academia barilla  February 2007

Impress Your Valentine with Gourmet Food Facts!

Valentine’s Day is here!
And, yes, while we here at Italian Food Lovers [...]

Valentine’s Day is here!

And, yes, while we here at Italian Food Lovers might not be completely swept off our feet by what has become a somewhat over-hyped holiday, we can’t help but think of the great excuses that we have for yet another great gourmet meal to celebrate.

So, while you’re wining and dining romantically tonight, we thought we’d put together a few gourmet food facts that you can pull out to impress your special someone.

Note: these gourmet food facts should be used tactfully and sparingly, so as to not seem contrived. For instance, when offering your loved one some of Massimo’s excellent ceviche, you can casually drop the “Honey, did you know that it is considered a faux pas in Italy to grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over seafood dishes, like ceviche or even Linguine with Mussels?” line — that’ll be sure to impress and show that you really know your stuff.

So, without further ado, here come some great Valentine’s food fact morsels for you, dear Italian Food Lover. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Gourmet (and Romantic!) Food Facts ala Italian Food Lovers

>> High quality Extra-Virgin Olive Oil comes in dark bottles so as to not allow much light to pass through the bottle and potentially oxidize the fragile olive oil inside. The color of the oil inside the bottle doesn’t necessarily denote quality (Extra-Virgin oils can be a range of colors), but the outside bottle must be dark so as to protect the delicacy of the oil.

Here at Academia Barilla we even completely protect the oil from sunlight by wrapping our top gourmet olive oil bottles in golden paper, which completely protects the bottle and its precious content from all external lights (all other Academia Barilla olive oil bottles of course come with a very dark glass, that filters out most of the external light).

>> Everyone talks about the romance of Tuscany, and here are some food products that conjure up romantic and tasty notions: Tuscany’s famous wine, Chianti (which, like most Tuscan wines, is made with Sangiovese grapes) and Tuscany’s most famous sheep’s milk cheese, Pecorino Toscano, are an excellent combination as a appetizer or as a cheese course. They also make for a great start to a picnic basket!

>> Farinata is a famous Ligurian flatbread that is made using chickpea flour. It is commonly seen in the beautiful and very romantic towns of the Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coast, same area where Academia Barilla produces its refinate Riviera Ligure extra-virgin olive oil, the one we wrap for max protection.

Completely unrelated to this delicacy is a historical figure named Farinata degli Uberti – he was a Tuscan military leader who Dante, famous poet of the Divina Commedia, had placed in Inferno. Perhaps there is a connection after all — maybe Tuscan Farinata degli Uberti made the Ligurian Farinata flatbread in his flaming tomb in the sixth circle of Hell? Only Dante knows the answer to that one….

>> Italians are known to fare la scarpetta at the end of the pasta course of a meal. This sweet little phrase, which literally translates to “do the little shoe,” signifies the ritual usage of bread to soak up any remaining sauce after having consumed the pasta. Make sure you drop this line to your Valentine when you’re about to finish your plate — and possibly their plate as well! after all, if you do it with style, it can also be a very sensual geste during a romantic Valentine’s dinner…

>> And, lastly, it is indeed considered a bit strange to mix cheese with seafood, though after years of seeing tourists request Parmigiano with their Spaghetti alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Clams), more and more Italian nouveau cuisine dishes are creatively mixing the milk with the fruits of the sea.

We’ll have to dig up one of those contemporary recipes in the near future, but, in the meantime, we recommend you save your DOP Pecorino Toscano for dishes that don’t involve fish, shellfish or other water-borne goodies.

Have a wonderful, tasty, gourmet and very romantic Valentine’s Day!

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