Monday, 8 February 2010

What's in season in Italy

In Italy supermarkets are for buying cleaning products and grocery staples like ‘00’ flour and bags of sugars. For their fresh produce, most Italian families head straight for their local food markets and even in big cities the regular weekly (or sometimes daily) shop is given the time and attention it deserves. The result is that Italians eat food that is very fresh, local and seasonal, and as this is a growing trend in the UK we thought we’d have a look at what Italians are buying this February, fresh off the stalls.



A favourite all winter there are more varieties of cabbage than you can shake a stick at, from the densely packed red variety to the leafy green. Cabbage is a brilliant accompaniment to roasted fowl of all kinds – duck, goose or even chicken – and red cabbage grated and dressed makes an ideal partner for ham including proscuitto. Serve it with a big, beefy red wine and you could be anywhere from Lazio to Calabria.

These are a bright splash of colour on a winter plate. If they are very fresh the tops are delicious simply blanched and drizzled with butter or a splash of olive oil. If you’re lucky you might be able to get hold of the saffron yellow, golden variety, which is scrumptious cooked in a salad. One favourite Italian combination that goes well with both red and golden beets, is goats’ cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Winter Squash
You can’t buy a pumpkin in a market in Italy without tapping it to check it sounds hollow. If you don’t do it yourself the stallholder will invariably do it for you! The story is that pumpkins that sound right will keep longer. All kinds of weird and wonderful looking squashes are available on Italy’s streets. Flavours’ favourite recipe comes from Emilia-Romagna where they stir in a puree of squash when making gnocchi and then serve along with melted butter and a handful of parmesan. The resulting plate (delicious!) is a winter classic that would almost make you sad come March, when the market gardeners produce the start of the summer crops.

Whether you join us in historic Bologna, Beautiful Tuscany, adventurous Puglia or sunny Sicily, we encourage our all guests to go with us to the local food markets and experience shopping for dinner the Italian way!

No comments: