Art of the Aperitivo – more than a Happy Hour
I know, this is a long overdue post and I have really been slacking! Truth is, it’s been a very busy time and we have had a lot of visitors recently. Not to mention I turned 29 (last year of my twenties, which seems tragic) and we’ve taken a few road trips. I have a few posts in the works, but as I’ve been going through some photos I’ve decided that it’s time to write about my favorite new hobby (alternative to New York’s way of saying “brunching”) and that is the wonderful time of day known as the “Aperitivo”. This is the real happy hour.
The aperitivo takes place later in the day before dinner, like a happy hour, but it is much more grand than that. Oh yes, MUCH more fantastic than having a couple of half off or buy on get one free cocktails at the local bar from 5-7pm. In Italy, you usually head to a bar and grab a traditional cocktail – perhaps an Aperol Spritz or Negroni – and receive complimentary food (more like a feast). There was an entire buffet that you could select all types of food from to accompany your beverage of choice. Who even wants dinner after that? Well, not many people would after you see how much food is provided. I have yet to find a great aperitivo place in New York City. Perhaps Rudy’s on 44th and 9th counts? I mean, you do get a hotdog with every drink that you purchase but it is still not the same.
While I endlessly search for an Italian replicate in the city that I currently call home, I will just continue to provide my own aperitivo to the numerous guests who come to our apartment. For me, it’s a treat to have people over and a lot of fun to prepare a spread. Also, it really doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and consider it stress free. Once you’ve done a couple, you’ll understand (side note, if you know me you’ll know I LOVE penguins and that I always incorporate these fun bites into my holiday gatherings). There are just a few key things that I always have on hand: 1) cheese 2) wine and 3) salame. Okay, for me, I also need OLIVES. Now when I say cheese I do not mean American Kraft Singles or pre-sliced sharp cheddar cheese from the milk aisle, nor do I also mean you need to have some specially imported cheese straight from Italy. Heck, we save a few dollars picking up some of the cheeses I wish I had (oh my goodness real Gorgonzola) from Trader Joes or our local supermarket’s specialty cheese section.
There is something special about having people around the table and participating in real conversations. That is something that I really enjoy along with a great glass of wine or a spritz. There also doesn’t need to be a full buffet of food at your aperitivo. A bag of chips or some homemade bruschetta will also do the trick! One thing that we love to make at home is either a beef or tuna tartare. Note: I never used to EVER even have my steak close to rare and I also never ate fish (especially raw fish) – but after trying it, I am hooked (get it?). A tartare usually costs us around $4-5 total, depending on the beef and fish. Main ingredients are: salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, beef, parsley (for fish), parmesan (for beef), and also an egg (if we’re really feeling fancy).
Now that the holidays are quickly approaching, I’m looking forward to trying out a few new aperitivo menu items. I always keep the solid staples in my fridge and a bottle of wine handy (because I like to be ready for anything). I’m also looking forward to heading back to Italy soon so that I partake in an afternoon
dinner aperitivo and be able to share more photos.
Con una botiglia di vino e tanti formaggi (with a bottle of wine and many cheeses),