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'Italian cooking' is a vastly generic term to attribute to culinary traditions across the country- from Northern to Southern Italy, from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean. The peninsular has only been united for little more than a hundred years, up until then being made up of sovreign and often warring states, with little in common culturally. Each region has its own 'cuisine', its own indigenous ingredients that its geographical position permits it to produce and it is this this that makes Italian cooking what it is; hundreds of years of tradition passed down from generation to generation, using whatever is in season and what is grown or produced locally

 
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I like to serve ANTIPASTI MISTI with an apertivo, 'al fresco' in the summer, infront of the fire during the winter, rather than at the table. This might consist of local cheeses, a selection of grilled or raw vegetables, a savoury tart, a variety of 'bruschette' – with sausage and soft cheese, with fresh tomates, with ricotta and sundried tomatoes, anchovies; nothing too heavy before the 'pasto' (meal) itself begins.


 
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After the antipasti comes the 'primo' - first course which maybe pasta, a seasonal soup, or risotto. Almost every dish is based on whatever is to be found in the vegetable garden or local market ensuring the freshest ingredients in keeping with the season.

 
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The 'secondo', second course, comes next and will usually consist of meat or fish. A short walk across the fields takes me to the farm where I can find chicken, rabbit, lamb and home made sausages as well as pecorino cheese, ricotta and olive oil. This will be accompanied by roasted new potatoes, fresh vegetables or simple salads.

All desserts are made from top quality ingredients. The lemons, for the lemon and mascarpone tart come from southern Italy during the winter and locally during the summer. Wild blackberries from the hedgerows make a perfect topping for panna cotta. In early September, there is little better than a fig tart made from the abundance of figs all around. Almonds are often used in Italian desserts and biscuits; ricotto too, produced at the local farm. The hot chocolate soufflè is a favourite in all seasons.

A selection of menu suggestions is available on request and all can be varied according to suit and to whatever is in season.

 
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