I’ve been known to say, “Sangue Calabrese – Cuore Piemontese.” I’ll translate after a teeny tiny story. My parents and generations before them were born and raised in the region of Calabria, the ‘big toe’ of the boot, often called ‘the Caribbean of Italy’ (because of it’s amazing beaches and blue waters). In the early sixties, my Father moved to America with his family, and my Mother and her family moved to Torino (known in English as Turin), way up north nestled at the foothills of the Alps. Long story short (which I’ll share in detail eventually), my parents met, fell madly in love, and then moved to America together from Torino.
In my many travels to Italy, I’ve come to know Torino as my second home (who wouldn’t after 27+ trips and living there several times), as well as my ‘home base’ when I run around the boot. Although proud and connected to Calabria, I haven’t been there since I was five years old. Since the age of three, I have been engulfing the Northern Italian culture simultaneously with my hard-core, Southern, Calabrese upbringing. And that’s why I say, ‘Sangue Calabrese – Cuore Piemontese,’ with no offense to either region, but rather, with a balanced fascination, respect, and love for both…”Calabrese blood – Piemontese heart.”
Torino is often overlooked in the shadows of Rome, Florence, and Venice, but for those fortunate enough to explore it’s majesty, the first capital of Italy and the birthplace of Italian royalty is a temptress of the senses, from its charming Baroque architecture to its unique, regionally defined and Alpine-influenced cuisine.
Allow me to introduce La Bagna Càuda – by far one of the most famous, most characteristic, and most nostalgic delights that I have ever enjoyed in Torino – I’ve watched my Piemontese uncles and cousin-in-laws make it for countless courtyard celebrations, and I’ve also had my share in numerous hidden, off-the-beaten-path, authentic osterias of the region. It’s quite unique, and although I wouldn’t recommend it for a first date (two primary ingredients are anchovies and garlic), I highly suggest it for those occasions you are surrounded by love, by people who make you smile, and the night is filled with laughter, stories, and plenty, plenty of wine (might I recommend a Barolo or Barbaresco – both phenomenal and 100% Piemontese). Buon Apetito!Ingredienti (ingredients)
1 head of garlic
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
5 anchovy fillets
1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 cup heavy cream
Selection of fresh raw or lightly steamed vegetables (Fennel, Celery, Peppers, Cabbage, Carrots, Asparagus, Endive) – I used 1 lb. of asparagus, a 2 lb. head of red cabbage, and 1 orange bell pepper, steamed for 10-15 minutes in the BELLA Food Steamer – fast, easy, and perfectly steamed veggies with flavorful crunch). Once steamed, set aside to cool. Procedamenti (directions)
Begin by separating the cloves of garlic and placing all of them into boiling water. Boil for ten minutes (you can leave the skins on; I personally find them easier to remove after boiled). Drain, cool, peel and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and anchovy filets over medium until the anchovies dissolve. Add the butter and melt completely. Add the cream cheese (it helps to cube it or slice it) and reduce heat to low to simmer while you prepare the garlic. Blend the garlic and heavy cream until you create what is essentially garlic whipped cream (I know, crazy, right?).Add the cream to the skillet with the oil, butter, cream cheese, and anchovies. Mix continuously until well incorporated (the oil and butter will separate, keep mixing). Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Serve hot in a fondue pot or similar – I used a BELLA Dip Warmer, and it cleaned beautifully without any lingering bold flavors. Dip your steamed veggies or large pieces of Traditional Rustic Bread into the dip and let the conversations begin and the toasts on-going. Salute!