You learn that when speaking of Italy’s great food culture, it's impossible to describe it without putting it in a regional context. Maybe it's the Italian connection to the land, a long culinary history, or simply local pride. In any case, discovering the regional foods of Italy is both educational and incredibly fun. Over the years, so many of us at DLM have traveled to Italy to discover its food treasures, and we've made it a point to bring a number of those back to you.
You see Italy's influence at DLM in the Italian products themselves, like our Vera Jane's Extra-Virgin Olive Oil hailing from the hills of Tuscany or our Parmigiano-Reggiano from Modena. Other times, you'll find its reach in the form of a technique we've learned from studying with Italian masters that we then replicate here, such as our DLM Handmade Mozzarella, Naples-Style Pizza, and Tuscan butcher-inspired specialty prepared meats, to name a few. As you can imagine, we could write a book on our passion for Italian food, but for the purpose of giving some focus, we are spotlighting a few regions of Italy that have inspired us the most: Tuscany, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, and Southern Italy, mainly Calabria and Sicily.
Over the years we’ve had the great fortune to travel to Italy several times to find new and exciting foods to bring back to DLM. Often, our home base is Tuscany. Our good friend and partner Alex Zanetti has graciously hosted us at his villa in the small medieval town of Lucignano. The rolling hills of this part of Tuscany are home to the olive trees that produce our signature Vera Jane’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Made exclusively of Tuscan olives, it’s virgin pressed and bottled within a few miles of the olive groves. Its distinctive peppery notes are indicative of Tuscan oils and makes it our go-to olive oil for vinaigrettes, sauces, or simply drizzled over grilled meats or pasta dishes.
Not far from Lucignano is the better known town of Montepulciano. On our last visit, we enjoyed strolling through the street market, sampling pici (long cut pasta that is significantly thicker than spaghetti), pork sandwiches, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Some of the pictures on this page are from that trip. It’s a pleasure to be able to share some of our food finds with you this month.
CAPPONE CHIANTI CLASSICO - Count Sebastiano Capponi is a dear friend to DLM, hailing from his lovely Tuscan estate that's been in his family since 1524! This young-vine Chianti is named for the first ancestor of Sebastiano. It's 100% Sangiovese, brimming with beautiful fruit and richness.
VILLA CALCINAIA CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA - 100% Sangiovese from the best blocks of old vines near Greve in Chianti. It's a well-structured wine that's full of rich black fruits, leather, spice, cigar box notes, and supple tannins.
FONTALEONI VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO - A wonderfully dry, minerally, and extremely pleasing white wine from the surrounding vineyards of the hilltop town of San Gimignano.
The Italian Renaissance is widely known for a rebirth of art, culture, and literature. During that time period, Naples, which is located in the region of Campania, is largely credited for the modern birth of one of the quite arguably most popular foods—pizza. So beloved, Pizza Margherita was created by a Neopolitan pizza maker to honor Queen Margherita. Today, we love to create this flavor at our Naples-Style Pizza Station using those signature ingredients with our homemade red sauce, DLM Handmade Mozzarella (another handmade Naples favorite we make at DLM), and whole basil.
COLLI DI LAPIO ROMANO CLELIA FIANO DI AVELLINO - A white wine from the Avellino province and a varietal the Romans called Vitis Apiana, vine beloved of bees. It's dry, lovely, and has hints of pear and hazelnut, floral tones, and a hint of minerality.
When we first sought to bring an authentic pizza-eating experience to DLM, we looked no further than the pizza-making style of Naples. We believe that to master this style, these components need to be just right: The dough (which is Made Right Here), a pizza oven to yield a crispy crust with chewy interior, correct technique when working with the dough, and the quality of ingredients as well as manner that they are applied.
Emilia-Romagna is home to lots of delicacies that we couldn’t wait to bring to DLM for you to enjoy, too! Modena is one of my favorite cities in Europe, a land of fast cars and big flavors. A few years ago, we spent an afternoon with Maria Livia Manicardi (pictured below) touring her family’s estate where they produce their wonderful balsamic vinegars. She makes our DLM Balsamic Vinegars, which is great for everyday use. Best of all, Maria creates our Aunt Angie’s Balsamic Vinegar, including DLM Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. It’s a blend that we chose on site with Maria and we’re extremely proud to put our name on it. We think you will love its richness, depth, and complexity.
Just outside of Modena are the rolling hills where the Minelli family’s cows quietly graze. Modena is known not only for its balsamic vinegar and Prosciutto di Parma, but also for its Parmigiano-Reggiano, named after the provinces Parma and Reggio-Emilia. For more than a decade, we’ve been buying this cheese from the same family, brothers Valerio and Giovanni Minelli, and Giovanni’s son Carlo. As we toured their operation, Giovanni said something I’ve never heard before from a farmer. We were visiting the barn where the cows were eating fragrant hay, and he whispered “Look into their eyes. They are happy.” And we’re happy to enjoy so many wonderful foods from Reggio-Emilia!
CASALI ROSA DI ROSA RED SPARKLING WINE - Perfect chilled with a plate of charcuterie enjoyed al fresco with its bright raspberry/blueberry fruit and soft bubbles.
LO DUCA LAMBRUSCO REGGIANO - Lambrusco does not exactly excite most after we've suffered so many terrible mass-produced and exported representations of this wine. However, Lo Duca is bright, semi-sweet, and has a naturally carbonated essence. Try it in a cocktail.
Cannoli (BAKERY), DLM Gelato (FROZEN), Scalia Anchovies (GROCERY), Marinated Anchovies (SEAFOOD BAR)
VILLA POZZI NERO D'AVOLA - The Pozzi family is a fifth-generation winemaking family located on the island of Sicily.
DONNAFUGATA ANTHILIA BIANCO - An amazingly crisp, minerally, and vibrant white wine blend from Sicily that's perfect for light seafood dishes, salad, or poultry.