Last Updated on August 31, 2021
An excellent excuse not to cook, with an Aperitivo at Home
Some years ago, towards the end of a holiday in Tuscany, our flights were changed. The result was an unplanned trip to Florence so that we could stay overnight for an early morning start. And, with our dwindling holiday budget, finding places to eat and drink was a challenge. We didn’t help ourselves too much by stopping in one of the famous squares, Piazza del Signoria, for coffee and ice cream – and spending most of what we’d budgeted for supper in a moment of sunshine and deliciousness. Realising our error, we agreed to search for a more wallet-friendly option and headed off-piste to the back streets and alleyways. Eventually, in a moment of despair, we decided to stop for a drink. Sipping our Aperol spritz in a friendly if scruffy-looking bar, we noticed trays of food arriving. Cold meats, cheeses, pickles, breads, pizza and more piled up on the counter. Our welcoming hosts told us to help ourselves. This was Aperitivo. It was so good, we ended up staying for more drinks – and more aperitivo. There was no charge for the food – it was included in the price of the drinks. And, by the time we’d finished, there was no need for supper.
Aperitivo is actually a Northern Italian tradition that has made its way across the country and is even served in some Italian restaurants in the UK now, like this rather posh aperitivo from Luca. Italians believe that it’s important to eat if you are drinking alcohol. And, dinner is eaten later in Italy than here in the UK. There are various stories about who invented aperitivo, but it’s been around since the 18th century and, it’s one of those traditions that really does deserve to travel. Although it’s generally something served in restaurants and bars, I see no reason at all why it doesn’t translate well into aperitivo at home. Especially at the moment, when many people are not going into an office. So, with the help of the lovely people at Crosta and Mollica I made up my own aperitivo and invited my neighbours round to enjoy it. If you fancy doing the same here’s what was on my shopping list.
- Obviously some kind of spritz base. I like Hotel Starlino Arancione – it’s a good early evening drink that is relatively low in alcohol
- A range of breads and Italian savoury biscuits. I’m particularly fond of Crosta & Mollica Tarallini. In fact you can get pretty much everything you need from Crosta & Mollica
- Italian cheeses – I like Tallagio, Gorgonzola and Pecorino – you may have other favourites. My cheeses came from Heritage Cheeses at Borough Market, as did the cured meats.
- Italian cured meats – we had a lovely fennel salami and some cured ham
- Your favourite olives (preferably Italian rather than the Kalamata black olives you can see in my photo!)
- Fresh figs and fig jam from Crosta & Mollica
- A Sicilian artichoke and lemon dip
You could add all sorts of extras to this list. Maybe some more dips and salads. Maybe a wider range of meats and cheeses. Ideally, you’d make bruschetta – but I ran out of time and no one seemed to notice. Any kind of Italian Canape would also be perfect if you feel like making something fancier.
Again, Crosta & Mollica have a great range to pick from. For our Aperitivo we enjoyed a mushroom with truffle and garlic cream sauce and the fiery stromboli with spicy Calabrese salami and ventricina
For an aperitivo for 6 people, two or three pizzas cut into slices is about the right amount. Remember, you are supposed to be eating your main meal later (although we didn’t manage any more).
We have tried more of the Crosta & Mollica pizza range and have all been impressed. They take less than 15 minutes to cook from frozen and are remarkably authentic.
We enjoyed the Rustica and Fiorentina for an easy supper on a later date. As my companion remarked, they are both pizza Bianca (as is the mushroom with truffle and garlic sauce that we ate for aperitivo). We all felt they were the best ‘stone baked cook at home’ pizza we had tried and loved the range of toppings. And of course, they are the ultimate in convenience too – you can store them in the freezer for those meals when you just don’t want to cook.
There’s something very honest about an Aperitivo. Unlike canapes, the majority of what is served for Aperitivo is food that you probably have left over from another meal or lurking in the larder. Nothing should take more than a few minutes to put together – and, it’s a great excuse to get together for a drink and stay for longer!
Crosta & Mollica is available to purchase from Ocado, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Marks & Spencer and lots of independent food retailers.