.

It didn’t. At least, not all that much. I compared the same wine poured into three different glasses — the new Malbec glass, the glass I usually drink reds from, and my typical white wine glass. The experience of drinking the wine in the Malbec glass and my usual red wine glass were nearly identical, but I learned that I should stick to drinking only whites from the other one.

So does it really matter what you drink your wine out of? Well…yes and no.

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You should certainly be drinking wine out of wine glasses. If you were to pour the same wine in a water glass and another in a wine glass, I assure you that you’d notice the difference in aromas and flavors.

The first thing you need to know when picking out a wine glass is to always stick with clear glasses so you are able to observe a wine’s color. While you don’t need a specific glass for Cabernet, another for Pinot Noir, and one more for Chardonnay, some wine glass shapes are better suited for certain wines. I use a Cabernet Sauvignon glass for all reds, and a Chardonnay glass for my whites, which I also drink my sparkling wines from. No need for a flute!

Almost important as having a set of good everyday wine glasses is serving wine at the right temperature. If the wine is too hot, the smell of alcohol will be overpowering, no matter what glass you ultimately end up pouring it into. And for the same reason, be sure to drink your wine from wine glasses that have stems. Those trendy stemless tumblers may be fun, but your hand gripped around them warms whatever is inside.

In the end, you don’t need to worry so much about having the perfect wine glass for your specific bottle. As long as you aren’t sipping your wine from a red Solo cup or mason jar, you’re already doing something right.

Shelby Vittek Shelby Vittek is an award-winning food, wine, and travel writer, and a current contributor at Terroirist.com. She provides accessible, approachable wine reviews and education for Live Like An Italian.


Authentic Italian Recipe: Peperoni al Forno con Patate

These delicious baked bell peppers are a simple Mediterranean dish coming from the Sicilian and Ligurian regions.

I love to serve them to my guests, not only because they are so colorful, but because they get so excited anticipating what’s inside. I surprise them with different ingredients stuffed inside each time.

The aroma when they are being baked fills the kitchen especially when they are filled with ground turkey then seasoned with breadcrumbs, garlic and olive oil…but also when they are only stuffed with just rice or only with cheese.

It’s such a versatile dish and can be made for meat-eaters or vegetarians alike. Delicious and easy to make, these remind me of being at my Mama’s dinner table back home.

Authentic Italian Tip: You may think of Pepperoni as the spiced salami that goes on pizza, but Peperoni actually means bell peppers!

Francesco

Peperoni al Forno con Patate

Serves 8

Pair with Mazzoni Barbera

Ingredients

4 bell peppers (red, orange or yellow, each cut in half)

1 small green bell pepper (finely diced)

1 Pound ground turkey

4 Tablespoons Pecorino Romano (grated)

3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs (heaping)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley (finely chopped)

1 Large potato (thinly sliced using a mandoline)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 can San Marzano tomatoes (well chopped)

Directions

For the potatoes:

Slice the potato into 1/4-inch slices using a mandoline. Transfer to a large shallow pan and coat generously with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and bake at 400º for 20 to 25 minutes.

Preparation:

In a large skillet sauté olive oil and garlic for approximately 1 minute on medium-low. Add the San Marzano tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large skillet heat olive oil and add turkey. Add the finely diced green bell pepper and brown the turkey for approximately 7 minutes, stirring continuously.

Cut in half vertically the bell peppers keeping the stem, discard the seeds.

In a baking pan spoon the tomato sauce on the bottom and add the bell peppers with the hollow sides facing upward.

In a bowl mix the browned turkey, 4 tablespoons of the tomato sauce, breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano, garlic, salt and pepper. Spoon equal amount of the mixture into each hollowed pepper.

Cover with aluminum foyer and bake for 45 minutes, remove aluminum foyer and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Transfer to serving plate and sprinkle the top with the remaining Pecorino Romano, garnish with the sliced potatoes.

Buon Appetito!

FrancescoInfluenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.


How Italians Fall in Love

 

With the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.

The international language of amore requires no translation, but how exactly do Italians fall in love?

On Valentine’s Day, many couples will gift each other baci, a chocolate “kiss.” But every other day of the year? Here is how Italians do love- from dating, to meeting the family, and saying “I Do”:

Coffee

Ask for directions:  While you will still hear calls of “ciao bella” down the street, a more popular pickup line is to ask for directions.  Online dating has yet to become a popular way to meet future beaus in Italy, so asking for a bit of help gives you an excuse to approach the object of your affection and strike up a conversation. Once you have the directions you probably didn’t need in the first place, you can offer to buy him/her a caffè.

First date: Forget the cinema, most Italian first dates involve a walk and a bit of conversation.  Inviting your crush on a passeggiata, and maybe a gelato, means you don’t have to commit to a fancy dinner or drinks up front. If things go well, you will eventually become “fidanzati,” or boyfriend and girlfriend.  However, if you want to continue to woo your beloved, you better download Whatsapp.  The popular messaging service is how friends AND lovers keep in touch through out the day.

Meeting the parents: If things are getting serious, you will have to take a deep breath and meet the family.  When dating, you go to the parents, rather than waiting for them to come to you. While it might be more comfortable to meet on neutral ground like a restaurant, more often than not you will be driving out to mama’s house to eat a home cooked meal.  Praise your beloved to his or her parents and clean your plate of all you’re served if you want to make a good impression.

Vineyard wedding

Next come marriage: Italian weddings begin with the civil ceremony, but only after announcements have been made in newspapers and other public forums to allow time for any objections to be aired.  For many couples, the city hall wedding is the main service, while others will plan for a large church wedding days or even weeks after. Regardless of the ceremony type, the meal is the real event. Think multi-courses, with food and wine flowing all night.  At the end, send the happy couple sends guests home with even more treats – confetti (sugar coated almonds).

 

181231_636233323070687_1494790961_n Natalie moved from California to Italy in 2010, and is the writer behind the blog, An American in Rome. She provides accessible Italian lifestyle tidbits each month for the Mazzoni Wines blog, Live Like an Italian.


Polpette Recipe: An Update to Italian Meatballs

Meatballs are served as a main dish or in soups all throughout Italy. Almost every country in the world has their own version of a meatballItalian-Americans created their own main dish of meatballs served with spaghetti, which is something I had never seen before in Italy.
With this recipe, I remembered how much I loved these little treats that Mama used to make for me when I was a boy, so I wanted to create something with a little surprise in the middle, that would be fun and delicious for both kids and adults.

Francesco

Panfried meatballs are an Italian classic made with beef and/or pork, with Pecorino Romano, parsley and garlic and breadcrumbs. With this recipe, I made them into small oval shapes and filled them with fresh mozzarella, so when you bite into them, they ooze out with the creamy cheese. Served with an arugula and tomato salad, it’s a perfect Italian dinner that your whole family will love. If you are having a cocktail party, you can pierce each little polpette with a small skewer and serve them as a bite size appetizer. Enjoy this delicious and versatile staple of Italian cuisine.

Buon Appetito!

Francesco 2

Francesco 3

Polpette

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serve with: Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana

Ingredients:
  1. 1 pound ground beef
  2. 1 clove garlic minced
  3. 2 cups of grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  4. 1 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  5. 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1 tsp kosher salt
  8. 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  9. 4 Tbs Extra-Virgin olive oil
  10. 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, cubed
Instructions:
  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients above except for the olive oil and mozzarella.
  2. Using your hands, roll the meat into golf ball sized meatballs. With your finger make a hole in the center and place a cube of mozzarella.
  3. Cover the cheese with the remaining meat, and shape into an oval.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.
  5. Fry the meatball for about 3 minutes on each side. Until meatballs are golden brown.
  6. Drain on a paper towel and serve warm.

Note: Eat them while they’re hot! 

 

Francesco Influenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.


How to Make Italian Street Food: Panzerotti

Panzerotti: one of the most delightful Italian street foods

Coming from the regions of Basilicata and Puglia, Panzerotti are fried dough filled with simple ingredients. When the yeast-dough hits the oil, they puff up and quickly cook whatever delicious ingredients you have filled them with. You can make them larger and serve them as a nice lunch, or as I show you below, they can be made into small, appetizer sizes and filled with the traditional tomato and mozzarella (called Panzerotto Materano). Adults and children alike will devour these delicious bites. Get out your rolling pin and let’s get started!

Francesco

Panzerotti

Ingredients:

For dough:

1 pound all purpose flour

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon fresh yeast

Grapeseed oil for frying

For Filling:

1 can San Marzano Tomatoes, crushed by hand

1 ball fresh Mozzarella

Fresh basil leaves

Directions:

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water.

Add the salt to a 1/2 cup of warm water.

Sift the flour in a large bowl.

Add the salt water and yeast mixture to the flour and combine until the mixture turns to a soft ball.

Add the olive oil and mix well.

Transfer the dough to lightly floured board and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Divide the dough into about 20 balls and place them onto baking sheets, leaving generous space around each.

Cover the trays with a clean cotton towel and set in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours, or until they double in size.

Gently flatten each ball into a 5-inch circle. Place some tomato, mozzarella and a basil leaf (or other ingredients of your choice) into the center of the circle.

Season with salt and pepper and brush the edges with water.

Fold each one over and seal the edges together and eliminate excess dough with a dough cutter. Repeat with the remaining balls and filling.

Heat the grapeseed oil in a deep fryer or deep saucepan to 350°. Place a one or two panzerottini into the oil in batches and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until both sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towel and serve immediately.

 

FrancescoInfluenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.


What’s the Perfect Everyday Wine?

Just like every wise home cook has a collection of essentials in their pantry to use for a quick and satisfying meal, every smart wine lover should have a well-stocked inventory of wine bottles. Whether it’s to aid you during a bad case of the Mondays, alongside a take out dinner, or with last-minute company, every household has a need for an everyday wine. I am always prepared, with a generous stash of perfect wines for any and all occasions.

There are wines that have a place in every home, and Mazzoni’s Piemonte Barbera is one of them. Need a wine to pair with the delivery pizza you just ordered? Or a pleasurable bottle to bring with you to a friend’s house? How about a wine to enjoy as you’re busy catching up on all your TV shows? Grab a bottle of Mazzoni Piemonte Barbera from your collection and you’re good to go.

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I recently added the newest release, the 2012 Mazzoni Piemonte Barbera, to the list of wines I hoard several of at a time to save me during those everyday emergencies. Made completely with barbera grapes from Italy’s Piemonte region, the wine is full of elegant aromas of black cherries and dried flowers, with raspberry tart flavors. It’s a juicy and extremely gulpable wine — in the very best way. Its mild tannins and bright acidity make it an excellent match with a range of foods, too. This is an excellent wine for pizza night, with grilled meats, or even just by itself on a Tuesday night.

It’s fitting that one of my favorite everyday red wines is made from Barbera. In Piemonte, the wine region that Barbera calls home, it’s often referred to as “the people’s wine.” Unlike the Barolo and Barberesco wines made from Nebbiolo in the same region that are saved for special occasions, Barbera is affordable and an everyday sensation. In my experience, I’ve found the best Barbera comes from Asti (located in the Piemonte region), which is where Mazzoni grows their Barbera for this wine. You can taste the quality of the grapes upon first sip of the wine, and its elegance lasts until the very last drop.

If you haven’t already established a small collection of wine at home, get started. And if you love Barbera as much as I do, perhaps consider buying a whole case. I promise you’ll find plenty of reasons in your everyday life to uncork a bottle.


How to Live La Dolce Vita from Home

Party scene

La Dolce Vita was immortalized in Federico Fellini’s iconic film in 1960*.  Translated literally, la dolce vita means the sweet life- a life that is lived to the fullest.

While la dolce vita might be equated with Italy, you don’t have to live in Italy to enjoy the good life. Living la dolce vita is about allowing yourself the pleasure of small luxuries.

Here are five ways to live la dolce vita wherever you may be!shutterstock_169841813

  1. Embrace the “perchè no?” philosophy. Perchè no means why not? It is easy to apply the principle to so many of life’s little indulgences. For example: Should you book that weekend getway? Why not!
    Is it really ok to have cookies for breakfast? Why not!
    Would you like a second glass of wine? Why not!

    Allowing space for a small splurge is what the good life is all about.

  2. Make time for your passions. Life can pull us in so many different directions, but every now and then it has to be me Take the time to invest in what you are most passionate about – be that old films, DIYing around the house, family time or taking Italian classes.  La dolce vita means being a tiny bit selfish every now and again.

  3. Learn il dolce far niente. Sometimes doing nothing is better than trying to do everything. Il dolce far niente is the pleasure of doing nothing at all. Give yourself a break from the busyness of everyday to take a walk in the park or host a picnic with your favorite Italian foods in the backyard. The point is that there does not have to be a point! Slow down and enjoy.
  4. Fall in love. In Fellini’s film, Marcello falls head over heels for Sylvia, the famous actress. He lets himself become totally caught up in the emotion. Love is a critical part of the good life, but does not have to be of the romantic variety.  It could mean remembering how much you love your favorite book and losing an afternoon re-reading it. Or, you could fall in love with your hometown, wandering the streets with fresh eyes. The trick is to let go and let yourself get carried away.
  5. Appreciate the beauty in the small things. La dolce vita usually brings to mind beach lounging, but it does not take sunny skies to live the good life. All you have to do is spot the beauty already around you. It could be the perfect fall-hued oak tree, the first frost, or a perfectly wrapped gift. Savour it!

*P.S. Did you know that Fellini’s movie popularized more than just the term “la dolce vita”? It is also where we get the word paparazzi.  In the film, there is a photographer who is always trying to get a photo of the two stars. The pushy photographer’s name? Paparazzo.

181231_636233323070687_1494790961_nNatalie moved from California to Italy in 2010, and is the writer behind the blog, An American in Rome. She provides accessible Italian lifestyle tidbits each month for the Mazzoni Wines blog, Live Like an Italian.


Cook Like an Italian: Bucatini Amatriciana

Since I’ve spent most of my life in Rome, I always thought that Amatriciana was a Roman dish. However, it is actually from Abruzzo! The name comes from a mountain city called Amatrice, which is in Lazio.

There are still many disputes over who invented this dish and who added a key ingredient to the sauce : the tomato! It must be San Marzano!

This is a simple dish to make, with just a few ingredients, so make sure you use the best quality, since you can taste every single element of the recipe.

Bucatini pasta is a thick spaghetti with a tiny hole in the center, guanciale is pork cheek, and make sure you use San Marzano tomatoes, imported from Italy, so you can recreate the authentic taste!

Francesco

Bucatini alla Amatriciana

Pair with Mazzoni Vermentino Chardonnay

Serves  4

Total time 35 minutes

Ingredients

1 -28-ounces can San Marzano tomatoes crushed by hand

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano plus 1 tablespoon for topping at the end.

6 Oz. guanciale, pancetta or bacon thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Pound bucatini pasta preferably Barilla or De Cecco

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.

Add guanciale, pancetta or bacon and sauté until rendered and crispy. 5 to 6 minutes.

Add pepper flakes, black pepper, the crushed tomatoes and stir.

Taste for salt and add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt only if necessary.

Reduce heat to low.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 15 minutes.

When the sauce is cooked turn off the heat and add the Pecorino cheese.

Tip: turn the heat on again 1 minute before you drain the pasta!

For the pasta:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. 8 minutes.

Drain and transfer immediately to the skillet with the tomato sauce, toss vigorously with tongs to coat.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with the reserved tablespoon of Pecorino.

Serve hot.

Authentic Italian Tip: Never use onions or wine in authentic Amatriciana!

Buon Appetito!

FrancescoInfluenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.


Here’s What You Should Be Drinking on Your Summer Holiday

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The month of August means it’s summer holiday, or ferragosto, in Italy. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true; nearly everyone in the country takes a vacation for two weeks to a month in August. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners close their businesses, and the city streets are quiet as families flock to the beach, the mountains, or the countryside to relax, recharge, and prepare for the autumn ahead.

Even the Mazzoni team takes time off from their work in the vineyards and the cellar. Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci and his staff are on holiday until August 17, and will be back just in time to begin harvest.

As for the rest of us here in the United States, we can’t all be so fortunate to take a long vacation this month. We’ve been celebrating the end of summer with smaller moments, like delicious meals shared with family and friends, or a relaxing evening in the backyard.

MZI Vermentino Food Pairing

Of course, we’ve also been drinking lots of wine. Summer is the perfect time for seafood and sharing boards of charcuterie, so Mazzoni Vermentino Chardonnay has made several appearances on the patio this month. A perfect pairing with oysters, mussels, and medium aged cheeses, this wine is an elegant, savory, and balanced choice to finish out the summer. Aromas of ripened pear and apples along with mineral and spicy notes recall the Italian origin of this Vermentino, and make you feel like you’re almost sitting in the Tuscan countryside, enjoying your very own ferragosto.

So what’s your favorite Mazzoni to drink in the summer? Have any good recipe ideas to pair with Vermentino-Chardonnay? Let us know in the comments below!


7 Things Italians Think About Americans

As Italy-lovers, it is easy to come up with a list of traits we admire about Italian life, but after celebrating the good old US of A on the Fourth of July, we wanted to take a look at what Italians think of Americans.  The stereotypes that live on in the eyes of Italians are sometimes half-true, and a few are very funny.

  1. Americans work too much.
    14 days of vacation a year? Working 8-6 every day? Americans are officially hard workers. Italians both admire this trait (and the American economy), but at other times they recoil in fear at the prospect of so few holidays and time with family.
  2. America has the best honeymoon destinations. Did you come to Italy, or dream of visiting for your honeymoon or anniversary? Well, Italians dream of going to the U.S. for their post-wedding trips. America is a top honeymoon destination, with the most popular itinerary being a tour of California, a stop at the Grand Canyon, ending up to close the trip in Las Vegas.
  3. Americans like Italian food that is a little bit weird. It is. Meat and pasta together?? Meatballs should be served as a second course on their own, after pasta. Chicken Alfredo? Not a thing in Italy! And don’t get Italians started on cheese/peperoni/hotdogs inside pizza crusts. Italians are pretty sure Americans are doing a lot of things wrong in the food department.
  4. Americans get everything to go. Why get a take away coffee? Why eat dinner in your car? Italians see Americans as leading a more frantic lifestyle and always being on the move. Give yourself a break during the day for a moment of calm, instead of constantly running to the next commitment.
  5. Americans move houses, a lot. In Italy, the most typical kind of lease is called a 4+4. That’s four years, renewing automatically for another four years unless something goes wrong—so an 8-year minimum lease on an apartment! It is also more common to stay in the place you were born and raised. Italians watch Americans go off to college, often far from their hometowns and families, and wonder why we transfer ourselves to cities so far away.
  6. Each American eats a whole turkey on Thanksgiving, by themselves. Americans have the TV show Friends to thank for this one, but many Italians have heard rumors about Thanksgiving and the feast that goes along with it. One rumor that lives on is that Americans eat a lot on this day—an entire turkey to each person, rather than a turkey per party!
  7. Americans are hard to stereotype because the country is so big and the culture so varied. Sure, there are stories of loud-talking tourists, but overall Italians see America as a land of great opportunity, with motivated and professional people, funny food, but also very unique from each other!

Did we miss any Italian thoughts on America??

181231_636233323070687_1494790961_n Natalie moved from California to Italy in 2010, and is the writer behind the blog, An American in Rome. She provides accessible Italian lifestyle tidbits each month for the Mazzoni Wines blog, Live Like an Italian.


Our Favorite Recipes for a Complete Italian Summer Meal

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, we’re planning lots of outdoor meals to share with our friends and family. Of course, we’re putting an Italian spin on things, so we’ve assembled a full four courses of light, refreshing, summer recipes that will be a hit at all your parties this weekend. The whole meal is a perfect pairing with a glass of crisp, cool Mazzoni Pinot Grigio or Vermentino Chardonnay.  What are you most excited to make? Share in the comments below!

Trio

1. Antipasto – Bruschetta Trio

Bruschetta, or slices of toasted, rustic bread topped with simple ingredients, is a classic choice for a starter to an Italian meal. Since it’s usually served with cold toppings, it’s also a perfect choice for an outdoor dinner. Choose from the classic tomato and basil, prosciutto and melon, or pickled eggplant varieties in this recipe – or make all three!

Trofie with Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto

2. Primo Piatto – Pasta with Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto

This dish is perfect for summer because it can be served hot or cold, like a pasta salad. A slight variation on traditional pesto, this recipe incorporates sun-dried tomatoes, which are a mid-late summer treat in Sicily. Serve it as a lighter first course, or as a side dish to your entree.

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3. Secondo Piatto – Lemon Rosemary Chicken

If you’re Italian, there’s most likely have an army of relatives walking through your door this holiday weekend. We’re a big fan of this easy chicken recipe for large family reunions. There are only six ingredients, and it can easily be doubled or tripled depending on how many mouths you have to feed. The best part? You’ll have these chicken breasts prepared and grilled in under a half hour so you can spend more time enjoying your family!

Serving has begun

4. Dolce – Crostata di Fragole

We love to save the best for last – and if this isn’t the most delicious thing you’ve ever seen, there’s something wrong with you. Perfect for a hot summer day, this crostata is a traditional Italian dessert, and melts in your mouth. Grab a slice before it’s all gone – this last dish won’t last long!

Buon Appetito!


Chill Out: 4 Things You Should Know About Chilling Your Wine

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With summer in full swing and the Fourth of July right around the corner, we’re spending most of our time outside, eating al fresco dinners and having picnics in the park. And no outdoor meal is complete without a bottle of wine or two. But as the heat rises, so will the temperature of your wine – so how do you keep your whites (and reds?) cold enough to enjoy all summer long?

Of course, you’re welcome to serve your wine at the temperature that best suits your tastes. However, we do have a few ideas and guidelines that will shed some light on the art of chilling, and will increase your guests’ enjoyment of the wine. You’ll be drinking like an Italian in no time!

shutterstock_1738609941. Refrigerate that white! You probably already know that you should keep your whites (like Vermentino Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio) in the refrigerator. What you might not know is that you should also take the bottle out of the fridge for a bit before serving it. While a nice chilled white is refreshing on a summer day, letting the bottle sit out for 15-20 minutes will bring out the full depth of aromas and flavors in the wine. Don’t miss out by drinking the wine completely chilled!

2. Yes, you might want to put that bottle of red in the fridge too. But only for a little bit! If you don’t store your reds in a cool cellar, it could be 70-75 degrees or hotter on a summer day, which is a little too warm, and will taste overly alcoholic. Avoid this by putting your bottle of red in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before serving it. Fuller bodied, tannic reds (like Rosso di Toscana) need less chilling, and should be served around 65 degrees. Lighter reds like Barbera can be served at a lower temperature (55 degrees or even lower in the summer, depending on personal taste).

3. Keep it cold! If you’re hosting a party (especially outdoors) in the summer, make sure your wine not only comes out cold, but stays cold throughout the evening. Submerge your whites in an ice bucket on the table, or in a cooler if you have multiple bottles. Make sure your wine serving area is well shaded in a spot where the sun can’t heat up your wine too much.

4. Chill it – FAST! If you have an Italian family, you know it’s always a full house, with frequent (sometimes unannounced!) visits from friends and neighbors. Don’t be caught unprepared when there’s a sudden need for a cool bottle of wine. Chill your bottle fast by wrapping it in a cold, wet paper towel and sticking it in the freezer for 15 minutes. When you take it out, just make sure you put it on ice to keep it cold!

So what’s your favorite wine to drink in the summer? Do you have any other tricks for keeping your wine cold? Share with us in the comments below! 


How to do Fast Food the Italian Way

When the first international burger joints opened in Italy, there was a protest. People stood on Rome’s Spanish Steps and handed out free bowls of spaghetti. This opposition to fast food became known as the Slow Food movement.

But there is no shortage of quality fast food in Italy. It’s just that Italians do fast food differently than Americans. The aim is to make a meal more portable, without skimping on ingredients. Traditional street food, or cibo di strada, shows that fast and affordable can be delicious.

Here are popular versions of Italian fast food that will satisfy any junk food craving and hit the spot when you don’t have the time or appetite for a three-course meal.shutterstock_187071668

1. Pizza al taglio

While pizza tonda, or round pizza, is more recognizable in restaurants, pizza al taglio is a quick lunch staple. Al taglio means “by the cut.” this flat, elongated rectangle of a pizza is massive. To order, the pizza seller holds a knife over the pizza, and you indicate how much should be cut off. Your custom-sized slice is then weighed to determine your price. This means that more toppings will cost you in the end, but the sky’s the limit in flavor combinations.

The slice can be folded over and wrapped in paper to eat on the go. And if you want home delivery? Well then you order by the meter!

2. Pizza Bianca

While the same size and shape of other types of pizza al taglio, pizza bianca is in a category of its own. This “white pizza” is toppings-less. The pizza dough is covered with olive oil and salt. The result is an irresistible snack that has just the right amount of chewiness and fluff.

To turn this snack into lunch, a large square of pizza bianca is cut in two, and stuffed with mortadella (a boloney-like Italian deli meat), to create a type of panino made with pizza instead of bread!

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3. Supplí and arancini

Crispy on the outside and filled with cheesy gooey goodness, these fried rice balls are the ultimate comfort food. Stuffed with rice, tomato sauce, and mozzarella and then covered in breadcrumbs, these fried goodies differ more in shape than in flavor. Supplí hail from Rome and are oblong in shape, while Sicilian arancini are more conical and usually slightly bigger. Both go equally well with pizza!

4. Sfogliatelle

Light and flaky dough is thinly layered to make sfogliatella, a pastry from Naples. They are usually topped with powdered sugar, so consuming the sweet treat on the go is likely to leave the eater dusted with white, but the risk to your outfit and your dignity is worth it.

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5. Arrosticini

This meat on a stick comes from the Italian region of Abruzzo. Typically grilled lamb skewers, arrosticini are cooked over an open flame. Politely eaten with a fork and a plate, the skewered kebabs are also easy to eat on the move, making them a simple but satisfying fast food.

6. Fritti Anything

French fries will seem boring after Italian fritti. Fritti means “fried,” and depending on where you are, just about anything qualifies. In the south, you will find pasta fritta – cooked macaroni fried in breadcrumbs and shaped in irregular globes. In Sicily and Tuscany, fried chickpea flour is popular. However, fried fish and fried vegetables are most common, and usually served in a paper cone for a speedy and dangerously good fast food.

With pizza by the foot, sweet pastries, freshly grilled meat, and countless other regional specialties, there is no need to settle for a bland burger ever again!

181231_636233323070687_1494790961_n Natalie moved from California to Italy in 2010, and is the writer behind the blog,An American in Rome. She provides accessible Italian lifestyle tidbits each month for the Mazzoni Wines blog, Live Like an Italian.


5 More Italian Customs Americans Should Adopt

A few months ago, we published a post called “5 Italian Customs Americans Should Adopt,” that shared our favorite aspects of the Italian lifestyle. We were overwhelmed by how much you, our readers, enjoyed the post and incorporated many of the items on our list into your everyday lives.  Today, we thought we’d share a few more ideas about how Americans can live like Italians!

Thank you to our Mazzoni fans who shared their thoughts on how to live the Italian lifestyle after our last post. Some of you might see your ideas in the list below – take a look!

1. Wine CultureMZI_29

When it comes to wine, Italians know best.  Known internationally for producing some of the best wines in the world, Italy is home to many a wine lover.  While Americans often choose a great bottle of wine for special occasions or to celebrate, Italians are known to have a bottle on the table at nearly every meal.  Appreciated as an everyday delicacy to be enjoyed by all, wine is an essential part of life in Italy. And we’re not complaining…Salute!

2. La Famiglia

Italians are well-known for their love of family. In fact, many Italian children live at home until well into their 30s, or don’t leave their parents until they’re married! Italians understand that family is a reminder of where you’ve come from, and spending lots of time together is a way of life. Whether it’s Sunday pasta dinners at grandma’s house or taking a summer holiday together, there are plenty of ways Americans can adopt Italians’ love for la famiglia!

3. That’s Amore

Showing a great deal of affection is second nature to Italians. While Americans are often more reserved, Italians greet family and friends with two (or more!) kisses on the cheek, and are always quick with a hug or a “Ti amo.”  When meeting in bars or at a coffee shop, Italians are much more likely to say hello or even sit and converse with strangers. Of course, Italians also show their love by preparing delicious, multi-course meals for their loved ones. We think America could use a little more affection, and a lot more authentic Italian home cooking!

Piazza Navona in Rome (via Shutterstock)

Piazza Navona in Rome (via Shutterstock)

4. Love of the Arts

In any Italian city, it’s not hard to find art. Whether it’s the beautifully preserved historic architecture, the public museums and sculptures in piazzas, or the street performers and painters, art is everywhere.  Of course, like Americans, Italians also have an undying love for sports, especially soccer, but there’s a certain appreciation for the finer parts of culture in Italy.  Americans, take note – surround yourselves with art!

5. Travel Culture

If Italians know anything, it’s how to travel. Many take the entire month of August off for Ferragosto, or summer holiday. Many city shops and restaurants shut down, and Italians take to the beach or to a neighboring European country for a little rest and relaxation. Maybe that mental health break is what makes Italians so friendly! Trenitalia and Ryanair also allow tourists to travel within Italy and to other European countries quickly and inexpensively. Americans could benefit from a little extra summer vacation time to explore other states or our neighboring countries!

So what do you think? Can Americans benefit from living like an Italian? Anything you think we forgot? Let us know in the comments below!


How to Make Pasta By Hand: Starting Simple

Cuzzetielle: as I was leafing through the pages of the Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita, the pretty name stopped me and made me read the details.

Zanini De Vita writes that this pasta shape is typical of Molise, the small southern Italian region sandwiched between Abruzzo and Puglia. She describes it as “rather open strascinati, whose curvature varies with the thickness of the pasta sheet.” It is made by dragging (trascinare) on a wooden board with two fingers a small rectangle of rolled dough. I couldn’t find a photo or image of cuzzetielle, so what you see here is my rendition based on the description I read.

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6 Tips You Need to Know Before You Visit Italy

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1. Ditch the sweatpants. Long haul flights and cross-country train rides are no excuse for resorting to pajamas outside of the house. Treat a travel day as an opportunity to get started on your holiday style. If you are going to be stuck in a small space with strangers, make the best impression and embrace la bella figura. (more…)


How to Master the Art of Italian Coffee Culture

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If no meal in Italy is complete without wine, no day is complete without coffee. The cult of coffee is central to Italian life.  From stovetop moka pots, to affordable coffees sipped at the neighbourhood bar, there are almost as many ways to order coffee as there is to make pasta!

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As with anything in Italy, there is a right and a wrong way to do coffee.  This short guide to Italian coffee culture will help you find the drink to satisfy any caffeine craving.

Caffè – a shot of espresso served in a small ceramic cup.  Ordered first thing in the morning, taken during a 5-minute mid-morning break, after lunch, in the afternoon, after dinner, or any time. No need to call it an ‘espresso,’ it is simply “un caffè.”

Caffè macchiato– if you find a straight caffè too strong, you can asked for coffee ‘stained’ with milk.  A shot of espresso with a small amount of milk foam on top.

Caffè americano – the Italian-take on American style drip-coffee (which is sometimes called acqua sporca or dirty water). An Americano is made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso, diluting the concentration.

Caffè lungo – sometimes confused with an Americano, a caffè lungo is a ‘long’ pull on the espresso machine.  This allows more water to filter through the espresso, and results is a slightly diluted shot. (more…)


5 Italian Customs Americans Should Adopt

If you’ve been to Italy, you know there are a few differences between American and Italian customs. While there are pros and cons to both cultures, we think the U.S. could take a few pages from Italy’s book when it comes to living La Dolce Vita (the sweet life).

Take a look at our top five Italian customs that we think should be adopted in American culture.

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via Shutterstock

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Orecchiette & Co.: Five Handmade Pasta Shapes

Simona’s rendition of scorze d’amelle

Orecchiette, strascinati, cavatelli. The musicality of the Italian language is displayed not only in inherently lyrical expressions, like poems and songs, but also in the names of everyday things, like pasta. Scorze d’amelle, scorze di nocelle. Simply saying these names tickles the imagination.

When I want to learn more about a pasta shape, my reference is the “Encyclopedia of Pasta” by Oretta Zanini De Vita. The book contains entries for 310 types of pasta. Each type is identified by a main name, and when applicable, alternative names. The same pasta shape can have different names in different regions, or different towns. Various sizes of the same shape may have different names. Sometimes the same name refers to two different types of pasta. Such proliferation can be a bit intimidating, if not maddening, for the visitor – or the writer trying to inform her readers. (more…)


Italian Celebrations: The Holiday You Might Not Know About

The blur of the holiday season may seem to be fading into the background, but the Italian celebrations continue for one more day- La Epifania.

The Epiphany takes place on 6 January (the 12th day of Christmas), and is a national holiday in Italy.  While Babbo Natale has the 25th of December covered, the real star of the season is La Befana, who visits on the night of January 5th.

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Cook Like an Italian: Mussels in White Wine Recipe

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This Thursday is New Year’s Day, and it’s one of our favorite holidays because it’s celebrated by all kinds of people all over the world. Whether you’re in New York or Milan, religious or not, a new year is cause for festivity.

New Year’s Day is also an excuse for a good meal surrounded by family and friends. Seafood is always a popular choice for New Year’s, as it’s thought to bring good luck, so we’re sharing our favorite mussels and pasta recipe with you this week in preparation for the holiday.

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How Many Italian Christmas Songs Do You Recognize?

Are you ready for the holidays yet? We’ve had so much fun preparing for the festivities right along with you – we’ve taken you on a tour of some of the best European-style Christmas markets in the U.S., we’ve cooked up a holiday meal, and we’ve shared how to celebrate the holidays like an Italian.

In the whirlwind of shopping, cooking, and wrapping, sometimes it’s hard to slow down and enjoy the holidays. So this week, we’re encouraging you to sit down, relax, and enjoy the company of those around you.22

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In Italy, relaxation time often involves music (and wine, of course!), so this week we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Italian Christmas songs to accompany your holiday parties. Take a listen and sing along! (more…)