Jul 212015
 
Vice Minister of Economic Development, Carlo Calenda, explaining the Made in Italy strategy.

Vice-Minister of Economic Development, Carlo Calenda, explaining his strategy for educating the American consumer about authentic Italian products at the Javits Center’s Italian fashion fair.

I’ve been on my soapbox for years about the fakery of too many products being passed off as Italian when, in fact, they are not. Wisconsin “Parmesan” isn’t parmigiano-reggiano, the true Parma cheese crafted with 800 years of knowhow and tradition behind it. Canned tomatoes are brazenly branded “San Marzano” when they have never been kissed by the Italian sun. It’s the age-old problem of profiteers making off with Italy’s good name — and benefiting from its cachet. No more. Italy has a plan. It’s called the “Made in Italy” campaign and it aims to educate, promote, and protect the genius and high quality of Italian artisanal products abroad. Carlo Calenda, Italy’s Vice Minister of Economic Development, was in New York City today with the new Director of the Italian Trade Commission, Maurizio Forte, and other top officials, announcing the launch of their “Special Fashion Plan for the U.S.A.” Excited as I was to hear this for the fashion industry,  I asked the Minister how the strategy relates to the food sector. “We’ll be working with the F.D.A. to protect our trademarks and geographical indications through official channels,” he said. I’d say that’s very good news.

New York Italian Trade Commissioner Director, Maurizio Forte announces the launch of Made in Italy in New York

New York Italian Trade Commissioner Director, Maurizio Forte announces the launch of Made in Italy in New York

Italy's fashion artisans showcase their work at Milan Unica, Javits Center, NYC.

Italy’s fashion artisans showcase their work at Milan Unica, Javits Center, NYC.

That fine Italian hand: Italian designs on display.

That fine Italian hand: Italian designs on display.

There's a buzz.

There’s a buzz.

Creativity on display.

Creativity on display.

 

Photos by Nathan Hoyt.

 

 

 

May 132015
 
Buon viaggio!

Buon viaggio!

A few weeks ago a message arrived in my inbox announcing that The Italian Trade Commissioner, Pier Paolo Celeste, is off to a new post in Moscow, and of course, there would be a little send-off. I don’t deny I was feeling sad about his leaving, as we’ll miss the creativity and vigor he brought while in New York City. Here’s to your mission in Moscow, Pier Paolo. Stay warm and in bocca al lupo! — You sure know how to give a party!

Two cheese legends, Lou Santomauro (Di Palo) of Di Paolo's FIne Foods and Margaret Cicogna, wows with their selections for the night.

Two cheese legends, Lou Santomauro (Di Palo) of Di Paolo’s FIne Foods and Margaret Cicogna, wow us all with their selections for the night.

The best young and aged pecorinos from Tuscany.

The best young and aged pecorinos from Tuscany.

Gorgonzola dolce, the cheese in its sweet, runny stage, is indescribably umami, incomparable, and very hard to find outside of its place of origin. I snap it up from DiPalo's whenever I can.

Gorgonzola dolce (Gorgonzola, Milano province, Lombardy), the cheese in its sweet, runny stage, is indescribably umami, incomparable, and very hard to find outside of its place of origin. I snap it up from DiPalo’s whenever I can. My favorite way to eat it is slathered over a mound of freshly cooked, steamy polenta.

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Another sublime scoopable blue cheese, from Piemonte, this one aged with artisanal beer.

Occelli Castagna from Piemonte, a combination cow's- and goat's milk cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves, which imparts their sweetness and flavor.

Occelli in Fogle di Castagno from Cuneo, Piemonte is a combination cow’s- and goat’s- or cheeps’ milk cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves, which imparts their sweetness and flavor.

Cow's milk cheese aged in grappa from Trentino, a terrific match with fruit.

Cow’s milk cheese aged in grappa from Trentino, a terrific match with fruit.

Montasio from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia, young, sweet — and underexposed in the U.S. It's the cheese originally used for frico, the crisply fried cheese dish that Lidia Bastianich popularized in NYC at the now defunct Frico Bar.

Montasio from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is a young, sweet — and underutilized cheese in the U.S. It’s the cheese originally used for frico, the crisply fried cheese dish that Lidia Bastianich popularized in NYC at the now defunct Frico Bar.

RIsotteria Melotti made a spectacular risotto with the vialone nano rice they produce themselves in Verona.

RIsotteria Melotti made a spectacular risotto with the vialone nano rice they produce themselves in Verona.

Eating Risotteria Melotti's risotto with truffles and porcini and having my photo taken at the same time.

Eating Risotteria Melotti’s risotto with truffles and porcini and having my photo taken at the same time.

A recap of accomplishments bringing Italian businesses and American markets together, and a farewell to staff.

A recap of accomplishments bringing Italian businesses and American markets together…

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…and a farewell to staff.

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How to say it in Russian.

Photos: ©Nathan Hoyt/Forktales 2015

 


May 042015
 
Meating with the Stars at the Food Network Kitchen

When people ask me what I do for a living, I usually hesitate before answering. Writer? Journalist? Chef? Cook? Teacher? Story teller? Food advocate? Environmentalist? All of those descriptives are true for me, as they are for so many of us. Food can’t be separated from its source and what happens to it on its way to our plates. Chefs Collaborative, a nonprofit that educates about a better food system and celebrates the best in American cooking, is made up of hundreds of chefs, cooks, growers, farmers, fisher people, ranchers, cheese makers, artisans, writers, reporters, publishers, educators, activists — and it’s a mighty brain trust. Its […more…]

Mar 192015
 
The Italian Answer to St. Patrick's Day is St. Joseph's, the Gorging Holiday

Just two days after the American Irish whoop it up on St. Patrick’s day, Lenten eating restrictions are lifted once again for the Italians to celebrate Father’s Day, the Feast of Saint Joseph (Festa di San Giuseppe). The foster father of Jesus, symbolic breadwinner, protector of Mary, patron saint of families, orphans, unwed mothers, and the indigent is reverenced with an orgy of eating, drinking—and most importantly, sweet gorging.  Joseph is by happenstance also the patron saint of pastry cooks. My grandfather was named Giuseppe, so this day held special meaning for us. Like other Italians, we celebrated with treats made only for this day, typically bigné (fried eclair with filled with […more…]

Dec 102014
 
To Sotheby's to see TBTW

The other day, I published an article in Zester Daily about the monster truffle that was found in Umbria. What I didn’t say was that it wasn’t until the night before it was to be previewed at Sotheby’s that an invitation landed in my inbox. At close to midnight I was waking my husband up to see if he wanted to play hooky from his work the next morning and take a drive into New York City to look at it. After all, it’s not every day that we have the chance to see a four-pound truffle, even if we wouldn’t be lucky enough to […more…]