Italian spirits are in the air for Valentine’s Day and Italian mixologists are creating aperitivi and cocktails that are sure to lead you to an evening of enchantment and romance. Here are a few of our favorites including the Red Passion of Campari, an Italian bitter flavored with a secret mixture of 68 aromatic herbs, spices and wood bark blended with spirits in alchemic proportions. It is Italy’s most well-know aperitivo.
Classic Mixes– The Negroni made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth and all its various permutations including the Americano, which lacks the gin but adds club soda and the Sbagliato where gin is replaced with sparkling wine or prosecco. And then there’s the Venetian Spritz “sprettz“. Favored in Venice but equally as popular in many Italian towns especially in the north. A light cocktail (7 or 8 percent alcohol by volume) often made with Aperol like this version.
Fill a highball glass with 3- 4 Ice Cubes
Pour in 2 to 3 ounces Prosecco or any sparkling wine
Add 1 1/2 ounces Aperol
Then a splash of soda water, sparkling water, mineral water, or Club Soda
Garnish with a wheel of lime or a wedge of orange. Makes 1 serving.
New and Innovative Combinations – The Cherry Americano from New York mixologist Albert Trummer of Apothéke. The Truffle Honey Cocktail, luscious and decadent made with i Peccati di Ciacco Black Summer Truffle honey perfect with Italian Black Summer Truffle Honey Pizza.
Buon Capodanno! Happy New Year! Literally translated it means happy “head of the year”. Italians, like most of us, are faced with a way to make the New Year better. It always helps to have a good head capo on your shoulders.
The dictionary of idioms and phrases tells us the “having a good head on your shoulders” means to be sensible and intelligent. To be smart, responsible, intelligent, able to deal with complicated things, able to make good decisions, able to think clearly. Italians tend to identify common sense with wisdom and good judgement.
For example in her 9th authored cookbook Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking, Lidia Bastianich equates common sense with cooking simply, seasonally and economically. Stocking a practical pantry that can be adapted to your needs, recycling leftover ingredients and cooking with what’s at hand. That seems a worthy resolution for the head of the year to bring to the table. Making vibrant healthy food takes more wisdom than money and is something almost anyone can do if they have a good head on their shoulders.
Here is a recipe from Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking for those times when you have nothing to add to your risotto that my Nonna would approve of as a “good head on your shoulder’s recipe”.
Italy’s La Cucina del Buonsenso (The Cuisine of Common Sense) believes that “good spending is the basis of good cooking”. Use the best ingredients that are available and use them well and you will be rewarded with memorable meals and good health.
Message to myself (aka a New Year’s Resolution for 2016) – make time for mindful eating and food shopping. We as Americans often seem to have little regard for what goes into our mouths often judging the quality of food on what’s fastest and easiest. Spend wisely but well seems to be the motto of most Italians who value the food they eat. In Italy the food is fresh and vibrant, it is arranged and well cared for. It is treated with respect and in return adds so much to the Italian experience.