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Fourth Week – Trentino

November 2, 2011

Insalata di Carne

Trentino is in the north of Italy and very near to Austria and Germany. Hence, much of the cuisine is influenced by their neighbouring countries, so it’s not surprising to find sauerkraut and apple strudel. One of my favourite dishes was the Insalata di Carne(yeap, steak tartare again), but it’s different from the version done by the Piemonte chef, who used raw beef.
 
The beef brought by the Trentino chef, had been cured for more than 40 days. Hence, the meat had inherited the taste of the spices used in the curing. The addition of the rosemary flavored olive oil really enhanced the flavor. 
 

Zuppa di Orzo

Many people tink that Italian food is all about Pizzas and Pastas, but there’s a lot more to Italian food. Most of the traditional cuisine arose from the days of old when the people were poor and ate whatever they could grow. And they grew a lot of beans and barley.
 
We had a soup made with vegetables, beans, and barley(known as orzo). Many americans confuse this with a kind of pasta in USA called Orzo, but those pasta grains don’t exist here, and the only orzo they know is barley. Very healthy and tasty soup.
 
Talking about Orzo, a common drink here is roasted barley, also simply called orzo. People drink it often in place of coffee because it tastes a little similar to coffee but does not contain caffeine, and is actually healthy. I didn’t like it the first time i tried it in a ristorante. But later, I bought the instant orzo to try as a herbal drink, and I have been drinking it everyday since then.
 

Il Cervo

 Next, is another of my favourite dishes, Venison Stew. What’s so special about this venison stew is that it has chocolate in it, something I will definitely try when I get back. It is served with polenta and sauteed mushrooms.
 
I have seen, in my few weeks here, how savoury and sweet ingredients are interchangeably used. There are almost no boundaries, but it is always used very subtly and actually gives a new dimension to the flavours.
 

Gnocchi di Polenta

We made gnocchi again, but this time it is made with polenta. It’s one of  the ways to use up leftover polenta, but it was good. The polenta gave the gnocchi a little chewiness instead of the starchiness of potato gnocchi. But, it was still light, and not too gummy. It was cooked with fresh salsiccia and mushrooms, very tasty.
 

Canederli

 An interesting dish we made was Canederli, which was made with day old bread, soaked in milk and combined with different ingredients to make a kind of dumpling. The on we made was made with cheese, although there are many variations like mushrooms, beets, liver or spinach. It didn’t sound appetizing to me at first, but it was actually good.
 
This one was dressed with sage butter and topped with a parmesan crisp to complement the taste and to make a traditional dish look more gourmet.

Zuppa del Bosco

 
We made another soup, but it was so thick and rich, it was almost like a stew. Zuppa del Bosco means Soup of the Woodlands. It’s a soup made with ingredients from the woods, namely game meats and mushrooms and herbs, very rich in flavor.
 

Strudel di Mele

For dessert, we made Apple Strudel, not quite the kind of strudel I was used to, but it wasn’t too difficult to make. However, this strudel is made with a type of apple that grew in that area, and almost became extinct, but was revived and brought back. The characteristic taste of these apples are that they are extremely tart and sour, but high in minerals.
 

Semifreddo al Miele

We also made Semifreddo, one of my favourite desserts, next to gelato. Semifreddo is made with cream and eggs, and in this recipe, with honey. Without an ice cream machine, the semifreddo is probably the closest thing to ice cream that you can make easily. We ate it with the blueberry conserve which the chef had previously made with just fresh blueberries and some sugar only. It was a sweet ending for all that food.
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From → Culinary Journal

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