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Gourmet/Eclectic Food To Bring Home

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Longtime 'hound's wife & daughter are taking a school trip with a group 3/18-4/3. They'll hit Venice, Padua, Ravenna, Rimini, Bologna, San Marino, Assisi, Perugia and Rome. Any thoughts on cool stuff they can come home with for me? I'm dying that I won't be there. Salumeria's probably a stretch. Truffles, oils, pasta, gadgets. ANYTHING? Also, any food/market recs in any of the towns are welcome. Thanks. Ciao.

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  1. Get them to bring back some mostarda. Sperlari brand is probably in almost any grocery store and is better than nothing but they should be able to find some more unique mostardas made with apples, cherry or pumpkin.

    Don't miss the market in Padova. More and more I think it's my favorite market in Italy. They have a good chocolate store in the market and that has good Italian chocolate like Amedei, L'Artigiano, Venchi and Caffarel. Ravenna has a good covered market too.

    Other good stuff that could be found in the supermarket at about half price or less than in the US-- Fabbri cherries. A big jar in Italy is the equivalent of about $9. In the US its about $20. Mutti triple concentrated tomato paste. Stuff like that. It might not be gourmet but it's still a lot better than the equivalent in the US.

    1 Reply
    1. Visit either the Tamburini food shop in Bologna or the Guisti shop in Modena and buy a bottle of aged balsamic vinegar.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DavidT

        Note that prices for balsamic are quite a bit less expensive in the main food market Mercato della Erbe, in Bologna than at Tamburini.

        If you are from a major metro area in the US, STAR brand porcini cubes are easily available. Same goes for truffle salt, mentioned below. I paid about $10US for a small jar here. I agree about bringing home mostarda; you can find house-made product in a few shops in the food streets of Bologna. This keeps a long time in the frig. Dried porcini. already mentioned, is also a great item to bring home. And farro and dried artisanal pastas, but check prices home to see if these are good values in these days of horrid exchange rates for the dollar. Ditto Italian tuna and anchovies in jars or cans.

        1. re: erica

          But does US truffle salt contain any truffle or is it synthetic truffle aroma like the one I found in a US friend's home? I always read labels carefully.

          Italian Truffle Oil does contain a sliver of white truffle and nothign synthetic, the sliver is enough enough to give truly heady aromas so a very little drop goes a long long way. And it is inexpensive.

      2. Not the truffles in this season...
        They are expensive and not as good as the early winter ones. I bought some " bianchetti" (little whites) on Sunday at the Antiques Fair in Arezzo and they are OK ( I was able to carefully choose because I knew the seller from previous encounters) but not great. The price was € 45,00 for 100 grams.
        And steer clear of " truffle oil": it's all artificial !

        3 Replies
        1. re: pietro

          Italian Truffle Oil is olive oil containing a sliver of white Truffle. That is what I find in Bologna markets and delis at least.

          I have yet to come across an Italian Truffle oil that contains synthetic aromas, perhaps they do exist. I will keep reading the small print on the labels.

          1. re: carmelita

            Carmelita,
            don't delude yourself. There is NO truffle oil made with truffles. When you get that wonderful smell approaching you as the waiter arrives with your tagliolini it's the truffle oil with synthetic aromas. Not the few slivers of (maybe) truffle....
            I can give you the recipe for home-made truffle oil: you don't actually immerse the truffle in the oil. You have to suspend it in the jar.
            The Italian law allows to say " aroma di tartufo" even if the molecule is man-made.

            1. re: pietro

              Pietro, My Bologna specialist-shop-bought Italian Truffle Oil says: "Condimento Aromatizzato al Tartufo Bianco. Ingredienti: Olio extravergine d'oliva, tartufo: Tuber Magnatum Pico." Maybe they make it like you do?

        2. When I take my students shopping in FLorence, one of the "new" products is Truffle salt!
          about 10 euro here and lovely, ground up truffles in the salt. was invented by a guy from Seattle to help his friend in Umbria , now has taken off!

          prices although the dollar is down, are still better.

          to make it easier.. stay small and no glass.
          olive oil for sure, from Assisi or Perugia, I haven't had much oil from LAzio ( rome)

          I know in Florence they can get almost anything vacuume packed at the Central Market. am not familar with other markets or shops.

          But dried porcini are much cheaper here and light.

          A pavoni expresso maker can be shipped and is a great deal!
          ha ha

          1. Something I've only found in Italy or specialty stores in Europe: Knorr (don't laugh, now) porcini cubes -- ya know, the ones that come in a small package and usually are just available as bouillon cubes....

            They make a great addition to any porcini dish, such as pasta or risotto.