Find out why the Italians have a spring in their step at this time of year

Find out why the Italians have a spring in their step at this time of year

Italians love to eat with the seasons. Obviously pizza, their national dish, is impervious to the weather, and tastes just as wonderful eaten on a sunny street as it does by a fireplace in winter. But other than that, the Italians really do take genuine joy in embracing ingredients that hit their prime at particular times of the year. 

Food is such a part of Italian culture, it’s even represented on their national flag – the pure white of good mozzarella, the bold red of sun-ripened tomatoes and the green of fresh vegetables and herbs.

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We are all familiar with typical fresh summery dishes, or the hearty comfort dishes of autumn making the most of mushrooms and game, and wintry carb-filled pasta dishes smothered with slow cooked ragu. But what do Italians typically eat during the springtime?    

San Carlo restaurants source many fresh ingredients directly from bustling markets across Italy, so there are always some edible treasures to be found on their daily specials board. And because Cicchetti has been inspired by the Venetian tradition of offering a selection of small plates, there’s the opportunity to try a whole range of seasonal treats in one visit.  

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Insalata di Lenticchie is a great way to start around this time of year. A light, but satisfying salad of pressed and dressed lentils and chickpeas with toasted linseeds, grilled tomatoes, avocado, mint and lemon oil. We thought we’d better bulk up our mineral intake by ordering another avocado dish to go with it, served grilled and drizzled with chilli vinaigrette.

Let’s not kid ourselves though. A typical British spring very different to an Italian one weather-wise, so we’re going to need some kind of comfort food to compensate. How about spring greens in the form of pasta? Try spinach and ricotta ravioli with pachino tomatoes, smothered in butter and a generous sprinkling of good Parmesan cheese.

Spring is synonymous with new season lamb and we highly recommend Cicchetti’s tender grilled cutlets cooked with fresh rosemary and thyme. If fish is more your kind of dish, try lemon sole with seasonal asparagus, fresh mint and pink peppercorns. It comes with a piquant Sicilian dressing on the side. We bulked up the greens with a side of Tender Stem Broccoli dressed with garlic and chilli which went well with everything we’d ordered.

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We tried to leave at this point, we really did. Feeling healthy and a little virtuous at his point. But then someone mentioned desserts and remembered that San Carlo have a huge kitchen in the basement from which they make gelato, cakes and all manner of sweet treats which they send out to all their restaurants.  So we stayed and shared a selection of daily desserts. Well, why not? It’s not * quite* swimwear season yet, is it? 

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