italy-News-story

It must have been 2003 in Venice with the Missus when the true meaning of Italian food got me, and got me good. This amazing, mind-blowing city is host to many cultural icons, such as St Mark’s Piazza (famous for its extraordinarily expensive coffee), Harry’s Bar (for Bellinis and affairs), the gondolas, the art….the tourists! We were on a small budget, which would’ve just about stretched to one of those ghastly miniature Venetian Gonzo masks – had we wanted one….which we didn’t! So dinner in this overpriced city was looking like a salumi panini until we decided to follow some Italians, dressed for dinner, down a side street (yeah I know, Venice is nothing but side streets!).

We stumbled upon a trattoria, blissfully modest with no name above the door and no menu we could see, no dude dressed as a gondolier beckoning us in and thankfully none of those crumby photographs of approximating the food – just in case we had forgotten what spaghetti looked like! It looked a little intimidating to be honest – were we actually allowed in with just basic Italian pleasantries and a phrasebook at our disposal? Well of course, fortune favours the brave…

They didn’t greet us as enthusiastically as perhaps they did the locals, but hey, we were in and we had a table….and we were hungry!

The leather-bound menu was passed our way and we went for a decent local red, recommended by our waiter – his brother-in-law’s vineyard of course – and I went for a Linguini with Langoustines and a Fritto Misto – a fish dish fried at the table.

Oh brother, that pasta! Two grilled langoustines atop a big pile of linguini mixed with a sweet tomato sauce, so simple. The pasta was unlike anything else I’d experienced before – dense in character, with bite, but not too filling and something else, something I couldn’t quite pin down. It remains the most pleasantly surprising plate of food. How can something seemingly as simple as egg and flour turn out so jaw-droppingly delicious?

Well, to celebrate this knack the Italians have – and let’s not forget Jamie’s affinity with this country – of turning peasant food into extraordinary dishes, we here at JamieOliver.com have asked the great Gennaro Contaldo to cook us up his favourite dishes from his home region of Amalfi in Southern Italy.

We kick off this season with a pasta-making masterclass video, filmed in a rustic outhouse in a lemon grove, high up in the hills around Minori.

We’ll also give you a sea bream prepping masterclass, desserts made with limoncello harvested from the same Amalfi hills, Pumpkin Ravioli – and loads more.

To complement this beautiful content, we’ll also be revealing Jamie’s Top 10 Italian dishes.

We’ll be delving into the Italian food loves of Jamie’s chefs at Jamie’s Italian and Fifteen, as well as checking out the Italian influences of Union Jacks main man and second generation Italian Chris Bianco.

So keep an eye on the site and Viva Italia!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lauramccollough2 Laura Hogue McCollough

    I am also in LOVE with everything Italy, so I will be watching to see what exciting dishes you come up with and will stop by one of your restaurants when we are in London (on our way to Italy) this summer!

  • Valentina

    Even eating in a hole in the wall is a good experience in Italy.

  • http://www.pugliashoponline.com/ Pugliashoponline.com

    Looking forward to following your 10 best dishes, although it will be hard to narrow it down to 10! Buon Appetito!

  • http://twitter.com/LaTavolaMarche La Tavola Marche

    We felt the same way on our honeymoon & ended up moving to Italy a year & a half later to start a farm, inn and cooking school. Italy & it’s food & people changed our life!

  • http://twitter.com/nGoose1 Goose

    Good post, good food is not just for the rich, I am on a part time wage budget. I eat well, your story tells is of a similar theme. My oysters are the freshest, handpicked, for free.

    I eat Gordon Ramsay’s and Jamie Oliver’s food. Cooking Books I own, but there is also the library. When I have more work and money, Jamie’s Italian and a return to Bread Street Kitchen are top of the list.
    As for the time element, turn the T.V. off. Back to Italy, they use the best ingredients, foraged ones are free. Shore crab Bisque perhaps? Lots of salad, wild fennel. My girlfriend spends 10 Euros on the market in Bavaria, not a million miles from Italy, so Italian influence is there. She gets a good amount of wonderful things. Where else could you get such a deal? We should all be eating good food unless we are in a war zone or famine.
    Some good pasta, can be made in to something wonderful. Looking forward to Jamie’s top 10.

  • Janine Werther

    Italian food is great! I live in Holland and have all of Jamie’s cookbooks and also I am a member of Jamie’s Magazine. My husband and I love Italian food. Last Easter we went to London for the first time. After sightseeing we were very hungry and of course we had to go to Jamie’s Italian! I have to say we loved being there. The food and atmosphere were great! It is a coincidence to read that you loved the linguini with langoustines in Italy. At the restaurant I ate the linguini with prawns and it was delicious! So was everything else we ate there. Keep on doing the great work everybody! Our next trip will be Rome and we are looking forward to enjoy the Italian cooking at the place of origin. Until that moment we will continue with cooking the recipes of Jamie to stay in that sphere!! Go Jamie!