From the steep Alpine slopes of Sampeyre to the coastline of Napoli, all the way down the heel of the boot to Lecce, and everywhere in between, Italy’s cuisine is as varied as its landscape. All too often when we think of Italian food, our minds immediately might go to things like spaghetti bolognese, spaghetti…

Over the next 20 months, I will be trying to break down the wines by region which is hard enough. For this introduction to Italian Wine Basics, we will discuss the wine law structure which is at least something fairly consistent across the country. Denominazione: How Italian Wine is Classified Italy follows what’s called a…

Buongiorno e buon anno! Hello and happy new year! More than a year ago, I was searching for wineries on other travel and directory sites. What I found was the standard fare, easily found in other guidebooks and on the well-trodden wine lover’s path. Even these directory listings provided only basic information about opening times and…

Dolcetto (dole – chet – toe): the name itself is a bit deceiving. In Italian, it would mean “little sweet one,” but this red Piemontese wine is no sweeter than a Chianti or a Bordeaux. In fact, “dolcetto” takes its name from the Piemontese hills that are named, in dialect, Duzzet. Piemonte, or Piedmont, is…

Living in Bra, Italy in the Piemonte region provides access to many small, surrounding Italian villages. Each one boasts a fine, regional wine: Barbera d’Asti, Grignolino, Barolo and Barbaresco to name a few. One fine, sunny Sunday, some friends and I found ourselves in Verduno, the land of Pelaverga Rosso DOC. This is a fairly…

W is for white cauliflower: White cavolfiore (cauliflower) is widely and internationally known, such a common vegetable that the average dinner-partier does not think twice about the origins of that hard, bumpy, white vegetable among the others on the veggie and dip platter. The white cauliflower is actually relatively new in terms of cultivated plants…

V is for vitellone bianco dell’apennine centrale IGP: The Vitellone Bianco dell’Apennine Centrale IGP, or white veal of the Central Apennine mountain range of Protected Geographic Origin, is superior quality veal that is raised in Campania near the Apennine mountain range. The cattle and steer are also raised in other Italian regions near the Apennines,…

U is for uova ‘mpriatorio: Uova ‘Mpriatorio (oo-oh-vah m-pree-ah-tor-ee-oh) is a simple Neapolitan dish that features a sizzling red tomato sauce with two or more sunny-side up eggs cracked into it, served with a hunk of bread to sop up the good juices. It is an expression of the Neapolitan and Campanian way of utilizing…

T is for torrone: Torrone (tor-rone-eh) has been called “Italy’s candy bar,” with its sweet nougat and nut confection that is the inspiration for Toblerone and Mars candy. A typical recipe includes white sugar and honey, egg whites, and almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios (or a delicious nutty mix). Various spices are optional, and each Italian…

S is for Sfogliatelle: This sweet symbol of Naples is seen all over Italy and is as popular today as it was 400 years ago. The sfogliatella (singular of sfogliatelle: sfol-ee-ah-tell-eh) is a filled pastry with a characteristic seashell shape and a cascade of delicate ridges, which form as the layers of dough separate during…

R is for Ragù alla genovese: Despite its name, Ragù alla genovese is eaten exclusively in Naples. This oniony meat sauce is hardly known outside of the area, in fact – unless a Neapolitan cook happens to move to another Italian region, bringing with him this rich pasta sauce. The basic ingredients of the pasta…