Formaggio_dolomitico_cheeseAll things Italian: Passport Italy

I  love Italy. I love the food, the wine, the people, and the landscape. I have been to Tuscany, Umbria, Sicily and Rome. I love different things about each of those destinations because their culture revolves around food. I love walking through markets and choosing the best produce, sauces, and fresh fish.

My fantasy is to go to Italy and bring back grocery baskets of fresh food and ingredients.
TSA would never let me through security. The tomatoes and bread would squish in my checked in luggage.

But the next best thing is happening in Dallas this week. Each year Central Market features a different culture. And this year it is iItaly. The next best thing to going there is to enjoy Passport 2014: Italy.

I went to a preview for the event a few weeks ago, and ever since I have been dreaming of fresh pasta, pate, and breads.

Central Market hosted the first-ever Passport event with Passport Argentina in May of 2010, followed by Spain in 2011, France in 2012, and Brazil in 2013.

Passport is a larger-than-life two-week immersion in the cuisine, traditions, wine and culture of a select region or country, taking place at all Central Market stores across Texas. The celebration includes authentic products, native chefs, winemakers and culinary trendsetters, teaching hands-on classes in the CM Cooking Schools, extensive sampling and events. Vendors for the featured products will be on hand to offer samples and advice.

Taste Real Italy, Delizioso!

Stroll through the aisles in Central Market (for a more authentic experience, you may even want to bring a traditional market basket to fill with fresh product and gourmet condiments.)

Introduce your taste buds to fresh and authentic flavors of cucina Italiana at Central Market April to May . You won’t just want to delight your taste buds. You can educate your palate about Italian foods and wine

Olive Oil and vinegar

Start with oil and vinegar. While everyone knows the difference in different kinds of oils, not many people are as aware of the variety of vinegar.

Yet the great details, very specific preparation and years involved in producing a truly amazing traditional balsamic is something you might not think about.

Italia in a Flash: Balsamic Vinegar

There are three types of balsamic vinegar:

Authentic traditional artisan balsamic vinegar, the only kind that may legally be described as Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale by the consortium, which mandates strict standards, is only produced in the regions of Modena and Reggio Emilia. The juice from only Trebbiano or Lambrusco grapes must be aged in wooden barrels for 12 to 18 years to develop this balsamic’s unique flavor.

Condimento grade products, which are often a mix of the Tradizionale and Commercial grade is made and aged in the traditional way in Modena or Reggio Emilia, aged fewer than 12 years and without consortium supervision.

Commercial balsamic vinegar. produced on a large scale – these products are made of wine vinegar with the addition of coloring, caramel, and sometimes thickeners.

The suggested way to use each type of balsamic:
Drizzle Tradizionale
Spoon Condimento
Pour Commercial

Great ways to enjoy balsamic vinegar

Tradizionale balsamic vinegar is best used after the cooking is finished, and in more mild dishes as it will shine on its own. Use it to flavor meat like chicken, steak, fish, or veal. It’s great with fruit and cheese combinations; such as strawberries, peaches, and pears, along with ricotta or mozzarella cheese. It may be enjoyed by itself in small amounts.

Condimento grade balsamic is more viscous and versatile. Use it in sauces (especially at the end of cooking), in risotto, and pasta dishes.

Commercial balsamic is good for salad dressings, marinades, and dipping sauces for vegetables and bread.

How to store balsamic vinegar:
Balsamic vinegar can be stored indefinitely in a closed container at room temperature. Although the color may darken slightly and solids may precipitate out, this is normal.

Central Market has multiple locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex so you can graze the tastes of Italy no matter where you live.

You will want to end on a sweet note. Choose between the gelato bar, a visit to the cafe for a cappuccino, and a taste of authentic panna cotta in the bakery .