Love pasta, pesto and parmesan? Then you’ll love Food Network Magazine‘s latest issue–dubbed “The Italian Issue”–which is fluent in these staples of the country’s cooking and much, much more.
Covering everything from recipes to gadgets, Italian-inspired kitchens to stateside restaurants, fun quizzes to cooking tips, the March 2011 issue is packed so heavy, you may go into a carb-induced coma just by reading this continuation of my food and cooking magazines’ love affair with this cuisine.
Sometimes I’m skeptical about these theme issues, but the editors got this one right. Everything celebrates Italy and in a variety of ways.
Here’s a small preview at the wealth of Italian-inspired information inside:
To Market, To Market: You can experience a true Italian market (OK, almost) without a passport with a trip to Iron Chef Mario Batali’s Eataly in New York City. Contained in its 50,000 square feet are a coffee bar, panini station, wine shop, gelato maker, fish counter, bakery, restaurants and more.
Pasta-bilities: Several quizzes inside will test your knowledge of Italian food, but the “Mix & Match Baked Pasta” may test your tolerance for the dish. More than 118,000 possibilities can be derived from this step-by-step selection of pasta, sauce, mix-ins, sauce flavorings and cheeses. Better loosen that belt.
Piece of Cake: There’s plenty of sweet stuff (including the requisite tiramisu) in this issue, but nothing quite like the Spaghetti-and-Meatball Cake. Chocolate cake covered in vanilla frosting topped with yellow “pasta,” chocolate cake “meatballs,” strawberry “sauce” and grated white chocolate “cheese” ensure this will still satisfy your sweet tooth.
Wine Not?: What would the Italian issue be without a nod to the vino? The “Find Your Go-To Wine” flow chart helps you select the perfect pairing for your pasta based on what you ordered, your side choices and personal preferences. The bonus? Each recommendation is $10 or less.
Brush Up on Bruschetta: Think only tomatoes are worthy to top this toasted treat? Think again. The “Make a Toast” spread covers 14 variations, including Eggplant Parmesan, Spicy Shrimp and Asparagus-Prosciutto. The real surprise is the number of sweeter options, like Blueberry-Almond, Banana-Hazelnut, Balsamic Berry and Pistachio Cannoli.
Close, But Not Quite: If the bank account won’t fund your dream vacation, you can set your sights a little lower but still get a taste of Italy with three look-alike restaurants recommended by the magazine. If you’re in California, Caffe Venezia in Berkeley could pass as a Venetian piazza or Castello di Amorosa Vinery in Calistoga, a Tuscan castle. For something more unique, head to Waterloo, Iowa, to the Galleria de Paco Restaurant, which is (almost) a dead ringer for the Sistine Chapel. It’s half the size of Michelangelo’s famous work and took only four months to complete–and it was painted by the restaurant’s chef.