Buon Natale! Food Ideas for an Italian Twist to your Christmas

11th December

Look no further for inspiration on how to do Christmas a bit differently. We have got together with Cinzia and James, from Cuculo, in Heathfield’s High St to produce a mouthwatering list of ideas for how to introduce a few new elements into your festive repertoire, or a complete break with tradition.

Cinzia originates from Valle d’Aosta in the mountains of Northern Italy, and there are elements of this region to be found across the deli, while James’s wine expertise means that the wine shop is always well stocked with delicious wines from Italy, France and more recently local Sussex suppliers as well.

Italian food is very regional, so what is found in the North could be unfamiliar to those in the South. The following ideas are predominantly Northern in origin.

Anti Pasti Cured Meat Platter – start your meal with a selection of cold meats, easy to prepare as everyone helps themselves, supplement the platter with roasted vegetables and pickled vegetables like mushrooms

Fondu or ‘La Fondata’ – time to get out that old fondu set out or pick one up on Ebay (there are many). For lovers of cheese, gathering around a molten bowl of melted cheese has to be heaven and it’s a sociable eating experience. Cinzia recommends using Fontina cheese, macerating it in milk and slowly melting it with an egg yoke and some white wine (optional) whisked in at the end. Traditionally rye bread is dipped into the mixture with long forks.We found this easy recipe in Red Magazine if you would like to try it out.   Recipe

Panettone – a festive sweet cake in alight, bread-like style usually contains candied peel and dried fruits but also available with chocolate or lemon. They are packaged in pretty boxes or wrappings and come it lots of sizes, so they make great presents. You can enjoy panettone as a lighter alternative to Christmas cake or pudding, and serve it with a sweet wine like Asti or Moscato. The best bit is – left overs make great bread and butter pudding. Click here to win a Panettone and Moscato Wine.

Other sweet treats:

Panforte – a rich, thin, dense cake made from dried fruit, candied peel and almonds – a perfect alternative to Christmas Cake

Bucellato – similar to stollen

Torrone – Italian Nougat soft or hard with nuts and a variety of flavours

Biscuits – Amaretti  pair well with liqueur or coffee and biscotti with coffee or sweet wine

Drinks – A great light start to the day is Prosecco, lighter than champagne is a popular choice for Christmas morning, it can be served as a Bellini with peach liqueur or a Lugo with Elderflower. Classic red Barolo wine goes with most Christmas main dish choices and with dessert try a chilled Moscato- a low alcohol, rich, sweet wine perfect with puddings. To finish – classic limoncello or grappa.

Now that we have given you a taste of how to do Christmas with an Italian twist, if it has inspired you to go further Cinzia will be running Italian cookery classes in 2018 – January 25th and February 15th are the next dates. What’s more the classes make a perfect present for a food lover. and Vouchers are on sale now at the Cuculo.