Tag: recognize

How to recognize a good Salento coffee – Italian Cuisine

The true story and the technique of the perfect ice coffee in Lecce (or in Salento) and its variants: the blown and the shaken

Anyone who has visited the Salento, especially in the hot season, knows that there is a categorical imperative at the bar: coffee is drunk with ice, and maybe even with a hint of almond milk. Who calls it Salento coffee, who calls it Lecce, who simply says coffee on ice, but where does this tradition come from? Everything happens just in Lecce, about seventy years ago, in the historic bar of the Quarta family, which is still the reference point in terms of roasting in this corner of Puglia.

Lecce or Salento: the origins

The story is told by Gaetano Quarta, coffee breeder in the family business and great grandson of that Antonio Quarta who had the idea: «In his bar, which was called The coffee house, he sold coffee roasted by him and blocks of ice to preserve food ", since at that time there were no refrigerators and the stuff was kept cool in the neviere. He thought well, also to deseasonalize the drink, to combine the two things: the ice was pierced and small irregular cubes, but full of ice, were then placed directly in the steaming cup, just sweetened, according to customer preferences.

Blown and shaken: the variants

Several years have passed and the technique has changed, but only slightly. Indeed, more than anything else, as Gaetano explains, it has been enriched: in addition to the traditional ice coffee, you can also ask the bar for the blown or shaken, two techniques that add a soft cream to the taste of chilled coffee thanks to the cold of the cube. «In the first case, of the blown, air is added with the steam nozzle, which allows to create an emulsion and results in a drink a little longer, in the case of the shaker it is mixed by hand as if it were a cocktail in the shaker".

Coffee, ice, almond milk: the ingredients of good Lecce

Although nothing prevents you from doing it at home with coffee prepared with moka, for Gaetano Quarta the real Salento coffee requires that you use freshly-extracted coffee with the bar machine. Of course, the mixture used is also important. In the case of the Quarta family, family blends have been used for the past four generations, which can be found in many bars in the area, but above all in the Avio Bar in Lecce, what is now the family bar of great-grandfather Antonio. In full continuity, the roasted blends of the Quarta are called Avio and Gran Caffè, or Barocco in honor of the city that hosts them, and they are all 90% Arabica and 10% robusta. The quality of the ice is also fundamental, which is full and possibly made with water that is not tap water, but bottled or at the most filtered. Finally, the sweet note, which should be dosed as a tailor-made dress, be it a teaspoon of sugar or a drop of almond milk, strictly in the still hot coffee, so that it dissolves well. In the case of almond milk we are increasingly in the Salento tradition and Gaetano's warning is to use a product as natural as possible (and perhaps from Puglia!), Because the creaminess that gives an artisan product is unparalleled.

Cooking school: sea bass, how to recognize it – Italian Cuisine

Cooking school: sea bass, how to recognize it

The sea bass is an excellent fish ideal for your kitchen preparations. Here are our tips for choosing it

Yes okay, go for the sea bass, but how to choose it? In fact, even before cleaning and cooking it, there is the most important step, namely recognize the best at the time of purchase, so as not to have any nasty surprises once it is too late, perhaps even in the presence of guests.

Sea bass and sea bass?

Whether it is a sea fish living along our coasts, in the Mediterranean and the eastern Atlantic, is a sure thing. That has a medium-large body, slender and covered with scales, also. And it is well established that it is recognizable by the grayish back, silver sides and white belly, with dimensions generally between 20 and 50 cm.
But why someone calls it sea bass and other sea bass, if it is the same fish? There are two versions: the first claims that it is one sex-related issue, or bass when laying eggs, sea bass when it fertilizes them as a male. The second, on the other hand, brings the two names back to one geographic difference, for which sea bass derives from the Veneto and from the Lombard bransin, that is branchino as fish with the gills in sight, while it basses from the very acute and sharp preopercular spine, just like an edge.

Six little secrets for choosing the best sea bass or sea bass

First of all it is good to remember that this fish has one very fine meat, white and lean, with a unique and delicate flavor well recognizable among many. For this reason it is often consumed also by those who do not love fish too much, as it is able to withstand its light and graceful taste, both grilled and baked or even pan-seared.
On the market we find it both fresh and frozen, obviously in this second case it will be more difficult to evaluate them following features:

One. The sea bass must have a delicate, pleasant, non-ammoniacal smell.

Two. The appearance must be bright.

Three. The body must be rigid and firm.

Four. The scales must be perfectly adherent.

Five. The gills must be pink-red, of no other color.

Six. The eye must be alive and protruding with the black pupil, not at all not reddened.

To learn with our chefs also how to clean and cook this and many other fish, sign up for our courses: you will be followed carefully and gradually in each step, so that you can then make only the best at home!

Texts by Giulia Ubaldi

Fresh meat at the supermarket, here's how to recognize it – Italian Cuisine

Fresh meat at the supermarket, here's how to recognize it

After the service of the hyenas, which told of sausages and steaks expired and repackaged in a large butchery, we asked the expert if the meat from the fridge is really safe

Steaks, sausages and slices sold even if expired, after having been repackaged with a new expiry date. And when the appearance betrayed the bad conditions, the meat could be minced and sold to prepare meatballs or meat sauce. It happened in the butchery of a large supermarket, as they told them Hyenas in their program. The hidden camera has resumed the dialogues between the boss and the employee: «It does not matter if the meat has expired, what is left to re-label the re-packets and what is worth reproaching.
Fortunately though this is a case so rare to make news.

«The meat sold both in the butcher's and in the supermarkets are subject to control procedures by the producer and subjected to periodic official controls by the veterinarians of the ASL, explains the doctor Maria Grazia Volpe, of the Institute of Food Sciences of the National Research Council. "Furthermore, on the industrial packaging of foodstuffs of animal origin there is always the identification mark of the establishment which gives the certainty that the processing of the meat took place in a factory under the control of the official veterinarian".

Before consuming a food, it is always good to be certain of its safety: "It is essential for our well-being, because if the food is contaminated from a microbiological point of view or contains harmful elements, it can constitute a health hazard, with effects that they can manifest themselves after a short time, as in the case of acute toxins, but also after many years, through chronic diseases even serious . Here are his suggestions for choosing the freshest meat.

The labeling

The label is one very important tool and it is necessary to learn how to use it carefully when buying meat packaged in supermarket counters. Attention must be paid to the indications given: animal species (pig, bovine, sheep), trade name (fillet, capocollo, for example), country where the animal was bred, country in which it was slaughtered, factory code , reference code of the animal or the lot, price per kilo, date of preparation of the package, expiry date, method of preservation. Also for meat preparations, it is important to check on the label if frozen meat has been used, if there are additives, preservatives, flavorings.


It is always advised to respect the methods and the term of conservation indicated on the label. Home preservation, if not correct, greatly affects the durability of food. The appropriate conservation methods allow to avoid potentially harmful deterioration, contamination or microbial growths. The meat in the fridge must always be protected by enclosures and containers and, if of different species, they must be separated. They must also not come into contact with other packaged foods, with vegetables, fruits and cooked food.

«Alarm bells

It is very important that the meat sold in refrigerated counters is in suitable condition. For example, the presence of excess liquid indicates that the food has been stored for some time. Attention also to the excessive presence of frost: it means that some temperature change has occurred. And, in general, if color or smell is altered, it is better not to consume the product.


The color of the meat actually depends on many factors such as the species of the animal, the age, the sex, the type of feeding and above all the concentration of myoglobin in the muscle fibers and the structure of the muscle. Then it does not always indicate freshness some meat.

The expiration date

Some foods can be eaten even after the expiration date. There is a difference between "to be consumed within", the formula generally used for fresh and highly perishable foods, from «preferably consume within, which instead indicates only a time span within which the product loses some of its organoleptic characteristics, but is still edible. Dried pasta, rice, chocolate, freeze-dried foods, some canned foods can be consumed even after the expiration date.

In fresh foods, chemical alterations are triggered over time and microbial growth is recorded that can change nutritional and organoleptic characteristics and it is not enough to evaluate its taste, smell and fragrance. Food can be contaminated by pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus or Salmonella, which do not modify the sensory and physical characteristics, but are also very dangerous especially if they are eaten raw or undercooked.

These pathogenic microorganisms may be present in very low quantities at the beginning of the conservation period, and increase in number, until they become dangerous, as they approach, and exceed, the expiration date. For meat there is no uniformity: if the burgers and minced meat prepared by the butcher should be consumed within 48 hours, the interval rises to 4 or 5 days for medium-sized beef cuts and arrives at 7 – 10 for steaks or other small cuts packed in modified atmosphere. For this reason it is very important to read the labels carefully.

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