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A popular Italian dessert, especially here at The Italian, and great to make at home, this week we look into Tiramisù!
Made by soaking sponge biscuit fingers (Savoiardi) in Italian espresso coffee and layering them with mascarpone cheese whisked together with cream, sugar, and sweet Marsala liquor – sprinkled with cocoa powder at the end. A simple recipe that requires no heating or actual cooking, just patience and timing.
Originating in the north east of Italy in the 1960’s, Tiramisù literally translates as pick me up, possibly down to the strong espresso content, but also possibly down to the fact it is just so tasty you have to pick it up and eat it – it just can’t be helped!
Always homemade here at The Italian in Romiley, either by me or my dad, and always made to my dads recipe and high standards. Many people confuse Tiramisù with another of our desserts The Italian Trifle, made in a similar layered way but in a different style with very different ingredients (and nothing at all like an English trifle!).
Next time you stop by, make sure you save room for dessert!
This week’s blog post looks into one of our most popular dishes: Lasagna al Forno.
Lasagne are large thin flat pasta sheets, known to be one of the oldest varieties of pasta in Italy. The dish itself is traditionally made by layering these pasta sheets with meaty ragú (or Bolognese sauce as it is known here), tomato, béchamel, plenty of parmesan cheese, and oven baking it till the pasta inside is cooked and it is nice and golden on top.
Originating in the Emilia Romagna region in the north of Italy, and mainly served on Sunday’s, at family gatherings, or during the Carnivale (the Christian festival just before the start of lent). It quickly became a traditional dish all over the country, with many different variations – including the addition of meatballs, different types of salamis, eggs, bacon, pancetta, vegetables or many different types of cheeses. I’ve even seen white lasagna with no tomatoes in!
Perfect for feeding a large family, lasagna when cooked right should be firm and hold its shape on the plate and not flop down, collapse or have a soppy texture. The lasagna we make here at The Italian in Romiley is always made to our owner Ferdinando’s recipe and very high standards. Lovingly slow cooked British beef mincemeat and our house Italian red wine for our bolognese ragú sauce, layered with lasagne pasta sheets imported from Italy, a mixture of Grana Padano and Ricotta cheeses which give it a slightly creamy flavour inside, and a secret ingredient that gives our lasagna an extra dimension. Oven baked here till the mozzarella cheese on top is golden, slightly crispy and the whole dish is bubbling hot!
The ultimate Italian comfort food
In Italy, drinking coffee is as much of a tradition as eating and sleeping. Italians just love coffee! These days here in the UK and America it comes in all shapes, sizes and flavours, but in Italy it is still very much done the old fashioned way.
Not an Italian invention at all, it was originally discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia, who noticed one day that his goats were really hyper after eating some seeds. Somehow, that led to discovering that grinding the seeds and then soaking them in hot water made a delicious drink that would also make humans hyper. First brought to into Italy via Venice in the Middle Ages, and originally only used for medicinal purposes by the upper class, it slowly became the country’s drink of choice, and an everyday part of Italian life.
The most popular choice of coffee in Italy is the simple shot of espresso. Consumed all throughout the day, it’s both strong, full of caffeine and deliciously creamy when done right (despite containing no cream). Known in Italy as just ‘un caffé’ – ‘a coffee’, the term espresso isn’t really used in Italy. Often served with a glass of water, and usually drank stood up at the bar. Cappuccinos on the other hand are only ever drank in Italy at breakfast time. Ordering one after 10am or so may result in funny looks, Italians say the fact it’s mostly milk messes with digestion when it comes to eating lunch or dinner. Many Italian waiters we have had over the years here in Romiley have always been completely baffled by people ordering cappuccinos before, after or even during their evening meal!
A longer coffee more like what is consumed here in the UK is called a Caffé Americano – literally a shot of espresso with a full cup full of water filtered through. Caffé latte, or latte, is an American invention that isn’t found in Italian coffee bars (except ones catering for tourists). I’ve had a few customers telling me they ordered a latte on a trip to Italy and just received a glass of warm milk…! Other American or UK inventions include the frappé / frappuccino and the caramel or other flavoured coffees. In Italy coffee isn’t to be messed with, and doesn’t really need to be spoiled with the addition of anything else.
Italians are so proud of their coffee heritage that Italy is one of the very few developed countries in the world not to contain any of the big American coffee chains at all, such as Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero etc. They are happy enough as it is with their small family owned local bars, literally found on every street all throughout italy.
Not content with just making good coffee, Italy has to make good coffee machines too. Every household in Italy has a moka machinetta machine to make surprisingly good espresso on the hob at home, and bialetti or Gaggia or DeLonghi coffee machines are found in every good restaurant and bar all over the world.
Here at The Italian we use an old Italian Gaggia machine, it literally seems like the older the machine gets the better the coffee it makes! We import our coffee beans from Italy – espresso is certainly the choice of fuel for all our Italian staff members!
Pop in anytime and ask to see our coffee menu… Our coffees are also available to takeaway if you are passing by in the evening and are in need of a boost!
The ever so simple, but delicious Pizza Margherita was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte in Naples commissioned the Neapolitan pizza chef Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Her father was Ferdinando the Duke of Genoa (no relation to our owner Ferdinando!).
Considered a peasants meal in Italy for centuries beforehand, the pizza was very patriotic and resembled the Italian flag with its colours of red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella cheese), and green (basil). It was an instant hit with the queen, who gave the pizzeria a royal seal.
Even to this day Neapolitans are extremely passionate about pizza. There is nothing truly like the fresh pizza you get in Naples, it really is considered an art there.
Our proud owner Ferdinando Mercogliano was born and raised in Naples and here at The Italian we use his traditional Neapolitan dough recipe for our pizzas, the same recipe he used when he worked in Naples. Using only the finest ingredients: Caputo double-zero flour, 100% mozzarella cheese, our own homemade Neapolitan tomato sauce and a wealth of fresh toppings, ensuring maximum taste and respecting the traditional values and authenticity of the origins of pizza.
Each pizza is hand rolled out every afternoon before we open after it has risen, resulting in a thin, soft but crispy base. All our pizzas are 12″ in size.
Don’t just take our word for it, come and try for yourselves here at The Italian