I love to cook. And I love dinner parties. I even applied to go on Come Dine With Me once. Bottled it though.
I also think Italy is a pretty cool country. Or should I say hot? I visited Rome on a school trip back in 2001. It was a beautiful city with stunning food. I still remember the gelato and all the varieties on offer with fondness. I don’t look back on the 48 hour coach trip there and back though with quite the same level of fondness. Honestly, all we would need to recreate that trip is a stinky coach and some pizza and ice-cream, come to think of it. And someone who really can’t sing warbling “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel” over and over and over again. Just that one line. But I digress.
One thing that does stick in my memory of Rome is a wonderful supermarket that was next door to our hotel. Incidentally, this was in a Red Light District. Not something that the teachers were keen to admit. “Now girls,” said Mrs Hunter. “Remember, some of these girls are working girls.” Whoops. But the supermarket was awesome. I love visiting supermarkets when I go abroad as I love visiting the different counters and seeing the differences in food. I remember buying some delicious biscotti. And I discovered blood oranges for the first time. Oh, those blood oranges. They were heavenly and even now, I still associate them with Italy.
So when I saw that Clickstay were hosting a competition giving one lucky blogger the opportunity to win a villa holiday in Italy, I decided to throw my hat into the ring. After all, why would you NOT want to host a dinner party in Italy?
The ideal location for my dinner party would have to be this delightful villa situated on the outskirts of Rome. Relaxing by the pool, post meal would be the perfect way to unwind under the sunset. Thee outdoor cooking area and barbecue is what dreams are made of. I love to eat al fresco and being able to cook there, surrounded by friends would be the perfect evening. Plus Rome is so nearby, we could always take the party there after! Being situated overlooking a valley and equipped with a pool means that it would be easy to enjoy an active trip while soaking up the sun and enjoying the flavours of Italy.
Most people tend to invite celebrities when putting together their dream guests for a dream dinner party. Not me. I know some pretty awesome people. So I’d love to invite my friend Lauren. She loves Italy. She also happens to be the number one female tenpin bowler in Northern Ireland. Pretty cool, right? I’d take my other Northern Irish buddy, Christine. Christine loves pasta. She loves the sun. She’s been there with me through some food hits and some food losses. Remember our pink food day? Joining them is Lindsay, who blogs at Latte Lindsay. She has opinions on just about everything and would be certain to bring some great discussion to the table. Continuing on that blogger theme, my girl Corey from Learning Patience is always great company and appreciates fresh foods and great flavours. She is so much fun and would be sure to suggest some great after dinner fun. Geraldine from Jog On Mum would be there to suggest some great flavours and lead us through a pool-side karaoke session. Finally, I’m rounding it off with Eileen from Crooked Flight. Good company and well-travelled, she’d be sure to know some great Italian trivia! A selection of friends and bloggers who don’t know each other could lead to some excellent dinner party conversation. After all, the key to a fun evening is the company, not the food.
Not to say that the food isn’t important. Underneath the Italian sun, it would be wrong not to start with apertivo such as artichokes and olives. I love all foods, but in beautiful surroundings with hot sunshine, I believe that nothing beats simple, fresh foods. Following these light nibbles, I’d move on to antipasto, cold cuts of meats such as parma ham and salami.
One of the things I remember about Rome is the pasta. In Italy, it is traditional for a pasta dish to follow the antipasto and this is known as the primo. Spaghetti served with a fresh tomato sauce and aromatic, fresh shredded basil would be my choice. For the secondo, the main course, I would choose to serve chargrilled sardines with salsa verde and a squeeze of lemon. Finally for dolce (dessert), I would use my love of blood oranges to create a beautiful sorbet, swirled with dark chocolate ice-cream. Waitrose do a similar sorbet, but I feel that they made a mistake in using milk chocolate. A dark chocolate (85%) swirled with the sweet, beautiful blood orange would be truly decadent.
Italy is a country I’d love to visit again, especially Rome. I would love to experience more true Italian cooking and learn more about pasta, which as we know is great carb loading for runners! I’d love to go and see the sights that I didn’t get to experience last time. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll get to go and run a marathon there on my travels?
Are there any countries you’d love to visit?