A Travel Blogger’s First Experience with Fresh, Home-Cooked Italian Cuisine

A Travel Blogger's First Experience with Fresh, Home-Cooked Italian Cuisine

In February 2015 I was offered the job of a lifetime; to use my skills in theatre and drama to tour Northern Italy teaching at a different school, in a different location each week. The best part of this job was that for each school I worked at, I was hosted by a family of one of my students or teachers!

As you can imagine, this was a once in a lifetime experience. I saw some amazing cities, from Verona to Venice, Milan to Marotta. I also met some beautiful people and enjoyed beautifully authentic, home-cooked meals made for me by the families I stayed with or the quirky, rustic Italian restaurants in a far-off village somewhere like Emilia-Romagna.

My embarrassingly clichéd idea of Italian food was based around the two “P’s” (Pizza and Pasta). Which, to an extent is very much at the heart of Italian dining (although the Pizza’s in Northern Italy are far from a Dominoes Deep Crust! And Spag Bol doesn’t exist!) 

But after learning to avoid faux pas such as cutting my spaghetti or coffee with milk after dinner, I settled into Italian dining most comfortably. I learnt to love herbs such as sage which is amazing after being crisped-up in the oven or pan. I tried horse meat for the first time (which was an interesting experience, being such a horse lover). I learnt how to make gnocchi from scratch and which cheeses go best with pasta and how to store them. I found a love for authentic homemade tortellini and which pizza toppings are my favourite to top the crispy stone-baked bread (Quatro Stagioni or anything with rocket, goats cheese and prosciutto).

When I was by the sea in Marotta-Mondolfo, I stayed with a family who owned a sea food restaurant, so one evening we indulged in a fishy feast, something I had never experienced before!

I learnt a lot about “real” balsamic vinegar when staying in Modena. I had no idea that the runny, tangy stuff we buy in the supermarket is not real balsamic! Real balsamic vinegar is thick, sweet and €20-€50 a bottle!

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the best kebab in the whole world overlooking Lago Maggiore, just outside of Milan. I was exploring by myself for the day and found myself in this little kebab cafe near the train station. I took my meaty sandwich to the lake-side and tasted one of the best things I have ever tasted in my life! It was a delicious doner kebab filled with salad and sauce.

I even got to sample the delights of an Italian “school dinner” with my frequent in-school dining experiences with the children. In Italy, Lunch is considered the main meal of the day and usually consists of two courses. The main meal is often carb-based with a meat option. For example, chicken and potatoes with vegetables or salad plus some fruit and bread rolls on the side. And if I was lucky, I’d even get dessert.

Speaking of dessert, I haven’t even mentioned the dreamy, creamy Italian gelato that I often still lust for! From Kinder Bueno flavour in Marotta and Rome, to Vanilla in Venice, I love the Italian ice cream. There are often many flavours to choose from and are extremely inexpensive when compared to a similar shop in London!

After three months of travelling, the most surprising discovery for me, was a new found love for coffee. I had never ever liked coffee before Italy. I had tried it and disliked it from a very young age. However I felt that if there was going to be anywhere I liked coffee, it would be Italy! I found that the “macchiato” was my favourite with a little sugar. I took home some bags of proper Italian coffee along with a moka pot and little espresso cup set! 

What an adventure for my career and taste buds! I can't wait to re visit Italy and maybe head further south for a different kind of cuisine. 


Read more about Eboni's travels on her site here, or get social with her on Facebook l Twitter l Instagram l YouTube

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Tagliatelle VS Tagliolini

Tagliatelle VS Tagliolini

You might have already heard about Tagliatelle and Tagliolini without actually knowing the difference between them. This might be something to clear up before your next trip to Italy!

[irp posts=”38″ name=”Italy’s Must-Eat Foods: 12 Delicacies Not to Be Missed”]

What’s Tagliatelle?

Tagliatelle VS Tagliolini

The tagliatelle, derived from the Italian word tagliare – meaning “to cut” – refers to a type of pasta originating from the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions of Italy. This pasta, similar to the fettuccine and has a flat, ribbon-like appearance.

Instead of water, it is made with eggs, with a ratio of one egg to one hundred grams of flour.

How to cook Tagliatelle

Being an absorbent pasta, the tagliatelle remains firm when it is served with heavy, meaty sauces such as the bolognese sauce. Meat dishes containing rabbit, veal, pork, or beef is also commonly served with this pasta.

What’s Tagliolini?

Tagliatelle VS Tagliolini

The names of these two kinds of pasta may sound a little similar, but do not confuse tagliatelle with tagliolini. Tagliolini is a variation of the tagliatelle pasta.

The difference between these two kinds of pasta lies in its form. Tagliolini has a cylindrical shape and has a paper-thin thickness with a dimension measuring less than 3 millimeters.

How to cook Tagliolini

Unlike tagliatelle, smooth, thin sauces work best when one is whipping up a dish with the tagliolini pasta. One will often find this pasta prepared with a white truffle sauce.

Being a versatile pasta variety, richer sauces, such as the carbonara, or other sauces containing creamy ricotta also work well with the tagliolini.

Over to you

Want to find out more about these Italian delicacies? Find out more about these types of pasta – and even try cooking them – with local chefs during a visit to Rome. Sandra, a local home chef in Rome, would be happy to have you at one of her pasta making cooking classes! 

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Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina

Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina

Gnocchi alla sorrentina translates directly to mean “gnocchi to Sorrento”. This recipe originates from Sorrento, a lovely town located in the south of Naples. The gnocchi alla sorrentina is representative of the Mediterranean diet, and contains ingredients such as Basil, Mozzarella and tomato sauce.

The dish, gnocchi, may sound relatively unfamiliar to some of us, particularly for those residing in Asia or who seldom consume European dishes. Gnocchi refers to soft, thick dumplings made from semolina, wheat flour, eggs, cheese, potato, bread crumbs, or other types of ingredients.

The gnocchi are served warm or hot, and are eaten as the first course in a meal. Similar to most Italian dishes, the recipes, names and ingredients used to cook the gnocchi varies, depending on the region that the dish is prepared in.

Can’t wait to tuck into the gnocchi alla sorrentina? Our BonAppetour hosts, Angelo and Simona can whip up a tantalising serving of this dish! 

Also, find out more about our hosts in Italy here!

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