The Top Five Italian Ingredients
All the top Italian restaurants have a few things in common and a commitment to keeping things simple is chief amongst these. That’s not to say that the food being offered isn’t prepared with a rare degree of skill and expertise. On the contrary, one of the reasons why Pizzicotto is the best pizza restaurant in Kensington is the ability and know-how of the chefs who work there. As well as the right people, however, the key factor required if you want to produce the best pizza in Kensington is the use of the very best ingredients.
That’s where the idea of simplicity comes into things. Whether you’re crafting slow food in Kensington or offering pizza delivery, the boast that you’re the very best can be traced back to the use of the freshest, most delicious ingredients, sought from the best providers and prepared with a degree of respect and understanding. Although the range of flavours, textures and culinary experiences we offer is broad, we still adhere to the belief that there are a few vital ingredients which form the cornerstone of great Italian cooking, and these are some of them:
Of course, you can take the time, trouble and 00 flour needed to make your own pasta, but don’t feel guilty about stocking your store cupboard with bags of the dried stuff. Back in Italy it’s often preferred over fresh for earthier, vegetable based sauces, and the real key is to get the sauce to pasta ratio just right – which probably means using less sauce than you realise.
A standard olive oil is good enough for cooking with, but a high quality, cold pressed virgin olive oil will offer the full taste sensation when used as a finishing ingredient drizzled over dishes. It may well cost more, but used sparingly it’s an affordable luxury and one that will make all the difference to the food you prepare.
Again, you may be shocked to find fresh tomatoes not recommended, but the best fresh tomatoes are only available seasonally, and the varieties sold in UK supermarkets often lack the flavor and impact of good quality tinned varieties. Put a few in your store cupboard and you’ll only ever be a few minutes away from a delicious tomato sauce, although it should be noted that whole, peeled tomatoes tend to offer the best flavor.
If you’re not lucky enough to have your own herb garden, dried varieties such as oregano and thyme can add a quick and simple punch to your dishes. Fresh basil is a must for many sauces and pizzas, however, so buy it in a pot and try to replant it on your kitchen window ledge.
As with olive oil, a basic balsamic vinegar can be used when making dressings or flavouring food, but investing in a genuine Italian bottle which has been aged for a number of years will pay delicious dividends when you drizzle it directly onto dishes.