This time there is no choice: Italians will be waiting at home for the new year, ready to uncork millions of bottles for a hopefully different 2021. Here are the latest tips for those who organize a dinner (for a few, of course) and want to make a good impression.
It seems impossible, but last year just under 10 million Italians celebrated the transition from 2019 to 2020 away from home, in clubs of all levels. This year – unfortunately – the doubt as to whether to stay at home and go out does not arise. All in the living room (in small numbers, if you follow the recommendations) for a dinner with an ancient flavor. If we want it will be much simpler for the hosts and for those who boast of above-average culinary skills: when there were so many guests, the problem of space and the risk of foolishness were always lurking. The environmental aspects remain fundamental: the mise en place, the music (always neglected, instead it makes sense to choose the soundtrack well for even a home event), i service times.
And then there is the menu. If at Christmas it is forbidden to deviate from the route, on New Year's Eve you don't travel with the imagination – we always talk about dinners at home – unless you host a company of gourmets. Maybe you can think of it to some ethnic "little thing" (they work a lot, in finger food, where, however, one chooses), it is obvious to think of a main course and many treats – to be enjoyed without cutlery – in case you do not sit at the table. The certainty of having vegetarian guests (or vegans) should not force others to give up their passions, but it is also true that you can think of green seasonal proposals: artichoke lasagna, mushrooms in various recipes, crudités. As for tradition always wins and in any case, mixing pure Italian style with imported products (salmon, oysters and even foie gras, which will also be in decline, but still has many fans), no longer mild as in the 70s, but often consumed by the mass only during the holidays.
Finally the cellar, where, thanks to e-commerce, today there is truly infinity available: from an Argentine red to a New Zealand white. Not to mention the huge range of good Italian wines, often at surprising prices knowing how to choose well. But once again, it's a matter of taste so it's up to you. It will also be true that on New Year's Eve they are uncorked ten bottles of Italian sparkling wine (prosecco, Franciacorta, classic method …) against one of champagne, but never more than in recent years has the consumption of imported bubbles increased, which are opened in 70 percent of cases during the holidays.
And now our ten tips, before a toast and a sea of good wishes.
The return of the canapes
They had never really left: but we are witnessing a sensational remake of tradition also for the aperitif, which, moreover, has found a fundamental element in vermouth. So green light to the squares of rustic bread, wholemeal, cereals, in boxes to support good things, perfect as salmon, goat cheese or feta, even a slice of salami.
Go out of the shaker
In times of prevailing mixology and food pairing (but the one addressed to other situations), the role of the house barman is to create the right opening. Space for the classics, without exaggerating with alcohol – since you will drink a lot later – and perhaps the idea of using the abundant bubbles for a Martini Cocktail, a fruity Mimosa or a refined Spritz with a classic method or champagne instead of usual prosecco.
The oyster with the extra touch
Apart from those who consume dozens of them as soon as they find them, the average Italian is not obsessed with oysters, but putting them on the table or on a buffet at New Year's Eve remains a certainty of pleasure. Not bad to taste them with a drop of lemon and ground pepper, even better with the marinated shallot "French style". Those who love them know that they enjoy much more accompanying them with a Muscadet (or a Lugana) than with a bubble.
The cellar open to the world
Speaking of wines, it is evident that those most suited to the dishes are prepared. Therefore, following the tradition, there is no derogation from a good supply of whites and bubbles. But it makes no sense to neglect the reds, even if they lack meat courses, for reasons of hospitality and because there are light ones. It is the right opportunity to amaze even with labels from distant countries: Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand …
Spaghetti never betrays
Stuffed pasta is always popular, but almost everyone ate it at Christmas. Risotto has an inherent rate of refinement, but it requires an expert hand. The timeless spaghetti unites the country from the Alps to Lampedusa and traditionally goes well with fish or shellfish. And it would be good and right, for once, to shop above the average of "fresh" for one of the basic courses.
To tell the truth, there are so many – in the world – that its effectiveness is to be doubted. From legumes to desserts (such as marzipan), from pork to chilli to a lot of fruit: dried fruit, pomegranate and especially grapes. According to popular tradition, it is necessary to eat at least twelve berries, one for each month of the new year, to guarantee prosperity and a favorable fate. Let's try, never like this time.
Long live the Venetian
Given the craze of the moment, Italian homes will easily still have a supply of panettone (artisanal and industrial) that will pop up at the dinner. In reality, tradition – Lombard in the first place – has it that they give way to the richest Venetian, with a soft dough, candied fruit and covered with a crunchy hazelnut and almond glaze. However, there must always be a leavened product at the table.
Following the routes of tradition, it is not easy to amaze with a dish. But, however … sometimes you have to think about the outline. And here is a sphere of chocolate (or various chocolates, even better), available in an artisan ice cream parlor, with a small pyrotechnic star will make you a good mood.
Bubbles: beware of the temperature
Whether you choose, for San Silvestro, one of the countless prosecco or one of the classic methods that sprout like mushrooms in every region (the most famous are Franciacorta and TrentoDoc), never forget that they must be uncorked properly and at the correct temperature: 8 -10 degrees for the first type, up to 12 degrees for the second, in the case of vintage. Also for champagne never go above 10 degrees and never below 8.
And after midnight …
It is a greedy ritual, which combines the abundance of the very Italian cotechino with the powerful meaning of the first legume grown in history, apparently already 5 thousand years ago. The permanent presence of lentils after midnight on December 31st is due to the Romans who considered it as an investment for the coming months and gave it a bag. Alternative to cotechino: the more caloric zampone. Best wishes.
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