I recently did an event at my daughter’s school for the Chefs Adopt A School scheme. They were focusing on Mediterranean food as part of their curriculum. I don’t think people understand the full scope of what Mediterranean food is. There’s much to it, including Greek and Turkish cuisine.
I focussed on Italian as that is my job now as head of food at Dell’Ugo, a pasta company. Kids tend to know Italy only for the mozzarella and pizzas. I wanted to broaden their scope. By the way, did you know that a lot of the kiwis sold in the supermarkets come from Italy?
I brought in some fresh produce including bergamots and radicchio with the help of my friends at Supreme Choice. We laid out a nice array of ingredients from ingredients from Italy. I showed them different cheeses, flours and pastas and got them all to make pizzas. It was hilarious – they all wanted to use the spicy pepperoni.
The bergamots were a real eye opener. They are a hybrid – something between a lime and an orange. They are just wonderful. One thing I have learnt since spending a lot of time in Italy is how to keep it simple – like adding a squeeze of bergamot and some slices to a jug of water and chilling it down. It’s quite tart – very refreshing.
The fruit also works great with fish. You could make an amazing ceviche or tuna tartare – grate the skin of the fruit so you get the perfumey top note but use the juice to give that tart flavour and maybe a bit of manuka honey or similar to balance it out. This would go brilliantly with a bitter leaf salad, such as radicchio.
I love radicchio for its colour. I do find it has a very short shelf life.I find when you roast, braise and caramelise the leafs you get a totally different flavour. I developed a caramelised radicchio and speck ham ravioli for the company – it works a treat. Radicchio is a real taste of autumn and winter in Italy.