a taste of italy

I often say it’s possible to travel with your taste buds. Combine a few key ingredients to create a delectable dish, add elements for ambiance, queue accompanying music and you can find yourself vicariously transported around the globe to your destination of choice. For this stop, we land in Italy.

Going from savory to sweet, I picked a few tantalizing bites that will make an impression on guests, and certainly will make an impression on your palette. And guests aside, a simple meal comprised of cheese, charcutiers or a mix of delicacies, along with delicious spreads can be the answer to a dinner dilemma.

Crema di Carciofi
I first tried this artichoke spread at an enoteca where it was served on a wood platter alongside a cheese board. A delectable canapé on bruschetta, or spread on oven-fresh ciabatta, this creamy artichoke pesto packs pleasing artichoke flavor into a single bite. I love artichokes and find the Crema di Carciofi addicting. Perfect as is or tossed with pasta, it’s truly delizioso.

Balsamic Vinegar Jelly
This sultry spread is extraordinarily memorable. The tang of the balsamic hits your mouth then teases it with a hint of sweetness. The balsamic jelly spreads beautifully on bruschetta similar to the Crema di Carcofi and is an incredible accompaniment to cheese.

An evening in Italy wouldn’t be complete without cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano. Here I have it paired with wild rosemary almonds, flavors that blend well with hard cheese and are reminiscent of Italy. There are over 400 varieties of cheese that can contribute to an Italian-themed tasting board. Italy’s Best reviews some of the tastiest tidbits and offers wine pairing suggestions.

Crema di Pistacchio
The only way to describe Crema di Pistacchio di Bronte is decadent. Sweet, rich and creamy, this pistachio cream is blended like a nut butter or a pistachio “Nutella”.

Popular pastry chef David Lebovitz whips pistachio paste into Pistachio Gelato that will make pistachio lovers swoon. Crema di Pistacchio can be spread inside crêpes, served on top of ice-cream if not blended in, topped on waffles with bananas or simply served on an elegant spoon as shown above. A spoonful is enough to satisfy any sweet craving.

Nocciolata Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread
A gourmet and organic version of the traditional Nutella spread, I find Nocciolata a bit more creamy, has more prominent hazelnuts and uses finer ingredients as it’s made in smaller batches. Equally decadent as the Crema di Pistacchio, a bite of this also served on an elegant spoon will be enough to serenade a chocolate lover.

Pair all of these bites with Italian wines and your taste buds will be certain you traveled to Italy for the evening. Buon appetito!

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