Looking for a gift for the gourmet in your life? Why not be inspired by the delicious delights of Italian food. Here are 10 great products that are easy to find outside of Italy – pop a few in your basket, or use them as a basis for a hamper or gift box.
You can also top it up with a bottle of Italian wine, or a popular liqueur such as Limoncello or Amaretto.
Perfect for Italophiles and foodies to get a taste of Italy back home.
ITALIAN OLIVE OIL
Good-Quality olive oil is the basis of Italian cooking. Frantoio Muraglia oils hail from Puglia and often come in gorgeous bottles that make great gifts. This is gourmet first cold-pressed EVOO – top of the range stuff.
Baci are a popular treat in Italy – delicious chocolate and hazelnut kisses that come with a little love note, made by the chocolate confectioner Perugina. A perfect stocking filler for your loved one.
Panettone is a Christmas classic in Italy. A sweet loaf studded with candied fruit, it’s traditionally enjoyed with boozy or creamy accompaniments. Not a fan of dried fruit? These days you can find chocolate versions too. I like to use any leftovers for an extra special bread and butter pudding.
TUSCAN DISH TOWEL
Bring a touch of Tuscany to someone’s kitchen with this classy dishtowel design inspired by Tuscan ceramics, which brings a Mediterranean feel with its swirl of lemons and olives. Matching coasters and napkins are available if you want to put together a bundle.
If you’re making up an Italian-themed hamper then you will need some pasta, of course. To add a special feel, plump for a few unusual varieties that you can’t easily find in local stores.
I’m a fan of the versatile trofie, a simple twisted shape from Liguria which is traditionally paired with pesto. I recommend buying fresh pesto if you can though (from the refrigerated section, or making your own), as the storecupboard stuff never tastes quite right.
EATING UP ITALY
Follow food writer Matthew Fort as he embarks on a dream trip – travelling the length of Italy by scooter to discover its regional food. This is a book to devour, and it’s full of excellent background information for their heading out on their own Italy grand tour.
Another great hamper item is a bag or two of typical Italian biscuits. Who doesn’t love Amaretti? These chewy almond biscuits from the Lombardy region are made with egg white and ground almonds and flavoured with the Amaretto liqueur. Perfect with coffee.
WHITE BALSAMIC VINEGAR
Say hello to your new secret ingredient. Everyone is familiar with dark balsamic vinegar, but the white stuff is a real treat for home cooks. White balsamic is made from sweet Trebbiano grape must blended with white wine vinegar. It turns a simple salad dressing into something special.
MOKA ESPRESSO POT
Italians are very particular about their coffee. Make your own stovetop espresso with a Moka pot – at a fraction of the cost and size of a fancy machine. Oh, and don’t forget the coffee to go with it.
Cook like a Tuscan with this evocative cookbook which is packed with handy tips, gorgeous photos and mouthwatering (but surprisingly simple) recipes. The authors run cooking schools in London and Italy and their top-class instruction shines through in this wonderful book.
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