CALABRIA, BASKET OF ITALIAN FLAVORS
The Italian province, a jewel of the Mediterranean, is a place whose history comes from the table, from the flavors that are not simply from southern Italy, but Calabrian.
Calabria is a land of a thousand faces, diverse and contrasting, which guide the traveler through natural and mighty splendors. There are places in Calabria to listen with your eyes and contemplate with your palate.
The sea and the mountains alternate in a vibrant manner and leave one amazed at how in a short time one can move from being in a sea breeze to being in the shade of centuries-old pines that almost form a natural tunnel down the long paths. Climbing up the mountains and descending along the coasts is an enchanting excursion, where one is guided by the landscapes but also by those pivotal and unmistakable flavors that have made Calabria an acclaimed region. The particularities and merits of this land do nothing but have a positive impact on Italian food culture, promoting a balanced lifestyle based on the principles of the Mediterranean diet, made of simple, unprocessed or slightly processed foods. It is no coincidence that international studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is practiced most closely in Calabria. The small town of Nicotera, in the province of Vibo Valentia is an example of the exceptional health of its inhabitants. Calabria offers a culinary journey that enhances the essence of its places. The flavors have a strong individuality and an inheritance of tradition, a basket of ingredients that now populate international cuisine.
RED ONION FROM TROPEA CALABRIA PGI Cipolla Rossa di Tropea IGP
A symbol of Calabria and internationally known, the red onion of Tropea gives personality to any cuisine, not just Calabrian. Promoted, protected and valued by chefs from all over the world, the Tropea onion has an unmistakable taste, whatever way it is used. Whether raw, to enhance salads, or cooked, for first or second courses or even for tarts and jam. Recognized for its organoleptic properties, the “Tropeana” is an onion characterized by a sweet and refined taste, enjoyable on the palate also for the crunchiness that accompanies it. To fully appreciate the flavor of the onion and learn the many ways to use it, just visit Calabria in August, the period in which the Tropeana onion festival is held, which has been hosted in the square of Ricadi, a village near Tropea since 1978. The flavors of the area reflect the beauty of the place. Tropea is top tourist location in Calabria. It has a beautiful seaside and a charming historic center, that imparts a unique and timeless atmosphere. Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Tropea’s symbol is also the rock of S. Maria dell’isola which has stood as guardian of the city for almost a thousand years.
CALABRIAN CHILI PEPPERS Peperoncino Calabrese
If there is one ingredient that symbolizes the identity of Calabria, well, this is undoubtedly the chili pepper, produced by its incisive character and symbol of the local food culture. The red Calabrian pepper is the spice that animates and colors any dish, flavoring foods and releasing taste that is both aromatic and spicy. Garden-fresh, in oil or in powder form, its advantage lies in its ability to combine with any dish and not overwhelm flavors but, on the contrary, to enhance them. If the combination with salty foods is natural, the combination in a dessert is bold as it is intriguing. Dosed with chocolate or used in jams and preserves, Calabrian peppers drive the taste of sweetness forward giving it a new nuance that does not cancel but completes the flavor. September is the month in which Calabria celebrates this ingredient with the Peperoncino Festival. The gastronomic fair, in the province of Cosenza, ignites the town of Diamante every year for five days - in a unique event, between gastronomy and culture, inspired by the concept of “spicy “. Once here, you have the opportunity to enjoy long and warm beaches, where the crystal-clear sea makes Diamante and its surroundings one of the most sought-after Calabrian tourist destinations, as well as being known as the “City of Murals”. Walking through the streets of Diamante, and of the nearby town Cirella, you can admire over 200 works by internationally renowned street artists, and then come across the ruins of Ancient
Cerillae: the Teatro dei Ruderi, the Roman Mausoleum and the Convent of the Minims.
‘NDUJA FROM SPILINGA ‘Nduja di Spilinga
Even a foodstuff that is born as a poor or common one, can also become an ingredient of many good cuisines, even gourmet. The ‘nduja has followed this path a little. Its origin is linked to the Calabrian peasant society and the need to use every part of the pig, but today it is a product that finds ample space in recipes of Italian cuisine and beyond. Its name has transalpine origins and derives from “andouille”, a French sausage made with pork tripe, and which seems to have been promoted by Murat to the Neapolitan Lazzari (the poorest of the lower class in the city). Recognizable for its red color, ‘nduja is a soft and spicy salami produced especially in the territory of Vibo Valentia, mainly in the area of Spilinga. Its production now extends throughout the region, fully respecting the originality of the raw materials and manufacturing processes. Spread on toasted bread it is perfect, but if used as a condiment for pasta or pizza, it can add an extra touch of taste. It is also preferred in tomato sauce and can also excite on slices of semi-mature cheeses.
BERGAMOT OF REGGIO CALABRIA PDO Bergamotto di Reggio Calabria DOP
This is the “green gold” of Calabria, pride of the area and known worldwide. The bergamot grows only in the southern coast of the Ionian Sea, in particular along the coastal strip between Villa San Giovanni and Stilo. In fact, almost all of the world production of the prized citrus fruit is concentrated here, thanks to the soil quality and ideal temperature for its growth. The essence of bergamot enhances sweets, liqueurs, drinks, but also the fragrance of some of the best perfumes in the world. Recognized for its essence, but also for its beneficial properties, bergamot releases its scent along the coast that runs down to Reggio Calabria. As you follow the scent you come across splendid panoramas, interchanged with sandy beaches with stretches of rock, dotted with wrap-arounds inlets. This is also the coast of the archaeological sites of Punta Stilo and Monasterace and of the historical manuscripts of Magna
Graecia, which are collected in the National Museum of Reggio
Calabria, and also home of the majestic Riace Bronzes.
CACIOCAVALLO SILANO PDO Caciocavallo Silano DOP
It is called “Silano” because its name and origin derive from the ancient production customs on the Sila plateau. It is designated PDO since it is one of the most famous cheeses of South Italy and among the most appreciated. It is ancient, so much so that Hippocrates mentioned its production in 500 BC. Caciocavallo Silano PDO is recognizable by its smooth, thin, straw-colored rind that surrounds a spun paste. Depending on the rennet used and its final aging its flavor is either sweet or spicy. On its own or used as seasoning, Caciocavallo enriches every dish it’s used in. It is excellent melted, cooked on the grill or in a pan, but even if it is melted in the dishes to get that touch as well as flavor. Enjoying it among the Sila mountains offers a unique experience, surrounded by a natural heritage enriched by diverse landscapes. The wealth of animal species and flora populate the Sila National Park, guardian of the treasures and unspoiled area.
SILA POTATO PGI Patata della Sila IGP
Crossing the Sila mountains, your eyes will be drawn to the fields that paint the landscape. The land is dotted with the precious tubers from Sila, another product that distinguishes Calabria. In the Sila Plateau the nature of the soil and the climatic features allow for year-round tuber growth and optimal plant maturation, which make the product perfect for culinary requirements. Frying is undoubtedly the most popular way to prepare them, since Sila potatoes have a compact pulp rich in starch which guarantees a crispiness. How much the Sila PGI potato is strongly rooted in the territory can also be seen from its wide use in numerous recipes of the Calabrian gastronomic tradition, from simple pasta and potatoes to tasty combinations with other typical ingredients, such as porcini mushrooms.
CITRON OF CALABRIA Cedro di Calabria
More than a fruit, it is sometimes considered a masterpiece of nature, so much so that the Jewish tradition considers it heavenly because in the Bible it is described as the fruit of the most beautiful tree. Cedar is a citrus fruit that has become symbolic of Calabria. “Riviera dei Cedri” (Citron Riviera) they call it, that portion of the Tyrrhenian coast that goes from Praia a Mare to Amantea, and also includes part of the mountain that overlooks it. It is so called because it is rich in citrus trees. The best variety grows along the coast, and in Santa Maria del Cedro, the best variety grows, the “Diamante smooth citron”. It is spherical in shape, inimitable in the scent that its thick rough skin emanates. Precisely because of its essence, in the kitchen it finds a lot of space, in particular for making desserts, jams and preserves, but also to accompany meat or fish dishes. The “Riviera dei Cedri” begins its stretch with a corner of paradise, San Nicola Arcella, with an incredible beach of Arco Magno, that starts at an opening in the rock and an overhang protects the small beach.
TORRONE DI BAGNARA PGI Torrone di Bagnara IGP
It is one of the typical sweets of the Calabrian tradition, with a skillful and delicate processing. Its dough is composed of sugar, toasted almonds, honey, egg white, bitter cocoa, essential oils and powdered spices. Its then covered in granulated sugar or bitter cocoa. Crumbly and crunchy at first bite thanks to the spot-on roasting of the almonds. Torrone’s (Italian nougat) specialness lies in the skillful craftsmanship and experience of generations of the torrone makers of Bagnara Calabra, in south of Calabria, who have handed down the phases of production since 1800. Bagnara Calabra is also a land of history and culture, where you’ll find the Aragonese Tower, the Church of Maria SS. del Monte Carmelo, built in 1880, and the Ducal Castle.
COSENZA FIGS PDO Fichi di Cosenza DOP
It is in the Valle del Crati, in the Cosentino area, that the figs of the Dottato variety have found their ideal habitat. The Cosenza figs PDO are dried figs. They have a soft pulp, and are usually dried using the traditional method, i.e. in direct sun on reed supports, or even in an oven. This preparation ensures that the heat can eliminate the humidity inside the fruit and obtain a product that can be stored for the rest of the year. With a sweet honey flavor, they are recognizable by a yellow-greenish skin and an amber pulp. Suitable for the preparation of jams, various types of honey and sweets, they also lend themselves well to salads and are particularly tasty covered with chocolate. Among the oldest recipes of the Calabrian tradition is that of the “crocette”, in which the figs are placed in the form of a cross - hence the name - and stuffed with nuts or other dried fruit. In Cosenza the Bilotti Open-air Museum stands out, which since 2006 has been set up along the main street of the city and where masterpieces by modern and contemporary art is for sale. Works by Dalì, De Chirico and Modigliani enrich the outdoor gallery throughout the city.
LICORICE OF CALABRIA PDO Liquirizia di Calabria DOP
To say that licorice growing in Calabria is considered the best in the world is not an exaggeration. The rationale undoubtedly lies in the taste, a particularly balanced taste. The Calabrian licorice leaves bitterness aside to restore a flavor of character with sweet notes. It is somehow the black gold of the Calabrese territory, because it is here that 80% of national licorice is produced exported in every continent. Luck of the place, licorice is difficult to imitate because it is strongly linked to the mineral characteristics of the territory that led to its development. It is no coincidence that it is a product that most try to imitate without success. To date, the Calabrian licorice enjoys a versatility that has allowed it to combine the aroma with other foods, from pasta to liqueurs, from creams to powder.
LEMON OF ROCCA IMPERIALE PGI Limone di Rocca Imperiale IGP
It is known as “Antico” lemon or “Nostrano di Rocca Imperiale” and for 5 centuries it has spread its fragrance around the heart of Calabria. The name “Limone di Rocca Imperiale” was born in the early 2000s, when local farmers came together in a consortium to protect the yellow citrus, so pure and with a powerful flavor that it earned the IGP certification. The merit is also in the cultivation area, characterized by adequate rainfall, good soil quality and the availability of aquifers, which make the area extremely prosperous. With an intense yellow, enveloping aroma and strong taste, the Rocca Imperiale Lemon PGI is particularly recognized and appreciated for the balance of its acidity which makes the citrus pleasant, even to be eaten sliced.