The first time I drank a coffee at the bar I did it because I didn’t want to be no less than my university girlfriends, who would normally meet in the morning just before going to the class to sip a macchiato or a ristretto, an excuse to exchange little chats before filling notebooks and notebooks with tiny notes during Public communication or Semiotics. I did not like the coffee too much, but I did not want to miss that moment of sharing, a social ritual so fascinating to my eyes as a young student.
I began with macchiato to disguise the taste of coffee, and for months I didn’t even know how to drink it – I would leave the little spoon into the cup and every time I would stain my nose with foam – until Laura, who not coincidentally has become my best friend, said: look, Giulia, you can drink your coffee even without the spoon, just leave it on the saucer!
From there it was all downhill, I moved to espresso without sugar after a few months and I learnt first to appreciate then love the taste of pure coffee. The social ritual turned into a moment of pleasure, at home or at the bar, as long as the coffee is excellent and dark.
As for the aperitivo with friends, alas, I am still at the level of it being a social ritual. As you might have understood, it’s the aperitivo, the social ritual and everything that revolves around it, the theme of the July Italian Table Talk. We wanted to take advantage of this holiday atmosphere, light and summery, to imagine ourselves at the end of the day with sun kissed skin, sitting in a bar on the beach for a drink that reconciles us with the world. Emiko has prepared a guide to aperitivo, a handbook on how to deal with this social ritual in the correct way. Valeria is the experto of aperitivo in the North East, so follow her advice to find the perfect spot to enjoy a spritz in Padua. Jasmine lives in Milan, so she will be the person to go to to have a complete guide for the aperitivo in Milan and the recipe for negroni sbagliato.
As for me, you already know that I have a very special relationship with alcohol, I do not drink wine, I rarely venture on the road of cocktails and I learnt to appreciate beer in the last few months. You understand then that for me the aperitivo is essentially a social ritual, an excuse to meet up with friends over a glass of something, alcoholic or not, and nibble on more or less quality food from a saucer strategically filled thanks to years of experience playing tetris.
Luckily there are non-alcoholic drinks – crodino, sanbitter, spuma … – but also in this case I’m not crazy about them. Yes, I am the most open person in the world when it comes to eat, I have any concern at all in trying new food and I appreciate almost everything, but when it comes to drink, I have a few more problems… What I like the most is to order a non-alcoholic cocktail with fruit – usually sour, not sweet – and I love to be surprised by the bartender playing with seasonal fruit. Even in this case you have to be lucky and be in the right bar. Luckily Emiko made me discover the Golden View Bar in Florence, right next to Ponte Vecchio. Not only it is in a perfect location, central and extremely romantic, with the Uffizi just in front of you that reflects on the river Arno, but there you can also find excellent non-alcoholic cocktails that won’t make you look bad compared to the more interesting orders of your friends.
Sometimes I like to go wild, leaving the comfort zone, and so I will order a proper cocktail – a spritz recently, a bellini or a mimosa at the beginning, or very rarely a mojito if I really feel confident – and here lies the problem. I need to eat to not be clouded by a few sips of alcohol, since it doesn’t make me more talkative and nice, no, it reduces me into a catatonic state with a silly and uncertain smile on my lips.
I found the perfect solution during the first aperitivo at university, I needed something deep fried. It can be olive all’ascolana, stuffed olives, vegetables, mozzarella or bread dough, everything as long as it is deep fried. Having my good serving of fried food could help me keeping myself brilliant and concentrated, respecting what is the true dictates of the Italian aperitivo: have fun with a good drink, nibble some food and try to stay lucid at least until dinner!
Mozzarella in carrozza, literally mozzarella ‘in a carriage’, is one of the dishes that better represents for me the ’80s and my childhood, the prize dinner that mum would allow us once a month, crisp on the outside with a heart of melting mozzarella, it was supposed to be eaten so hot that it burned your hands and tongue… though it was impossible to wait, it was to be eaten immediately, holding it with a piece of kitchen paper trying to absorb somehow the excess oil. At the end I would throw it away with impatience, the last obstacle between me and the perfect bite.
The recipe is simple, and therefore requires the utmost care in the selection of the ingredients: wood oven baked bread with a very thick and compact crumb, fresh eggs and a mozzarella as God intended: it can be fiordilatte or mozzarella di bufala, do not think that the fact that the mozzarella is sandwiched between two slices of deep fried bread will allow you to choose one of those plastic mozzarellas. The mozzarella has to sing and melt, it is a princess in a precious carriage.
- 1 buffalo mozzarella - about 300 g
- 12 slices of wood oven baked bread
- 2 eggs
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Keep the mozzarella at room temperature for about ten minutes and try to drain the excess water.
- Slice the bread into 1 cm thick slices and cut out 12 circles with a glass, trying to remove the crust. Slice the mozzarella into 1 cm thick slices and sandwich every mozzarella slice between two bread slices. Keep it close with a toothpick.
- Flour the bread, then pass every sandwich into an egg wash, then deep fry them for a few minutes until golden on both sides.
- Remove the bread from the oil, place it on a plate with come paper towels to absorb the excess oil, sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.
Not to lose a single post by the Italian Table talk girls, these are our Social Accounts:
- Emiko, her blog is Emikodavies.com, @emikodavies on Twitter, and her Pinterest
- Valeria, her blog is Life Love Food, @valerianecchio on Twitter, her FB Page and her Pinterest
- Jasmine, her blog is Labna.it, @labna on Twitter, her FB page and her Pinterest
- Juls, my Twitter @Julskitchen, FB page and Pinterest
The hashtag to follow the conversation on Italian Table talk on Twitter is #ITabletalk (easy, isn’t it?) and now you can find us also on our new Facebook page Italian Table talk. Tell us about your favourite cocktail and what you love to nibble on during an aperitivo!
… and a big thank you to my aperitivo friends!