Jamie’s Italian Top 10

When it comes to Italy, its people, places and above all food, Jamie is somewhat of an aficionado. He had his honeymoon there, was a chef in two famous Italian restaurants (The River Café and Antonio Carluccio’s Neal Street Restaurant) and of course has his own chain of immensely successful Jamie’s Italians. But if he could choose just 10 things about the amazing country, what would they be?

Jamie said: “It’s tough to narrow it down as it’s such an amazing place, but here goes…”

  • Rome – “A beautiful place with a stunning historic view and restaurant around every corner.”
  • Olive oil – “The extra virgin oil from Fontodi – used in my Fifteen restaurants – is the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s a fresh, green-yellow colour and is so beautiful as an addition to any salad and bread. One of the ingredients that makes Italy so amazing.”
  • Pizza Fritta – “When I took my students to Italy to see how olive oil was made, we ate these ‘fried’ pizzas at a great little restaurant called Il Vescovino in Panzano in the Chianti region. The chef fried the thin bases in oil, like poppadoms, then quickly topped them with tomato sauce, mozzarella and a little bit of oregano and popped them straight under a hot grill. They were the lightest pizzas I’ve ever eaten – just incredible – and this is how the first ever pizzas were made.”
  • Tuscany – “This whole region is covered with food and wine beauties. The wine is incredible, with Chianti coming out tops, and Tuscany’s capital Florence is one of those jaw-dropping Italian cities where you just want to go back as soon as possible. I ate a Bistecca Florentina, a huge grilled steak smothered in aromatic herbs.”
  • Wild Boar – “Where amazing pork products crosses over into game. The Italians go crazy about Wild Boar, it has a strong flavour which seems to link it to the earth and foraged ingredients it lives in. Cured wild boar meat is off the scale.”
  • Vino Santo – “Another Tuscan favourite, this dessert wine can be expensive, but it’s worth every penny. Full of pears and honey flavours, it is as good as any Sauternes.”
  • Coffee – “Grab a cup of coffee in any roadside service station and it will knock the pants off most coffee anywhere else. It is super-strong and part of the Italian culture. They are proud to serve it and proud of their skills as baristas.”
  • Vinegar – “No other country does vinegar like the Italians. The Balsamic family, aged and sticky, bring alive dishes and vinegar in general is an ingredient which deserves to be used more in the UK and not just splashing over our fish and chips.”
  • Amalfi – “Rugged coastlines, amazing cuisine, an incredibly friendly hospitable place with a focus on family food. The lemons are huge and ugly – just like they should be – and I love going back there. Plus it is the part of the world that gave us…
  • Gennaro Contaldo – “The way he talks about Italian food, his knowledge, enthusiasm and joy have brought his country’s incredible food to millions. He’s the man! Big Love Gennaro!”

Honourable mention – Sicily – “Where I had my honeymoon, an exciting and vibrant place obsessed with food.”


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