Pasta – It’s More Than Spaghetti and Meatballs!

Do you find it overwhelming to choose where to go when wanting to eat out? There are too many choices sometimes! The great cuisine that is encompassed with the title of Italian food is often perceived as a choice between pizza, pasta and salads, which may not appear fancy enough to venture beyond calling in an order to the nearest pizza place. Yet authentic Italian food made by a great chef can be very fancy and is definitely worth more than just a telephone call.

 

Pasta Is Not Average

For a real treat and an eye-opening experience, go out and try some of the pasta dishes that go above and beyond the average spaghetti and meatballs. Consider the following:

  • Tajarin Pasta – Although tajarin is the name of a thin, ribbon-like noodle that hails from the northern part of Italy, how it is used makes it a must-try selection. As a local dish, many tajarin offerings include creamy sauces with cheese, truffle butter, and garlic as well as possibly onions, various types of mushrooms, cream, cheeses, and cured meats like prosciutto. Similarly, egg and spinach fettuccine noodles find themselves equally at home in fresh mushroom sauces. This pasta is definitely not your grandmother’s spaghetti and meatballs recipe!

  • Gourmet Ravioli – Ravioli are noodle pockets most commonly stuffed with cheese and covered in marinara sauce. Creative cooks have taken ravioli to new and delicious levels in recent years, offerings that have been wowing pasta lovers all over. Whether stuffed with goat cheese and arugula, artichoke and tomato, mushroom and pine nuts, or any other non-typical filling, it is almost impossible to make an undesirable ravioli dish. Ingredients like crab and lobster, squash, gourmet cheeses, asparagus, pumpkin, and countless other foods are making their way into ravioli as every chef comes up with their own specialty – these pasta dishes are not to be missed!

  • Lasagna – Another traditional dish gone modern, many chefs are creating interesting and flavorful combinations with lasagna. The classic cheese and tomato sauce lasagna is becoming a culinary delight with the addition of cooked and cured meats, different cheeses, and vegetables such as squash, spinach, and more. This tasty pasta dish is especially easy to modify into meatless vegetarian versions. There are even types of dessert lasagnas made with pastry and cream fillings – so good!

  • Pesto – Pesto is another Italian specialty that is seeing a revival in new dishes as well as traditional ones. A paste made of pine nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil, and cheese, pesto adds color and flavor to everything from plain spaghetti to more complex sauces, including roasted red pepper or mushroom sauce. It is outstanding in ravioli, lasagna, pasta and meat dishes, tuna, and countless others.

  • Bolognese and Carbonara – Two other Italian food specialties that are similar yet are Bolognese and Carbonara. They take the ordinary out of any pasta product and make it gourmet. Bolognese is pasta with a flavorful sauce of sautéed onion, garlic, celery, spices, and ground or minced meat such as beef, pork, or ham, all simmered in a wine and tomato sauce. Carbonara is a sauce made from eggs, cheese, and chopped bacon or pancetta with black pepper. Both of these sauces add layers of flavor to pasta, making them wonderful alternatives to the common meat sauce or Alfredo.

Although these recipes represent only a small part of the collection of exotic and savory Italian recipes, they are also dishes that are becoming available locally and a definite must-try when it comes to pasta. Don’t forget to save some room, as for every great Italian meal is an equally great, gourmet Italian dessert like gelato!

Learn How To Order Wine Like An Expert!

Whether dining out with friends or checking out some new wine bars in town, anyone can order wine like a pro with a little bit of know-how. With a few basic tips, picking the perfect vintage for a meal is easier than one might think. Learning a few vocabulary words and understanding some general ideas about wine characteristics is all anyone needs to impress friends and enjoy a great wine experience.

 

Wine Selection Basics

To choose a good wine to accompany a meal, there are a few important considerations based on wine characteristics and qualities. These include the type of wine, food selection, and external factors such as specials and price. Understanding t should allow anyone to make a good selection at popular wine bars.

Wine Types

There are many types of wine served in restaurants and wine bars across the world, all produced in different ways with different types of fruit. Controlling the fermentation process by using different methods and material creates different characteristics as follows:

  • White – These wines include: a wide variety of Chardonnays (known as one of the most versatile wines for drinking and cooking), each of which should be judged individually; Pinot Gris, a slightly spicy and drier white; Sauvignon Blanc, a fruity white that is not overly sweet; Semillon, a dry wine with a strong flavor; Gewürztraminer, a dry, spicy white; and Moscato (wetter) and Riesling (drier), both of which are sweet, fruity whites that become sweeter as they age.

  • Red – These wines include: Merlot, a fruity, full-bodied red; Cabernet Sauvignon, a drier, fruity red; Pinot Noir, a delicate and versatile burgundy; Shiraz or Syrah, a drier, bold and spicy red; Zinfandel, a robust, heavy red; Malbec, a milder dry and spicy red; Barbera, a wetter wine though not so sweet to the taste; and Sangiovese, a medium-bodied, wetter red.

Wine Sweetness and Weight

Dryness is a term that many have heard yet few understand. It refers to sweetness, as a very dry wine is not very sweet on the tongue. A sweet wine is therefore considered to be wet. Wines are usually divided as dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. Sweetness is created through specific control of the fermentation process.

A wine also has weight or body. Discussed as light, medium, or heavy-bodied (or sometimes full-bodied), body refers to the amount of alcohol in the fermentation. The greater the alcohol content, the heavier the wine and the fuller it feels in the mouth.

Food Matching for the Best Experience

There are volumes written about matching wine with food, which changes for every palate. The basics for creating the best pairs when visiting wine bars include knowing the wine type, dryness, weight, and general taste. While reds typically go with meat and whites typically go with poultry and fish, other factors should ultimately determine which dishes to have with a particular wine.

For the best dining experience at popular wine bars, recommendations are as follows:

  • The heavier the meat, the heavier the wine and vice-versa.

  • The spicier the food, the fruitier or sweeter the wine.

  • Salty foods go well with dry and sweet wine.

  • Fattier dishes work well with drier, more acidic types of wine.

  • Vegetables and cheeses go well with whites.

  • Seafood and fish go with anything from whites to lighter reds.

  • Red meats pair well with darkest reds.

  • Sweet dessert wines match with desserts.

Although only the beginning, these tips should allow even the complete wine novice the ability to make a reasonable choice when visiting restaurants and wine bars. Do not assume that the special is the only one to try, as there are usually many good wines available. Venturing a bit into the unknown can yield pleasant surprises!

What Are The Different Kinds of Pizza Dough?

Pizza is one of the oldest, best loved foods all over the world. For hundreds of years, topping trends have come and gone, yet little else has changed about this flat bread concoction. It is still made with hand-kneaded dough, baked in a brick oven, and topped with the freshest ingredients, just like it was years ago. There are different types of dough and, although the differences are minor, each produces a slightly different yet equally delicious end result.

 

The Neapolitan

Neapolitan pizza is as classic as it gets. It is the traditional large, round pie made with a flat, thin bottom and a wide, airy edge. The traditional recipe for this crust includes extra-finely ground, high-protein flour, water, salt and yeast. It is how the dough is made that gives it its great texture and airy crust. Overdone or underdone and the crust is ruined; so as simple as this pizza may seem, there is definitely a unique way to make it.

The secret to the best Neapolitan crust is cold fermentation. This is done by refrigerating the mixed dough for at least two days. Once removed, dough balls are left to slowly warm and rise for about two hours, after which they are then used to make a pizza.

A Neapolitan pizza is best when baked at a very high heat in wood or brick ovens for a short period of time – between one and two minutes. The bottom crust dries enough so it is not chewy and the edge crust gets light and airy. Toppings on the pie cook just enough to stay crisp and flavorful. The traditional Neapolitan requires a plate, knife, and fork since the crust is so thin. It is the most flavorful of all the pizza pies.

The New York

Also known as the ‘modern’ pie, New York pizza is similar to the Neapolitan with a few differences. This pizza is defined by its slightly thicker bottom crust and ability to fold – known as the New York fold – in the middle. It is baked at a lower heat for up to 15 minutes, cooking the ingredients more slowly while the crust finishes.

New York style pizza dough is made with bread flour, oil, water, salt, sugar, and yeast. The oil helps it stay moist during longer cooking and keeps it pliable for easy folding. The crust stays flatter and the ingredients dry a bit more, making it easy to eat. This may not be the most traditional pie, but it is probably the most popular one sold by the slice in cities across the world.

The Sicilian

Known as the ‘square’ pie, Sicilian pizza has the thickest crust of all, up to an inch or more. Layered with sauce, cheese, and other toppings, a loaded Sicilian pie is a family favorite, providing 12 to 16 big, thick slices.

Sicilian pizza is made with the same dough as the New York style; however, the cooking method is different. This pie is made from a thick layer of dough that is shaped into a deep, square pan that is liberally covered in olive oil. Once in the oven, the crust bottom fries in the pan and slowly cooks throughout. Sicilian pizza finishes with a thick, chewy crust and toppings buried beneath lots of stretchy cheese.

Pizza is an amazing food because of the way in which the same ingredients can be used to create such different types of pies, each with different tastes and textures. It is hard not to love pizza and with the different crusts, pizza lovers certainly have their favorites. Why not try a different style crust today?

It’s Red, White, and Blueberry Month – 4th of July at Napa Flats!

July is a great month – important for a number of reasons. First, it brings with it the 4th of July – our country’s Independence Day; it is also the beginning of summer festivities. Another July treat is blueberries, one of the best fruits of the season, a favorite berry to cook with or to eat from the bush. This July 4th, Napa Flats has some exciting red, white, and blueberry restaurant specials for our customers to savor. Until you get to try them, enjoy learning a few other lesser-known facts about this unique American holiday celebration!

 

It Was The 2nd of July – According to John Adams, At Least!

America celebrates its Independence Day on July 4th, which was the day that John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. President John Adams proclaimed that July 2, the date that the Second Continental Congress voted to declare the United States as Independent from Britain, should actually be the day filled with countrywide celebration.

Additionally, the 4th of July was not made a national holiday until almost a century after the signing of the Declaration. For the first 94 years of America’s independence, July 4 was a regular work day just like any other. It was finally decided that President Adams’ suggestion of celebration and nationwide festivities be acknowledged by a full-fledged holiday in 1870, although federal employees had to wait another 70 years before getting the day off to enjoy celebrating America’s birthday at a special restaurant.

Everyone across this great nation can celebrate on the second, fourth, and all month long with delicious food and a festival of blueberry specials at Napa Flats restaurant and wine bar .

America – The Melting Pot

The 4th of July is significant to other countries as well as America. It was on July 4th in 1884 that America received a gift of the Statue of Liberty from France, sent a few years early so that it would be completely assembled by July 4, 1876 – the 100-year anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The statue was completed by 1876, although it was not dedicated until October, 1886 by President Grover Cleveland.

Another interesting fact – Denmark also celebrates the 4th of July! This holiday began in 1912 after a mass of Danish emigrants left the country to reside in the United States and become part of its global culture.

Other Great 4th of July Events

Besides the initial event that led to America’s love affair with the 4th of July, it was also the date for other events as well:

1828 – Construction began on American’s first passenger railroad – the B & O Railroad.

  • 1829 – The cornerstone for the first U.S. Mint in Philadelphia was laid.
  • 1883 – Marked the first opening of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show in North Platte, Nebraska.
  • 1939 – The New York Yankees retired its first uniform – Lou Gehrig’s No. 4.
  • 1960 – The United States unfurled its newest flag with 50 stars in honor of Hawaii’s statehood.
  • 1970 – Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio show debuted in Los Angeles.
  • 2013 – After sustaining massive damage due to Hurricane Sandy, the Statue of Liberty was reopened to the public.

With the above events being only some of the important things that have occurred on the 4th of July, it is hard to let the day pass without some kind of red, white, and blue celebration. Don’t miss our red, white, and blueberry specials at Napa Flats, including delicious blueberry cobbler and other restaurant specials and favorites. Best of all, these specials are available throughout the entire month of July!

Gelato – You Must Experience It!

Gelato has been making the rounds over the past few years – showing up on the menus of both casual and classy restaurants and at ice cream booths and carts all over. So what, exactly is this treat? Is gelato just a fancy word for Italian ice cream – or is it really something more? Anyone who has ever tasted gelato can attest to the fact that it is both similar yet different than ice cream – and simply delicious. To get the scoop on gelato and learn a few interesting details about this divine frozen treat, read on.

 

An Italian Treat

Italian food has a very rich, colorful history spanning thousands of years, incorporating a vast array of regional and imported ingredients. It is a source of pride among cooks who have traditionally developed and prepared these recipes and is considered some of the best and most loved desserts in the world. So it should be no surprise to learn that gelato or traditional Italian ice cream is fairly old, originating from a process initially adapted from the Moors before the 11th Century in Sicily.

The recipe involved the addition of fruit and fruit juice to natural snow from the mountains and was likely the predecessor to granita, which is the coarser Sicilian version of Italian ice and French sorbet. When the locals began adding sugar, milk and various flavors to the recipe – requiring a change in its preparation as well – gelato was born. Gelato became one of the world’s best, cold dairy confections in the 1500’s. To this day, it remains a creamy, rich favorite that is served in restaurants and gelateria (ice cream shops) throughout the world – and is finally gaining popularity in the United States.

Gelato – Different from Ice Cream!

Although it may seem like ice cream and is made with the finest dairy ingredients, gelato gives regular ice cream a run for its money in terms of texture, flavor, and even in terms of healthiness. These differences are created through ingredient choice and the manner in which the product is made.

Rich, creamy gelato is made from sugar, flavorings and mostly milk, although some cream is used. On the other hand, ice cream is made from sugar, flavorings, cream, and eggs. Gelato is also churned much slower than ice cream during the freezing process. These two simple variations create noticeable differences in the product, since faster churning adds air to the mix that completely changes the consistency.

Because of the air, ice cream must be frozen and served at a colder temperature in most restaurants to keep it from turning into a sticky, melted puddle. Gelato is a more dense mixture that does not contain air and is thicker and more elastic than ice cream. It is served at a perfect point of 15 degrees warmer than ice cream and takes longer to be reduced to a sticky, melted puddle. The increased density that results from the slower churning allows for more intense flavor. Best of all, since gelato is made from mostly milk and not cream, its fat content is lowered by almost one-half, making it basically lower in calories.

The debate over gelato or ice cream is a newer one on this side of the ocean, yet one that is quickly picking up steam as more and more restaurants offer gelato. More people are learning that gelato is smoother and richer with a bolder taste than ice cream. Of course, the appeal of a harder, more frozen consistency and texture of ice cream is still popular. In either case, a recipe made with the highest quality ingredients cannot go wrong – but a traditionally made gelato is a dessert that truly must be experienced before it can be judged!

Try Making These Exciting Summer Pasta Dishes!

One of the best things that summer brings besides vacations and days relaxing by the pool is delicious summer menu choices. When fruits and vegetables are at their best and there is many choices of ingredients, there is no better time to try some new dishes like summer pasta salads. Adding a new healthy and tasty dish to a family meal is so easy. Following are a few tips on how to have the best results from a great pasta salad recipe.

 

The Right Pasta

Although it may seem like pasta is pretty standard everywhere, this is not the case at all. It differs based on taste, ingredients, shape, and best usage in a dish. While technically any type of pasta can be used for any dish, using something different adds a new look and texture of a recipe, making it that much more appealing. The shapes and sizes are endless.

For best flavor and effect in a pasta salad, use a medium-sized type. Skip the plain elbow macaroni and use one a little adventurous with corkscrews, wagon wheels, orecchiette (little ears), bow ties, shells, and any other type that has curls, twists, cups, or a shape designed to catch dressing and other ingredients. For those trying to limit wheat intake, try gnocchi (potato pasta) or rice noodles, which are now available in various traditional shapes and sizes.

Properly Prepared

Whether using fresh or dried versions, do not overcook them as that makes it soggy and limp. Take the pasta out of the water when al dente or slightly firm, as it is more palatable and works better in salad cuisine. Toss it with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together and to add a hint of flavor. Then toss with spices that compliment the dish to infuse some flavor.

Fresh Ingredients

Just like any other dish, pasta recipes always look and taste best when made with fresh and colorful ingredients. Regardless of the season, there is usually a good selection year round, although summer produce right out of the garden or straight from the farm stand is usually more fresh and sweet. When possible, serve the vegetables raw or grilled, which provides good color, crunch, and more vitamins.

Non-processed cheeses from the cheese counter taste best, as does fresh grilled or roasted meats when added to these dishes. A pasta salad can be truly a great meal, not just a side dish, when made with fresh, marinated steak, chicken breast, tuna, or other types of meats.

Fresh Herbs

Toss fresh, chopped herbs into the mixture once all ingredients have been added to add some bright color and bold flavor. This should be done just before serving to preserve the delicate nature and flavor of the herbs. As an added surprise, toss in some sesame seeds, pine nuts, chopped peanuts, or other complimentary flavors.

Serve Immediately!

Even when prepared fresh, many meals lose some of that balanced flavor after sitting too long. Pasta salads are one such dish, especially if sauces or dressings are left to pool in the bottom of the bowl. For the best tasting dishes, mix ingredients as close to serving time as possible – or at least leave the dressing off until just prior to serving. This can prevent noodles from becoming soaked and soft. Refrigerate before and after serving to help ingredients stay their freshest.

With these tips, anyone should be able to put together a main or side dish pasta salad that will delight the family and make them look at this tried and true dish in a different light. The only question remaining at this point is – are you hungry yet?

How To Eat Diet-Conscious At An Italian Restaurant

In today’s health-conscious world, it is increasingly difficult to eat out without feeling like the whole diet has been blown. The good news is that this does not always have to be the case. With the right approach, anyone can enjoy a great meal at an Italian restaurant without the guilt. Knowing what things to avoid and what foods are healthy, even those on strict or restricted food diets can enjoy eating out and stay within most eating plans.

 

Italian Food for Dieters

Before looking for something on the menu that is acceptable, there are a few things to understand that can help everyone make the best choices possible:

  • Italian Food Can Be Healthy – In actuality, traditional Italian cuisine outside of a restaurant and prepared the original way is very healthy. In the modern world, our biggest issue is poor ingredients and excessive portions. If those two things are addressed, an Italian meal does not have to mean an unhealthy meal. Keep portion sizes down and look for options made with fresh and healthy ingredients.

  • Variety is The Spice of Italian Eating – There is much more to Italian cuisine than just pasta and pizza, which is great news for anyone dieting! A vast selection of meat and vegetable-based dishes exist, so cutting down on carbohydrates and dairy is not as difficult as it may seem.

What to Avoid

Following are some of the things that should be avoided when eating at an Italian restaurant and trying to cut down on calories:

  • Cream Sauces – Because of the calories and fat content, dieters should avoid cream-based sauces. While this may mean passing on the Fettuccine Alfredo, the Pasta Primavera made with vegetables and a lighter, olive oil sauce is much healthier and just as tasty.

  • Excessive Cheese – Cheese is one of the best things about Italian food that dieters can still enjoy in moderation. Inquire about low-fat versions, ask that less be used in the dish, and pass on any extra. Finding a restaurant willing to adjust by request should not be difficult.

  • Fried Anything – Traditionally, there is not much frying done in Italian cooking. Avoid foods altogether that are fried and splurge instead on baked and roasted dishes.

  • Wheat – The wheat in bread and pasta accounts for most of the calories and carbohydrates in the food we eat today. To improve Italian meals, skip the rolls and other bread; fill up on salad instead. Try bread-free and pasta-free dishes if available and if not, keep the portion size small and add other, healthier ingredients to balance out the carbohydrates.

What to Seek

Following are some of the more hearty things to look for when dieting:

  • Salads – Whether eating a garden salad, cold vegetable salad, or antipasto, filling up on vegetables before a main course is recommended as it is a much healthier option that is lower in carbohydrates and fats. Be careful about adding cheese and meat, since both can undo the good of a big bowl of salad. Stick to vinaigrette and lighter dressings rather than heavier ones.

  • Tomato-Based Sauces – Anything made with a tomato base will likely be healthier and lower in fat and calories than any heavier preparation with cheese and cream. Oil and garlic makes a good sauce for some dishes as well and is a healthier option.

  • Healthy Pizza – Sometimes cravings cannot be ignored for a slice of pizza. It is possible to have that pizza and remain on that diet. Choose a thin, traditional, single crust; ask for less cheese and add healthy toppings like vegetables and lean meat while skipping the fat-laden meats.

Most diets do provide for an occasional splurge, which leaves many ways to eat at an Italian restaurant and not feel like it is the end of the diet. Many restaurants are willing to adjust a dish to better fit the needs of their patrons, so it never hurts to ask; just plan ahead of time to allow for a few extra fats and carbohydrates that day. Make common sense choices, don’t consider the dishes that should be limited, and enjoy the meal – buon appetito!

Wondering What Makes A Great Wine Bar?

Wine bars are becoming all the rage as a great way to experience the best in wine without traveling to the vineyards and winery. As in many cities across the country, the demand for great wine bars in College Station TX is growing. For those interested in visiting one of these venues, a basic education is helpful to know how to find the best wine bar to visit and have the best experience.

 

Great Location and Great Atmosphere

Restaurants often use gimmicks in order to stand out from competitors located within easy walking distance – which is not something that wine bars generally utilize. The theme and emphasis for a good wine bar should simply be the wine itself, so there is seldom a need for cute, overly clever names or outlandishly loud decor and atmosphere, which is better left to restaurateurs than to wine purveyors.

The best atmosphere for any wine sampling bar is one that matches the type of people the establishment wants to attract. For those working downtown, perhaps a more contemporary environment is best; in general, a more traditional-looking pub, European bistro, or small eatery appearance with a simple design and décor is always a good idea. Naturally, accentuating with wine motifs is a popular choice.

Selection, Specials, and Service

Quite simply, there are too many varieties and brands of wine available for any one establishment to offer an extensive collection of wine – may not be the best place for newer patrons to visit. Well-educated wine tasters may enjoy the vast selection and minimal information found at a place like this. Keep in mind that the main goal for most wine bars is to offer good information and good wine to their customers.

The average person looking for a great meal with a glass of wine does not usually think of a wine bar; however, the person who wants a great glass of wine with a little food does. Therefore, it is a good assumption that patrons want to learn something about what they are tasting when visiting a wine bar. Considering this, it is difficult for any good establishment to provide individualized service and valuable information to its patrons when offering numerous brands unless it is read from the label or brochure – which isn’t very desirable.

Put in perspective, the best wine bars offer a tailored menu of types, brands, and flavors designed to reflect each individual establishment and its customers. They may also feature rotating specials from time-to-time to give regular customers a chance to taste new things. Favorite specials may eventually make their way onto the regular menu; however, the best wine bars change wine lists frequently to keep customers coming back.

With these tips in mind, it should be quite possible to find the perfect wine bars in College Station TX to visit. Look for one with a limited selection and revolving specials on their menu paired with simple food offerings. If all of this is found, that wine bar is most likely a great place to visit. As a connoisseur’s taste and education grows, so can the size of the menu. All in all, smaller wine bars frequently are the most popular for a reason!

Italian Cuisine - Its Diversity & Excitement!

Italian cuisine has been one of the best-loved styles of cooking for thousands of years for many different reasons. Throughout history, Italian dishes have combined not just the best local ingredients but the best exotic ingredients as well. This cuisine has evolved into various regional sub-styles of cooking, coming together to create a menu unlike any other in the world. Easily adaptable and uncomplicated to prepare, Italian food is a combination of both simple comfort food and gourmet dining.

 

A Love Of Food

It’s no real secret – Italians love food! They love to eat it and love the effort of preparing and serving delicious creations for others to enjoy. Throughout the various regions Italy, cooking has always been taken very seriously. It is considered to be one of its greatest cultural contributions to the world, right alongside the many other forms of art that have originated in Italy.

Different Regional Ideas and Tastes

Since the first documented recipes thousands of years ago, the people of Italy have used the ingredients available to them in their own regions to prepare both new and traditional dishes. The results are a variety of ingredients and cooking styles that still represent those various regions today. Following are types of Italian food traditional to each of these regions.

  • Northern – In the north, the food is simple and satisfying. Home to some of the best pasta and risotto dishes, this region is fairly diverse as its borders neighbor other countries where different tastes and ingredients are popular. Dairy, pasta, and meat are the staples of this region. The north is also famous for its cheeses. Traditionally, wheat, corn, barley, certain nuts, mushrooms and truffles are grown in this area; livestock is also raised here. Dishes vary, the mainstay being pasta or rice, cheese and dairy, heavier sauces, and frequently beef, lamb and ox.

  • Western – Western cuisine generally includes less dairy and is comprised largely of fish and vegetables. Fresh produce such as tomatoes, olives, greens, herbs, beans, chestnuts, and other nuts – and the products made with them – are staples. These Italian food dishes include tuna, cod, octopus, anchovies, and other ocean fish. Polenta and pastas are made of chickpeas rather than wheat, as it does not grow well in the region. Sauces are lighter and more tomato-based.

  • Eastern – Influenced in part by bordering countries to the north, the eastern region uses some dairy and cheeses with the addition of freshwater fish, pork, cured ham, and local wines. The southeast is a vast fruit and vegetable-producing area with hot peppers a specialty, so many local dishes are quite spicy. Pasta, meat, and wine make up the bulk of the menu, although there is much influence from the south. Tomato-based sauces and vegetables served in a wide variety of ways are common.

  • Southern – The southern half of Italy is a treasure trove of tastes and styles since there is the ability to grow, raise and catch just about any ingredient needed by local cooks. Much of the traditional Italian food current recognized is from this area. This is the wine region and the area with the most concentrated diversity as it borrows from the other three areas, lending its own flair through locally grown ingredients. While beef and larger livestock are not as prevalent, there is still a variety of meat, dairy and eggs, making the south a true culinary paradise that is also influenced by other Mediterranean cooking styles.

If simply reading this makes your mouth water, then we have accomplished our goal! With a variety of ingredients and the intermingling of techniques, there is no doubt that Italian food is some of the best cuisine available. Rich in history and flavor, there is much more to this style of cooking than just spaghetti and marinara sauce. Step outside of the proverbial pizza box and try something from a different region today. Excite the taste buds and have a unique worldly dining experience!

The Diverse Cuisine Known As Italian Food!

Ever feel like going out to eat but don’t decide if you want chicken, fish, meat ,or pasta? Maybe a restaurant that offers a little bit of everything is the answer – but just how good are such choices? Italian food offers a broad spectrum of choices and the best Italian food can be found at smaller, privately owned restaurants – the ones that should not be missed!

 

Cuisine as Diverse as the Land Itself

Italy is a country in Europe that spreads from the Alps in the north to the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. Its many different regions, from mountains to islands, lend their own specialties to what is possibly the world’s most varied diet. Different regional climates – from the snowy, mountainous north to the tropical, hot Mediterranean in the south – offer everything from fruits and nuts, to small and large livestock and everything in between.

Italy is home to the best food curing and preserving methods. Curing methods led to the development of traditional, regional dishes as the first tomatoes were sun-dried and the first meats were salt-cured.

Consider the following foods that are just some of the many different Italian foods available:

  • Pasta – Renowned for hundreds of types of pasta, Italian food is certainly much more than pasta. That being said, pasta is made of every feasible suitable ingredient and formed into just about every shape and size imaginable – the possibilities are endless – proving there is much more to Italian cooking than just spaghetti and macaroni!

  • Fresh and Cured Meat – Whether eaten as part of an antipasto, in a sandwich, or as part of the main course, Italian meats are flavorful and bold, adding a boost to almost any recipe. Beef, chicken, and pork are used fresh in many different dishes as well as cured to create different flavors.

  • Cheese – Italy is the home of magnificently delicious cheeses, using not only cow’s milk but also sheep and goat’s milk along with other hardy animals from the northern parts of the country. From the hard, aged flavors to soft, mild ones, Italian cheeses are an integral part of every menu. There are many more than just the common cheeses to try; consider Pecorino Toscana, Asiago, and Fontina. These lesser known flavors can really add to a complete and delicious Italian food experience.

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Although tomatoes appear in many Italian dishes, there is no shortage of vegetables in Italian cooking. From many different types and flavors of tomatoes to other root, bush, and vine plants as well as mushrooms, fruits and nuts – the produce fields in Italy are a cornucopia of flavor.

  • Wine – Most think of France or California as the best wine regions; however, Italy is home to some of the biggest and best vineyards and wine regions. Italians love wine, whether in cooking or drinking. There are types and styles that differ greatly from those an average wine drinker may have experienced. Moscato, Malvasia, and Pecorino name only a few – and all go great with Italian food.

  • Coffee and Dessert – What could make any Italian meal perfect? Coffee and dessert of course – and Italy is famous for both. Don’t stop with just espresso, cannoli, and Italian ice – although all are great dessert choices. Gelato, mascarpone, and other pastry specialties should not be missed.

There is an endless palette of tastes available when it comes to Italian food, making it one of the most colorful, well-loved cooking styles all around the world. Don’t settle for ordinary one-taste-fits-all cooking. Enjoy Italian cuisine at a local restaurant – and discover that there really is something for everyone on the menu!

Learn The Features Of A Great Wine Bar!

Wine bars have become very popular spots, a great place for both ‘wine-preneurs’ and ‘wine-newbies’ to have the opportunity of sampling some of the best vintages available. Such establishments typically focus on the beverage rather than the food, although a good accompanying menu is still essential for complete success. Those new to visiting a wine bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma are in for a treat, as it can be a great and informative experience. The key is being sure to visit the right bodega, one that is run by knowledgeable staff who truly know and understand what constitutes fine wine.

 

A Broad Selection of Wine Types

What would a wine bar be without a good selection? It would probably be just a typical restaurant. Successful establishments catering to the wine crowd need to offer both some familiar labels; ; however, most visitors are looking for something different, something not seen anywhere else. The best wine bars offer a few new labels and types frequently and have a wide selection of flavors to please almost every palate.

Whether domestic or imported, the key is variety and continual rotation of specialty offerings to keep customers coming back. A few exotics on the regular menu with some old standbys are always nice. It is important to provide information about each wine, both verbally by the server and on paper to take with to remind them of that particular vintage. That allows a taster to do further research on their own if that is desired.

An appealing wine bar in College Station TX will offer various pour sizes or tastes in order to try something new without having to purchase an entire glass. Small pours also make it possible for side-by-side tasting, which is definitely something that most true enthusiasts enjoy. A sampling should be as easy and affordable as possible; sales come with repeated visits and bottles sold after the tasting.

An Appealing Food Selection

Even though the purpose of any wine bar is to introduce people to wine, there should also be some type of a food selection because most ‘wine-preneurs’ consider trying out a new wine bar as part of an entire evening experience – including eating. There should be a fine balance between an emphasis on the wine or on the food, as the highlight is on the beverage and not necessarily a chef’s latest food creation.

A good rule of thumb is a place that offers a nice variety of food dishes that compliment the vintages and types of wines being offered, i.e., French cuisine for French imported wines, Italian food with a good Italian vino, etc . Offerings should be of the highest quality yet not so complex as to take away attention from the wine tasting itself. The best way to appreciate new wines is with food that helps the consumer enjoy the wine even more.

Trained and Knowledgeable Servers

Because there are so many things that can affect a wine tasting event, a key element of a successful wine bar is to have trained, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable staff. Wines can be either enhanced or ruined by temperature, sitting out, shape and type of glassware, and even more variables, which must be handled correctly by all servers. They should also be able to help tasters make appropriate food and beverage choices, understand correct wine terminology, and be helpful for those looking for new wines to taste and learn about

Combined with the right atmosphere that will attract the desired wine bar in College Station ‘wine-preneurs’ or ‘wine-newbies,’ these tips are a great starting point for tasters and servers alike. Venues that hold frequent tasting events besides regular restaurant hours open up a whole new way to have a lot of fun and leave patrons wanting to return to enjoy new wines, new foods, and new friends!