Think Italian food is just about pizza and spaghetti?
The International Week of Italian Cuisine, which starts today, aims to show food lovers here otherwise.
The inaugural event, organised by the Italian Cultural Institute in Singapore, hopes to help participants discover the rich diversity of Italian wine, ingredients and culinary offerings across the country's 20 regions, such as pizzoccheri (buckwheat) pasta from the Valtellina valley in Lombardy and sea urchin and sea bass from the Mediterranean sea.
To do this, the week-long festival is rolling out 17 epicurean events, which include dining sessions at Italian restaurants, screenings of culinary-themed Italian films and talks on Italian wines and the Mediterranean diet.
The director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Singapore, Ms Veronica Manson, 51, says: "Like Singapore, food is a big part of our culture and identity that we want to share.
BOOK IT / INTERNATIONAL WEEK OF ITALIAN CUISINE
WHERE: Various locations
WHEN: Today to Sunday
"Beyond dining in restaurants, we want to promote a complete scope of Italian cuisine - from its culinary traditions to products to cooking techniques."
The International Week of Italian Cuisine is a global movement spearheaded by the Italian government to promote its gastronomic culture abroad and it takes place in 130 countries where Italy has a diplomatic presence.
The annual event, launched in Rome in March, is one of the initiatives under Italy's Food Act, which was passed by the government in July last year to promote Italian cuisine.
What: Feast your eyes on three food-themed Italian films. They are The Dinner (La Cena, 1998), a comedy that revolves around the lives of diners at a trattoria; The Feast (L'Abbuffata, 2007), about the show-business aspirations of three youngsters; and Long Live The Lady! (Lunga Vita Alla Signora!, 1987), a comedy- drama on six catering trainees who are tasked to prepare a special meal for a mysterious matron.
Where: The Arts House, Screening Room, 1 Old Parliament Lane
When: Today to Thursday; The Dinner: today (by invitation only) and tomorrow, 7.30pm; The Feast: Wednesday, 5pm; and Long Live The Lady!: Thursday, 3.30pm (all films with English subtitles)
Admission: Free, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register
ITALIAN FOOD FAIR
What: The fair will sell 16 types of food products imported from Italy, including items new to the market here such as black truffle and olive pate, white truffle spray, and white truffle and porcini mushroom pate from Gemignani Tartufi, a truffle company from Tuscany. Prices for these truffle products range from $15 to $22.
Those with a sweet tooth can opt for Italian sweets such as pine nut cake ($3), tiramisu profiterole ($1.50) and white chocolate profiterole ($1.50) from an Italian confectionery.
Extra-virgin olive oil from Liguria in North Italy, which is famous for its Taggiasca olives, and pasta will also be on sale.
Chef Carlo Tridapalli of restaurant Sapore Italiano at National University of Singapore's University Town will hold a cooking demonstration of dishes such as carbonara spaghetti, served from a wheel of Grana Padano D.O.P. cheese.
Where: Kitchen Stage, Basement level, Isetan Scotts Supermarket, Shaw House, 350 Orchard Road
When: Till Thursday, 11am to 9.30pm
WELLNESS AND MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE AND DIET
What: Learn about the nutritional benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which features seafood, olive oil, greens and hearty grains and get tips on incorporating the heart-healthy diet in your life.
Chef Daniele Sarno of 5 Sensi, a local food-and-beverage consultancy, will demonstrate how to cook Mediterranean dishes such as baked salmon fillet with lemon almond crust and beetroot.
Where: ToTT store, 896 Dunearn Road, 01-01A Sime Darby Centre
When: Wednesday, 3 to 5pm
Admission: $25 a person, from tinyurl.com/hhwuxn4
THE HISTORY OF WINE - FROM PRE-HISTORICAL TIMES UNTIL TODAY
What: Delve into the world of wines with historian and sommelier Michele Agostini, who will talk about topics such as the archaeological discovery of wines and the spread of wine from ancient Egypt to the time of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages. He will also speak on the origins of Italy's classic wines such as Barolo and Chianti.
Where: Cargo 39 @ Angra Wine & Spirit Importers, 39 Keppel Road, 03-03 Tanjong Pagar Distripark
When: Saturday, 4 to 5pm
Admission: Exclusive to those holding tickets to the OPEN Wine & Lifestyle Fair 2016, which cost $88 a person (inclusive of $35 wine voucher) from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)
Among the highlights of the event in Singapore are the special menus created by 10 Italian restaurants here which have received the Ospitalita' Italiana mark, a certification issued by the Italian government to eateries overseas that provide an authentic Italian dining experience. The special menus are available only this week.
IO Italian Osteria in Hillview Rise is offering a four-course menu ($68++ a person) that features traditional dishes unique to regions or villages in Italy, including gnocco fritto, a deep-fried puff pastry with tomino cheese, mortadella (Italian sausage) and sweet and sour onions, from southern Italy.
The restaurant's co-owner, Mr Gianluca Impemba, 48, says: "Italy has countless classic regional dishes and we want to showcase dishes that are not easy to find even in Italy, and re-create these hidden flavours and recipes so diners can discover them."
Another restaurant offering a special menu is trattoria &Sons in Cross Street, whose three-course menu ($48 a person) "celebrates the heritage of Italian cuisine", says its chef Lorenzo Macchi.
The menu includes gnocchi made with pork sausages from Bologna, foam of taleggio cheese from Lombardy and pork medallions served with a reduction of marsala wine from Sicily.
Chef Macchi, 39, says: "We have drawn inspiration from all parts of Italy to create an imaginative menu that pairs speciality ingredients from across the country with rustic and homely Italian flavours."
Other participating restaurants include Alba 1836 in Duxton Hill, Casa Tartufo in Erskine Road and Pepenero in Stanley Street.
Gourmands can also buy Italian food products - from truffle-based products to olive oil to desserts - at the Italian Food Fair held at Isetan Scotts supermarket until Thursday.
For oenophiles eager to deepen their knowledge of Italian wines, Dr Michele Agostini, a historian and sommelier, will be giving a talk on the history of wines - from ancient to modern times - and shed light on the origins of iconic Italian wines, such as Barolo and Chianti.
There will also be free screenings of three Italian movies that centre on Italian food culture, including The Dinner (1998) and The Feast (2007) at The Arts House.
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