Friday, 23 January 2015

Nonna Carmela and Zia Maria....Inspirational ladies from an Italian kitchen.

I just wanted to share with you these two photos of two lovely ladies. Nonna Carmela here at the top making her cicatelli by hand and Zia Maria showcasing her pumpkin and sausage raviloi. This is passion, knowledge and a love of cooking and the reason why I chose to write a cookbook 'Southern Italian Family Cooking',  and capture family recipes and techniques before they would be lost forever. Nonna is 86, she is slowing down now in the kitchen, but still cooks daily and zia Maria is in her mid 70's and like a skiping child, they are sisters.

Pasta on a daily basis is still made by hand and nothing pleases me more than when I receive a tray of fresh pasta to stash in the deep freeze for a quick and easy dinner time. The passion from my elders has rubbed off on to me in every aspect. From making pasta with Nonna, to my mum Solidea teaching me how to make passata, and my dad Rocco teaching me how to ring a chickens neck...(sorry). But this is it. If your passionate and inspired this is what you do.

Having four children I try to cook with them as often as I can, time and patience needs to be on my side of course!! So that's it. Ask your mum, Nonna or aunty for advice and recipes. Get motivated and inspired in your own kitchen, who knows where it may lead......

Baci Carmela x

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Rustico - Nino Franco

Rustico- Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G

Prosecco is an any time drink in my opinion. No special occasion required, I always say... 'Just because'. Chilled and poured with an air of sophistication and excitement. Over the last 12 months I have discovered Nino Franco, and to be honest am a little in love with their vast superior range, however 'Rustico' has completely won me over.
At my recent book launch for Southern Italian Family Cooking, I proudly served magnums of 'Rustico' to all my guests. The flavour is fine, persistent, crisp, fruity and flowery but above all is uncontrollably moreish and goes down incredibly easy, my husband may say 'Too easy Carmela'. 

The range does also include: Brut, Vigneto della riva di San Floriano, Grave di Stecca Brut, Prosecco, Superiore di Cartizze and Faive... All offereing their own flavour and unique taste. 

On a recent trip to Venice I enjoyed many glasses of the Faive Rose' Brut. Fruity and paired well with many a delicious lunch by the canal.

A little bit about Rustico and the region where it was first born.

Valdobbiadene: The Production Area where the most prized D.O.C.G. Prosecco is produced;
Antonio Franco founded the “Cantine Franco” winery in Valdobbiadene in 1919. It is one of the oldest winery’s in Valdobbiadene, located in the center of town. Valdobbiadene is located at the foot of the Prealps, a mountain range in the south-eastern part of the Alps. This region in the north-eastern part of Italy  is most famous for the prized Prosecco vine and wine production.

The area lies in the Veneto, in the hilly strip of the Province of Treviso, that lies between the small towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. The production zone comprises fifteen communes. Vines are grown only on the most sunny parts of the hills, at altitudes varying between 50 and 500 meters above sea level, while the north-facing slopes are covered mainly in woodland.

The climate throughout the area is mild, with not excessively cold winters with warm summers. The nobility of Venice likes to spend their summers in this area. The Nino Franco Prosecco produced in the Valdobbiadene area represents a synthesis of history and “naturally” superior quality.  Valdobbiadene, the heart of the actual production zone, has the greater concentration of high hillside vineyards. Throughout its extraordinary history, the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene areas have made Prosecco into an extraordinary success story,  creating over the course of time a modern, informal and vivacious Italian-Style sparkling wine  that is appreciated and enjoyed all over the world; it gained D.O.C.G. recognition in 2009, and represents the top of the quality pyramid for Prosecco.

With careful management, the estate has been growing and evolving throughout four generations of producers. Antonio founded it, Nino expanded it and Primo has improved the company performance. When Primo took over its management, in 1982 it was a turning point for the estate. Silvia is the next generation responsible for future growth of the property.

Primo began to travel in 1982 and was one of the first of the pioneers to successfully introduce a different sparkling wine than Champagne to the  International market exporting his Prosecco wines in Europe as well as in the Americas and the Far East and other International markets. He also invested in the production process in order to make high quality wines, eliminating all those wines that were atypical for the area. Primo also began to monitor closely the grape cultivation with the purpose of achieving the highest quality from the raw material to the final product.