Now summer is here and the weather’s getting warmer, we have the perfect starter for a lazy lunch or supper in the garden. A generous antipasti platter is a traditional, convivial way to share delicious bits and pieces over a drink and good conversation. Who cares when the main course is coming when you can pick at and nibble on salumi, cheese, olives and other tasty goodies. Or add some country bread and it’s a meal in itself. It’s a lovely, casual yet refined way of eating.
The great thing about an antipasti platter is that you can mix and match to suit your, and your guests’ tastes. Aim to include some stronger tastes and some mild, some salty, some sweeter. At a weekend barbecue we served up some thinly sliced coppa, salame finocchiona and salame Milano with small pieces of gorgonzola dolce drizzled with honey, shards of pecorino Toscano and some walnut caciotta. Some baby onions – or cipolline – in balsamic vinegar provided crunch and acidity and some lovely taggiasche olives added a salty bite. Oh, and a basket of freshly baked focaccia. All these delights, and more, are available from our online shop. Take a look through our salumi, cheese and antipasti departments and see what takes your fancy.
When it comes to serving up, be creative! Large decorated plates, rustic wooden boards, pieces of slate all look fantastic. (Just make sure everything is scrubbed and clean before adding your antipasti items!) Antipasti simply means ‘before the meal’ of course. In our experience it’s often the case that it’s the best part of the meal… or even the meal itself!
Now and again we come across a product that makes us all just say ‘yep’. No further question or debate, it’s in. Here’s one such. It’s crema di parmigiano reggiano – and it pretty much does what it says on the jar. A creamy paste (a cross between a sauce and a spread really) of excellent quality parmigiano combined with good Italian butter, and not much else. Yes, it’s indulgent. Yes, it’s quite rich. But it tastes fantastic!
We like to spread it on crostini or crackers, or use as a stuffing or simply stir it through pasta or risotto, with some pepper and perhaps some parsley, for a quick and simple supper. A jar of this in the fridge and you’re pretty much sorted for everything from quick snacks to last minute meals or even gourmet dining.
Producer Amerigo is based in Emilia. Their products are the fruit of more than 70 years of family experience, many of them born in the kitchens of their Michelin starred trattoria, Amerigo 1934. Originally this crema di parmigiano reggiano was supplied by them to make parmesan ice cream. Ever tried that? It might sound odd but it’s truly delicious. Why not order a spare jar and have a go at that too?!
One of the very nicest things about the days we work in our little warehouse, picking and packing products to send out to our deli customers or our online shoppers, is the aroma that fills our cold store: the sweet earthy smell of good salumi and fine cheeses. Because we stock all our cheeses and salumi in the piece and slice and cut to order, the old cold store door gets opened quite a lot, and with each opening a little delicious pungency escapes to tempt us. The best days of all are those when fresh deliveries of cured meats and cheeses arrive, because then we get to spend time unpacking, checking and putting everything in its rightful place on the shelves. And, of course, sniffing!
Today was a cheese day. We like cheese days. Here’s Danilo casting his experienced eye over a whole pecorino sardo: a lovely mature sheep’s milk cheese with a hard texture and an earthy flavour. But our favourite today is the delicious taleggio DOP which we source from our selected producer Ciresa, in Lombardia, a cheese-producing family since 1927. Continue reading