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Food Souveniers

Philadelphia...
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Food Souveniers

Hello,

I'm a huge food lover and want to bring back as many food souveniers as I can. I've researched what to bring back and have put toghether a pretty good list:

Olive Oil

Wine

Balsamic Vinegar

Pecorino Romano and Parmagiano-Reggiano

Canned or jarred tuna; Tre Torri quality

Dried funghi porcini.

Dried pasta

Coffee

Chocolates

I have 2 questions.

1. Is there anything I'm missing?

2. Any recommendations on where to purchase these items? I'll be in Venice, Rome, Chianti and Positano during our trip.

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1. Re: Food Souveniers

All these items are available in all Italy. In a big city like Rome finding a good grocery will be probably easier than in a little town like Positano.

I wonder if buying coffee is so important; I think ground coffee is not so different from that you can find elsewhere, the way to fix it is specifically Italian.

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2. Re: Food Souveniers

You can most of this stuff in Philadelphia..... I remember a great Italian neighborhood with Italian markets when I was there 5-6 years ago. If you are traveling in the hot weather, cheese and chocolates will not travel well. For really good coffee go to tazza d'oro near the pantheon, and get the whole beans, they will last longer than ground.

Le Marche, Italy
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3. Re: Food Souveniers

Real traditional balsamic vinegar costs a fortune. At my favorite gourmet store, they keep it locked up. A very small bottle costs something like €50. The stuff that's sold as balsamic vinegar in most places is just wine vinegar with caramel coloring, as you can see from the ingredients.

It's true that you can get almost all of the same things, even the same brands, very easily in the US. The wine and olive oil are heavy and breakable, so I would suggest getting them in the US.

The market Penny remembers is the 9th St. Italian market, on 9th st at Washington. It's not as great as it was 30 years ago, when you could buy live poultry and many types of homemade sausage, but it's still got some good traditional Italian shops.

Italian coffee has a darker roast than traditional American coffee, but you can find all the best Italian brands in the US: Illy, Lavazza and many others.

Philadelphia...
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4. Re: Food Souveniers

Thanks for the replies. I assume (and maybe I'm wrong) that items would be cheaper in Italy than when I get them at the Italian Market. I love the Italian Market but assume there is a markup to cover the import cost as well as their profit.

If I can buy the same items 20-30% cheaper, I'd do it.

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5. Re: Food Souveniers

Leeloff, your best bet for buying all this is in Rome. There is a fantastic spice stall at Campo di Fiori market - lots of great herbs and spice blends that don't take up much room and aren't that heavy. You can get limoncello while you are in Positano. I know Roscioli sells fantastic canned tuna, as I bought some there last year, but it isn't cheap (but oh sooo good).

I tend to buy alot of dried pasta when in Italy - there are shops in every town - due to it not being heavy. It may not be cheaper then at home but the quality is better and it brings back great memories every time I cook it!

Depending on where you are going in Chianti, if you are going to be near Panzano, stop at Macelleria Checcini and pick up some of his Profumo di Chianti - a fantastic salt/herb blend.

Just keep your eyes peeled in each city you are in and you will see little shops selling foodstuff.

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6. Re: Food Souveniers

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Italian-made Nutella. The stuff we buy here in the U.S. (even at the Italian market by my house) is made in Canada. We always bring back at least a couple of jars.

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7. Re: Food Souveniers

I second the idea of getting the tazza d'oro coffee beans in Rome. We brought some home and it was a huge hit....and better than Illy and other Italian options in North America. And if you are a total foodie when you travel, go to Volpetti in the Testacchio area of Rome - the store and local market are great. I know Italians in North America who make sure to buy food items there before coming back here.

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8. Re: Food Souveniers

I don't find much savings on food items vs here in the states - given the currency exchange with the euro.

I second the spice market in Campo de'Fiori -

Many of the items I would love to bring back - are not allowed (the many salamis, proscuittos, other delicious meats)

Le Marche, Italy
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9. Re: Food Souveniers

One would think that food items would be cheaper in Italy, but because of the exchange rate, it may even be more expensive.

The things that I find much better in Italy than in the US are cheeses, especially pecorino. There are also very good parmigiano reggiano cheeses that are better than any that are easily found in the US, unless you have a very good specialized cheese shop nearby, and they would still be cheaper in Italy than in the US.

Local sausages, salami, bresaola, ciauscolo, lonza, lonzina, and other cured meats are also better here in Italy, but it's illegal to import them to the US, whereas the cheeses are legal.

I suggest you load up on cheeses. You can have them shrink wrapped so they won't stink up your luggage.

Another thing that I haven't found in the US are various little jars of sauces based on truffles or porcini and truffles. These are small and are often pretty good. Italian honey is also very good.

I sometimes bring dried pasta to friends in the US, but usually artisanal types. As for regular pasta, De Cecco is my favorite brand, and that's found all over the US in supermarkets.

Perugina chocolate is very good, but found in the US. Nutella, wherever it's made, is still Nutella. (I don't like it, myself.) You can find little artisanal chocolate makers, and they may have very good products.

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10. Re: Food Souveniers

I noticed that you mentioned pecorino romano already. That's a cheese that *is* found in the US. Try some of the lesser known cheeses. I like pecorino sardo, for an aged cheese, better than pecorino romano. Some of the younger pecorinos are very good also. We bought some very good pecorino from a farm near Latina, so I know there's good local pecorino in Lazio. My preference is for something between aged and semi-aged; Try it on a cracker, drizzled with honey.

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