Over the weekend my brother invited us over to Ocean City to spend the day with his family – swimming, eating and taking in the … rain! The weather wasn’t the best, but when you’re with good company, it doesn’t really matter. We got in some waves, lounged by the pool, walked the boardwalk, ate loads of crabs and made new memories, especially with my nephews. Those cute little guys are growing up so fast! The other day I thought to myself ‘how weird would it be when they’re old enough to drink.’ Can you imagine? ‘Wanna grab a beer uncle Kevin?’ WHAT?!?! 😉 I’m getting carried away, they’re only in elementary school!!! HAHA.

To thank them for their hospitality, we invited them over for lunch. I had originally planned to make 3 pasta dishes, but Kevin suggested we do some meats, salad and pasta instead. Good call Kevin, but I couldn’t let him have the last word. So to compromise, I made a meat plate, a salad, and TWO pastas! We opened a really nice bottle of Amarone wine and enjoyed a lovely Italian themed lunch. Good food, great company and fabulous wine. That’s how we do it! 😀

affettati misti 1

Affettati Misti (clockwise): Mortadella, Speck, Prosciutto San Daniele, Finocchiona, crumbled Parmiggiano Reggiano (center)

insalata di zucchini 5

Insalata di Zucchini. Thinly shaved zucchini and yellow squash, fresh minced chili peppers, and basil tossed in a lemon vinaigrette

pici bolognese

Pici al Ragu. Thick pasta noodles smothered in a slow cooked meat sauce.

I also prepared another pasta dish, Campanelle con Tonno e Pomodorini, but I will post that one separately with a step-by-step recipe. I used cherry tomatoes from Pong’s Orchard that I picked up at the Old Ellicott City Farmers Market over the weekend. So sweet and delicious, wish I bought more. The zucchini is from the Down to Earth Farms stall at the farmers market. I should’ve bought more of those too. I was delighted that my brother and sis-in-law could tell the difference in the produce I used.

What’s pici? Pici is a thick semolina pasta, a speciality in Tuscany. It’s my favorite pasta shape and whenever I visit Siena, I make sure to bring some back. For a while, Wegman’s in Columbia, MD carried Pici pasta, but I haven’t seen it lately. You can also order it here on amazon.

I also get my charcuterie or salumi from Wegman’s. Kevin’s favorite is Mortadella, ‘bologna for grown-ups.’ 🙂 Sometimes, we just get a few slices for the car ride home. Here’s a tip. Always get the Parmacotta brand mortadella. The Citterio brand is now made in the U.S. and tastes a little artificial to me. From what I know, the Parmacotta mortadella is still made in Italy. A month or so ago, Wegman’s was all out of mortadella, something about produce taking a long time at customs. So they started offering Citterio mortadella. No thank you sir! They have the good stuff back in-stock, but they now offer both brands in the deli case. I think the Parmacotta one is slightly more expensive. Speck is a smoked prosciutto, a speciality produced in the Sud Tirol (South Tyrol) in Northern Italy. I use this cured meat in paninis, piadinas (wraps), and pastas all the time. Prosciutto San Daniele is a little softer and sweeter than other types of prosciutto. And I got a little chub of Finocchiona salami. I can’t resist the fennel flavor. I love putting together meat plates and I never make it the same. Sometimes, I get inspired by Cinghiale‘s affettati misti and serve mine with seasonal fruits like peaches, plums, apricots, and figs. Try making a cured meat platter at home, pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy it with friends!

As always, I love reading your comments so leave me a message below. Visit me on facebook and twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog. Happy Eating!

1 comment on “Italian afternoons with family”

  1. I still remember the time I couldn’t stop eating ALL the speck and melons on the platter you made. I got a stomach ache but it was so worth it! Hehe thanks for the delicious dishes today!!

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