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February 22, 2012

Skiing in Val Gardena

Having lunch on the slopes at a baita with Tanya and the family. Val Gardena is a beautiful valley in the Dolomites–it’s worth visiting year-round.

Horse and buggy rides at Val Gardena

Snowshoeing with friends in Val Gardena


February 21, 2012

Italy in February: Venice and Bologna

Celebrating Carnevale and my birthday in misty Venice with Joe and my grandchildren

Traditional Carnevale costumes in Venice

View from the top of San Petronio in Bologna

A little shopping in Bologna

Il Sassolungo from Val Gardena, where I'm meeting up with Tanya and the family

February 17, 2012

Goats: My Gift to My Mother – by Tanya

My mother is the easiest person to buys gift for.  She appreciates whatever gift you give her, from the classic silk scarf to the practical nightshirt.

I usually begin thinking about what to get her shortly after the new year.  I try and be creative, sometimes succeeding and sometimes falling back on the old staple: Her perfume. It’s the same one she has worn for the past 45 years.  In fact, anywhere in the world, when I smell that scent, she immediately comes to mind. I even know if she has made it to a meeting before me by her perfume scent leading the way.

This year I was lucky enough to stumble across the perfect birthday gift for my mother.  While watching Ellen Degeneres this past week, I was able to watch the rescue story of six beautiful goats by a wonderful organization, the Gentle Barn.  Goats are probably my mother’s favorite animal.  Growing up she always had pet goats and even today has a goat back in her hometown that she enjoys visiting with and milking.  I knew immediately that helping to feed and care for these goats would be the perfect birthday gift.  Hopefully she will get to visit them.

The Gentle Barn rescues many wonderful animals and I highly suggest visiting their website, the animals are gorgeous and sweet.

February 14, 2012

Wine pairing for Valentine’s Day

Regardless of who you’re celebrating with today, I’m sure you’re going to want a little something sweet. While chocolate is one of my favorite ways to indulge, (and as you all know, Grandma certainly has a sizable sweet tooth), I also love to end a special meal with a good dessert wine. Here’s a little bit of background in case you want to try matching your dessert with a little vino.

The production and enjoyment of Italian dessert wines spans the whole peninsula. In Piemonte, the Moscato—a very aromatic and slightly bubbly white—is wonderful with ricotta dishes. The Picolit from Friuli, of very limited availability but extraordinary in floral intensity and flavor with a  balanced acidity, is excellent with Baked Crepes with Ricotta, Angels’ Kisses, and Apple Strudel. The Torcolato by Maculan from the Veneto, with complex flavors of apricots and acacia, is superb served with the Blueberry Apricot Frangipane Tart.  Malvasia delle Lipari, an exceptional product from the Aeolian islands, has an intense aroma and flavor of dried apricots and figs—it is also splendid with the Blueberry Apricot Frangipane Tart. Most of these wines can be enjoyed in leisurely after-dinner conversation with some biscotti, hence their Italian name, “vini da meditazione“—wines to sip slowly and meditate on the sweetness of life.

A snapshot of the Bastianich vineyards--now that would be a romantic Valentine's Day spot!

February 8, 2012

My take on Italian sparkling wines

Typically in Italy with hors d’oeuvres and antipasti, sparkling or white wines are served as an aperitif. Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobiadenne is one of those sparkling aperitifs. In Italy today, it is in vogue to begin the meal with a glass of Prosecco or spumante; in fact, most restaurants will serve it imiediately as the customer is seated. Some good producers are Zardetto and Vincenzo Toffoli. Of course, I also love Bastianich Flor prosecco!

Prosecco is a lightly sparkling wine which is predominantly made from prosecco grapes but Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco can be added. Golden yellow in color, it has an aroma of apples, honey, and acacia flowers. It is dry but quite inviting, with a pronounced but balanced acidity.


Today, Italy is producing some excellent sparkling wines, especially from the Franciacorta area in Lombardy. Vinified in the traditional metodo champenoise, they  usually are vivacious and bubbly with a pleasant, balanced acidity and the mellow flavors of yeast. Sparkling wine is excellent with crustaceans, and it also makes an excellent companion to prosciutto. Some of my favorite producers are Bruno Giacosa, Bellavista, Ferrari, Castello Banfi, and Ca’ del Bosco.

January 31, 2012

An Interview with Lidia

Reuters interviewed Lidia about her latest book, Lidia’s Italy in America.

Read it here!

January 30, 2012

Auguri, Erminia!

Erminia turns 92! Buon compleanno!

January 18, 2012

All about pesto–as featured on Dr. Oz!

Tune in today to see Lidia on Dr. Oz! To find out when the episode airs near you, click here.

When I say the word “pesto” to people in America (or anywhere outside Italy), I know they are thinking of pesto alla Genovese, with its lush green color and intense perfume of fresh basil leaves. Indeed, though there are countless fresh sauces that are also termed “pesto” in Italian cuisine, it seems that pasta with basil and pine nut pesto is so well known that it might as well be the national Italian dish!

For the most authentic flavor in a basil pesto, use a sweet, small-leaved Genovese basil for the pesto-perhaps you can find it at a farmers’ market in summer, or grow it yourself. Large basil will be delicious, too. Make extra pesto when basil and parsley are plentiful in the summer, and freeze it in small containers to use through the winter.

Of course, use the best extra-virgin olive oil available, in the pesto and on the pasta, preferably pressed from the marvelous taggiasca olives of Liguria.

Try making one of the delicious recipes below. You’ll notice pesto can indeed be made of anything, and is often made with different kinds of nuts–one of my favorites in the winter is the rich, creamy walnut pesto.

Trenette with Pesto, Genova-Style

This recipe is for a classic, simple, basil pesto.

Anna’s Spaghetti and Pesto Trapanese, as seen on Dr. Oz!
The beauty and delight of this dish is that it is so fresh and clean–and it is a cinch to make. It’s important to make the pesto with the best ingredients then just toss in the hot cooked spaghetti to coat it and enjoy.

Spaghetti with Basil Pistachio Pesto

Everybody is familiar with pesto made with basil and pinoli nuts, but during one of my visits to Sicily, I enjoyed a pleasant pesto surprise: the pinoli were replaced with pistachios. Although Sicily is known for its delicious pistachios, 98 percent of the pistachios eaten in the US come from California. So do try this pesto rendition.

Walnut Pesto

This uncooked dressing, enriched with ricotta and butter, is delicious and quite different from the herb-based pestos I’ve found in other regions. You can blend it together in a bowl while the pasta water is heating up and have a distinctive pasta appetizer or main course in minutes. To retain its vibrant, fresh flavors, it is important not to cook the pesto, just toss it with the pasta and serve.

Basil and Walnut Pesto

This distinctively flavored pesto is a superb dressing for maccheroni alla chitarra, spaghetti, or linguine, and would work on a short dry pasta such as gemelli, lumache, or rigatoni. It’s a great condiment, too: put a spoonful on fish or chicken hot off the grill for a real treat.

Strangozzi with Chard and Almond Sauce

This is a fresh and extremely flavorful preparation for strangozzi. The dressing has two components, tender cooked Swiss chard and an uncooked pesto of fresh basil and mint leaves and toasted almonds. Other leafy greens, such as spinach, chicory, and arugula, could be used, and walnuts could replace the almonds, but the recipe here is true to the region).


January 3, 2012

Grandma’s Words of Wisdom, by Tanya

Advice from my Nonna Erminia

“Ho insegnato a molti, pero ho imparato da tutti.”

“I have taught many, but have learned from everyone.”

Nonna Mima always spoke to me about the importance of listening to people and learning from life experience. – Tanya


December 27, 2011

Watch Lidia’s Empire: From Italy to Eataly online!

“Chef Lidia Bastianich, the doyenne of Italian cooking in America, has built a multi-million dollar empire of restaurants, cookbooks, television shows, and products. We trace her journey as a pioneer of the culinary celebrity business model.”

Watch it here!

Food Books and Dvds Tableware

Lidia's Italy in America
Lidia brings viewers on a road trip into the heart of Italian-American cooking.
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Lidia's Pasta and Sauces
Enjoy Them Now!
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Lidia's Stoneware Collection

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