In this month's Taste magazine I wrote about my longing for Venice and the almost-desperate need I have for a long-haul flight that would take me straight to Italy. Well that's not going to happen any time soon despite my spending the morning obsessing over glorious Venetian canal-facing apartments on a Home Exchange website.
For various reasons we're very much stuck in beautiful Cape Town for the forseeeable future. And I'm ok with that I really am, but a girl can dream. And she can eat plenty of pasta. And while the universe doesn't magically give her exactly what she wants, it does send a kind consolation prize every now and then. Which I like to think is what happened when I got an email from Woolworths asking me if I wanted to participate in this months Italian-inspired Flavour Society. And of course I said yes. Who would refuse a generous bag of Italian goodies? Pasta, Gnocchi, olive oil, salami, Grana Padana, pine nuts, Balsamic vinegar - all those delicious flavours which remind me of a country I have have grown to love so much. The nutty saltiness of the Grana Padana and the tart sweetness of the Balsamic vinegar reminded me of that trip to Italy when I was first told to dip small chunks of Parmigianna Reggiano into well-aged Balsamic vinegar. I was hesitant at first but once I'd tasted it I was hooked. The pine nuts made me long to make a fresh basil pesto which would be scooped over swirls of pasta. The tomato paste made me long for the simplicity of a thin- based Margharita pizza bought in the backstreets of Naples. These were the flavours of the Italy I had come to know, flavours which I could use here in Cape Town and which brought back all those memorable Italian travel moments. At this stage on our lives, this is probably as good as it gets. So I played around with some flavours and finally decided on roast pumpkin drizzled with sage butter and served with generous amounts of Grana Padano and pine nuts. It was the perfect weekday lunch whether here in Cape Town or in Rome. (The recipe will appear on www.woolworths.co.za sometime soon)
I've also had an enormous amount of fun pinning to the Woolies Flavour Society Italian Pinterest board. I've posted a really easy Limoncello recipe, a couple of great gremolata recipes as well as several fabulous ways to work magic with cauliflower. And of course I pinned pastries and cake because I have an insatiably sweet tooth. Pinning is addictive and I think I've come to love Pinterest almost as much as pasta. Head on over and drool over some Italian inspiration.
So while we're all feeling the Italian love, make that pasta, rent any one of the great Italian movies and get into the Italian spirit. See if you can find the wonderful documentary Italy - Love it or Leave it. It's about two Italians who go on a roadtrip through Italy before they make up their minds whether to move to Germany or not, because, apparently, things in Italy are not quite as good as they appear in the movies. As a South African I could really relate to their angst and their love for their country.
Best way to know what the buzz is surrounding the WW Flavour Society is to check in online on the Woolworths website and to follow both @WOOLWORTHS_SA and the #wwflavoursociety on Twitter. you want to be part of this online community that promises some real life events as well. It's a great idea. The first month the Flavour Inspiration was coffee, last month was chocolate (oh yes!) and this month's Italian, of course. I'm excited to see what next month brings. Really I am. you should be too.
Dare I say it? Of course I do…. Buon Appetito!
(The Italian Flavour Drop. I ate the salami right away. To help me think more creatively of course.)
(My creation (such as it is) - I just mixed some great ingredients together. An easy recipe. Just the way I like them. So here it is in all its glory: Roast pumpkin, Sage butter, Grana Padana and Pine nuts. Easy perfection.)