Five More Yummy Things I Learned in Italy
-Francine Segan, Betty Food Editor
I had the pleasure of spending a month in Italy, and I just returned with lots of recipes, advice and tips on food and home that I’ll be sharing with Bettys over the next few weeks. Mangia!
This week’s installment is all about chocolate.
1. Italy makes some of the world’s best chocolate.
For three years in a row, a small Tuscan company – Amedei – won the gold in the World’s Chocolate Awards presented by the Academy of Chocolate in England. This year they even won the gold for Best Tasting Milk Chocolate.
You’ve got to try a piece. It’s amazing chocolate. Once you taste it you’ll understand why chocolate was named “food of the gods.”
2. Chocolate goes with EVERYTHING!
They’re big into pairing chocolate with wine over in Italy. I thought chocolate was the pretty perfect food, but when I tasted it with certain red wines I flipped. The wine really brings out the wonderful fruity taste in fine chocolate. Next time you dive into a box of chocolates try them with a glass of Bracato, a light sparkling red wine.
Italians often pair chocolate with grappa, a distilled drink made from grapes, with sambuca, and even with beer. Good just got better!
3. Chocolate is great with pasta
Why just have chocolate for dessert? In northern Italy, where it’s cold in the winter, they cook with it too.
It isn’t really as crazy as it might sound at first. Good quality chocolate has lots of layers of flavors, and you can cook with it just like you’d cook with wine.
My hands-down favorite recipe is by GB, one of the execs at the fabulous Italian chocolate company, Venchi. Just brown a stick of butter in a pan with a few leaves of fresh sage and toss it with cooked spaghetti. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and Venchi’s chocaviar, and dinner is served!
4. Chocolate and espresso
Most northern Italians enjoy a piece of chocolate after dinner right before their espresso and many even stir the chocolate right into the cup. Vanini Cremini, tiny squares of heavenly flavor, is amazing with espresso and makes a luscious mocha brew.
5. Italian advice on when to eat chocolate
According to Giacomo Boidi of Giraudi chocolates, ” We Italians eat chocolate when we are happy to celebrate, but we also eat it when we are sad, to cheer us up.” He paused, then, eyes twinkling, added, “Italians also eat chocolate before making love, but it is wonderful after making love too!”