What does an Italian Sourcer-ess conjure up for Valentine's Day to See and Savor Italy?
Traveling in Italy, sourcing products for CosituttiMarketPlace , brings me to artisan producers and generational families who have a passion for the cultural and culinary history of regional Italian food and la bella vita . Here is a collection of some of our favorite food, wine, art and design for the Red Passion of an Italian inspired Valentine's Day. A desirable collection that shares the color Red and the Romance of Italy.
Francis Francis X7.1
I could have begun the Red Passion Collection with an iconic red Ferrari but I was looking for something a little more attainable and Illy's Francis Francis X7.1 iperEspresso machine may be it. The signature lipstick red curved design by Italian architect Luca Trazzi makes brewing a cup of espresso a work of art and a whole lot of fun.
Campari and Red Wine
Campari has always been one my favorite Italian aperitivi. This bitter-sweet, bright red herbal liqueur is made from over 80 different herbs whose recipe remains an everlasting family secret. It is the essentail ingredient in Italy's iconic Negroni; equal parts gin, Campari, and red vermouth, over ice and served with an orange peel garnish. A fascinating drink that has the potential to conjure up the perfect Italian inspired Valentine Day.
And what would a romantic Valentine dinner be without a glass of red wine. Among the Brunello, Chianti and Super Tuscans that get most of the wine media's attention there are a whole group of bold, full-bodied Italian red wines and pale rosy sparklers that would be perfect for Valentine's Day. Here are a few from Piemonte to consider.
Brick-red or garnet Barolo and Barbaresco - the King and Queen of Italian wines from Piemonte
Ruby colored Barbera d'Asti another Piemontese wine with aromas of juicy black cherry, ripened blackberry and plum
Rose-red Brachetto d'Acqui - a well-priced a semi-sparkling frizzante with a natural sweetness reminiscent of rose petals, candied strawberries and raspberries with a low alcohol content (5.5%). A perfect match with rich, creamy chocolate desserts like ganache and mousse, berry tarts and strawberry ice cream. Also Brachetto d'Acqui wines are often sold in some of the most beautifully packaged wine bottles heightening the anticipation of the glass.
In the pantheon of Italian food products one type of vinegar stands above all others, Aceto Balsamico from Modena. Rich, glossy, a deep red-brown, a true balsamic vinegar gets its color from the skillful cooking of the grape must and the aging in wooden barrels and its complexity of flavor from the passion of those who make this unique Italian condiment. It is a tonic, digestivo, a gastronomic treasure of Italy with a depth of flavor that enlivens a variety of foods. We write about it and one of our favorites is featured at CosituttiMarketPlace and we use it exclusively whether simply drizzled over flakes of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or as an ingredient in recipes.
Amarena Wild Cherry Jam
You're almost tempted to drink this jam made from the viscola cherry of the Marche by Morella Austera as the aroma of wild cherries and ruby color reminds you of a wild cherry wine which they also make! We use it in a variety of ways on muffins, toast, as a topping for ice cream, yogurt or panna cotta and as a filling for our Italian thumbprint cookies.
Italian Red Sauce
Botanically related to the mandrake, or "love plant", the tomato was once believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac, said to be able to "lead a man like a dog". It certainly has led a lot of men to the table as a sauce, seasoning and ingredient. Cooked tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant making Italian red sauces ideal for a heart healthy Valentine's Day.
Venice and Verona
Venice "La Serenissima" is perhaps the most evocative and romantic of all Italian cities and Verona a city so famous for love that it gets thousands of letters simply addressed to "Juliet. Two of our favorite cities in Italy and the setting for two of our favorite Valentine's Day movies about Italy. Against the evocative background of Venice, Casanova (played by Heath Ledger) finds the true meaning of love all while avoiding the Inquisition and in Verona Club di Giulietta, a group of volunteers keep the romance of Juliet alive by answering letters that have been left for her in Verona for over 70 years. One letter inspired the movie Letters to Juliet.
Listen to one of Shakespeare's most beautifully sung sonnets.