Today I puttered in my vegetable garden.
Not really. I was just pulling weeds.
Last week, however, absolutely everything I did had an essence of romance.
For those of you that may not have followed along, I was invited by The Italian Chamber of Commerce and True Italian Taste to tour the incredible area of Piedmont and discover so many culinary delicacies that have their roots in that area.
I’ve decide, since I gathered so much information while I was there, I am going to split up my posts into relevant categories so you can all get a true feeling for everything I learned while I was away.
And, first on the agenda is Vermouth!!
Perhaps you’ve heard a bit about vermouth lately. If you live in North America, vermouth is hot. Bartenders from all over are re-discovering Negronis and Manhattans. And, now that I’ve learned how incredibly smooth real vermouth is, I’m hoping that the beauty of vermouth on it’s own will be re-discovered as well.
Vermouth is basically a fortified wine, and was created during a time when people would infuse botanicals in their wines. Wormwood, in particular, was used and made for an interesting flavour because it is a highly scented and intensely bitter plant. Infusing wormwood into alcohol created this incredible drink, which, at the time, was mainly used to cure stomach ailments.
The term “aperitivo” comes from the Latin word meaning “to open”. In the Italian language, aperativo still describes that sensation you get when you smell something nostalgic – as something that literally “opens your stomach.” But, we learned that “opening your stomach” was also synonymous to “opening your stomach to heal it before a meal”.
Some people say that those who invented the aperitivo ritual were also the creators of beverage that became known as THE beverage to have before dinner. So, if this is true, we must take our hats off to Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the creator of Vermouth, in Torino in 1786.
The creation of vermouth really changed the drink from a medicinal tonic into a pleasurable beverage. Italy’s Piedmont region (as well as France’s Savoie region) was at the heart of this work of art. This incredible elixir is based on Moscato Bianco, so the original vermouth was white.
However, as women began to enjoy alcoholic beverages more often, they realized that the white colour wasn’t as popular to the female crowd, so vanilla beans and caramel colour was added and the vermouth that we know today was born!
Most of us in North America know this brand when you think of Vermouth…
If you would like another option for a brand that is authentic and available at the LCBO, try Cocchi Vermouth di Torino .
But enough about the history of Vermouth…what are we going to make with it?
Well, it is summer AND we are talking about Italian culture – which is all about enjoying life, isn’t it?
So, today, I created a fast and easy dessert that you can throw together in a pinch for those last minutes outdoor meals with friends…a carefree dessert in true Italian style!
It includes fresh Ontario Strawberries…
…good quality store bought lemon curd (you can make your own but today, I’ll give you permission to cheat a bit!!)
… and some Italian ladyfingers (which btw, are the cheapest cookie on the store shelf!!)…
Sprinkle in some vermouth, curd, strawberries and top with whipped cream and you will be the hero of your neighbourhood!
- 4 store bought lady fingers
- 1/2 c sweet vermouth
- 1 jar lemon curd
- 1 c strawberries, sliced
- 1 c whipping cream
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- zest of 1/4 lemon
- mint sprigs for garnish
- Grab 4 pretty glasses and begin the layering process by breaking up one lady finger into 4 pieces and placing one in the bottom of each glass.
- Sprinkle about 2 tbsp vermouth into each glass (on top of each cookie).
- Top each soaked cookie with about 2 tablespoons of curd, about 1/4 c strawberries and then a dollop of whipped cream.
- Zest a bit of lemon zest on each glass and garnish with a mint sprig.
- Repeat with the other three glasses.
- Enjoy…along with the lazy days of summer!!