Eat like an Italian

By
Eve O'Sullivan
Added
20 July, 2015

If you’ve ever been on holiday to Italy, like us, you’ve probably eaten classic pizzas, pastas and risottos until you’re fit to burst. While sticking with what you know isn’t always a bad thing, delve a little deeper and you’ll find the true heart of the region; eating cotoletta in Milan, beans in Florence and artichokes in Campania will open up a whole new world of Italian cooking. 

Tuscany pasta recipes

We spoke to three Airbnb hosts about the food of their region, must-eats while you’re there, and asked about the best-kept secrets when it comes to eating out. 


Nicoletta Brambilla, Milan 


What ingredients typify the food of Milan?

 Rice (for ‘risotto alla Milanese’ with beef broth, saffron, marrow, Parmesan cheese...); veal (for cotoletta alla Milanese, a breaded veal cutlet); different parts of beef for ‘mondeghili’, a sort of meatball with eggs, bread and spices; marrowbone (for ‘ossobuco alla Milanese’ with flour, butter, olive oil, broth, parsley, grated lemon peel...); pumpkin (for risotto and ravioli); polenta (the best is with Gorgonzola cheese) and vegetables, for minestrone. 

Milan italian food

What three things should everyone eat?

Risotto, cotoletta (a breaded veal cutlet), and on the sweet side, panettone 

 

What’s the easiest dish to make at home?

Cotoletta alla Milanese. The secrets are: don't beat the cutlets; dip the cutlets twice in beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, and then fried them in vast amounts of clarified butter for 7 minutes each side without touching them.


Milan Italian food

What are the best-kept secrets when it comes to eating out?

It has to be Pastamadre, Trattoria La Fratellanza (S. Vito di Gaggiano, near Milano), and Fioraio Bianchi caffe. 


Why should people visit your region/city?

We have everything; arts, exhibits, monuments, museums (new opening Armani Silos, Fondazione Prada, Mudec), churches, fashion, design, food, lifestyle, music.



Laura Niccolai, Massa Lubrense, Campania 



What ingredients typify the food of Massa Lubrense?

The tomatoes are particularly delicious, and famous worldwide. Vegetables are a strong feature in local cuisine, because the mixture of volcanic soil, fresh sea air and Southern Italian sunshine results in a very bountiful harvest.

Campania cooking italian

Our area’s famous mozzarella is another important ingredient in many traditional dishes. It’s perfect for a Caprese salad with sun-ripened tomatoes, freshly-picked basil leaves and a drizzle of local olive oil.


Fresh seafood is in abundance, and features wonderfully in many local dishes. We buy it from Enrico, at his small fish shop in the center of Sant’Agata. We also can’t fail to mention our extra virgin olive oil. Another is Amalfi lemons, appreciated not only in their own right but also because you can make Limoncello from them, a light and delicious after-dinner liqueur, so full of fragrance and taste that it leaves a lasting impression.

What three things should every visitor eat? 

There are far more than three! But if we have to choose, then for starters, it would be aubergine parmigiana. For primi (first course), a popular local classic is gnocchi alla Sorrentina, Sorrento-style gnocchi, with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil.

A lovely local main course is pesce all’acqua pazza, which is fish with black olives, capers and cherry tomatoes. And since Sorrento and Amalfi are famous for their lemons, we would recommend Delizia al limone, a lemon scented cake, for dessert, followed by limoncello.

What’s the easiest dish to make at home?

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is something that cooks of all ages and abilities can master. Once you know the secrets, it is straightforward to make, and yet very impressive to serve! We always design our in-house cookery class menus based on our guests’ culinary abilities, as we like to create menus that they will easily be able to recreate at home with their families and friends.


campania cooking italian

What are the best-kept secrets when it comes to eating out?

You will never find another place like Bar Orlando in Sant’Agata sui die Golfi. Many call it ‘The Smoking Cat’ bar, a quirky reference to an ancient local cat who apparently enjoyed tobacco. There are photos and even a statue to commemorate it! If you’re after a high-end restaurant, Don Alfonso 1890 is a couple of minutes walk away, and it’s two Michelin star. But there are also many local family run restaurants serving authentic and delicious dishes, such as Lo Stuzzichino, and Da Mimi's,a family run local favourite that has passed through the generations.

Why should people visit Campania?

We live in one of the most spectacular settings in the world – we are close to Amalfi, Positano, Ravello (the Amalfi coast and its many villages); Sorrento; the islands of Capri, Ischia, Proscida; Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius; Naples...but people visiting Sant'Agata sui due Golfi are also able to experience authentic Italian village life. 



Michele Ruini, Florence

What ingredients typify the food in Florence?

My hometown Florence, like many others in Italy, has a rich gastronomic history with a deep rural background. In fact, many mainstream foods we find nowadays in local restaurants, originated from the "poor" country tradition. The king ingredient that can be found in every meal is extra virgin olive oil, which is used as dressing on another typical ingredient, unsalted bread, like my mum uses to have for breakfast everyday. Cavolo Nero, a black variety of cabbage, is used in many winter recipes like ribollita (coupled with beans and again our unsalted bread). Chickpeas and beans  are also core ingredients  in many peasants dishes like pasta e fagioli. 

 

What three things should every visitor eat?

There are only two essentials; one is ‘panino con lampredotto’. You can eat it at one of the many kiosks around the city center. Lampredotto is a piece of one of the cow's stomachs, boiled and served with bread, salt and pepper.  Another, perhaps one of the most famous dishes, which is also named after the city, is the "bistecca alla fiorentina". A huge chunk of t-boned meat (at least 1.8kg) from local cows is prepared and cooked according a traditional method.

What’s the easiest dish to make at home?

It’s all easy, so I’d suggest a book; a great deal of the most important recipes have been collected, reviewed and then published more than 100 years ago by Beniamino Artusi in his book acknowledged as the first manual of Italian culinary culture.  They are the backbone of many typical trattorie menus in Florence.

What are the best-kept secrets when it comes to eating out?

I love hanging around the city centre for lunch and grabbing a panino al lampredotto at the kiosk in porta Romana or eating together with strangers at trattoria da Mario or at the less crowded le Mossacce.


Florence italian cooking

Why should people visit Florence?

Yes, we have a great deal of arts and beauties sitting in our splendid city coming from remote past, but we also have a vibrant and rich gastronomic culture that is really worth discovering; it’s well worth having a cookery class.



For more information about these locations and hosts, visit Airbnb.
 

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