Inspired by these beautiful hand edged tea towels brought to Australia by Alberto last summer, this month’s kitchen post is dedicated to Nonna Gina who lives in Carmagnola, Piedmonte, Italia. Hemmed, edged and crocheted meticulously, I stashed them away, thinking that they were just too lovely to use. Now they are out and ready for work. Age, washing and softening will give them a faded patina. And naturally, when I use them, I will think of Gina and life in Piedmonte, a region I am keen to visit. Grazie di cuore, Gina ed Alberto.
The star of any Italian kitchen is a good wedge of Parmigiano cheese, either Grana Padano or Reggiano. Look for a parmesan that is ‘stagionato‘, or at least 24 months old, the grainier the better. I have noticed that cheap parmesan cheese is being dumped in Australia from who knows where and sells for $13.00 a kilo. I suspect it will lack ‘graininess’ and taste like soap. Beware of cheap imitations.
Italian jugs are handy, especially when pouring ‘vino da tavola’, ordinary cheap wine. Whenever I use these jugs, I pretend I am sitting in some quaint little trattoria in Urbino, Lucca or Puglia. My fantasy world is well-developed.
My little Pinocchio, and the Pinocchio wine stopper which, fortunately, has never been needed, sit on the kitchen dresser, perusing the family scene below. They are a reminder to finish reading Carlo Collodi’s original Pinocchio which I purchased last year.
One of my favourite Italian white wines is Vernaccia di San Gimignano. It brings back so many memories of the time I spent studying in Siena where I first discovered this wine at the local Upim store. A good one will be crisp and dry with honey notes. Dan Murphy used to stock a range of Vernaccia but now the range is limited to ‘el cheapos’. This one turned up in my favourite Italian supermarket, Gervasi, Sydney road, Brunswick. Cheap and cheerful is the best description for this brand!
The last and only time I went to Costco, I found this big tub of salted capers for a song. I knew there was a reason for trudging around that place for four hours! This big stash is so handy and gives a lift to a salsa verde, pizza or pasta putanesca.
An Italian themed post wouldn’t be complete without another peak at pasta. Here is my new favourite, egg reginette, delicate and fast cooking. Again, found at Gervasi Supermarket, Brunswick.
And grazie di cuore also to Celia, of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, our busy host of this famous monthly event. Open the link and visit some other worldwide kitchens.