Food Items from Italy
I have a relative going to Italy for a couple weeks and wanted to know if there was anything I should ask her to bring back for me.
I was thinking maybe some Bottarga. Not sure how much cheaper truffles are over there either.
Any suggestions would be great.
We often do a big grocery shop in Italy before driving back to Spain and pick up things that aren't as easy to find here...bottarga is definitely one of them! Also a condiment called "la bomba" (probably goes under other names) a very spicy puree/spread of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, & chilies - i love to put it on sandwiches with salame, or add a spoonful to my tomato-based pasta sauces. Canned Tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil is another one. (they sell it in Spain...but it's just not as good as the Italian...seems too dry). We also pick up a couple of bags of Fonzies (yes, it's junkfood!) like Cheetoh's but actually made with real cheese. Oh, and we always pick up a bag of peperoncino flavoured Taralli (or taralluci)...also good for snacking. Capers packed in salt (to me they taste so much better than the ones in brine). A piece of Speck (shrink-wrapped) & a piece of Prosciutto San Daniele (shrink-wrapped)...not sure if this would be easy to get thru customs, though. We occasionally pick up pasta - particularly shapes that are hard to find in Spain - like orecchiette or varieties like Pizzocheri. We also buy Lavazza coffee & risotto (because we can't find anything other than Illy for Italian coffee & in Valencia - a rice growing area- they make it especially hard to find rice from outside this area of Spain).
I never fail to buy shrinkwrapped dried porcini. A pound is about the size of a basketball and its hard to find in the US.
I would also bring back some bottarga, especially from Sicily and also saw some beautiful sundried tomatoes and canned anchovies there. August is not truffle season. Unless you are addicted to preserved truffles which has no resemblence of the fresh ones. I would not buy them even it is cheaper. I always bring back a good size piece of very aged Parmigiano Reggiano or any regional well aged cheeese packed in cryovac. Since the security restriction of liquid in carry on bags, it has limited what I like to bring back. US Custom prohibits bringing back any meat, including cured or smoked and they are very strict on enforcement. With the internet, it is harder and harder to find things that one cannot get in the States..
The black "summer" truffle should be available in August. It's not a proper black truffle - as in the French kind - nor is it the famously fragrant white truffle which turns up in the fall. The flavour is not nearly as intense but it's nice - and would be a lovely thing to bring home. We had it throughout Tuscany and Umbria, but I suspect it should be in markets elsewhere.