ll Cibo é L'essenza Della Vita....

"The rooms that you use on a daily basis are the rooms people will always want to sit in, because they have soul." --Bunny Williams


"If you want to live forever and ever, drink wine and eat maccheroni." ~~~Sicilian Proverb

Thursday, March 11, 2010

`Memories of Lago di Garda on Foodie Friday

Lago di Garda

       It’s Foodie Friday and the end of a very busy week at Casa Bramasole. As I was trying to decide what to make for dinner (and blog about), my mind kept wandering to thoughts like “I REALLY need a vacation”. Now if I COULD take a vacation, can you guess where I’d go??
Silly question, right?
I am so predictable.
I’m going to take a giant leap here and assume you knew I’d be headed to Italy in a heartbeat. So in remembering my childhood summers, I started to think about some of my very favorite places- the ones that hold a special spot in my heart.
One of the first places that comes to mind is Lago di Garda. My grandfather had a special love of the area and shared it with me every time we were there. 

Lake Garda is in northern Italy between Venice and Milan. The lake is part of the Lombardy region on the west and the Veneto on the east. The northern tip is in the Trentino-Alto Adige region. The Dolomite mountains are not far away and can be seen towering above the lake. There are many small towns and villages around the Lake and some of the best restaurants and hotels in the country are there. 
     One of the main features of the landscape around the lake are the olive trees  The land around Lago di Garda  produces some of the best olive oils in the country. Farms which are bound to the oil producers' association are opened to visitors and sell directly to the public.

This is Gargnano

                  I remember Gargnano as having several wonderful restaurants where we enjoyed long meals and we children got to have boat rides on the Lake. In Gargnano lemon-houses stand out since they were built with high pillars, in a row, and contained on three sides by white rock walls.
Lemon-houses are hothouses for the lemon growing and it used to be what people lived on and a huge part of the town’s economy. Lemon-houses were built in order to allow for growing citrus fruits in cold climates.
Limone is on the western shore towards the north end of the lake. Limone is famous for it's many lemon groves, although these days they are mostly derelict, leaving behind just the instantly recognizable long buildings with the pillars of stone. Limone actually got it's name from "border", as it was once the border between Italy and Austria. 

A Limonaia or lemon house on the side of the hill in Limone. I think this may be the Limonaia del Castel

     I remember the very first time I had a fruit risotto for dessert was on one of our trips to Lake Garda. 

And so I decided to share a version with you. Sometimes I make this with wine or champagne, but tonight I opted for milk. 

One of the little angels I care for during the day is on a special lactose and gluten free diet which means I tend to have lots of coconut milk around since that’s what he drinks. 

So I thought I’d use a bit of that too :)

Strawberry Risotto
3 cups of milk 
1 cup of coconut milk from 13.5 oz can 
1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoon of butter
3/4 cup of sugar 
1 cup of  arborio rice
1/2 cup of heavy cream
3 tablespoon of orange liqueur 
1 cup plus 1/2  cup sliced strawberries 
Toasted sliced almonds for garnish
 Heat the milks, sugar, vanilla and lemon peel in a largish saucepan until the liquid is simmering. Blanch 1 cup of berries in liquid for 30 seconds and remove.
Reduce the heat and keep liquid hot.
 Meanwhile in  another saucepan melt the butter. Add the Arborio rice and saute for a minute or two till coated and translucent.  Stir well.Add orange liquer and stir till absorbed.  Add 1/2 cup of hot milk  mixture at a time waiting till each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next and stirring well.
   The process takes about 45 minutes to complete. I've noticed that it seems to take longer with the milks than with broth- I'm guessing due to the lactose and thickness of the coconut milk. Meanwhile puree the blanched berries in a blender or food processor
When done, add the heavy cream, half at a time. Stir well to completely incorporate. Remove from heat and add the puree and sliced strawberries, stir slowly, cover and set aside for about 15 minutes.
Add some more strawberries for garnish and sprinkle with almond slices.


Our main dish tonight is Veal Saltimbocca which translates to "jump in the mouth". 

We Italians are very verbal and descriptive :)

From Wikipedia: Saltimbocca is a dish popular in southern Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Greece made of veal, chicken or pork lined or topped with prosciutto and sage,  marinated in wine, oil or saltwater depending on the region. The most well-known version of this dish is “saltimbocca alla Romana”  which means Roman style although it probably originated in Brescia- this version is traditionally made with Marsala wine
   It’s a quick, easy and delicious meal. Tonight’s version is a special treat because veal cutlets were on sale (YAY!) though chicken or pork cutlets also work well. Be sure to pound the meat thinly, but with care not to tear it. 

Veal Saltimbocca

1- 1 1/2 pounds fettuccine noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2-2  pounds boneless veal cutlets
fresh sage leaves
freshly ground black pepper
prosciutto slices, paper-thin, enough slices to match number of cutlets
all-purpose flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, sliced thinly
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta in the boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender to the bite. Toss with two tablespoons olive oil and keep warm.
Pound cutlets to about 1/4-inch between two pieces of plastic wrap. Season well with  salt and pepper. Place one slice of prosciutto atop each cutlet and layer with sage. Fold in half and secure with toothpicks
Lightly coat veal in flour; shake off excess. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pieces of veal and cook until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add oil as needed until all veal is cooked Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
Pour off excess fat, add the wine to the skillet, and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Boil until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
Whisk in the chilled butter, two tablespoons at a time. Season sauce with salt, pepper and chopped parsley. Slip meat back into sauce to warm for a minute or two.
Serve immediately with the fettuccine. Pour some sauce over the top of each plate of pasta and garnish with lemon slices.

Again, a special thank you to Michael for giving us the opportunity to win that beautiful copper pan. We will plan a Foodie Friday meal using it as soon as it arrives

As Always,

Buon Alimenti, Buon Amici,

Pattie and Allie


  1. Oh my! That looks so very good.

  2. I can't decide which to do first--- jump on a plane to Lago di Garda or eat Veal Saltimbocco!

  3. I have heard of saltimbocco - and "tried" to make it once. My husband didn't care for it, and I know I just didn't do it right. What a beautiful setting, and beautiful meal - and a beautiful idea... mommy and daughter blogging together.
    I can come and cook for you anytime this summer... a week, maybe two??? If the decision making gets hard, you know who to count on!

  4. Oh, Pattie! When you mentioned a vacation, I just knew you would whisk us away to Italy. I would so love to visit there someday. Your pictures and memories of Italy are so beautiful. Your food looks scrumptious!

  5. Pattie, Your pictures of Italy are gorgeous and the strawberry risotto looks delightful! Bon appetit'!

  6. I am just imagining going to Italy with you! It would be incredible. Because I feel like I go on a mini trip every time I come to visit! I love your stories. And now let's get to the recipes. I am making both! I would like to feature you again next week on SG Weekly Menu. These recipes are fabulous! I won't have to order take-out from our favorite Italian restaurant if I keep hanging out with you!
    Thanks- say Hi to Allie for me.
    xo Yvonne

  7. What a wonderful childhood you must have had! Glorious views and the food! My gosh, these recipes sound wonderful. I would have never though of risotto for a dessert!

  8. I think Italian food is some of the most delicious in the world! Loved what you shared with us here, and Italy is GORGEOUS. I want to go SO bad! My father's distant cousin retired from the American diplomatic corp and bought a villa in the province of Pisa many years ago. He is long since dead, but I longed to visit him there and almost made it once. Sigh. Maybe some day. Thanks for sharing this lovely post. Happy FF to you girls...


    Sheila :-)

  9. Northern Italy holds a dear spot in my heart. I've been there only twice and had a martini in the Grand Hotel in Stresa (all the while wondering where Hemingway sat in the bar) and gazed out at Lago Maggiore. It was all a whirlwind trip...I can't place it geographically to Lago di garda. Was I nearby? (I went to Lago Como, too, but did not see Clooney but saw his villa.)

    I love these virtual vacations, Patti, and your food is so gorgeous, so beautifully photographed. Heaven!

  10. Like the idea of the orange liqueur in the Strawberry Risotto, such a tempting combination!

    I'd love to go back to Italy now that I'm older and can really appreciate it.

  11. This looks utterly delicious my friend!~ Fabulous!

    You are most welcome to visit 'my little corner of the blogging world' sometine!..,

    Cheers from Wanda Lee @ The Plumed Pen

  12. I love the strawberry risotto... trying to come up for a strawberry dish for Feasting on Art and you have inspired me! Love your wonderful and warm stories about the old country!

  13. It all looks and sounds fantastic! I enjoyed seeing your beautiful presentation and enjoyed your evocative descriptions. Nicely done!

    Have a great weekend!

  14. I'm only moderately fond of rice puddings, but your strawberry risotto has really piqued my interest. I'm going to have to give this one a try. Your post today was wonderful and I enjoyed every frame you shared with us. Have a great weekend...Mary

  15. Now that is one sophisticated and continental rice pudding you got there, honey chile. My Dad would LOVE this -- I think I, too, am going to have to give this dessert risotto a try!

    What gorgeous pictures today! Howard and I usually take a vacation in early Fall and I've been nudging for ... Italy!

    Saltimbocca is to me a dish to order at several of the good local Italian places here, but not something I have attempted. You give me courage. Or, I can just mosey on into A&A and order it . . . to go.

    Have a good's RAINING here, blech. Wet dog, who hides from towels.

  16. Vacation! Ahhh! That sounds great, and looks magnificent! The beauty, and I love it that you shared your family with us too.

    I love visiting you for the beauty, food, and conversation! What is more Italian. Come' piu Itailano? (Oh, I know I completely screwed that up, but you know what I mean)

  17. I came from Pat's place. Those images are stunning and the food..ah, what can I hungry. Happy weekend.

  18. Your pictures are so beautiful. It is no wonder you hold such fond memories of that area. The food, well, I wish I could have some right now....YUM, YUM, YUM. I think I gain a pound every time I visit your blog.

  19. I haven't been to Italy since 1992. I'm really wanting to go back after seeing your photos.

  20. I am daydreaming of a trip to Italy since my only time there was when I was 18. This area looks stunning and if I can try a dessert risotto overlooking the lake I will be in heaven:D

  21. Patti, I was visiting Pink Saturday participants and came across a blog that has a meme called Family Friday and thought of you. Your stories are so rich and facinating and I feel like I am getting to know your family, Nonna and some of your aunts. Well, anyway- I thought this would be the perfect party for you to join. Everyone should read your beautiful family stories and this would be a platform to get them out! It is I found it on a blog called Hope you like what I found- I got so excited!
    xo,xo (one for Allie)

  22. Good morning! I've just discovered your blog. I am a fairly new blogger who is just discovering my blogging "voice". We moved to Chicago, some years ago, from Charleston, S.C. where I directed a cooking school and taught cooking lessons. I'm anxious to brew a good pot of coffee and spend some time with the two of you. The spot on Italy is lovely and enticing.


  23. I had never heard of a strawberry risotto..Oy your Italy photos stir my fondest memories..

    What beautiful photos~Ciao~

  24. My I want to go, too!!! How fascinating about the Lemon Houses. And I think Olive trees are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing your memories. : )

  25. What a wonderful virtual vacation you shared with us- I hope that soon you can make it a reality.
    The meals look delightful too.

  26. Oh My, is there nothing you can not make, I always go away hungry after reading one of your post, YUM!! Thank you for always leaving a comment I on my blog, I love seeing that you were there visiting, Kathysue

  27. Ahhh, there's no place like Italy. It's been way too long since I've been there! Your Veal Saltimbocco looks awesome! Pass that plate please! :-)

  28. Pattie, I am not sure how I missed this on Friday, sorry.
    My mouth is watering...this looks so good! I can't wait to show Tony...this would be perfect for Sunday dinner :)
    Have a great week!!

  29. Wow! I feel like I had a nice little vacation...including the local specialties! Thanks! Happy week!...Debbie

  30. I have never seen such beautiful food! You are gifted!

  31. I’m going to take a giant leap here and assume you knew I’d be headed to Italy in a heartbeat. So in remembering my childhood summers, I started to think about some of my very favorite places- the ones that hold a special spot in my heart.
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  32. I love Italian food... now onwards i surely first see you blog to find italian recipe..
    extremely beautiful site.


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