I know it’s a cliché but I have to say that one of my favourite places to daydream about is Italy. I am lucky enough to have visited Italy numerous times and, yet, I am still desperate to return. There is something about that country that pulls on my heartstrings and tugs me back. For me, the attraction lies within the passion that Italians have for life. They live for food, beauty, family and relaxation. How can I not be attracted to a country that prioritizes food so much that they shut businesses down for lunch every day?! One of my life goals is to spend a long, lazy summer in Italy where I would do nothing but eat, drink, cook and sight-see. Very “Eat. Pray. Love” but I don’t give a shit. The idea of this makes me so unbelievably happy!
You can imagine my excitement when my girlfriends and I decided on Italy for one of our most recent gourmet nights and, if the size of my hangover the next day was anything to go by, then I’d say it was our most successful one yet!
In keeping with the theme most of us had brought Italian drinks so bottles of prosecco and Chianti reds were for sharing, in addition to cocktails made by our very own bartender (my sister) who had opted to cater drinks for the evening rather than cook. We were absolutely spoilt with numerous cocktails that included ingredients such as lemon sorbet, limoncello, prosecco, rosemary, and, of course, vodka.
We started with a few glasses of bubbly prosecco before launching into an incredible antipasto plate, which included Italian cheeses (including an amazing pecorino with black truffles), olives, beans, crostini, and marinated vegetables.
We could have quite easily just have eaten the antipasto plate and drank cocktails all night but instead we delved further into gluttony. I brought my pasta maker with me and we used it to make pasta from scratch. It was a lot of fun as the other girls had never made it by hand before so it was great to be able to show them how to do it; lots of kneading, and rolling, and making sure the sheets of delicate pasta didn’t tear. I used our fresh pasta sheets for my recipe; prawn and leek tortolleni which I served with a light homemade carbonara sauce.
This was a recipe that I picked up from my cooking class and it really does impress. We also enjoyed ricotta and basil stuffed cannelloni that were baked in a classic Italian sauce. For dessert, one of the girls went above and beyond and made not only some of the best tiramisu that I’ve had (and I don’t generally like tiramisu) but she also made biscotti. Talk about making an effort!
No wonder Italians seem so happy! Sure, yes, the food and drinks are extremely tasty but it is the ritual of eating that really makes Italian food stand out in my mind. Food, the making of and eating, should be celebrated. We should all take the time to enjoy what we are eating, rather than shovelling a mediocre take-out sandwich down our throats in order to get to our next meeting on time. I think we’d all be a little happier if we adopted the Italian way of appreciating food. Excuse me now whilst I climb down from my soap-box.