Top Ten Thursday - Italian Food

Welcome to Top Ten Thursday!

Today we're talking about our Top Ten Italian Foods!

There are different kinds of Italian cuisine, as I have learned the heard way. 

The one I knew growing up in my Swiss home is that there is a plate of pasta or a big slice of pizza or three, and I loved it. 

One day we were invited at Dad's Sicilian coworker's home. He was a bit older than my Dad but remained single for a very long time. Anyway, he liked to cook, and we were invited at his place. 

There was some soup and salad that I don't really remember. Then he served the most delicious home made lasagna. I asked for seconds. My Mom, just as naive, let me. 

Shortly after clearing the table, Franco disappeared in the kitchen again, only to return with a huge platter of saddle of venison, beautifully garnished with Spätzli (some sort of wheat gnocchi), Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, caramelized chestnuts and mushrooms. We sat there, with our wide eyes and full bellies, and we didn't know what to do! As we definitely didn't want to offend him but show our appreciation, we ate as much as we could. 

Needless to say we absolutely positively could not eat that piece of a gigantic Black Forest Cake that followed.

We had a similar experience, many years later, when we attended our Italian neighbour's daughter's wedding. On each table there was the menu so we knew what to expect. It said something like soup, salad, pasta, veal, chicken or beef, dessert. 

We were caught by surprise again when it turned out that of course it wasn't veal, chicken or beef, but veal, chicken and beef... Little word, big difference!!!

Anyway. The Italian kitchen has to offer so many great dishes, let me get to the ones I like best:

Of course every visit at an Italian restaurant or a great night with guests at our house has to start off with a glass of prosecco! I don't even have a favourite brand, as long as it's sweet and bubbly I'm completely happy!

Photo Credit
Insalata Caprese: tomato and mozzarella salad with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar. What is supposed to be just a starter, often is a much appreciated summer dinner at our house.

Tagliatelle Carrettiera: upon googling I discovered that there are different recipes out there. The one I like, that our favourite Italian restaurant serves, is a creamy tomato sauce with ground beef, funghi porcini and peas. Unfortunately Pasquale and his family and part of his staff moved to a new restaurant that is 40 instead of 10 minutes away from our home. We still eat there from time to time.

Risotto ai funghi porcini, a weekly fall dish at our house as soon as fresh funghi porcini pop up in the forest supermarket.

Lasagna, another weekly fall-winter-early spring meal at the Gerber house. Once upon a time BK (before kids) I made a home made lasagna for our Christmas dinner. I was slaving in the kitchen pretty much all afternoon for it. These days I am down to 1.5 hours, and my routine includes having a glass of wine while cooking. Why? I use some wine to deglaze the pan after browning the ground beef, so I'd better make sure it's a delicious one!

Meatball Spaghetti, I like them at Olive Garden or home made. It's really not that hard. Make a slurry, use the ice cream scoop to shape them, bake them for 12 minutes and let them simmer in tomato sauce for at least half an hour, longer is better. 

Linguine all' Astice (lobster): This one is a new favourite that I just discovered last weekend when we went out for dinner at "Sale & Pepe". Not sure how authentic this dish is. Is there any lobster in the Mediterranean? (Wikipedia says yes!)

Pizza! Who doesn't like wood fired brick oven pizza, right? Even frozen pizza is better than no pizza. Did you see the video in which a guy asks his not too bright girlfriend if she'd rather have her pizza cut into 8 or 12 slices and she says 8, because she couldn't possibly eat 12? 

The original Italian pizza dough is super thin and crusty, which is fine. My favourite one is American style, though: thick! However, I'm specifically not a fan of the Chicago-style pizza. I have tried twice and didn't like it. 

As far as toppings go, I don't need much, I'm fine with just Margarita, and I do like veggie pizza: roasted peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, sweet corn and (brace yourself) broccoli. I know! Five a day, right?

Saltimbocca alla Romana: veal with prosciutto and sage in a marsala-butter sauce

Full-bodied red wines like Brunello di Montalcino or Amarone della Valpolicella (I can't believe spell check wanted to change "Amarone" into "Amazon"!!)

Unfortunately I barely get to have dessert because I'm more than full from all the other yummy dishes. If I was to order one, though, it'd be Italian Cheesecake, made with ricotta or simply Gelato (ice cream)

Coming to an end I'd like to mention a couple of movie scenes happening at Italian Restaurants:

Rex II, Los Angeles, Julia Robert's character Vivian aka Pretty Woman, is having dinner with Edward and Mr. Morse senior and grandson. She's confused by the amount and variety of forks and knives, and she's having a hard time handling escargot - slippery little suckers!

Minetta Tavern, NYC, (in the movie it's called "The La Trattoria"), Hugh Grant is Mickey Blue Eyes, but let's fuggeddaboud id and get the h*** outta he'e, the really funny scene happens at a Chinese Restaurant where Mickey tries to sneak a marriage proposal into his girlfriend's fortune cookie. When she doesn't want to eat it, the waiter owner gets impatient and demands that she "eat the f***ing cookie!!!"

Parietti's, in "Analyze This", the restaurant where Robert De Niro's character Paul Vitti's father was shot to death. Paul still frequents the restaurant with his mafia buddies. As Paul's shrink Ben sits at the table, they speak in code about the first or the second thing. 

Unfortunately the best part of the scene was left out, probably for strong language reasons.

They see a member of their rival family walking in and bitch about him:

"Stevie Beef is over there"
"Fat piece of sh**!"
"Rat f***ing, c***s***ing scumbag"
"Garbage pail"

"Let's go say hi"

What are your favorite Italian dishes?

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