An Aperol Spritz and a Cicchetto
In Treviso, Italy, locals have mastered the art of living well, though some Italian customs may seem perplexing to visitors. If you’re looking for open stores at 2 pm you may feel bewildered that there’s not a single place open where you can buy a scarf, or postcards, or a pack of gum. The busy shop where you admired a ceramic bowl in the morning is now dark and deserted, doors and windows locked behind wrought-iron gates. Where is everybody? Resting in the heat of the day behind stone walls, closed wooden shutters, or in the shade by rushing waters. Everything will reopen at three. Rest assured, life resumes and doors reopen at three.
Discovering Treviso: The Quest for Sweet Delights
On a recent hot summery day I wandered in a plaza in the northern Italian town of Treviso. I was on an idle quest to find my favorite candy, chocolate bonbons with liquid espresso coffee centers. Mid-day everything was closed except the supermarket, which I found with my GPS and the help of a group of laughing girls who were pleased to show off their expert command of English. I had to ask how they learned English so well. Movies! they giggled. The standard answer. I am pretty sure I could view Italian movies for the next ten years and not learn to speak Italian from watching. The supermarket had “Pocket Coffee” ice cream bars though not the candy I wanted. But the walk back to the plaza led past a rock-walled stream green with undulating aquatic grasses, and reflected afternoon light cast moving shadows on the undersides of cafe umbrellas.
Refreshing Italian Delight: The Aperol Spritz Recipe
Italians know how to quench a thirst. There are many ways, of course, and one of them is with a brightly colored Aperol Spritz. Aperol is a somewhat bitter aperitif, but a Spritz is tempered with prosecco and a splash of soda water. Served over ice and garnished with a slice of fresh orange, it’s about as refreshing and light as a summer drink can be. Aperol Spritz is now my favorite cocktail for a hot day, pretty to look at, a little bit fruity, easy to pour for friends. Low commitment. Proscecco in the fridge, a fresh orange, a bottle of Aperol, and soda water in the pantry, and you have the makings of a party.
Cicchetti: The Perfect Italian Finger Food Pairing
A hot-weather aperitif calls for the right food pairing, something not too heavy. For an evening meal, steamed mussels with crusty bread. For an afternoon snack, what the Venetians call cicchetti (pronounced chi-ket-tee): finger foods. In the quiet plaza at a table under a wide umbrella, I was served pieces of cured sausage, transparent slices of Parma ham, and aged Parmesan cheese accompanied by dishes of syrupy balsamic vinegar, apricot preserves, and truffle jam. And something else: a small bowl mounded with a thick granular paste that could be spread on bread or molded into bite-sized pieces. It tasted of Parmesan cheese and truffle.
Recreating Crema al Parmigiano: A No-Cook Cicchetto
Back home, in my test kitchen in New Hampshire, I tried to recreate the flavor of the Parmesan spread. There are many recipes called Crema al Parmigiano or Crema di Parmigiano, and they seem to be for serving as a sauce; they include flour, milk, and butter. My version is simple and requires no cooking, which is exactly right for a cicchetto on a hot day wherever you might be.