Category Archives: Italy

Italian Wine: The pinot grigio effect

Italian white wines have taken over  consumer affection. Indeed, for the first time in decades, sales show that French and American wines have stepped down after dominating the British drinkers’ habits.

People seem to very much  enjoy the pinot grigio. Apparently, the Italian white wine has become the default choice in UK kitchens. Sales show that  Pinot Grigio now accounts for 40% of UK sales. That makes it the third most popular grape variety, after the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon blanc.

Why this Italian success? The reasons are highly sensible to how much cheaper its wines are compared to others. According to the Daily Telegraph, an average Italian wine in Britain is £4,23 where a French wine compares to an approximate £5,11 average.

So what will it be:  Gnocchi and Pinot Grigio this summer?


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Filed under Dinner, Italy, UK, wine

A day in Rome

People say that no other city can compare to Rome’s legacy. It may no longer be referred to as the caput mundi (capital of the world), but it is an extraordinary visual testimony of the long gone Roman Empire.

During my stay, I was constantly looking out for the remains of the antique era. I was never disappointed, they are everywhere and mostly integrated to the contemporary architecture. In 5 days, I was hooked.

Rome has an impressive range of beautiful monuments such as the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Farnese Palace, St Peter (although technically part of the Vatican). I could go on and on, but it is true Rome is not only about sightseeing. To make the most of one’s trip, enjoying the different aspects of the city is a must, Gastronomy clearly being a huge part.

Running around the streets of Rome, you may don’t know where to go in between your visits to rest and indulge yourself.

Here are a few suggestions for a day out:

Lunch – Pizza Forum, 34 Via S. Giovanni in Laterano.

Although the place’s design is not its best advocate, the food is really good and price-friendly. Perfect for a little lunch after visiting the Forum, Colloseum and Constantin’s arch (which are basically located right off the restaurant’s street.) This is where I tasted amazing Gnocchi al pomodoro.

Coffee and shopping – Fleur, 46 Via Bocca di Leone.

This little cafe boutique is located just 2 minutes from the magnificent Piazza di Spagna. It is definitely worth sitting down and have a delightful Italian coffee. They come with local treats and the place looks gorgeous!

Dinner – Blanco, 21 Via della Croce.

The very trendy and all white bar/restaurant is excellent, and serves amazing cocktails. This is where I tasted the gnochetti with Gorgonzola and asparagus. Its location is very convenient, since it is minutes away from the beautiful piazza del Popolo, and the  nice places to go out.

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Filed under Italy, Restaurant Reviews

Palermitana sauce

From my trip to Rome, the last dish I remember trying was the “Fusilli Palermitana”. Although I had no clue what it would taste like, its description was mouth-watering.

Pasta with a vegetable medley of aubergine, courgette, pepper onions, cherry tomatoes, basil and pomodoro. How could anything  go wrong? Indeed, it was delicious and I automatically thought about trying it out with gnocchi.

Gnocchi palermitana would make a perfect dish to accompany a  Chianti wine. Let’s call our friends and set up a dinner party, we are cooking tonight!

Palermitana sauce:

1. First of all, chop slices of aubergine, courgette, pepper onions. Put them in a pan with olive oil, and let them cook until they become tender.

2. Add the tomato passata, the chopped basil and tomatoes, the oregano and the olives. You can already smell Italy in your kitchen!

3. Finally, add a little white wine to the sauce. Let the wine evaporate over a medium heat.

4. Cook the gnocchi in a large pan of boiling salted water, for about 2-3 minutes, until they rise to the surface.  Let them fry in a pan before putting them in a plate.

5.  Cover the gnocchi with the sauce.

6. To give the final presentation a typical Italian touch, sprinkle some flat Italian Parsley on each plate.

… Don’t forget the chianti. Dinner is ready!

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Filed under Dinner, Gnocchi, Italy, Quick & easy cooking, Sauces

Gnocchi – There is more to it!

Although we all know about the potato based consistency of gnocchi, you may be surprised as to know that there is more to it.

Indeed, there are 3 different kinds!

Here is Chef Loic Malfait telling you more about it…

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Filed under History, Italy, Le Cordon Bleu, Tradition

Gnocchi Al Pomodoro

At Lawson Dodd, we love Italy and we love Gnocchi. I just came back from an Easter trip in Rome and I utterly enjoyed the food. I brought back some recipes straight from la mamma Italia to share with you.

Gnocchi al Pomodoro is the simplest thing ever. The sauce is easy to make and  tastes great. What else?

For the Pomodoro sauce, you need:  Passata (tomato puree), onions, olive oil, basil, salt & pepper.

1. Put the onions in a frying pan with the olive oil. After about 5 minutes, add the passata and basil leaves. It already starts smelling heavenly good. Add a little salt and pepper, and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes. When you are done, the sauce should be nice and thick.

2. Slice little bits of mozzarella cheese, it will come in handy at the very end.

2. Cook the gnocchi in a large pan of boiling salted water, for about 2-3 minutes, until they rise to the surface.

3. Put the cooked gnocchi in a dish and cover it with the tomato sauce. Add the mozzarella cheese and serve straight away. A dish is always best when hot!

Tip: You can add a little  grated Parmesan cheese on top. Makes all the effort even more worth it.

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Filed under Gnocchi, History, Italy, Quick & easy cooking, Recipes, Sauces

Traditional Gnocchi Shape Know-How

Earlier this week, I had a little chat with Chef Loic Malfait from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School. We got to talking about gnocchi and how to prepare them. According to the chef, the Italian potato dough should always be served as a tribute to its Mediterranean origin. We can then play with southern flavors such as basil, olive oil, mozzarella, and pesto. You get the picture…

Pillowy dumplings are best to define the delectable gnocchis and with a glass of wine, they are almost a fashion statement nowadays. Of course the greatest thing is  not only that as a meal they taste amazing with almost anything, but they are also affordable and easy to make.

However I must admit the ‘finesse’ of the dish relies on the shape of the little goodies. Paying attention to details is key here and I suggest looking at traditional Italian cookery books to get an idea of how gnocchi should look like.

The perfect/traditional shape of Gnocchis resembles a sea-shell. To make them have this particular silhouette is a must and does not require any particular skill or wit. Indeed, follow the following steps:

  • Take some of your dough preparation and roll it to make a lengthy sort of sausage.
  • Cut the end of it and roll it your hand to make a little ball.
  • Then take a fork and squeeze gently the little ball onto the fork’s end.
  • Roll it up and you’ll have a little seashell look alike.
  • The perfect gnocchi is in your hand.

Just a tip: don’t forget to put some flour onto the fork. Otherwise, it may stick onto the tool and it can get nasty.

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Filed under Gnocchi, Italy, Learning, Tradition

Italian delights

After a gnocchi delight, ending the meal with a tiny cup of coffee adds just the right touch. However, in terms of skills  an Englishman is not well known for his  coffee making.  No wonder shops, such as Starbucks, Nero and Costa, are spreading like mad in this country.

I am always very loyal to my black Americano. Though I do take it with a dash of milk in the morning, I don’t really enjoy it any other way. On the other hand, everyone else seems very excited to have it with caramel, chocolate, cream, ice and even fruit. Indeed, every time I step into a coffee shop, it seems that a new variety has made its entrance in the fabulous and luscious world of “coffee drinks”.

Going back to the genuine way of enjoying one’s coffee, are we all queuing up unknowingly toward putting an end to what coffee culture really is? In Italy, there are know how’s and don’ts:

  • One of them is that milky drinks such as Macchiattos, Lattes and Cappuccinos should always be had in the morning, never after lunch.
  • One should always sit up when having his cup of brownish delight. That said it makes me think that le café francais and its pleasurable terraces must make many Italian’s frown.
  • One should never ask for an espresso. If you do so in Italy, apart from your accent, everyone will know you are a tourist. Espresso means “coffee dose” so ask for a caffee instead.

Hum, hum what to make of this?

Let’s say we are in England and the world is moving on to improve and disapprove. Freedom of choice means having our coffee the way we like. Indeed, that’s what it is.

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Filed under Gnocchi, Italy, Tradition, UK