A few months ago we had the privilege of meeting Valeria, one of the two Foodie Sisters from Local Aromas, a family business run by her and her sister Benedetta.
Their life story is fascinating, being grown in many different countries from Thailand to Belgium, spending a few years in Venezuela and Chile as well, thanks to their Papa’ Riccardo‘s job. What we fell in love for, listening to their story, is that their love and passion for Italy has always been strong, despite their years spent so far from Italy. This fact relieved us, being ourself expat raising children outside of Italy, and always guessing if our children would in the future feel proudly Italian.
Benedetta and Valeria at a certain point decided that it was time to put down roots, and Italy was definitely the right place. We don’t want to reveal more about the Foodie Sisters, just keep on reading the interview with them and give the recipe they shared with us (Saltimbocca alla Romana – one of the best known Italian recipe from Rome) a try.
Saltimbocca alla Romana
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- 900 g (2 pound) veal escalopes
- 150 g (1/3 pound) Prosciutto Crudo (Parma ham)
- 100 g (¼ cup + 3 tbsp) butter
- fresh sage leaves – one or two for each slice of meat
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- First, tenderize the veal slices (or ask your butcher to do it) by hitting them a few times with a meat hammer or rolling pin.
- Next lay a slice of Prosciutto Crudo on each piece of veal, top with a fresh sage leaf, and secure with a toothpick.
- Heat half of the butter in a large frying pan and when it melts, add the slices of veal. Start by placing the slice with prosciutto and sage facing downwards so it releases all the flavors as it cooks. Cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes then turn the slice over to lightly brown the other side.
- Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to fry the escalopes in batches. Place the cooked saltimbocca alla romana in a serving dish while you prepare the rest. When you are done, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the hot pan and the remaining butter. Stir and pour this succulent sauce over the cook saltimbocca.
- Serve immediately and let them ‘jump in your mouth’ while hot!
Tips: If veal is hard to come by, you can substitute it with pork escalopes for a similar result. The important thing is to ensure the meat has been tenderized so that it melts in the mouth. Serve the saltimbocca with a side dish of salad, vegetables, or potatoes for a complete meal, or simply fry up a batch as a quick snack whenever you feel the need!
Interview with Benny and Valeria
Do you want to introduce yourself and to tell us where you are originally from, where you live/lived in the past?
Valeria and I are sisters. We had the privilege of growing up for 18 years around the world thanks to our Dad’s job. We started off in Bangkok, where we spent 6 years, then from there 3 years in Brussels, 6 in Caracas to finish off in Santiago del Chile. It was a magnificent childhood. It enriched us in many many ways and even if changing counties and starting over many times was challenging, we would both do it all over again.Then we both came back to Rome, went to University, graduated, worked in companies, got married, had kids but we both had burning desires that we would do something ours…so without knowing what, we cultivated our passions. Valeria went to a prestigious professional Pastry school and became a certified professional pastry chef. I became a Wine & Oli Sommelier, and a professional cheese taster. Then in 2016 we decided it was time to open our own company and launched Local Aromas.
What do you like most about the Italian culture and traditions?
The diversity and the fact that Italians live to eat well. Our country is unique. 21 regions put together as a country not that long ago and each with such deeply rooted food traditions. It is incredible what you can find food wise when you start travelling across this boot shaped peninsula. In each region you find foods, traditions, cultures that are unique to that specific place, things that you would not find anywhere else in Italy not to mention in the world. It’s fascinating. There are century old traditions that are passed on from generation to generation as a well kept secret. Having the pleasure and honor to enjoy these dishes is often a once in a lifetime experience.
What do you like about Italian people?
Everything! And we do not say that because we are Italian, but because it’s true. We like to proclaim that there is no such thing as Italian Food. The same goes with Italians. We are way too different. Take someone from Naples (south) and someone from Venice (north). Two different worlds, nothing in common. They probably wouldn’t even understand each other. But, there is always a but, we have an innate capacity to look at the sunny of the street no matter what. You give us stale bread and we make gnocchi. You give us leftover grapes from the wine production, we make grappa. Leftover whey from cheese production, we turn it into ricotta. How can you not like such geniality!
What product from Italy did you miss the most when you lived abroad?
Real mozzarella & prosciutto & supplì. Our grandmother had strict orders to purchase mozzarella, prosciutto, white pizza, rosetta bread and supplì on our arrival day to Italy. And that was our first meal! Gosh, what great memories.
What’s your favorite Italian recipe which you use to prepare often and easily?
Benedetta: I love making pastas. Cacio & Pepe is my favorite and I must say that I have become quite good at it! Valeria taught me the perfect recipe when she attended Professional Pastry School. What does cacio & pepe have to do with pastry? Nothing! She attended the super prestigious Gambero Rosso Academy and took all the classes she could! Valeria: I am a working mom and I love to prepare polpette al sugo, meatballs cooked in tomato sauce, and store them in my freezer. I usually make a lot of meatballs, put them in my slow cooker with tomato sauce, and cook them overnight. The following day I divide them in different servings and place them in the freezer. This way, I always have a great homemade meal at hand.
Which place in Italy do you love particularly and you would suggest for our followers to visit?
Umbria. We had a country house in Umbria for over 40 years. It is such a gorgeous region. Rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves. The food is amazing, the wine is superb, the olive oil is spectacular, not to mention the truffles. It is between Rome and Florence and defineley a place to include in a trip to Italy.
It is scattered with stunning and beautifully preserved medieval hill towns like Assisi, Bevagna, Todi, Perugia, Spello to name a few!