Top 10 Italian food-related experiences

December 22, 2015

It’s the time of year when ‘Top 10 Lists’ appear everywhere – for books, films, music. I’ve been reminiscing and came up with my best Italian food-related memories for 2015 (in no particular order):

. Discovering a great lunch spot while waiting two hours for my GP’s appointment. The Italian Bar in inner city Sydney is run by two Italian ex-DJ brothers who offer great pizza, antipasti and killer drinks.

Italian Bar Paddington

. Finding Elizabeth David’s Italian Cooking in a second-hand bookshop. First published in 1954, it’s a classic and her prose is good reading even before attempting the recipes.

. Celebrating offal. Trippa alla Romana (Roman style tripe) served at a now defunct suburban restaurant became a winter favourite. Tomatoey, saucy and great while it lasted.

. Experimenting with a deconstructed peperonata. Yes, I took liberties and added eggplant, but the separately oven-cooked ingredients doused with vinaigrette hits the spot.

Italian peperonata

. Closely observing fruit & veg forms while creating a watercolour still life. Borlotti beans in their shells, eggplants, artichokes, fennel, celeriac all got the treatment.

. Coming to the conclusion that the strawberry granita at Sydney’s Cremeria de Luca is almost as good as their coffee granita. And DON’T hold the panna (cream).

. Always ordering the ham and fior di latte mini brioche at Bar Sport in Sydney’s inner west. Small, delicious and everything you want in a mid-morning snack.

Ham and cheese brioche

. Getting my fill of comfort food by copying the restaurant scene in Vittorio de Sica’s film Bicycle Thieves where father and son order a Mozzarella in Carozza (fried mozzarella sandwich).  

. Growing my own wonderful green Lombardo chillies and flash-frying them in oil, garlic and salt. Nothing else required.

Italian green chillies

. Admitting frozen vegetables aren’t always the enemy. The next best things to fresh broad beans are the frozen variety. I concocted a broad bean salad recipe for the NRMA’s Living Well Navigator site 



  1. Great article, Ambra.

    • Thanks Jovina. My first ever Top 10 list!

  2. I like your top ten. I could go for that fried mozzarella sandwich. YUM!! And luckily I have Elizabeth David’s book, got it used from Amazon. I have just paged through it. I’ll have to do some serious cooking from it. Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!

    • The mozzarella in carozza is tasty and fun – those lovely strings from the cheese when it’s stretched into your mouth! Auguri to you too and all the best for the new year.

  3. Salivating, and for once it’s wonderful to think these experiences are all available in my own city rather than making me envious of those who live in charming hilltop villages…My very shabby copy of Elizabeth David has been a stalwart of my kitchen shelf for nearly thirty years (which is kind of shocking as well as comforting).

  4. I’d lost mine and was thrilled to find a pre-loved copy of signora David’s book in Berkelouw in Leichhardt – Sappho Books in Glebe also good. Buon appetito.

  5. Thank you for all the wonderful hints and recipes… many to try, and new places to go (The Italian Bar!). Best wishes for the entire festive season and a great 2016

    • Pleasure, Julie. Hope 2016 is a good one for you with lots of books and writing included!

  6. Great write up! Buon natale!

    • Grazie mille. Buon natale to you too and all the best for 2016.

  7. I love the sound of those fried chillies – I’ve had them the padron ones at Movida, but growing your own adds that special something. Have a delicious Christmas!

    • The chillies are great and I love growing them, they’re sprouting now. Can’t wait to harvest them. Best wishes to you too – love your work!

  8. Those chillies look divine – and what a fabulous colour! A very Merry Christmas to you and your family and see you in 2016!

    • Look forward to exchanging thoughts with you in 2016 too. Happy Christmas!

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