Italian cuisine is much loved all around the world. This is the country, after all, who gave us pizza and pasta, two favourite staples of the European diet. Want to taste the very best dishes each Italian region has to offer and find out local cookery secrets, such as to how to prepare delicious food according to ancient family recipes? We can help. Weve put together a guide to eating locally in Italy to help you discover what you could be tasting on your next trip to this culinary giant. You can view our specialist Italian food tours at the bottom of this post.
Saffron rice in Milan
Lets begin in the very north of Italy with a much loved dish; Risotto alla Milanese from the Lombardia region. Milan is the main city here, so you can expect chic, sophisticated bites wherever you go. This regional favourite, however, involves a delicious ounce of prime veal sitting astride a plate of moist, saffron infused rice. Its believed to have evolved from Jewish and Arabic influences and is best washed down with one of the local wines; either a Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir. On theClassic Venice Lagoon & Lake Garda tour by Great Rail Journeys you cover the flavours of Milan as well as other famous highlights of Central and Northern Italy.
Cheese and potato dumplings
Another dish that is frequently enjoyed with a glass of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc is Frico, from the Friuli Venezia Giuliani region. This is a humble dish, first created by Alpine monks which consists very simply of potatoes and cheese. The potatoes and cheese are fried in a frying pan, rather like an omelette or Spanish tortilla and resemble a pancake. Deliciously moist in the middle, this is thoroughly hearty mountain cuisine.
Meat sauces in Bologna, Chicory of Venice and brilliant Bread dumplings
The Emilia Romagna region in the centre of northern Italy boasts Bologna as its capital city. You may guess from the name that Bologna is where one of Europes best loved recipes originated; the humble bolognese. Brits tend to eat it with spaghetti, while those in the know, find it tastier with tagliatelle. Try it in the city itself and youll never look at Bolognese in the same way again! Delicious! Try it with the local Sangiovese wine.
Moving clockwise to the North eastern Alpine corner of Italy and the area which borders Austria and Switzerland, youll find that Canederli is very popular. These are bread dumplings, which can be served as a starter or a main course. Youll usually find them accompanying roasts meats or stews. Seasoned with nutmeg and enriched with cheese or prosciutto, they can be eaten dry, or in a broth. Try a delicious glass of Pinot Grigio alongside them.
Travel further south along the east coast of Italy and youll find yourself in Venice, where the local Prosecco is a great drink to choose to accompany your Radicchio di Treviso. Not technically a dish in its own right, this is a very particular form of chicory that is grown locally, believed to be of a superior quality to lesser chicories and it informs the flavours of the region. Well respected operator Club Med Holidays provide three separate luxury resorts where you can take a day out of your stay and explore the local and surrounding regions
The deep fried olives of Ancona
Moving on to to the coastal city of Ancona, youll find yourself tucking into the unique deep fried olives of the region; a dish known as Olive Ascolane. Theyre not just olives coated in breadcrumbs! Theyre so much more! Included in them theres cheese, chicken, pork and beef, as well as a few selected vegetables, cloves and nutmeg. Theyre a taste sensation, which is only enhanced by a glass of local Verdicchio, if you prefer white, or Sangiovese if its red you’re after.
Lamb skewers in Abruzzo
The Abruzzo region is located to the east of Italys capital city, Rome and something you really must try here is Arrosticini, a type of skewered meat, which is usually lamb and simply prepared to show off its moist, rosemary infused flavour. Wondering which wine is best served with lamb like this? You could try the locally produced Montepulciano.
The delicious pasta dishes of southern Italy
Were in Southern Italy now, in the Molise region, which is situated next to the Adriatic Sea and Cavatelli is eaten everywhere. Essentially pasta shells in a specific shape, they are usually enhanced with ricotta being added to the hollow innards and cooked with broccoli and garlic. A very simple but satisfying dish, youll find them annoyingly moorish.
Puglia is in the south eastern tip of Italy, commonly referred to as the heel of Italys boot, given the shape of the countrys coastline. This region has its own distinctive pasta shape. It resembles a small ear and is called orecchiette. As with cavatelli, it is commonly cooked with garlic, broccoli and ricotta. Great wines that can be served with these pasta dishes include Chardonnay or Trebbiano. Looking for a tour of Southern Italy? Why not embark on the ‘Enchanting Southern Italy 2018’ tour designed by Back-Roads Touring
If we have activated your taste buds and got you ready to taste the rich flavours of Italy’s regions, stay tuned for our second installment of ‘How to eat your way around Italy by region’ which will be live around a similar time next week. In the meantime, get in touch with our travel specialists on 0161 755 3081 and get a better insight from those who have the extensive travel knowledge behind them.