11 August 2010

Join Me for an Italian Bellini for Our Eat, Pray, Love Challenge Finale

Thank you for joining me once again for our Eat, Pray, Love challenge where we have created an inspiring Italian menu from antipasti to dolce to commemorate the opening of the much anticipated movie this coming Friday. After all this delicious food I would have loved to offer you an Italian-inspired zabaglione or smooth, creamy panna cotta but truthfully my guests and I have no room left for dessert. Instead I prepared a traditional Italian drink for you. This refreshing cocktail was first served in Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy, sometime in the 1930s or '40s. Named after the Renaissance artist Giovanni Bellini, this beautifully hued beverage is traditionally made with white peaches. If you can't find white peaches, regular peaches will do. Bellinis make the perfect beverage for our celebration. The frozen version from Joeys Global Grill is my all time favourite summertime cocktail which is one of the reasons my "pen" name is Bellini Valli.

Since this is a food blog I concentrated on the EAT part of the book for this personal challenge to celebrate the opening of Eat, Pray, Love the movie starring Julia Roberts. We began our Italian adventure with an antipasto of Toasted Bread with Burrata and Basil . Next we travelled to the Italian coast for an il primo of Spaghetti con le Cozza. We then moved to the secondo or "second course" which is the main dish with  Agnello Scottadita (Burned Fingers) which is a dish aptly named. Follow this with a contorno of Tiella and add a finishing touch of Insalata d'Arance and your guests will be more that in the Italian mood.  I am putting up my feet and apron strings and retiring to the outdoor patio for a glass of this Italian classic Bellini accompanied by good friends, good conversation and the strains of Italian music in the background. I am comforted to know my friends have been fed to bursting in true "nonna" fashion.

Positano, Amalfi Coast

If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know that I have been creating personal challenges based on a theme to infuse new life into my own cooking adventures. At the moment I am not travelling the world on my own personal journey as Elizabeth Gilbert did in Eat, Pray, Love or realizing my dream of visiting every cooking school from here to Timbuktu but I can infuse new life into my own kitchen. Every day food should be an adventure either with new ideas or experimenting with a new cuisine. Each day we should be excited about what we are eating even if it just means something as simple as making use of a wonderful find at our local farmers market. Than you for travelling with me on this journey as we recreated an Italian menu from antipasto to dolce. With these personally imposed challenges my culinary skills have been rejuvenated and back on track. This is the perfect time of year to pump up our kitchens into high gear!

By creating this challenge what better way to emulate Elizabeth Gilbert's sojourn in Italy than to create a menu based on local ingredients, as the Italians do, and her own adventures in Italy. I hope you will feel my excitement as I travel on my own personal journey for the next few weeks leading up to opening night of the much anticipated movie Eat, Pray, Love. Italian cuisine is all about the freshest, most flavourful ingredients prepared simply yet exquisitely. The food of Italy places a big emphasis on regional specialties and artisanally produced products. Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, Tuscan olive oil and wines up and down the peninsular boot are famous the world over. Gilbert's time in Italy is spent immersing herself in the romantic language and cuisine of Italy that we all love. My menu does not concentrate on just one region in Italy but embraces the entire country in my own culinary adventure to celebrate the release of the movie.

Eating in Italy is a main event and the descriptions provided for the reader of Eat, Pray, Love and the food consumed were absolutely mouth watering and ultimately inspired this challenge. The EAT part of the book highlights Elizabeth's gastronomical indulgences and creates vivid and beautiful imagery of all things Italian. Her writing on the food she samples, is a toe curling narrative for any "foodie". She entices us with "zucchini blossoms with a soft dab of cheese", "lamb,truffles and carpaccio rolled around hazelnut mousse", "ravioli with a puree of crustaceans and octopus served like a hot salad", "airy clouds of ricotta sprinkled with pistachio", "bread chunks floating in aromatic oils", or "a salad of chilled oranges tossed in a dressing of raw onion and parsley".

There is still time to join in on my Eat, Pray, Love Italian Challenge by preparing an Italian dish from antipasti, primo, secondo, contorno to dolce and sending the link with photo to eatchallenge(at)gmail(DOT)com by this Friday the 13th for the opening of the movie. The possibilities are limitless!!!! I will round up your recipes and post this journey we have all been on together. For those of you have joined me come back in a few days for the roundup!

 **Italian Bellini**

2 large white peaches, pitted and chopped
1 bottle  Prosecco or other sparkling white wine

 Puree the peaches in a blender and strain through a sieve. Should make about 1 cup of puree.

Add the peach puree to a pitcher. Pour in the chilled proscesso and stir gently to mix. Serve in tall glasses or champagne flutes.

Serves 4 - 5

  • Single Portion: Put 2 ounces of peach puree into the bottom of a tall glass or champagne flute and pour over 4 ounces of prosecco. 
  • Non-alcoholic Bellinis: use sparkling fruit juice or seltzer water in place of the prosecco.
  • Peaches are not always in season. If you are making Bellinis in the winter, it may be better to use frozen peaches or peach nectar.
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  1. A wonderfully refreshing drink!



  2. Val, in NY we used to have monthly brunches and ALWAYS had Bellinis! I've loved this particular challenge of yours- every post brought wonderful memories
    xoxo Pattie

  3. You are a 'nonna', if not in fact or age, certainly in a culinary manner when it comes to Italian dishes. You deserve the bellini and to put your feet up and stare out at the Amalfi coast. Well done!

  4. I could go for one of those right now! What a simply elegant end to your meal. I am enjoying reading about your challenges and am looking forward to your next one.

  5. I've enjoyed every delicious step of our "trip"! I raise (or will this weekend) a bellini in your honor!!


  6. Countdown to finally get to see the book on screen...and my favourite actress.
    Bellinis sound like the perfect cocktail to have before going out to our viewing.


  7. Nothing like a good mixed drink to round out the meal! And bellinis are one of my favorites.

  8. How refreshing and scrumptious, Val!! :-) I have to be off alcohol while I recover, but perhaps I could make this with seltzer water?? We'll see. :-)

  9. This look delicious and fresh dear Valli! gloria

  10. I just rediscovered the prosecco my brother brought home for me earlier this year - sounds like a good use for it!

  11. This refreshing bellini sounds just lovely on this hot day! Great to learn about this challenge, will have to catch up with your posts now that I am back :)

  12. Beautiful Val!
    I think I'll make a pitcher before we go to the movie :-)

  13. Lovely to sit on the patio and enjoy your Italian cocktail. getting anxious to see that movie.

  14. I love an authentic bellini. Now that peaches are in season, I'm thinking I want one tonight!

  15. Beautiful! Peaches and prosecco and the Amalfi coast...heaven! =)

  16. I can see how much you loved and enjoyed the book and how powerful the effects of it were to motivate such a passion and this amazing project you've taken on. It is truly inspirational. I have to cook a meal (sorry - I GET to cook a meal for guests tomorrow, but will not be able to post in time for your challenge. You know I have been away. I enter few challenges, but Italian food calls my name every other day and this is a challenge I would have welcomed with open arms. I am just to overwhelmed with catching up with the garden and my sleep! :)
    I have enjoyed these posts a great deal. I, too, enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the movie. It is funny how such little things give us such pleasure. I did make a point of passing my Harry's Bar in Venice when were were there. I so wanted to stop in for a bellini. It is like I want to trace the footprints of every bit of food history. It is impossible to do it, but, as you have espoused - such fun to challenge ourselves in our kitchens at home!

  17. i always have room for dessert, but this is a refreshing finale. very appropriate for the challenge and for your blog! :)

  18. Well done! Your bellini looks delicious and so appropriate for you. I would love one whilst gazing on the Amalfi Coast.

  19. Val~ I am sharing this as a friday's favorite. Enjoy your weekend!

  20. What a wonderful and refreshing way to enjoy the luscious flavor of fresh peaches. I'm enjoying your posts very much, Val. A bellini is the perfect ending to your amazing meal.

  21. I'll have one :) Looks wonderful, and it's the weekend now, so :)

  22. Yum, bellinis....what a wonderful summer drink :)

  23. I am SO sorry that I missed this challenge for the Eat Pray Love theme. I was away in Hawaii for weeks and was focused on tropical and Asian inspired recipes and eateries. I will certainly make these, see the movie, and enjoy a bellini in your special honor! Thanks so much, Valli! Ciao bella! Roz at La bella Vita

  24. Ahhh, the penny's dropped re your pen name, lol! I was looking to see a recipe for this, thanks for sharing!


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