“A good dinner is of great importance to good talk. One cannot think well, love well, sleep well,
if one has not dined well.
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Words I live by and the opening quote for “Time Table. A Tavola Nei Secoli”, a spectacular exhibition at Palazzo Madama, and the Queen Palace in Turin, my hometown in Italy.
The show is a time travel through the centuries of table’s settings, manners, social rites and a showcase of stunning china and objects created by artists and artisans to adorn meals and dining tables. It takes place in the palace from June 24 to October 18.
Since I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to table settings I feel lucky to have been invited to see a preview of the show the week before its opening, when I’ll be a guest speaker at TurinEpi a 3 day food event organized by a true Food Goddess and friend Lucia Hannau. Lucia is featured this week in my Sharing Corner where you can read about her, her cooking tips and her food philosophy.
Immediately following the talks, and the eye feasting at Palazzo Madama, I intend to plant my self at Mulassano, one of the oldest bars in the historical center and quickly put my mouth to a more concrete use, and enjoy a full scale aperitif and to dig in to as many tramezzini, salatini and a negroni or two, while checking out the beautiful and well dressed passers by.
While Torino and Piedmont are known for big wines, truffles, and a variety of truly impressive dishes, tramezzini are by far my favorite treat when I go home. They are the perfect food to share at a meal that is casual but refined. They are small and delicate and they showcase local ingredients in combinations that range from classic pairings to more surprising and complex combinations.
Of course no cutlery is necessary, but they should be served on fine-looking china, showcased on gracious trays, with pretty pressed linens.
They, at times, require some operational dexterity and manners when eaten while gossiping, checking out the latest fashion under the portici or chatting about the malevolence of the Euro, but they are sure to please the palate and the eye, something very necessary in Italy, a country where food is as important as “Bella Figura”.
It’s important to remember, when making tramezzini, the bread must be fresh, soft and never dry.
I often place a humid piece of cloth on the bread while working and preparing them and I take care to wrap them in film immediately after making them; I also always keep them sealed in the fridge until I’m ready to serve them.
Butter, mayonnaise or a sauce has to be used for flavor and to keep the fillings in it’s place. The ingredients must be fresh and of good quality because there is not too much cooking involved and the flavor comes from the produce not the technique.
Below is the top ten lists of my favorite combinations, the recipe for a good home made mayonnaise and the link to a Negroni recipe from the NYT made with Punt e Mes a vermouth invented in Torino by the Carpano family. I also have updated my Tray Chic page with some new ideas for table settings.
- Proscitto Cotto , Mozzarella Mayonnaise
- Tuna, Cured Artichokes , Mayonnaise
- Tuna, Tomatoes, Black Olives and Mayonnaise
- Hard boiled Eggs, Tuna, Lettuce, Mayonnaise
- Butter, Prosciutto di Parma
- Mortadella, Sweet Pickles Relish, Butter
- Steamed Asparagus, Hard Boiled Eggs, Mayonnaise
- Steamed Sweet Shrimps, Lettuce, Aurora Mayonnaise
- Smoked Salmon, Butter, Caviar
- Soft Creamed Gorgonzola, Mascarpone, Toasted Walnuts
- Herbed Frittata, Lettuce, Mayonnaise
- Breasaola, Creamed Herbed Goat Cheese
- Olive Paste, Hard Boiled Eggs, Roasted Peppers, Anchovies
- Sliced Truffles, 8 Minutes Eggs, Lettuce
- Mulassano Lobster Salad