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Thursday, February 20, 2020

CROSTOLI: A PERFECTLY CRISP CARNEVALE TREAT





It's Carnevale time. It is the period falling right before Lent when we Italians indulge in rich foods. Kids (and sometimes adults) we dress up for Carnevale and even go to school and local parades, all dressed up.! And of course in Venice there is our  famous Carnival that attracts thousand of tourists.
To savoring the festivities are some delicious Carnevale treats, like the , frittellecastagnole, and crostoli. My mom usually makes one batch of each and they all disappear pretty quickly. Crostoli are the treat that goes the quickest, as they are utterly and sneakingly addictive!
For us in Italy, making crostoli is a family affair. Since it happens once a year, everybody is happy to help! Plus, additional manpower is always needed because it can easily turn into an assembly line: roll, cut, fry, dust, repeat. But it's all worth it as the results are to die for.
The crostoli are made simply of eggs, flour, butter, and sugar, crostoli are perfectly crisp and delicate sheets of fried dough, dusted in powdered sugar. Their popularity is proven by the variety of names they carry throughout Italy:  frappe, bugie, chiacchere, galani, lasagne, cencilattughe, sfrappole — just to name a few! In the region of Friuli, Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige, we call them “crostoli”.
·   TIPS FOR AWESOME CROSTOLI
·       HELP: If possible, get another person to help you. While one rolls the dough and cuts it, the other one fries it (it’s also possible to do it all on your own, if you work in small batches).
·       DOUGH: Roll out your dough into a paper-thin, almost see-through sheet, using a pasta machine. Start from the widest settings, and work your way to the thinnest (I usually go from 3, to 5, to 7). Always cover the rolled doughwaiting to be fried, so it doesn’t become dry. 
·       ALCOHOL: Do not skip the alcohol, as it works as a leavening agent and it also helps to add more flavor. We used a plum grappa we had in the cabinet, but you could definitely use Marsala, brandy, or rum.
·       DEEP-FRYING: Use peanut oil for crispier and lighter results. Start deep-frying only when the oil reaches the ideal temperature ( 175°C/ 345°F). Don’t overcrowd the frying pan: fry only 3-4 crostoli at a time.
Before leaving you to the recipe, let me share with you my very own way to measure “crostoli success”:  if you make a big mess when you bite into it, you pretty much nailed it! The more crumbs (and powdered sugar), the better.  
Here we go.

 Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
 Cutting / Frying Time 1 hour

Ingredients
·       400 g bread flour sifted
·       100 g pastry flour sifted
·       60 g granulated sugar
·       1 orange zested
·       4 g salt
·       4 eggs lightly beaten
·       60 g butter melted
·       50 g plum grappa (can sub with Marsala, rum, or brandy)
·       peanut oil for frying 
·       powdered sugar for dusting
Instructions
1.     CROSTOLI DOUGH: In a medium-sized bowl, combine both types of flours, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Using a fork, whisk in the lightly beaten eggs with rest of the dry ingredients. While whisking, gradually add the melted butter and the grappa (or your liqueur of choice). Transfer your dough onto a clean work surface and start kneading until you obtain a smooth ball. For better results, beat the heck out your dough ball with a rolling pin a few times (10, 20?). Wrap the dough ball in plastic film and let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature. 
2.     ROLL & CUT: Divide the dough into 8 smaller portions and keep the unused portions covered with a kitchen towel. 
Roll: Using a pasta machine, roll out one portion, dusting it with flour at every passage. Starting from a wide setting, feed the dough through the pasta machine 2-3 times, folding the dough to obtain an even rectangle. Work your way to a very thin setting (I usually go from 3, to 5, to 7). 
Cut: Cut the thin sheet of rolled dough into rectangles, about 6-7 cm (2.5-3 inches) wide. Cut a slit lengthways along the center of each rectangle (this will help avoid big bubbles during frying). 
Cover: Cover the rolled dough with a kitchen towel so it doesn't dry out. If you don’t have anybody helping you, proceed to frying as the rolled dough shouldn’t rest too long. You'll then repeat the whole process, working in batches.
3.     DEEP-FRY: Pour about 5 cm/ 2 inches of peanut oil in a medium-sized saucepan and set it over medium heat. When the oil temperature registers 175 C/ 345 F, start frying your crostoli (3–4 at a time). When they are light gold and crisp, drain them with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a tray lined with paper towel. Dust with powdered sugar. Repeat with the the rest of the dough, working in batches, and reheating oil in between. 
Crostoli are best enjoyed within the first 2-3 days. Keep them covered with a paper towel so they stay fragrant and crispy. 

Buon appetito e buon Carnevale a tutti.
Giada

Join me on my trip to Italy with Perillo Tour for the most amazing time, with wine testing, cooking classes, concerts and sight seeing. 
To lean more and to book it visit:
www.viavalenti.com 



Friday, July 19, 2019

5 secrets for living La Dolce Vita


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Happy summer dear readers.



Everybody hopefully is enjoying this wonderful summer time.
Time for vacation, travels. And for the one of us still stuck at the office working, well we can at least hang at the pool in the weekend, go to the shore, enjoy a day on the beach and just day dreaming about the next vacations and make plans for them.

I'm Italian so my whole life I've been exposed to what the world calls "La Dolce Vita", the sweet Italian live stile.

It's normal for us Italian to wake up early in the morning and be surrounded by beauty. In a city like my own Venice, early in the morning the city is quiet and like a flower ready to bloom. You can hear the leap of the water on the canals, the voices of the gondoliers getting ready for work. Imagine the blue sky and the fresh air, a cup of coffee and delicious croissant on a balcony facing the water....magical. And if you are in the country side you hear the sound of church bells while the early morning sun paints the sky in a soft pick on the vinery all around you.
It may be early, but you’re already dreaming of fresh pasta al dente and a drop of Barolo for a lazy lunch on a sunny terrace. For us Italian this is normal. For most of the people a dream, until they are there and experience this themselves.

In Italy we always look to share happiness with another human being and try to make the most of that moment. The food, wine and the experience of living – it is only beautiful if you can share it with somebody.

We Italians are passionate about food. On the street, you’ll hear people sharing recipes and debating about where to find their favorite ingredients.

So here are 5 amazing secrets of the Italian Dolce Vita, basically the way we live.

1. Food is a fuel to the soul



Food is a fundamental thing for us Italian. We famously says that the world eat to survive, we survive to eat. You can eat good pasta every where, but some of the best chefs in Italy  they say that "you won’t understand pasta unless you have been trained by a Ligurian. “The art of making linguine in Liguria, the rugged coastal region in Northern Italy, is something Italian are very passionate about it.  It is said that “Liguria is to pasta what Naples is to pizza".
It’s important to use the freshest and best ingredients you can find to make any delicious dish. And so Liguria a small, hilly region, they made terraces on the hills to grow their vegetables. They don’t produce a lot, but they produce the highest-quality artichokes, asparagus and basil, one of the main ingredients of Pesto, the famous sauce you can now find everywhere in the world. But nowhere is like in Liguria.

So, while in Italy enjoy our local food. Risotto with fish in Venice, meat in Tuscany, pasta with pesto in Liguria, bucatini with any meat sauce in  Roma, pizza in Naples.
And don't be surprised to hear Italian humming while eating their food in a restaurant in Italy or talking very animated about it. We really love our food.  
Buon appetito.

2. Fashion is a way of living



We Italians dress to impress, and competition is especially fierce on the streets of Milan, the country’s fashion capital. But pretty much everywhere I will say. 
There are many trends in Italy, but one the most loved by us Italian is the spezzato, a word created particularly to describe the artful way Italian men mix and match jackets and trousers versus simply suiting up.

Spezzato, a signature of classic and effortless Italian style, describes the way men and women put together jackets and trousers that complement each other but are not part of the same suit.
In Italy, style is more than just looking the part – you must  live and breathe it through a commitment to top-tier fabrics and tailoring, worn with an air of unstudied, effortless elegance. In Italy we really care about the way we dress. It's an old fashion way of thinking that elegance is not an optional, it a must. People will see us, and we need to be taken care. And we come to the third important secret of being Italian and living La Dolce Vita.

3. Embrace la bella figura


We Italians like to create a good impression wherever we go. You might call it showing off. We call it la bella figura. The best way to arrive in style is behind the wheel of an Italian sports car – with the convertible top down, sunshine streaming in and opera playing on the radio. Fancy sunglasses on, always, we spend a lot of money to have the most trendy ones every season. 
An Italian that arrives on a place will look to the rest fo the world like a scene from a movie. For an Italian is just the way to be. La bella figura.

So, imagine yourself hopping into a beautiful convertible sports car  and travel 55 miles (90 kilometers) out of the city, along picturesque, tree-lined lanes and quaint villages, to arrive at the deep-blue waters of Lake Como. Spectacular right?
Then spend the day zipping around the town’s spectacular pastel-colored villas, stopping only to admire the views eating an ice-cream with someone you love, and then dine at a lakefront restaurant. You get the picture, right? La Dolce Vita. 

4. Every moment deserves amore


For us Italians, a good meal is not solely about delectable dishes. Flavor goes hand in hand with amore and creating the right setting to indulge in both. If you follow me, when I cook, when I sing, when I tell about about my life, you know that my secret ingredient is always amore. Amore, love, in all we do. Now you know why I sing love songs and my Concerts always have love in the air. Love is La Dolce Vita. And being Italian is celebrating amore in all we do. 

5. Everyone is famiglia


And here with some to another fundamental thing of being Italian and living La Dolce Vita. Ask any Italian: they will all tell you the best way to enjoy la dolce vita is with someone you treasure, be it family, friends or a soulmate. And that said we Italians are also happy to open our doors and offer hospitality to people from faraway places. Everyone is welcome. "Aggiungi un posto a tavola", "add a place on the table" is the title of a popular Italian song, but also the way we live our days. Life is only beautiful if you can share it with somebody.
Anyone can experience and share la dolce vita in Italy, where language is no barrier, and everyone is family.
One of the greatest things to do while in Italy, to experience la dolce vita is stopping in an unfamiliar village to order a bread roll with pecorino and prosciutto, along with a glass of Chianti. It’s very special, and you’ll find that we are very sociable. In the villages, they start a conversation even if you only say ‘buongiorno.’ 
Language is no barrier. 
I think we Italian know how to live well – we know how to create pleasure, whether it’s a dish of pasta or a landscape. It is part of our identity, and it is something we have to share.

So if you want to live La Dolce Vita in Italy with me, well I'm going next year with a group of fans to experience all of the above.
here below all the info.

Happy summer and let's enjoy life at the fullest no matter we are in the world the Italian way.

Giada 






Would you like to join us on an unforgettable trip to see Venice and the Veneto region with me next year ?
https://giadavalenti.com/italy-trip-2020 for info, dates and price. The trip is organized by Perillo Tour. 
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www.giadavalenti.com
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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The epicenter of Venice



A few months and it will be May and I will traveling with a group of fans ad friends to my beautiful Venice. It will be so special to take all of them to visit the places I grow up and the places I love. We will have so much fun eating at my favorite places, enjoying wine tasting, cooking classes and I will serenade them with two intimate concerts one in Verona and one in Venice. 
I like to share the beauty of my hometown and today I want to share some info about Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark's Square in Venice, for sure the the epicenter of Venice. 
Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark's Square, is the largest and most important square in Venice. Being the widest swath of flat, open land in the water-bound city, it has long been a popular meeting place for Venetians and visitors. The Piazza's rectangle design was once a showcase for the city's aristocracy and is most impressive from its sea approach – a reminder of Venice's centuries-old legacy as a powerful maritime republic. 

Called "the drawing room of Europe", a quote attributed to Napoleon, Saint Mark's Square was named after the unusual and stunning Basilica of the same name that dominates the east end of the square. The slender Campanile di San Marco, the Basilica's bell tower, is one of the square's most recognizable landmarks.

History of Saint Mark's Square

Constructed in the 9th century in front of Saint Mark's Basilica and the adjacent Doge's Palace, the square was enlarged in the 12th century after a canal and dock were filled in. The campanile (bell tower) was rebuilt three times—the latest version was finished in 1912. In the 16th century, during the sack of Rome, Jacopo Sansovino fled to Venice and constructed the lovely Loggetta del Sansovino, used as a council waiting room for the Doge's Palace. The Piazza was once paved with bricks in a unique herringbone pattern. But in 1735, the terracotta blocks were replaced with natural stone.
On the waterfront, the paved areas, known as La Piazzetta (little square) and Molo (jetty), are overseen by two 12th-century columns. Atop each is a statue of Venice's two patron saints: Saint Mark in the form of a winged lion, and Saint Teodoro (Theodore).

What to See and Do in Piazza San Marco

Being Saint Mark's Square the epicenter of Venice – almost everything in the city revolves around it.
In the summertime, the square is teeming with tourists, but fall and spring see somewhat fewer crowds. Winter, although wet and cold, can be very romantic and ethereal.
No matter what time of year you visit, here are some things to do and see on Venice's Saint Mark's Square.
Visit Basilica San Marco -  Saint Mark's Basilica  is one of the most stunningly beautiful and intricately designed cathedrals in the world; no wonder it is the city's top attraction. Pure Venetian, the church's architectural style encompasses Byzantine, Islamic, and Western European influences, and has more than 500 columns and 85,000 square feet of intricate, golden mosaics adorning the main portal and the interiors of its five domes. Inside, the Basilica's museum contains a fascinating collection of carpets, liturgies, and tapestries, along with the bronze Horses of San Marco, brought back from Constantinople during the 4th Crusade.


Listen to The Bells of San Marco - The Campanile di San Marco is the bell tower of Saint Mark's Basilica. Rising 323 feet above the Square, the freestanding tower has a loggia that surrounds its belfry containing five bells, topped by lion faces and Venice's version of Lady Justice (La Giustizia).
Crowned by a pyramidal spire with a golden weathervane in the likeness of the archangel Gabriel, the tower was last restored in 1912 after it collapsed 10 years earlier. Fun Fact: In 1609, Galileo used the tower for an observatory and to demonstrate his telescope.


Wander the Halls of Doges Palace - Adjacent to Saint Mark's Basilica is the opulent Palazzo Ducale, Doge's Palace , the erstwhile headquarters of the Doges, rulers of Venice. The Doge essentially functioned as the king of Venice, and his massive palace functioned almost like a self-contained city. The former assembly halls, apartments, and harrowing prisons are part of the self-guided or guided tours available here.


Witness Antiquity at the National Archaeological Museum - Founded in 1523 by Cardinal Domenico Grimani, the museum tells the story of Venice: a city of art, glass, ceramics, and jewels. Located across from the Piazzetta, it has an array of Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian artifacts, as well as pre-protohistoric archaeological finds. There's also an impressive collection of 16th-century works acquired over the centuries from Venetian nobility.



Appreciate Venetian Art at the Museo Correr - Behind the rows of shops along the Procuratie Nuove is the Museo Correr , which occupies the building's upper floors. One of 11 civic museums in Venice, it displays a wonderful collection of Venetian art and historical artifacts.
Sip a Bellini at an Outdoor Cafe - Piazza San Marco is lined by Procuraties (three connected buildings) whose arcaded ground floors host elegant cafes with outdoor tables. Order a Bellini – a cocktail of Prosecco and peach nectar invented in 1931 – as you watch the world go by. But be prepared to pay some extra than normal, because a front row seat on this iconic square doesn't come cheap.




How to Visit Piazza San Marco
Location: Piazza San Marco, 30100 Venezia
Save time by buying a San Marco Square Museum Pass . The pass includes admission to the Doge's Palace, Museo Correr, Archaeological Museum, and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. It's ideal for travelers visiting Venice for a day or two.
Traveler Tip: In an effort to curtail the damage by pigeon droppings on Venice's many UNESCO Heritage sites, feeding the pigeons is prohibited; violators could be fined €50 to €200.
Would you like to join us on an unforgettable trip to see Venice with me?
Visit www.viavalenti.com for info, dates and price.