For the second year running Delicious Italy had been invited to be part of Taste of Roma as a Media Partner.
This basically means we do a spot of promotion for the event in return for our logo in the program guide, an invite to the press conferences and a couple of complimentary tickets. Enough said.
Once again it was located in the Giardini Pensili of the Auditorium Parco della Musica in north east Rome.
And also like last year the late summer sun was beating down onto the Renzo Piano designed concert venues and lawns, making for a barmy and relaxed atmosphere.
Early autumn sees the harvesting of one of the most important crops in Trentino Alto Adige - apples. It's also a good excuse to celebrate one of Italy's least considered culinary delicacies, the apple strudel.
The 'Week of the Apple Strudel' is held in the Altopiano dello Sciliar usually in the first half of September and is an occasion for discovering the many ways of preparing this typical 'altoatesino' sweet dish from South Tyrolean cuisine.
The Bra cheese festival is an essential appointment for all of us passionate about eating well, not only in Italy. Described as the biggest collection of quality cheeses in Italy each year, 'Cheese' is organised by Slow Food, the City of Bra and the Ente Turismo Alba, Bra, Langhe and Roero.
Drive along the Marche coast from Abruzzo and you eventually hit the small seaside resort of Porto Recanati just as Monte Conero looms into view in the distance. Perhaps the first thing you'll notice is a huge skyscraper of a hotel dominating the sea front of what was once a tiny Adriatic fishing village. Just as you ask yourself how this got planning permission look carefully and you'll notice at the top of the building in huge letters 'King of Brodetto'. It is here that perhaps Le Marche's best fish soup is made and in mid June every year Porto Recanati holds its 'Settimana del Brodetto' or 'Brodetto Week. Coming up for 15 editions the initiative involves around 25 of the town's restaurants and trattorie. Each serves up its own version along with a typical local meal.
The Camogli fish festival is actually called the Fish Festival of Saint Fortunato, patron saint of fishermen and is held in the first half of May. This is the most famous event that happens in this drop-dead gorgeous Mediterranean port of Camogli. Free fried fish are dished out in front of the quaint miniature harbor (which is not far from, and is very similar to what Portofino was like before it was discovered by tourists).
This event was recently described by Tom Kington, an Italy correspondent for the Guardian newspaper in the UK, as 'dubious', whatever that means. It is, in fact, one of Sicily's most progressive and consolidated annual culinary appointments. Cous Cous Fest takes place in the last week of September in San Vito Lo Capo, province of Trapani, and there is no better time or place to find out more about this most popular of dishes.
Cremona is famous for its mustard of course, but perhaps it should be more famous for its sweet Christmas nougat called torrone. The annual Festa del Torrone, or Torrone Festival, takes place in the third week of November and is the ideal pre-festive appointment before Christmas.
The historical center of Cremona is full of stands celebrating the sticky sweet. Not just torrone from Cremona, but other versions from all over Italy. Most torrone is made from honey, vanilla, eggs, almonds and toasted hazelnuts and Cremona is Italy's capital. The event is full of processions, spectacles and many free hapenings, not least for the kids.
The annual Eurochocolate festival in Perugia is one of the modern food 'sagre' which has caught the attention of everyone .. and who doesn't like chocolate! It's difficult to wait a whole year for the return of this delicious event, but the festival takes place every October taking over the whole of the historical centre of the capital of Umbria.
Turin, Rome and even Naples at Christmas have held big chocolate events in recent years, but the one in Perugia is now a mammoth 10 day affair and worth a visit. Just make sure you don't need to take the last train home to Rome over the weekends.
There are two main wine growing zones in the province of Brescia. The first occupies the slopes towards Lake Garda while the second is the the famous Franciacorta to the west of the provincial capital on the sweet slopes of the 'colline moreniche' facing Brescia and Lago d’Iseo.
Once upon a time the Salone del Vino was the premier enogastronomic event in the Lingotto of Turin. It then started to alternate every year with the Salone del Gusto, but such has been the success of the latter that former no longer exists, usurped by the now huge International Salone del Gusto and Terra Made, as well as the new kid on the block, Slow Fish in Genoa.
This premier Slow Food event takes place in the last weekend of October in even years and over 5 days. The amount of institutional and corporate sponsors may not sit too well with the original concept, but don't be fooled that Italy's best food and wine show begins and ends here.
June in central Puglia means bright colours and rich cherry harvests, especially in the cities of Bisceglie and Turi in the province of Bari. Turi is in the heart of Primitivo DOC wine country, but also knows a thing or two about cherries, not least the 'Ciliegia Ferrovia' or 'Railway Cherry', a strange name for the most cultivated cherry type in Italy.
Certainly large, the name actually originates from around 1935 when the strain was developed from the nut or seed of a tree growing near the railway lines heading south east towards Sammichele di Bari. Hence the name 'Ferrovìa' given by the local people. Carefully looked after the fruit of the original tree became popular with both consumers and cultivators and spread its roots first towards Conversano and Turi.
Turi still remains one of the most important zones for cherry production in Italy, mainly due to the fact that the 'Ferrovia' keeps its freshness for at least a week and is easily exported. The 'Sagra della Ciliegia Ferrovia' in June is held in its honour.
The Romanesco Artichoke Festival of Ladispoli near Rome was first celebrated in 1951 and is now held during the second week of April. The festival was initiated to help popularize this bulbous vegetable (long recognized for its aphrodisiac properties) that is proudly cultivated in this Roman town on the Tyrrhenian Sea (it's an hour north of Rome, nestled between the Tolfa Mountains and Lake Bracciano.
Our choice of four of the best annual May food festivals near Ravenna, no doubt all washed down with the fabulous local Sangiovese Superiore wine. Have a sleep before driving back to your accommodation!
'Frantoi Aperti' literally means 'The Olive Press are Open' and who can say fairer than that. A wonderful opportunity to taste the new olive oil and spend a weekend in Umbria. Typically the event takes place over 5 weekends starting from the first week of November. The zone to head for is Trevi in the Umbra Valley.