Food to celebrate
I’m lucky enough to work part time at an amazing Italian Deli/cafe where my love for all things cured, fermented and aged has grown immensely. Re-designing their newsletter has inspired me to share with you some pantry ingredients to have around or to get in a pinch when you have some people over. Ottavio Italian Bakery and Deli is an amazing resource for such items here in Victoria BC but I’m sure that wherever you are you will be able to source out a great deli/bakery.
The items photographed above and listed below are probably not things most people have or would have around the house but this is where I would love to change your mind about that. Our culture isn’t set up the same way as the Europeans. We are less likely to have an impromptu get together as they are. They are also used to spending the time between 4-8 not rushing around trying to get dinner done but instead relaxing after a days work, having a drink, something to nibble on and sharing this with friends. Dinner can come after. You’ll be in a more relaxed state to decide what to have. It’s not always easy as most of us are stuck in the same routines but I urge you to try it out.
Here are a list of things that can set you on your way to try this lifestyle out. Look to spend around $100. This would include stuff you can save for next time along with a selection of wines or beers. So what’s $100? A pair of shoes that you can’t eat…that’s what that is!
1. Have a small selection of cheeses on hand – Here are some different styles of cheese. You could choose 3 styles or more but 3 keeps it simple and affordable. Don’t be overwhelmed by all of these cheeses. Any good cheese monger or deli should be able to help you out. It’s worth it!
Hard ( Parmigiano, Pecorino, Aged Cheddar, Manchego)
Semi Hard ( Tete de Moine, Ossau-Irraty, Gouda, Comte)
Semi Soft (St Nectaire, Morbier, Pont l’Eveque)
Soft (Camembert, Chevre, Triple Cream Brie)
Blue ( Stilton, Fourme d’Ambert, Dolce Latte)
Sheep/Goat ( Macedonian Feta, Chevre Paillot, Valencay)
2. Have some cured meats like Prosciutto, Salami, Saucison, or even some cooked hams like Rosemary Ham
3. Olives – Source out some great olives even if it means driving all over town – I can’t stress this more. I will usually take olives in brine and season them myself at home with some fennel seeds, rosemary, fresh lemon zest and olive oil.
4. Some nice baguette or Italian style bread. Keep these in the freezer as they only take about 15mins to thaw. Also a mixture of crackers along with some grissini (Italian breadsticks- see top picture) if you can get your hands on some.
5. Dried fruit, mixed nuts, and some fresh fruit as well. Fruit compotes and chutney are great as well.
6. And of course your beverage of choice. It’s really easy to find wines under $15 that represent great value. Wines that work well are soft, fruity reds like Aussie shiraz, Pinot noirs, and basically anything with low tannins and acidity for reds. For whites it’s best to get that acidity as it acts like a palate cleanser. So think Sauvignon Blanc. Rieslings and Gewurtztraminer (awesome with stinky and blue cheeses) and a Dessert wine is always amazing for a different experience (Blue cheeses being the typical pairing). Beer also is an amazing pairing. Especially the hand crafted beers that offer a bit more complexity that just your run of the mill lagers.