In My Italian Kitchen, August 2015

Hand crocheted edging by Nonna Gina.
Hand crocheted edging by Nonna Gina.

Inspired by these beautiful hand edged tea towels brought to Australia by Alberto last summer, this month’s kitchen post is dedicated to Nonna Gina who lives in Carmagnola, Piedmonte, Italia. Hemmed, edged and crocheted meticulously, I stashed them away, thinking that they were just too lovely to use. Now they are out and ready for work. Age, washing and softening will give them a faded patina. And naturally, when I use them, I will think of Gina and life in Piedmonte, a region I am keen to visit. Grazie di cuore, Gina ed Alberto.

The star of any Italian kitchen is a good wedge of Parmigiano cheese, either Grana Padano or Reggiano.  Look for a parmesan that is  ‘stagionato‘, or at least 24 months old, the grainier the better. I have noticed that cheap parmesan cheese is being dumped in Australia from who knows where and sells for $13.00 a kilo. I suspect it will lack ‘graininess’ and taste like soap. Beware of cheap imitations.

Good Italian Parmigiana and my favourite tool, the microplane.
Good Italian Parmigiano and my favourite tool, the microplane.

Italian jugs are handy, especially when pouring ‘vino da tavola’, ordinary cheap wine. Whenever I use these jugs, I pretend I am sitting in some quaint little trattoria in Urbino, Lucca or Puglia. My fantasy world is well-developed.

Caraffe per vino da tavola
Caraffe per vino da tavola

My little Pinocchio, and the Pinocchio wine stopper which, fortunately, has never been needed, sit on the kitchen dresser, perusing the family scene below. They are a reminder to finish reading Carlo Collodi’s original Pinocchio which I purchased last year.Pinocchio, and friends

One of my favourite Italian white wines is Vernaccia di San Gimignano. It brings back so many memories of the time I spent studying in Siena where I first discovered this wine at the local Upim store. A good one will be crisp and dry with honey notes. Dan Murphy used to stock a range of Vernaccia but now the range is limited to ‘el cheapos’. This one turned up in my favourite Italian supermarket, Gervasi, Sydney road, Brunswick. Cheap and cheerful is the best description for this brand!

The last and only time I went to Costco, I found this big tub of salted capers for a song. I knew there was a reason for trudging around that place for four hours! This big stash is so handy and gives a lift to a salsa verde, pizza or pasta putanesca.

Huge tub of salted capers
Huge tub of salted capers

An Italian themed post wouldn’t be complete without another peak at pasta. Here is my new favourite, egg reginette, delicate and fast cooking. Again, found at Gervasi Supermarket, Brunswick.

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Reginette con bietola e salmone affumicato.
Reginette con bietola e salmone affumicato.

And grazie di cuore also to Celia, of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, our busy host of this famous monthly event. Open the link and visit some other worldwide kitchens.

51 thoughts on “In My Italian Kitchen, August 2015”

  1. Francesco, I love those tea towels. I have never seen a hand edged tea towel. I understand how they would feel too good to use but also so good to use. Maus and I (and the dogs) go through about 1 kilo of Grana Padano each month. Thanks for the virtual trip to Italy. If I didn’t have three aging four legged friends I would be there tomorrow.

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  2. Lovely. I did a big shop at one of the Italian deli’s today actually. I’m a Reggiano girl myself, but Mamma Rosa often blends Reggiano and Grana Padano in her dishes. By the way, there was a shop I saw in San Francisco called Francesca’s (there was more than one) – every time I saw it I thought of you!

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  3. What a wonderful influence Italy has had on us, I’m truly grateful for the immigrants who made/make their way here and blend their wonderful culture into the mix. I love cheese and wine, any kind but have an affection for Parmigiano cheese and clever whites. And tea towels are a big part of my kitchen, so I’m admiring your latest. They are meant to be loved and used. The jugs are gorgeous too… hmmm, something else to browse for that I can attribute to Francesca’s influence 🙂

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    1. Oh thanks Ella. the terracotta jug comes from the Mediterranean wholesalers, a cheap little thing, and the other jug I found in an oppy! If I see more with that classic pouring lip, I would buy them- just because they make me feel like I’m in Italy.

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  4. Wonderful set of ingredients….I always have Parmesan, but rarely the most expensive ( just sometimes when I can afford it), always good capers and crisp white local vin de Pays de Loire ( so many good ones). My little brown jugs sit in a row…for water, wine and now, coffee, which I make in the jug. Lovely post:)

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  5. Oh Francesca, your blog post made me smile today! Thank you! I almost cried when you highlighted Nonna’s crocheting as I had an adopted Nonna who crocheted the day away! The Pinocchio wine stopper and highlighting your favorite wine was special yo me today! Thank you for this month’s kitchen view!

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  6. Francesca, I’ve always wanted to try Grana Padano and I’m hoping the Italian grocer 30 miles away has it. I like your microplane, too! You’ve inspired me to search for GOOD cheese! 🙂 That lil’ Pinocchio (standing up) looks like one of those toys with rubber bands that make him “dance” when you push on the bottom with your thumbs — is it? — so cute! Wish I could taste your salmon dish made with your new pasta, too. 🙂

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    1. Good parmesan is worth a big drive. Mine also comes from 50 kims away. The microplane is American I believe, a great invention. The Italians I have shown it to have never seen one. There are copies about but they don’t work as well as the real thing. It grates so quickly and beautiful, I just love using it.
      I need more Pinocchios! Yes, it is the collapsing one with the bottom pressed. I don’t know why he is in the kitchen- maybe to add some mad colour.

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  7. Hey F, gorgeous post and pics. Maybe that cheese came from NZ? Lol .. Pleased you haven’t used that wine stopper .. Mine have dust on them 😉 oh that pasta looks so yummy. If I lived closer I would invite myself over 😄 hugs lovely

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  8. Oh Francesca, I adore the look of that pasta. In fact, I loved every single thing in your post. Thanks for a peek into your kitchen.

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    1. You will like Gevasi- it’s not far from you and quite close to Moreland Road. I love the deli there and the Italian chatter throughout the store. There Home style green olives are great too.

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  9. Those little wine jugs are fabulous. I really loved your kitchen visit this month – I felt very at home… I think your kitchen must have the most wonderful vibe in person 🙂

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  10. Everything looks amazing Francesca in your kitchen this month – I want some good parmesan right now, I’d love some ceramic wine jugs and that pasta looks aldente – I must head to Brunswick for some as soon as I can 🙂 How good is it to start using linen from your nonna – brings back memories, doesn’t it. Thank you for a look at #IMK x

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  11. How did I manage to miss this post? Love the jugs, (there is a line there but I’m lady!). We stopped to have a look at Costco a couple of weeks ago, tired after a city visit I wasn’t at all impressed that you had to register and sign in just to have a look. Queue a mile long and I got the here jeebies seeing all the people. I admit, I had a little tantie and we just came home. Way to big for my comfort zone! Maybe I should try again one day in a better frame of mind, it seems they have some good ‘stuff’. We have a few unused stoppers too 🙂

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    1. It’s not worth it, Costco that is. I went tehre with my daughter , who had signed up, so got in that way. It is an insane palace of consumer madness. I would have chucked a Tantie too. ( and nearly did when I went in and got stuck in there for four hours with Daughter) Not going back!, Unless she bribes me with drinks.

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