Forget those short-lived diet and exercise resolutions. I’d rather dream up aspirations for 2013 with a connection to Italy–a new dish, wine or restaurant to try, a region to visit (or revisit), a skill to perfect, an experience to seek out. I was curious what others who know and love Italy had to say, so I asked–and think you will be as fascinated as I am by what they have in mind.
“We are in the countdown phase of our lives. Too late for resolutions. We do have a wish, however: if only the three or four Italian-born chefs in Sarasota’s restaurants would take a few weeks off to go stay with their mothers in Italy and rediscover the taste of Italian family cooking”–renowned cookbook couple Marcella and Victor Hazan
“I want to introduce salame a punta di coltello to our menu. Family members taught me this authentic southern Italian technique for making sausage or salumi. Cutting the meat by hand with a knife rather than using a meat grinder produces a superior texture while synergizing the aromas of wine and pepper”–John Coletta, partner and executive chef, Quartino, Chicago
“I’ll try to spend more time doing the things I love and less time working (though I do love my day job). Living in Florence, Italy, I have access to excellent ingredients, but as I often get home from work at 8 pm, sometimes the most I can manage is pasta with red sauce. Maybe this year I’ll manage to plan ahead and buy vegetables at the Coop, or better yet, the local market, and cook a few things in advance so that even on late nights, I’ll have something to eat. My best advance-prep foods: my interpretation of minestrone, vegetarian lasagna and portions of already sauteed zucchini to add to rice or pasta at the last minute”–Alexandra Korey, art and travel writer based in Florence
“I would like to give a cooking class with Sicilian dishes in New York City”–Fiorangela Piccione, B&B owner and cooking teacher in Siracusa, Sicily
“I resolve to revisit two places I once lived: Campania, where I will eat mozzarella di bufala in Paestum with Lacrimarosa, and Romagna to enjoy piadina with prosciutto di Parma and drink Sangiovese from Celli. I hope to visit Friuli-Venezia Giulia for the first time–perhaps the Collio wine area to taste Colli Orientali dei Friuli Picolit and a Ramandolo with a freshly caught and simply grilled Adriatic fish”–Karen Bergeson, co-producer of Sip Italy, a food and wine tourism site
“I would like to spend a portion of the 2013 summer in Altopiano di Asiago and taste the three versions of Asiago (fresh, mezzano and vecchio). I will drink a Vespaiolo with the fresh and a Breganze with the older versions”--Vincenzo D’Antonio, co-producer of Sip Italy and writer for Italia a Tavola
“I can’t wait to get back to the province of Gorizia in Friuli-Venezia Giulia–a beautiful land with a mixed culture, between Italy, Austria and Slovenia. It’s a chance to see historical places and taste great white wines, including “orange” wine. Another wonderful tour is in the Trentino region: visit Mieli Thun for honey making and Mario Pojer for wine, then sleep at an agriturismo near the ski area. Of course, I’ll be spending most of my time making and marketing traditional balsamic vinegar in my home territory of Reggio Emilia–Andrea Bezzecchi, owner of Acetaia San Giacomo
“After four years of manning the kitchen in my from-scratch Italian restaurant, it’s time to connect back to Italy and start showcasing some amazing DOP products. Starting in January, we’ll be hosting events that focus on mozzarella di bufala, Asiago DOP and Gorgonzola DOP–Dan Bavaro, chef/owner of Bavaro’s, Tampa
“I’m not sure it’s going to be a reality for me but I am very interested in traveling to Sardinia, and especially learning and ultimately perfecting (though I know that’s a far-off goal) the technique of hand-pulled pasta “su filindeu,” made of semolina and salted water”–Jessica Botta, chef-instructor in The International Culinary Center’s School of Italian Studies, New York City
As for me, I look forward to spending time in Italy this year–relishing places I love in Tuscany and Sicily, and branching out to new ones. Abruzzo is on my radar and, like others, I’m interested in seeing what Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia are all about. Here at home, I want to crack the secret of making gnocchi that float off your plate rather than sitting leadenly in your stomach–the potato kind (gnudi don’t count). I also plan to experiment with using top-notch ingredients to make some of the staples Italian and Italian-American families used to routinely produce at home: sausage, fresh cheeses such as ricotta, and wine vinegar.
Auguri di buon anno, with my fervent wishes that your Italian resolutions come true!