"Few people seem to go on vacation to the Marche, the region of Italy
that lies between Umbria and the Adriatic. Yet it is a delightful area,
with rolling hills, great beaches, long stretches of undeveloped
coastline and cultured hilltowns such as Urbino. If you take a cheap
flight to the Marche – you can fly to Acona from London - you’ll not
only escape the tourists who flock to Tuscany and Rome, you’ll be able
to try the region’s delicious cuisine. As Fred Plotkin says in his
fascinating book Italy for the Gourmet Traveller (Kyle Cathie £14.99),
‘the combination of sea, hills, and mountains’ in the Marche means that
‘there is superb seafood as well as excellent truffles, mushrooms,
meats, olives, grapes, and especially cheeses.
Dishes to look out for on your vacation include vincisgrassi, a rich
lasagne made with cream, veal ragu and black truffles; brodetto, a fish
stew made with garlic and herbs and served over slices of bread; lumache
a nove erbe, which is snails cooked with nine herbs – a speciality of
the northern Marche; and sarde alla Marchigiana, a dish of sardines
which are baked with breadcrumbs, rosemary, parsley and lemon.
As you explore the Marche, you will also find speciality cheeses such as
Casciotta, a cheese made from a mix of sheep’s milk and cow’s milk,
that Fred Plotkin says was Michelangelo’s favourite cheese. Apparently
the great Renaissance artist used to eat keep supplies of casciotta
handy so he could eat it while he sculpted. Michelangelo liked it so
much he eventually bought land near Urbino and grazed sheep on it, so
that he would always have casciotta to eat. Other traditional cheeses
from the Marche are Formaggio di Fossa, a pecorino cheese stored in
caves, and Pecorino Sotto le Foglie di Noci, a pecorino cheese wrapped
in walnut leaves.
In Italy for the Gourmet Traveller, Fred Plotkin suggests restaurants
where you might like to eat when you visit the Marche. He also provides
some recipes for classic dishes of the region. This recipe for Shrimps
Wrapped in Prosciutto, which appears here with permission, is a
speciality of Ristorante delle Rose in Marina di Montemarciano. It uses
prosciutto from the town of Carpenga, but if that is unavailable you may
substitute it with prosciutto from Parma or San Daniele. Prosciutto
from Carpegna is saltier than the others."
Le Macchiole is a story of men and human endeavor. And of one man in particular.
Eugenio was strongly convinced of his passion for wine that,
when it entered his life, took it over and proceeded to profoundly
Always one for experimenting, he decided to become a winegrower;
following his instinct and wholeheartedly committing himself to hard
became a very successful one. Cinzia, his partner for years, was
his accomplice in this new and challenging adventure.
Article first published as Eating Sea Urchins in Apulia on Technorati. "Buy
the sea urchins!" This
exclamation can be heard every morning at more or less the same time. When the
fishermen are back with their booty. Have you ever tried these spiny sea
animals? If not, Apulia, the "heel of the Italian boot", might be the
perfect place for an introduction. Sea urchins can be found along the whole of
the stunning Puglian coast, and you will hear that cry everywhere you go.
It is commonly said that fruti di mare (seafood) are best savoured during the months
containing an "r", therefore mainly in the winter, for freshness. You
will however have no trouble finding sea urchins while on holiday in the
summer. It might even be fun to go and collect some yourself, but be careful
not to walk on them! The spikes breaking into your flesh will be very painful,
and it takes a long time for them to come out. Use thick gloves or tongs to
haul the ricci di mare out of the
water, and put them straight into the large bag you will have taken with you. If you
purchase them, the fishmonger will show you how to open the sea urchins or do
it for you. It might be a good idea to learn the proper way if you are having a
go on your own. As the edible part is nesting on one side only, it would be a
shame to destroy it by tackling the wrong part. Special pliers dedicated to
that job exist and you will get the best results that way, but a pair of sturdy
scissors or simply a sharp knife can also be used for that purpose. Once open,
you will marvel at the delicate orange colour. The edible part, called the roe,
can be rinsed with fresh or salt water first. You can also skip that part: Just
tip the shell to drain it and start eating with a knife or a spoon. Its foamy
consistency is surprising at first, and then the salty, subtle taste hits your
taste buds. Add a piece of fresh bread to the equation and you will get one perfect
combination of food heaven.
Eating it raw is not to your taste? Not a problem.
Try one of the several existing pasta or risotto recipes in the comfort of your own kitchen for a special lunch or dinner.
Sadly, a new report that ocean acidification is
affecting shell growing in sea creatures, therefore rendering them more exposed
to predator attacks, has now been published. Which impact will this consequence
of climate change have on the marine food chain, and also on human seafood
supply? Will the simple pleasure described in this article disappear one day?