Italy is a country that has a rich and regionally diverse culinary heritage. It’s aromatic, flavourful cuisine is characterised by its simplicity and use of high quality ingredients. I discovered some of these high quality ingredients last weekend at a fantastic Italian foodie event called Welcome Italia that was held at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Victoria. Welcome Italia was organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the UK, with the aim of promoting Italy’s produce, its rural territory, and the country’s wine and food culture.
There was an diverse selection of producers sampling and selling an interesting range of produce ranging from fine olive oils, cheeses and wines, to truffles, fruit preserves and pasta. UK-based Italian companies were also represented in the form of Gino Gelato, Franchi Seeds of Italy and Goodge Street-based Salento Green Life deli.
I discovered two exciting foods that gave me food for thought and excited my taste buds: Bergamot fruit and Stracciatella cheese. Bergamot (Citrus Bergamia Risso) is probably most familiar to foodies around the world as the quintessential flavour element of Earl Grey tea. This unique, sour-bitter citrus fruit is native to a narrow strip of land along the coastal area of the province of Reggio Calabria. Aside from its use in tea, bergamot is a versatile culinary ingredient that is used in the preparation of pastries, marmalade, ice cream and soft drinks.
Prior to attending Welcome Italia, I had only ever eaten Stracciatella as a chocolate-rippled flavour of gelato. However, I was delighted to discover that Stracciatella is also a luxurious, deliciously indulgent, milky Italian cheese. In layman’s terms, it is a mozzarella-style cheese that has been torn into strands and soaked in cream – it really is quite perfect.
One of my many favourite producers that I came across at the event was an Apulia-based company called Terre di San Vito who specialise in producing Coratina olive oil, Malbec wine and a unique, nutrient-dense carrot jam made using multi-coloured carrots that are native to the Polignano a Mare region of Italy.
I spoke to Giovanni De Napoli from Terre di San Vito who told me all about his company and their produce. You can hear my interview with Giovanni by clicking on the play button below.