Nips, Sips and Tidbits

Preserving taste, crafting legacy: The stories of Italian Mamas, Nonino's Distillery, and the Amalfi Lemon

Piedmontese tajarin with truffle, Piedmont, North Italy

Italian Mamas: More than just cooks, they're Keepers of Tradition

When it comes to authentic Italian cuisine, there's no substitute for the warmth and wisdom of an Italian Mamma (Mama). These remarkable women aren't just chefs; they're storytellers and custodians of regional culinary traditions passed down through generations.

Imagine yourself welcomed into a charming Italian home – perhaps a historic apartment in Rome, a villa nestled in the Tuscan hills, a farmhouse amidst the Puglian countryside, or a palace overlooking Venice's Grand Canal. Here, under the watchful eye of your Mamma host, you'll embark on a captivating culinary adventure.

These immersive experiences go beyond simply tasting delicious food. You'll learn to prepare regional specialties yourself, mastering the art of dishes like:

  • Rome: Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Supplì, Artichokes, and Saltimbocca.
  • Tuscany: Ribollita, Pappardelle with Wild Boar, and Florentine Steak.
  • Puglia: Orecchiette with Turnip Tops, Taralli, and Pumpkin Flower Fritters.
  • Venice: Squid Ink Risotto, Fish Fritters, and Sardines in Saor.
  • Piedmont: Agnolotti del Plin, Braised Beef in Barolo Wine, and Bunet.

The Italian Mamas have been an integral part of the Slow Food movement since 2019. Their philosophy aligns perfectly: celebrating local flavors, sustainable practices, and preserving the rich tapestry of Italian food culture.

Each experience transcends a cooking class. It's a window into the soul of Italy, where the love for food intertwines with tradition and warm hospitality. You'll return home not just with culinary skills, but with a deeper appreciation for the Italian way of life.

Grappa Nonino: A female icon of excellence Made in Italy

© Grappa Nonino - Distillate excellence, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

For over 125 years, the Nonino family has revolutionized the art of grappa and spirits, leaving an indelible mark on Italy's distilling heritage. Established in 1897 by Orazio Nonino in Ronchi di Percoto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the distillery has been a family tradition passed down through generations.

A significant contribution came in 1928 with the arrival of Silvia Milocco, who married Antonio Nonino.  She became Italy's first female grappa distiller, bringing a feminine touch to the craft and paving the way for a strong presence of women in Nonino's leadership.

In 1973, Benito and Giannola Nonino spearheaded a "Grappa Revolution." They defied the traditional method of using mixed leftover grape materials (pomace) and created the first single-varietal grappa, the Monovitigno® Nonino. This innovation transformed grappa's perception, elevating it from a "fire water" to a spirit that captures the essence of the grapes. It was a pivotal moment, turning grappa into a symbol of Italian excellence worldwide.

The Noninos' commitment to both innovation and tradition is evident in their diverse offerings. L'Aperitivo BotanicalDrink embodies the "Dolce Vita" spirit. Made with low-temperature dried botanicals and Nonino's ÙE® Fragolino Monovitigno® grape distillate, this aperitif carries on Silvia Nonino's legacy.  In 1940, she became the first woman to lead an Italian distillery and invented the Aperitivo Bianco Nonino.

Today, the Nonino legacy continues with Cristina, Antonella, Elisabetta, and Francesca. Francesca, a sixth-generation grappa influencer, reinterprets the family's heritage with a contemporary twist. Their L'Aperitivo Nonino BotanicalDrink, a three-time consecutive winner of the "Best Aperitif of the Year" award (2021-2023), is a completely natural and vegan-friendly botanical infusion. With floral, spicy, and herbal notes, it's perfect as a spritz or a unique take on a Margarita.

The packaging itself tells the Nonino story. Three women on the label represent the generations of female distillers following Silvia. Each holds a transparent glass – when you pour the aperitif, the glasses on the label appear to empty as well, creating a visual toast that unites past and present.

Distilleria Nonino's dedication to quality and innovation solidifies their position as a global leader in Italian spirits.

The Amalfi Lemon: Jewel of Mediterranean cuisine

Lemon Farm in Amalfi - Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast, known for its breathtaking scenery, also boasts a unique agricultural treasure: the Amalfi lemon. This prized citrus fruit is a Slow Food Presidium, recognized for its link to sustainable practices and the preservation of traditional farming methods. It's a cornerstone of the region's cuisine and cultural landscape.

Amalfi lemons are distinguished by their exceptionally juicy flesh and a balanced, flavorful taste. This owes largely to the ideal growing conditions of the Mediterranean climate and the time-tested cultivation techniques used on the Amalfi Coast. Local farmers meticulously care for these lemons throughout the process, respecting the environment and honoring centuries-old traditions, from cultivation to hand-picking. The fertile land and mild climate of the Amalfi Coast provide the perfect environment for these lemons to thrive, ensuring the highest quality and freshness.

Slow Food Presidium status grants the Amalfi lemon protection and promotes it as a vital part of Italy's culinary heritage. Choosing Amalfi lemons from local producers supports these sustainable practices and helps ensure this precious resource is available for future generations.

Among the most prized varieties is the Sfusato Amalfi lemon. Renowned for its versatility in the kitchen, it shines in desserts, ice creams, and of course, the famed limoncello liqueur. Its rich history stretches back to the Roman Empire, with depictions of lemon trees found in the ruins of Pompeii.

To fully appreciate the Amalfi lemon, consider dining at local restaurants run by chefs who craft dishes showcasing this delightful citrus. Explore the ancient lemon groves, or even participate in a fruit-picking session, perhaps complemented by live culinary demonstrations. Hiking enthusiasts can embark on the scenic Lemon Path, which winds through the picturesque lemon gardens of Ravello, Maiori, and Minori, offering a chance to soak in the Amalfi Coast's rural beauty.

The Amalfi Coast offers a range of unforgettable culinary experiences for every palate, all set against the stunning backdrop of this captivating region.

Amalfi scenery - Amalfi Coast, Italy