Grain-free Italian Breadsticks (Grissini)

Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”

- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Grain-free Italian Breadsticks (Grissini)

There are so many ways to be exposed to different cultures, and traveling is definitely one of them.

And because we are what we eat, as the famous food writer Brillat-Savarin states above, I am a strong believer that in order to fully immerse yourself in another culture, it is crucial to eat what the locals eat when you’re traveling.

So obviously, we took the task of exploring Italian food very seriously when visiting Italy.

What better way to show respect to Italy than by savoring its cuisine with relish and fervor?

Grain-free Italian Breadsticks (Grissini)

Juan and I had a rule that we adheredly strictly by – for every single day we were in Italy, we would try something new.

Whether it be an antipasto that we’d never heard of before, a main course that was unique to the city we were in, or simply an out-of-this-world gelato flavor (trust me, there were endless gelato tastes to try!) – we had to be open to new tastes and ingredients.

Grain-free Italian Breadsticks (Grissini)

On our first evening in Rome, we found our way to the happening Trastevere neighborhood, which was pumping with Saturday night energy and bustling with both tourists and locals alike. Once settled at the humble but busy Cajo e Gajo trattoria, we prompted asked for the menu and soon after, decided to take the plunge and try fried crispy artichokes. Let’s say that it was interesting, but I’m not sure I’d order it again – unless I’m in the mood for super fried foods.

The second day, we heeded Rachel’s advice to go to Testaccio for local Roman fare; and after wandering the almost deserted streets (it was a Sunday night in August, the month when Romans take their holidays), we stumbled across one of the few open restaurants – Osteria degli Amici –  and between sips of red Tuscany-produced Chianti wine, we feasted on cold octopus salad and a tender oxtail stew (which for me was probably one of the best dishes of Roman cuisine).

Grain-free Italian Breadsticks (Grisini)

I don’t suppose you want to know everything I ate in Italy, but you get the gist.

Over the next few days; while we fed on the obligatory pizza and pasta, we did also try out dishes such as Saltimbocca alla Romana, cold digestive limoncello, hazelnut-flavored gelato, lemon slush, tiramisu, cheese-smothered fries and plenty of Nutella-topped everything.

Grain-free Italian Breadsticks (Grisini)

One of the things I did notice in the various restaurants and bars we’d dine at, is that at every single meal they would get you started with a breadbasket (often included in your bill whether you eat the bread or not). Depending on the place you’re at, the basket could come with just a few simple bread rolls, or it could be stuffed with bread rolls, wheat buns, crackers, as well as a variety of breadsticks.

The latter was what interested me most – I like the crunchy bite of a breadstick that has been dipped into whatever dipping sauce available.

I also like the fact that breadsticks are long and elegant (unlike their short and fat bun cousins). Mostly, I loved that breadsticks could be flavored with cheese, herbs, sesame seeds or so many other different toppings.

Grain-free Italian Breadsticks (Grisini)

When we finally got back to Buenos Aires last week, a combination of jet lag and post-trip inspiration left me wide-eyed and unable to sleep in early Saturay morning.

By the heat of the softly whirring oven, I found myself mixing almond meal, tapioca flour, baking powder, salt, olive oil and water together. Once I got a homogeneous dough, which I divided into 18 equal portions. I greased my hands and kitchen counter and got about rolling each portion of dough into sticks, sprinkled them with sesame seeds and later popped them into the oven for baking.

Grain-free Italian Breadsticks (Grissini)

I wasn’t sure how grain-free breadsticks would taste like, but I’m completely won over by these!

They’re crunchy and so wonderfully full of flavor – you wouldn’t even know they’re grain-free!

I’ll recommend you to nibble on these breadsticks to satisfy your hungry growling stomach as you wait for your main course to cook, or simply eat them as a snack between hours of Suits like Juan and I did.

BUON APPETITO! 

Grain-free Italian Breadsticks (Grissini)

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Italy’s southern treasure – the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast’s beauty stuns me into complete speechlessness.

There are so many little details in this region that add up to create a gorgeous sum of its parts; so many that to be able to merely put them into words – or to barely begin to describe the loveliness that is this place – requires recounting of every single detail.

View of Positano

I don’t even know where to start – so I’ll just tell you what I can remember of its immense beauty.

Maybe it’s the wind that strokes your face as you cruise in the car along the curvy, narrow coastal route, which has been voted one of the world’s best coastal drives.

Or maybe it’s the lemon trees along the roadside, their branches heavy with large yellow fruit swollen with ripeness. Perhaps it’s also the plants growing haphazardly by the side, flushed with flowers of every shape and color; evidence of summer.

Driving along the Amalfi Coast

But mostly I believe, it’s the fact that as you drive from town to town along the coast (from Sorrento to Positano to Amalfi and then uphill to Ravello), you have the vast blue waters on your right and tall towering cliffs on your left.

Amalfi Coast

Views like this required us to stop the car every so often to stop and stare, and then get a picture in between.

Amalfi Coast

I may sound like I’m waxing lyrical, but trust me – this is a beauty so magnificent it literally takes your breath and heart away.

(If I haven’t lost you yet, and you want to follow me on my adventure, read right on…)

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Grain-free Berry & Cream Tarts

Italy has been wonderfully good to us.

Let’s just agree, life doesn’t get much better than this.

Deliciously warm days with cool crisp nights; breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast and amazingly scrumptious food. It has been such a glorious time; and being able to momentarily escape the Argentine winter to bask in Italy’s toasty summer sun is a pleasure so great I want to jump up and do a crazy little dance. (I’ll share about our trip in another post very soon!)

Even though we’re now back in Argentina, Italy still feels as present as it has always been.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tarts

I have a dream of living in Italy one day, speaking Italian with the ferocity and velocity of a local, dining at off-the-beaten-track trattorias and ristorantes, and living just like an Italian.

I imagine myself at the farmers’ markets, greeting the farmers as though we were old-time friends, picking the plumpest summer peaches; choosing large swelling lemons; tasting freshly made buffalo mozarrella; and smelling the sensual aroma of herbs like rosemary and thyme.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

In this daydream, my arms will be laden with bags of ripe fruits of every kind, particularly berries.

There are bright red strawberries bursting with their juices as well as round little blueberries that are just the right amount of sweet. The bags are heavy but I don’t mind. I’m already thinking about devouring every single berry, that very same day.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

I imagine heading back to my small cottage somewhere in Tuscany, and in my little kitchen I begin to make little tarts.

I first begin with the crust, a combination of almond meal, powdered sugar, egg and coconut oil, all mixed together and then pressed down into greased tart molds.  I place the molds into the pre-heated oven, and let the crusts firm up, and a quarter of an hour later, take them out, and let them cool.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

While the crusts are cooling, I whip fresh milk cream with just a touch of sugar until stiff peaks form.

Once the whipped cream is ready, I place it straight into the fridge for chilling.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

Meanwhile, I wash the berries, popping a couple into my mouth every few minutes.

Forgive me, but they’re just too pretty to resist.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

When the crusts have cooled and the whipped cream is chilled, all that’s left to do is to assemble.

First I scoop a generous amont of whipped cream into each crust, then I top them with berries, and finally, I sift a bit of powdered sugar over.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

And so, just like that, we have grain-free berry and cream tarts.

As delightful and glorious as Italy.

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

I promise I will return one day to Italy, for a much longer time…

Grain-free Berry & Cream Tart

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