PWk: Prod, Tlk: GS2, Datacash: Live
One of the things I love about Italy is its food and what better way to sample some of its best produce than meeting the producers themselves. I’m lucky that with my job, over the years, I’ve had the opportunity of meeting a few, watching how they work and, of course, sampling their delicious products! The following are a few of my favourites, which I hope you might have a chance to visit on your next trip to Italy.
Deep in the heart of the Puglian countryside is Olio Ferre, one of the best olive oil producers of the region. Rich, pungent extra virgin olive oil is meticulously made from age-old olive trees. You can sample their liquid gold at the farm shop and buy some to take home – if you’re lucky, they may take you on a tour too!
Head south from the Amalfi Coast, and as you enter the Cilento region you’ll find one of my favourite cheese producers, Caseificio Di Lascio. Just beside the factory, you can visit their deli selling all sorts of regional specialities, including their renowned bufala mozzarella. This is the freshest and best you will taste and if you ask nicely, they may invite you to see how mozzarella is made. When my girls were younger, they loved it!
If you’re in Tuscany, then a trip to Antica Maccelleria Cecchini to see this boutique butcher’s shop is a must. Located in the small, charming town of Panzano in Chianti, Dario’s fame and excellent Fiorentina steak has made news headlines! You can book a masterclass with the maestro himself or you can enjoy his different cuts of meat at a choice of his restaurants nearby.
On the Amalfi Coast, be sure to visit my good friend, Valentino. Making some of the region’s best lemon liqueur, you will be guaranteed a warm welcome in his small limoncello factory in pretty Praiano. From this spring, his new shop, Valenti’, in the centre of Positano will be selling his excellent limoncello products as well as his range of delicious jams. One of Citalia’s team popped in to see the factory on her last visit to the Amalfi Coast – you can read her interview with Valentino here.
In my home village of Minori, there are two cake shops that I love! There is family-run Gambardella, where cakes and biscuits are made in the back. When I’m there, I often join them in the kitchen and then relax in the café’s garden with an espresso while they wrap my pastries to take away.
Then there is Salvatore De Riso, one of Italy’s most famous pastry chefs, who has earned numerous awards for his excellent cakes, written cookbooks and appears on one of Italy’s most popular cookery shows. He hails from a background of ice-cream makers and café owners and I have fond childhood memories of helping his father zest lemons for their excellent gelato and granite. His newly opened shop and café can be found along Minori’s seafront, where you can people-watch while indulging in his delicious pastries.
Tucked away in the beautiful Umbrian countryside, not far from Assisi, is my friend Carlo’s family-run truffle emporium, San Pietro a Pettine. His nearby restaurant should be on every gourmet’s bucket list for mouth-watering truffle delicacies. You may even get to meet his family, including his clever truffle-hunting dog!