The Italians have a love affair with lemons. They are grown pretty much all over the country, from north to south. Along the northern shores of Lake Garda, the ruined greenhouses, or lemon gardens, are reminders of the 18th century heyday of citrus growing here, to which the town of Limone sul Garda owes its name. In Amalfi lemons grow in the terraced gardens all along the coast, hang for sale in tied bunches from walls, doors and windows, and flavour the drink that finishes almost every meal here. In fact lemons helped to make Amalfi rich – between about 1500 and 1800 the major market for its lemons were northern European navies and ship owners, who bought the fruit by the millions in an attempt to protect their sailors against scurvy. Today it is Sicily, not Amalfi, that is Italy’s most prolific lemon grower, and was probably its first, as it is generally believed that the Arabs imported lemon trees there from India. It wasn’t long before the cultivation of lemons had spread all over southern Italy, where the climate provides the ideal growing conditions. Continue reading
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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?!