Santa Polenta is in no way related to the jolly old man in the red suit, but is something that I picked up from my 3½ year old niece when she noticed drops of water falling on the ground. SANTA POLENTA! (Holy Polenta!) she exclaimed, thinking that it was beginning to rain, unaware that I was tipping the watering can from the terrace above. Holy Polenta! is what I should’ve said upon witnessing her younger sister attack a plate of antipasti at lunch. What the..? Talk about relishing your food. She grabs a slice of salame, tosses her head back, and ceremoniously dangles it over her face for a few seconds before dropping it onto her mouth. Granted, her parents were keeping watch so that she wouldn’t choke herself, but have you ever seen a 1½ year old infant eat with a flair like THAT?
This post centers on the meal that begins the meal: the antipasto. Put together a variety of nibbles and you’ve got antipasti. Here’s what we set on the table at noon, and oddly enough I was reminded of Pizza Hut’s Meat Lover’s pizza. Neither affettati (sliced meats) or pizza are exactly good for the arteries but we don’t eat like this everyday, only when occasions call for nothing but the best. Generally the best means getting cured meats sliced to order at the deli section. Pick up several bottles of red, a loaf of crusty bread, grissini (breadsticks), some pickled vegetables, and your guests will relish everything as much as my niece did hers.
Clockwise, starting from the cured meat nearest to breadsticks: slinzega, prosciutto di Parma, salame piccante, bresaola, pancetta, and speck dell’Alto Adige. In the center: lardo di Colonnata (the white next to the pickles) and salame.
An added plus would be this burrata, which in my humble opinion, is even more delicious than buffalo-milk mozzarella. Although the outer layer is hard to pick out, notice how thick, rich, and creamy the center is. I drizzled it with a blended fusion of fresh basil with olive oil, and served it up with roasted tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt and an aged balsamic. Holy Polenta! It is the just thing for putting on a happy face. Grab your forks and dig in.