Tag Archive for: Italian food

What Should You Wear on a Food Tour?

Learning about a locale through the flavours of its cuisine can add a sublime texture to your cultural exploration. If you have been to Europe, for example, you’ll probably remember the grandeur of its cathedrals and palaces—but you’d also recall the those delicious meals which made you say “Wow”. Trips to golden Qatar can be filled with the warmth of people’s hospitality but also the slow-cooked, aromatic majboos they adore. 

This magic can easily be  whitewashed if the weather falls cold and you didnt bring any warm clothing, you have sore uncomfortable feet, and you have to keep looking for a laundry service. Packing is almost as important as the trip itself , people often ask me “What Should You Wear on a Food Tour”?  Here are a few suggestions…

That’s why you should consider booking a food tour on your next holiday. The best ones grant you a comprehensive plan filled with the best food and entertainment of the location, plus a friendly tour guide that can take you through the in-depth history of a food site.

A Dominique Rizzo food tour can offer all that and more, as the resident guide has personally visited and designed the experiences she offers.

But what should you wear on these delectable food trips? When working through the delicious itinerary, you will, in a nutshell, want to be safe, snug, and stylish. The following is an overview of how to curate a great food tour outfit.

High-quality sunglasses

Your shades are for more than when you munch on arancini in sunny Sicily or eat shaved ice at a Hawaiian beach.

You’ll also need to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays that can cause eye illnesses or dizzying artificial light that can trigger headaches—both of which take away from the wonders of your food tour experience.

Stellar sunglasses brands like Oakley, Ray-Ban, and Puma address those issues. You’ll want to consider polarised sunglasses in particular, as they offer better visual clarity and additional protection from sun glare while topping off your look. While Ray-Ban and Puma carry these, you can try Oakley for its patented PRIZM lens technology that enhances colour, contrast, and detail—so you can see your food in all its mouthwatering glory whenever you dine al fresco.

Versatile layering


Bringing along an extra layer is good practice so the chill doesn’t mar your experience.

Dress depending on the local weather, though. Sampling the sour sinigang of the tropical Philippines? Consider taking a simple shawl or an Outdoor Research rain jacket for monsoon season.

Excited to try hot Kjøttkaker meatballs in freezing-cold Norway? Don’t forget to pack a toasty Arc’teryx Patera winter parka. If you want complete versatility—for example, if you’re willing to brave Alaska’s erratic weather patterns for a bite of their smoked salmon—consider the Flexwarm jacket, which can adjust the jacket to your ideal temperature.

Stretchy pants

What to wear for your bottoms has long been a dilemma for food tourists. On the one hand, you want to avoid feeling stuffed in your denim jeans midway through eating Indonesia’s succulent babi guling.

On the other hand, wearing form-fitting tights can seem disrespectful to more conservative food site locations, such as when sharing a Nihari meal with Pakistani locals. A great middle ground is flared leggings, also known as jazz pants.

Initially popular in the ’90s, these bottoms are experiencing a resurgence in popularity thanks to celebrity praise from the likes of Rihanna, Hailey Bieber, and Emily Ratajkowski and because they fill the need for a comfortable but relatively polished pair of pants. Brands like Nike and Glassons have their iterations, but you can get a great pair at Kmart.

Many customers attest to its butter-soft fabric and flexible, flattering cut—perfect to put on when you’re expecting to eat more than a few food portions.


Comfortable shoes

The promise of luxuriant fare doesn’t mean you’ll stay sedentary on your food tour. These experiences can double as walking tours, with your guide taking you through streets and sites to discover the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants and food stalls.

As such, you’ll want comfortable shoes. A pair of Hedgehog Fastpack Gore-Tex shoes from North Face is a great choice—they’re walking runners with cushioned Vibram soles, and thanks to their Gore-Tex technology, they’re weatherproof. You’ll be able to stomp through even the thick snowfall of Buffalo, New York, to get to their spicy wings.

You don’t want anything to detract from your delicious meals during a food tour, especially not your clothes. Remember to wear these essentials on your next food adventure.


*** Top Tip

Pack light – you will regret packing too much when you realise you can’t fit in any of your shopping while overseas


Historical Sicily - Dominique Rizzo

The Best of Sicily – Why Sicily Offers More Than Most Small Islands

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is a captivating destination that offers a wealth of experiences and attractions. While it may be classified as a small island in terms of geographical size, Sicily boasts an impressive array of historical, cultural, natural, and culinary treasures. Here are some reasons why Sicily stands out and offers more than most small islands

Sicilian food is insanely good.

I’m sure this is why I fell in love with Sicily even at an early age, but I know for a fact that every time I sit down and had yet another perfect meal, I knew there was something special about this island. Between the expertly prepared restaurant meals, and the fresh and authentic street food, you’ll never go hungry in Sicily.

While there’s a lot of crossover between Italian and Sicilian food, Sicilian dishes have some unique elements that set them apart. Due to Sicily’s geographical location at the southernmost tip of Italy, it has historically seen a lot of Mediterranean, Arab and North African influences. Because of this, in Sicilian cuisine you’ll find a lot of seafood, pistachios, fresh produce and more varied spices than you might in mainland Italian food.

That being said, Sicilian cuisine still quite similar to Italian food, so don’t feel like you’ll be out of your depth when looking at a menu! Think of it as similar, but different. Sicily is a very rich and diverse culture, so there isn’t one particular food that is able to be identified as the most famous Sicilian food. However, I have a few that I want to recommend very highlyGranita, Arancini, Panelle, Pasta alla Norma, Pasta con Le Sarde and  Cannoli are just a few of the top Sicilian foods to try and which really encapsulate  encapsulate the food that Sicily is famous for—and for good reason. They’re life changing.

The Aeolian Islands

If you’re wanting to soak up the sun and have an ideal beach holiday, Sicily can absolutely deliver for you.

Being an island, Sicily obviously has endless coastline, and there are beautiful, well kept beaches on basically every part of the coast!

Sicily surrounded on all sides by three different sea and the water temperature is ideal during the high season. One of the best parts about Sicily, though, is that being located just about as far south in Europe as it is possible to get, the realistic swimming season is much longer than in other parts of Europe. The water begins warming up a the end of April or May, and you can realistically expect to be able to take a dip well into November.

The endless opportunities for beach space means that you can have the exact kind of beach holiday you want. Whether you’re looking for a crowded party beach, a more secluded nature reserve, a luxurious beach club, or something family friendly—Sicily has something for you.

I have travelled so many times to the little islands around the coast of Sicily and they don’t disappoint, in fact they are a must to tag onto your Sicilian holiday and Sicily has made it very easy to travel to them all.  You can even do day trips out to these little paradises if you want!  Click here for details on my Aeolian Islands Tour 2024

Cefalù and Mondello are the most famous options on the northwest side of the Island, while Isola Bella, Calamosche and Portopalo di Capo Passero are the best options for the east side. There’s also the stunning and famous Scala dei Turchi, which is a bit out of the way of a lot of other things, but if you’ll be near the Valley of the Temples, is absolutely worth it.

Wine lovers, this one’s for you!

Sicily is a wine lovers’ paradise (which shouldn’t be a huge shock to anyone, given that it’s a part of Italy), but Sicily boasts so many of its own incredible wines.

Probably the two most well known and popular Sicilian wines are Marsala and Nero d’Avola – both of which are excellent. We also fell in love with Cerasuolo di Vittoria the last time we were in Sicily.

However, there’s actually a huge variety of Sicilian wines, including FrappatoZibibboCataratto Bianco, and even the very widely known (but not usually from Sicily!) Chardonnay.

Another great thing to do in Sicily is a wine tasting, so you can be sure to really get a wide sampling. The beauty of this is that almost all regions of Sicily produce wine, so you’ll find excellent tours whether you plan to visit the foothill vineyards of Mt. Etna, the stunning Val di Noto wineries (near Syracuse, Modica and Ragusa), the famed Marsala wine region, or the more off-the-beaten-track vineyards of the north coast and Madonie Park. Actually, you can even sample a range of Sicilian wines and cheeses without leaving Palermo

Dominique Rizzo _ Italy Tour

Now, most of us associate Greek ruins with, well, Greece of course. However, you can find a ton of ancient Greek history all over Sicily!

The Valley of the Temples site is probably the most famous in Sicily, and is one of the world’s best-preserved Greek temples outside of Greece. I’ve been to Athens, and I have been to The Valley of the Temples while in Sicily, and I have to say that it was completely on par with the things I saw in Greece, and in some ways a bit cooler because way less people come to see it!

There’s also Segesta, which is easiest to visit if you’ll be in and around Palermo—another really impressive ancient city with a well-preserved temple, and Selinunte, which has the added bonus of being right on the coast, which makes for quite the view.

Last but not least, there are a number of Greek theatres across Sicily, the most famous probably being in Taormina, but there are similar experiences in Syracuse and Palazzolo Acreide, to name a few!

If you want to dip your toes into some ancient history, Sicily is the perfect destination

Sicily really is the type of place to leave you in awe no matter where you look.

The east coast is an unbelievable display of baroque architecture, from Catania, to Ortigia, to Noto, there is no shortage of opulent and impressive baroque structures to marvel at.

The reason for such an abundance of baroque buildings on the east coast is a devastating earthquake in the late 1600s, which led to most of the east needing to be rebuilt from the ground up! Today, it’s an impressive and unique aesthetic that makes for the perfect backdrop to any vacation.

On the other hand, cities like Palermo showcase the many phases of domination that Sicily has experienced, and you’ll see Arab, Norman and Spanish influence all in one city.

I feel like architecture is really taken for granted when considering a vacation, but personally, I love nothing more than looking at some pretty buildings while sipping on an aperol spritz in the late afternoon, and Sicily delivers this dream ten-fold.

Like so many places in the Mediterranean, Sicilian culture is a breath of fresh air while on vacation.

Stereotypically, Mediterranean culture emphasizes hospitality, neighbourliness, relaxation, and connection—and in my experience, Sicily embodies these all perfectly.

Everyone we have come across in Sicily is so unbelievably friendly and helpful, which totally adds to the already amazing experiences we’ve had there. Even when it has been difficult to communicate due to language barriers (which are very real in Sicily!) I’ve found people to be patient and so kind while I struggle through my Italian and even harder… the Sicilian dialect.

Not only that, but the entire laid back atmosphere of Sicily is just ideal for a vacation. While it can be nice to fit a ton of things into your trip, sometimes it’s optimal to spend a day doing nothing but sitting at a cafe with a book, and Sicily makes that doable and acceptable.

The culture in Sicily is unmatched, and is definitely a top answer to the question “Why visit Sicily?”

Sicily is obviously mostly known as a summer destination, and with good reason—considering the beautiful sun and endless coast, but one amazing perk of Sicily is that the weather is never truly bad.

Even in the worst parts of the year, the average temperatures are around 53 F / 12 C, which is certainly not ideal for a beach vacation, but hardly too cold to still have a nice time traveling!

In the summer on average you’ll see temperatures up to  83 F / 28 C give or take, and I’ll be honest the heat can be brutal. But the coast and pristine sea water make it all worth it.

Because there’s really never a bad time to visit, why visit Sicily only in the summer? I went to Sicily this past March, and had a really lovely time. Honestly in some ways it was a nicer trip than when I went in August last year. I love the versatility that the weather lends to your planning, and it definitely makes for a great reason to visit Sicily.

No matter what kind of traveler you are or what kind of vacation you’re after, there’s something in Sicily for you.

If you’re going for the backpacking, city-break traveler vibe, Palermo and Catania have the perfect alternative vibes for you.  If you’re looking for adventure and nature, Mount Etna and the surrounding park is perfect, as are all of the ruins you can find across the island.

If you want to explore small towns and enjoy the charms off the beaten path, Savoca, Noto, Ortigia and Cefalu are ready and waiting.  If you want to sit on the beach and not move until it’s time to fly home, you have endless coastline to choose from.

And if you’re a foodie then it’s genuinely not possible for you to be disappointed.  Even the fussiest traveler can find their perfect vacation experience in Sicily.


Want to learn more about this stunning and evocative Island of Sicily?

Join me on tour in 2024 travelling in June and September


Sicily your perfect holiday - Dominique Rizzo

5 Reasons Sicily Should Be Your Next Destination for 2024

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is a captivating destination that should be at the top of any traveler’s list.

With its rich history, stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and mouthwatering cuisine, Sicily offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit.  Let me take you on a virtual journey to discover why Sicily is a must-visit destination.

1. Sicily boasts a history that spans over thousands of years, making it a treasure trove of archaeological wonders.

From ancient Greek temples in Agrigento and Segesta to the remarkably preserved Roman mosaics of Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily is a living museum of civilizations past. The island’s strategic location in the heart of the Mediterranean has attracted numerous conquerors throughout history, resulting in a diverse cultural heritage that is visible in its architecture, art, and traditions.

2. Beyond its historical significance, Sicily’s natural beauty is awe-inspiring.

The island is blessed with breathtaking landscapes that range from picturesque coastal villages to rugged mountain ranges. The majestic Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, dominates the eastern skyline, offering a thrilling backdrop for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. The azure waters that surround the island provide excellent opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and diving, with idyllic beaches such as San Vito Lo Capo and Taormina attracting sunseekers from around the world.

3. Sicily’s unique culture is deeply rooted in its Mediterranean heritage and is celebrated through its vibrant festivals, lively markets, and warm-hearted people.

The island’s cities, such as Palermo, Catania, and Syracuse, showcase a blend of architectural styles, reflecting the influences of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Spanish. Strolling through the narrow streets of these cities, you’ll encounter bustling markets, ornate cathedrals, and charming piazzas that come alive with the lively spirit of the locals.

4. No visit to Sicily would be complete without indulging in its gastronomic delights.

Sicilian cuisine is renowned for its robust flavours and fresh ingredients, showcasing the island’s fertile land and bountiful sea. From arancini (stuffed rice balls) and pasta alla Norma to cannoli and granita, each bite tells a story of Sicily’s culinary heritage. Exploring local markets and trattorias is a must to experience the authentic flavours of Sicilian cuisine.


5. The warmth and hospitality of the Sicilian people leave a lasting impression on visitors.

They take great pride in their traditions and are eager to share their love for their island with travellers. Whether it’s striking up a conversation with a local shopkeeper, participating in a village festival, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll along the coast, the genuine warmth and friendliness of the Sicilians make every moment in Sicily unforgettable.

Want to learn more about this stunning and evocative Island of Sicily?

Join me on tour in 2024 travelling in June and September


The 15 Must Try Traditional Dishes From Puglia

Looking for a Food Adventure to Puglia?

Join my Food, Wine Cooking and Culture Tours to Puglia.


Book Now Pay Later! Payment plans available. 


Bespoke small group tours.

Click Here for Details

Puglia, known for its rich culinary heritage, offers a variety of traditional dishes that highlight the region’s fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. Here are some popular traditional dishes in Puglia:

1. Orecchiette

(Most Famous Puglia Food to Try)

This delicious and traditional pasta is one of the most popular foods in Puglia and is probably the region’s most famous dish. A small pasta made simply of durum wheat flour and water and is moulded by hand into a distinctive ‘ear’ shape which gives it its name (“orecchio“, the word for “ear” in Italian).

The history of orecchiette goes back centuries and the dish has been an important part of Puglian cuisine for generations.

In the narrow alleyways of Bari’s old town (Bari Vecchia), you can watch women making orecchiette by hand on wooden tables – it’s one of the most iconic things to see in the city.

Orecchiette is usually served with a simple sauce and vegetables, though there are many variations. You can find orecchiette on the menu of most restaurants in Puglia.

One of Puglias most popular and noted variations of this pasta is Orecchiette con le Cime di Rapa:  This dish combines orecchiette pasta with cime di rapa, also known as broccoli rabe. The sauce is made from sautéed broccoli rabe, garlic, chili flakes, and lots of olive oil. It’s a classic and beloved Puglian dish.

2. Polpette di Ricotta

These delicious cheese and herb balls are typical Puglian snacks. They’re made from stale bread, ricotta, garlic, parsley, and grated parmesan, and are deep-fried until they’re golden brown.

Polpette di ricotta is usually served as an antipasto or starter but can also be enjoyed on its own. Good ones aren’t too heavy but are incredibly flavorful.

As well as the ricotta variety, polpette comes in various other forms, including ones containing meat, vegetables, and/or fish. Sometimes they’re served by themselves, or other times in a rich sauce, where they take on the consistency of dumplings.

Polpette can be found on menus throughout Puglia. 


3. Focaccia Barese

This traditional Puglian bread originally comes from the city of Bari and is usually served as an appetizer, paired excellently with local olive oil. It’s made of a simple dough that’s seasoned generously with rosemary and salt, then topped with tomatoes, onions, and olives.

The result is incredible. Good focaccia barese is rich yet light, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and never too oily. 


4. Taralli

Taralli comes in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, but the traditional variety from Puglia is typically made with flour, white wine, olive oil, and salt.

They’re crunchy rings of dough that have been boiled before baking – this gives them an extra special texture which makes them really addictive!

Traditionally they are not spiced or flavoured but now you can find them with all sorts of additional flavours such as  either chili or fennel seeds, rosemary and even sweet combinations. They pair perfectly with wine or an ice-cold beer.

Taralli is a great snack to enjoy while you’re out exploring or during a picnic lunch. 

You can buy bags of taralli in virtually every shop and supermarket in Puglia for a couple of euros, and many bars and restaurants will serve them as a snack to enjoy with an aperitivo. 

5. Burrata

No trip to Puglia would be complete without trying burrata, a type of cheese made with mozzarella and cream. It’s one of the most popular foods in the region and you’ll find it on many restaurant menus.

Burrata is creamy and delicious – perfect for spreading onto salty focaccia or pairing with tomatoes and basil as an appetizer. Traditionally it was made using buffalo milk, but cows’ milk is used more often now. I’ve tasted both types and, honestly, they’re equally as tasty!

6. Tiella

One of the most traditional dishes in Puglia, Tiella di Cozze, Patate e Riso.  Tiella is a layered casserole dish that combines mussels, potatoes, and rice. The dish is assembled by layering the ingredients with a mixture of tomatoes, onions, parsley, and olive oil. It is then baked to create a flavorful and hearty seafood dish. It’s usually cooked in a terracotta pan over an open fire which gives it an incredible, subtly smoky flavor.

Even if you don’t like mussels, you can still enjoy other varieties of this amazing dish. A popular vegetarian variety is made with eggplant and zucchini.

The combination of ingredients in tiella makes it a hearty meal that’s perfect for any occasion. It’s often served with some crusty bread and accompanied by a glass of white wine.

7. Fave e Cicoria

Fave e cicorie is a popular peasant dish in Puglia. It consists of fava beans, which are cooked until creamy with garlic and olive oil, and served with sautéed chicory greens. The combination of the creamy fava beans and the slightly bitter greens creates a delicious and nutritious dish.  This simple combination of ingredients creates a hearty soup that’s full of flavor and nutrition.




Panzerotti are fried turnovers similar to calzones. They are made by folding and sealing small circles of dough filled with ingredients such as tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and sometimes other fillings like ham or mushrooms. They are then deep-fried until golden and crispy. Panzerotti are a popular street food in Puglia and can be found in many bakeries and pizzerias.

9. Cartellate

Cartellate are traditional Puglian pastries made during the holiday season. Made from flour, white wine, olive oil, and sugar, and are pressed into shapes like small stars or flowers.

The unique shapes are made by rolling out strips of dough, which are then twisted into various shapes and fried until golden.  The cartellate are then soaked in warm honey or vincotto (cooked wine syrup) and sprinkled with ground cinnamon or powdered sugar. The sweetness of the pastry combined with the sticky honey is truly divine. They make the perfect ending to a typical meal in Puglia.

These fried pastries are usually served as a dessert and are traditionally eaten during the festive winter period, although you can find them in bakeries throughout the year.

10. Puccia

Puccia is a type of bread roll that is popular in Puglia, especially in the Salento area. It is typically made from a simple dough of flour, water, yeast, and salt. Puccia is baked until golden and then sliced open to be filled with various ingredients such as cured meats, cheeses, vegetables, and sauces. It’s a delicious and satisfying street food option.

11.  Fritto Misto

This delicious dish combines a selection of seafood and/or vegetables, which are lightly coated in flour and fried. Think of it as a bit like Puglian tempura.

Fritto misto is usually just served with lemon juice and salt, although some places offer other sauces on the side too. It’s one of the most popular dishes in Puglia and can be found on many restaurant menus, as well as from food trucks and outdoor stands in most major cities.

As a cheap and quick meal on the go, fritto misto is hard to beat. 

12. Gelato

I know you can get gelato everywhere when you’re traveling around Italy, but the gelato in Puglia is some of the very best. It’s creamy, smooth, and incredibly rich.

Delicious at any time of day (or night), a scoop or two of high-quality gelato is one of the best things to enjoy after a typical meal in Puglia.


13. Pettole

These are essentially Puglian donuts, and they’re a real treat! They’re small balls of dough that have been deep-fried and are usually served with various sauces or sprinkled with sugar.

You can get sweet pettole and savory pettole, and some are even savory-sweet. Any way you have them, they’re incredibly moreish – it’s almost impossible to just eat one!

The savory ones tend to be served as appetizers (sometimes stuffed with cheese or mushrooms), whereas the sweet ones make great desserts (especially if they’ve been dipped in honey).

Pettole can also be found in bakeries and street food stalls throughout Puglia, and also feature on many restaurant menus in various forms. In Bari, they’re known locally as popizze but are otherwise the same.


14. Melanzane Ripiene

A famous dish of Puglia, this is essentially an eggplant stuffed with a meat mixture (though you can also get veggie versions), tomatoes, and herbs. The resulting flavor is simply delicious – the sweetness of the eggplant combines with the salty flavors of the filling to make something truly mouthwatering.

Melanzane ripiene is usually served as a main course and is perfect with some crusty bread and a glass or two of red wine. 

15. Panzerotti

Another famous dish in Puglia is panzerotti. These are small parcels of pizza dough with a pocket of filling – a bit like mini calzones. They’re usually deep-fried and served warm, so they make the perfect quick lunch or snack on the go.

There are all kinds of fillings available, from cheese and tomato to spinach and ricotta, but my favorite has to be the traditional version with mozzarella and tomato.

A Panzerotti filled with cheese, salami and stew leek.

You won’t struggle to find these tasty treats across Puglia, so be sure to give them a try when you’re there. In Bari’s Old Town, Bakery Santa Rita serves particularly good ones.

16. Pasticciotti

Pasticciotti is a traditional Puglian pastry that’s made with a sweet crust and filled with custard. It’s usually served at room temperature, but can also be heated and served with cream or gelato.

They make a great snack or dessert and can be found in pretty much any bakery or cafe throughout the region.

The Top 6 Cheeses to Taste in Puglia

A picturesque region located in southern Italy, Puglia boasts a rich cheese-making tradition that has been honed over centuries.

Puglia’s cheese heritage is deeply intertwined with its agricultural landscape, which features fertile plains, olive groves, and grazing pastures. This combination of abundant natural resources and a dedication to traditional cheese-making techniques has led to the production of some exceptional cheeses that are celebrated both locally and internationally.

The cheeses of Puglia are often characterized by their simplicity, authenticity, and high-quality ingredients. The region’s cheese artisans take great pride in using locally sourced milk, whether it be from cows, sheep, or goats. This emphasis on local production ensures the freshness and unique flavors of Puglian cheeses.

1. Burrata

One of the most renowned cheeses from Puglia is burrata. This delicacy, often considered a specialty of the region, is a true masterpiece of cheese-making.

Burrata is a creamy and delicate cheese that originated in the Apulia region. It is made from cow’s milk and is characterized by its outer shell of stretched mozzarella and a filling of stracciatella cheese ( shredded mozzarella) and cream.  The result is a luscious and creamy cheese with a delicate texture that oozes when cut open. A delectable and luxurious treat.   Burrata has gained international acclaim for its exquisite taste and has become a popular ingredient in various culinary creations.

 2. Canestrato Pugliese:

Canestrato Pugliese is a traditional aged Puglia cheese made from sheep’s milk. It has a firm crumbly texture and a slightly sharp salty flavor. The cheese is typically aged for several months, during which it develops a distinctive taste. Canestrato Pugliese is often grated over pasta dishes, enjoyed as a table cheese or accompanied by cured meats and bread eaten with  wine.   

3. Caciocavallo:

Caciocavallo is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk. Well-regarded for its firm texture and distinctive flavor. Caciocavallo Podolico, made from the milk of Podolica cows, exhibits a nutty and complex taste that intensifies with age. It has a smooth and elastic texture with a slightly tangy flavor. Caciocavallo is traditionally shaped like a gourd and hung to age. It can be enjoyed on its own, grated over pasta, or melted in various dishes.

4. Ricotta:

Ricotta is a popular cheese found throughout Italy, including Puglia. It is made from the whey left over from the production of other cheeses. Ricotta has a creamy and slightly sweet flavor. It is used in various Puglian dishes, such as pasticciotti (a traditional sweet pastry found all over Puglia especially in Lecce) and pasta fillings.


5. Pecorino:

Pecorino is a family of cheeses made from sheep’s milk. In Puglia, you can find various types of pecorino, such as Pecorino di Grottaglie and Pecorino di Murgia. These cheeses have a firm and crumbly texture with a slightly sharp and nutty flavor. They are often enjoyed grated over pasta or served on cheese platters.

6. Stracciatella:

Stracciatella is a cheese specialty from the region of Andria in Puglia. It is made by mixing shreds of mozzarella curd with cream, resulting in a creamy, stringy texture. Stracciatella is commonly used as a filling for burrata or served alongside tomatoes and basil.

These are just a few examples of the popular cheeses you can find in Puglia. The region’s cheese production is diverse, and each cheese offers its own unique flavors and characteristics. Exploring local markets, cheese shops, and traditional Puglian cuisine is a great way to discover and savor these delightful cheeses.

Puglia’s cheese-making traditions are deeply rooted in the region’s culture and history. Many cheese producers in Puglia are small-scale, family-owned businesses that have passed down their cheese-making techniques from generation to generation. These artisans take great care in preserving the traditional methods, ensuring the continuation of authentic Puglian cheese.

Whether enjoyed as a standalone treat, melted into dishes, or used as a flavorful ingredient, Puglia’s cheeses captivate the taste buds with their unique profiles and regional charm. From the creamy indulgence of burrata to the robust flavors of aged cheeses, exploring Puglia’s cheese offerings is a delightful journey through its culinary heritage.

Join me in Puglia to taste of some these beautifully hand crafted cheeses.

Enquire here about my 2025 Food, Wine and Culture Tours to Puglia. 

The Most Popular Wines of Puglia


located in southern Italy, is renowned for its wine production. The region is known for a variety of grape varieties, producing both red and white wines. Here are some popular wine varieties you can find in Puglia:


Primitivo is one of Puglia’s most famous red wine grape varieties. It produces rich, full-bodied wines with high alcohol content and flavors of dark fruits, spices, and chocolate.

Primitivo is often compared to California’s Zinfandel due to their genetic similarities.
Negroamaro: Negroamaro is another prominent red grape variety in Puglia. It yields robust, deeply colored wines with flavors of blackberries, plums, and spices.


Negroamaro is another prominent red grape variety in Puglia. It yields robust, deeply colored wines with flavors of blackberries, plums, and spices. Negroamaro wines often have a velvety texture and can be aged to develop additional complexity.



While Aglianico is primarily associated with the southern region of Basilicata, it is also grown in Puglia. This red grape variety produces structured, tannic wines with intense flavors of dark fruits, tobacco, and earth. Aglianico wines can benefit from aging.

Primitivo di Manduria:

Primitivo di Manduria is a specific appellation within Puglia that focuses on producing high-quality Primitivo wines. Wines labeled as Primitivo di Manduria often exhibit concentrated flavors, higher alcohol content, and a velvety texture.


Fiano is a notable white grape variety grown in Puglia. It produces aromatic white wines with flavors of tropical fruits, citrus, and floral notes. Fiano wines are known for their crisp acidity and can be enjoyed both young and with some aging.


Verdeca is another white grape variety found in Puglia, particularly in the Valle d’Itria area. Wines made from Verdeca grapes offer fresh, lively flavors with hints of citrus, green apple, and herbs. They are often enjoyed as a refreshing aperitif.

Bombino Bianco:

Bombino Bianco is a widely cultivated white grape in Puglia. It produces light, crisp wines with delicate floral aromas and flavors of pear, apple, and citrus. Bombino Bianco wines are often consumed young and make a great choice for warm summer days.

These are just a few examples of the popular wine varieties you can find in Puglia. The region’s diverse terroir and grape cultivation contribute to a wide range of wines with unique characteristics and flavors. Exploring local wineries and trying different wines is an excellent way to experience the rich wine culture of Puglia.


Are you a wine and food lover?

Join me for a wine tasting and more in Puglia, book now for 2025 tours Click here for details

Surprising Similarities Between Italian And Mexican Cuisine

Italian and Mexican cuisine are two of the world’s most popular and beloved culinary options.  But did you know that they share many similarities? 

From ingredients to cooking styles, Italian and Mexican cuisines have more in common than you may think. 

Italian cuisine is known for its hearty and rustic flavours. 

The popular dishes of Italy are deeply rooted in regional traditions, with ingredients like olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and herbs being used liberally.  Italian food is also characterized by the use of fresh herbs and vegetables to enhance flavour. 

Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash

Common ingredients used in Italian cooking include pasta, olives, capers, anchovies and cheese.

Mexican cuisine is a vibrant and flavourful blend of traditional ingredients such as corn, beans, chilies, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. It is a culinary tradition that dates back thousands of years to the ancient culture of the Aztecs. 

Mexican cuisine utilizes fresh ingredients such as fruits and vegetables, which are used in a variety of ways to create unique and flavourful dishes. 

Common ingredients in Mexican cooking include jalapenos, cilantro, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.

So if you’re looking for a new twist on classic meals or just want to learn more about each culture’s food traditions, read on!

Common Ingredients

One of the most notable similarities between Italian and Mexican cuisines is their reliance on fresh ingredients. 

Both cultures are known for using a variety of fresh herbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other flavourful ingredients in their dishes. 

For example, garlic and tomatoes are two ingredients used frequently in both cuisines.  Olive oil is a common ingredient in Italian cooking, while chilies are often used in Mexican dishes.

Regional Variations

Italian and Mexican cuisines share many similarities, not just in ingredients but in cooking styles as well. 

For example, both cultures favour the use of slow-cooking methods such as simmering and roasting, which bring out the natural flavours of their dishes.

Both are known for their intense seasonings and spices like garlic, chilies, oregano, cumin, and paprika.

Cooking Techniques

Italian and Mexican cuisines both feature an abundance of fresh, vibrant ingredients that are used to create flavourful dishes. 

Both cultures rely heavily on vegetables, herbs, and spices like garlic, chilies, oregano, cumin, and paprika for intense flavour.

Both cuisines favour slow-cooking methods such as simmering, baking, and roasting to bring out the natural flavours of their ingredients.


This is a popular cooking technique used by both Italian and Mexican cuisines. It involves slowly cooking foods in liquid over low heat, allowing the flavours of the ingredients to blend and deepen.

Simmering is an important cooking technique used in both Italian and Mexican cuisines to bring out the intense flavours of a dish. 

In Italian cuisine, simmering is often used to make soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, and other cooked dishes. Onions and garlic are commonly added to the liquid while simmering to enhance the flavour. 

In Mexican cuisine, simmering is often used to make salsas and sauces like a mole, which feature a combination of sweet, sour, and spicy flavours. 


Another popular cooking technique used by both Italian and Mexican cuisines. 

Baking allows for a slower, more even cooking process, which helps to bring out the natural flavours of the ingredients. 

In Italian cuisine, baking is often used to prepare dishes like lasagne, pizza and focaccia bread. 

Meanwhile, in Mexican cuisine, baking is used to create dishes like tamales and enchiladas. 


This is a popular technique in both Italian and Mexican cuisines. 

It is a dry-heat method that uses hot air to cook food at high temperatures, allowing the ingredients to caramel and develop a rich flavour. 

Roasting typically takes longer than baking or simmering, but the results are worth it. In Italian cuisine, roasting is often used to prepare dishes like roast chicken and pork. 

In Mexican cuisine, roasting is used to create dishes such as roasted peppers and tacos al pastor. 

Flavour Profile Comparisons

Italian and Mexican cuisines have a lot in common when it comes to flavour profiles. Both offer dishes that are hearty, flavourful, and rustic. 

The flavours of Italian cuisine come from the liberal use of olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and herbs. 

On the other hand, Mexican cuisine favours chilies, coriander, garlic, tomatoes, and other spices to create its signature flavour profile.

Similar Presentation Styles

Italian and Mexican cuisines share a lot of similarities when it comes to presentation styles. 

Both rely on vibrant colours and presentation techniques that draw the eye and elevate the dining experience. 

For example, Italian dishes often feature an abundance of vegetables, such as tomato and onion slices, which are artfully arranged on plates. 

Likewise, Mexican cuisine also uses vibrant visual appeal, such as colourful salsa and guacamole toppings

Both cultures also favour plating food with vibrant garnishes like olives, peppers, or cilantro sprigs.

Countries Where They Meet

Both Italian and Mexican cuisine has many surprising similarities in their ingredients, preparation styles, and flavours. 

Although these two cuisines come from different parts of the world, they share a surprisingly large number of culinary connections. 

Surprisingly enough, these similarities can be found in countries around the world where both cultures have had an influence. 

United States

In the United States, Italian and Mexican cuisines have been combined in ways that are unexpected but delightful. 

For instance, tacos often include toppings like mozzarella cheese or marinara sauce. 

Enchiladas may be filled with ricotta cheese and topped with a savory tomato sauce. 

Both cultures can also be seen in the popular Tex-Mex dishes, such as chili con queso and nachos. 


Cartagena, Colombia is an amazing city that offers some of the best of both Italian and Mexican cuisine. 

Cartagena is known for its vibrant culture and beautiful architecture and notably scrumptious cuisine, making it a great destination for travellers looking to experience the culinary fusion of Italian and Mexican cuisines. 


Spain is another great destination to experience Italian and Mexican cuisines. 

Spain has a unique style of food preparation, known as ‘tapas’, which combines ingredients from both cultures, such as olives, tomatoes, peppers, and chorizo. 

This type of cooking also gives an exciting twist to classic Italian pasta dishes by adding Mexican flavours such as chilli and coriander. 

The widespread influence of Italian and Mexican cuisines can be seen around the world. In many countries, Italian-style pizzerias and Mexican-style taco stands are ubiquitous. 

Final Word

The merging of Italian and Mexican cuisines creates a unique gastronomic experience and allows for the creation of flavourful dishes. 

From fusion restaurants to food trucks, these two cultures offer an abundance of flavours and textures that can be combined in exciting ways. 

For instance, Italian Mexican fusion restaurants such as Itamex typically offer dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs or fajitas with fresh vegetables. 

By combining the fresh ingredients, intense spices, and slow-cooking methods that are common in both cuisines, a delicious meal is sure to be enjoyed by all.  

With a little imagination and skillful preparation, Italian and Mexican cuisine can come together to create flavourful dishes that are sure to satisfy. 



A Collection of Recipes For Summer Flavours

Recipes for summer flavours

                                             Recipes for Summer Flavours

Click here for your Free EBOOK – “It’s All About The Flavour”   a “Thank You” for Subscribing to Chef Dominique Rizzo.

” Its All About The Flavour”   a collection of delicious recipes. Above all, recipes for easy summer cooking and fresh new flavours.

Simple recipes and ideas.  Firstly to help you in the kitchen, secondly to give you more time to enjoy your time with family and friends.



The art of food at “Tastes Like Sunshine” with Chef Dominique Rizzo

Are you in Rome or Brisbane? That’s what you will be wondering as you listen to Chef Dominique Rizzo in her featured presentation,  transporting her audience to Italy with her detailed description of her perfect Italian meal in the “Tastes Like Sunshine” art exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane. 

For a fresh take on the art of food, the “Tastes Like Sunshine” exhibition offers a truly different perspective in its presentation not only of a fabulous selection of  works by acclaimed artists Eliabeth Willing, Sean Rafferty and Carol McGregor, but also a delightful audio recording of Brisbane’s Top Chefs talking about their most favorite meal.

Tastes Like Sunshine - Entry art piece

Museum of Brisbane Art Gallery

Tastes Like Sunshine - Chef Dominique Rizzo Perfect Italian Meal

Chef Dominique’s Perfect Italian Meal





Dominique’s passion for Italian food and the influence of her Sicilian grandmother resonates in her dulcet tones in announcing the Italian names of the delicious dishes and describing each one in sensuous detail.

It is truly a taste of Italy that tastes like sunshine.


Close your eyes, savour the sounds and imagine the flavours and colours in her “Perfect Italian Meal”, watch on YouTube “Chef Dominique Rizzo at Museum of Brisbane – Art and Food”


Artwork and audio of the five top Brisbane chefs are by the talented acclaimed artist Elizabeth Willing.

Tastes Like Sunshine - Brisbane's top chefs

Brisbane’s Top Tastes like Sunshine Chefs

Tastes Like Sunshine - Art by Elizabeth Willing

Art by Elizabeth Willing

Dominique Rizzo - Toasted Panettone

Easter Dove

Colomba Pasquale (Easter Dove), is a soft, sweet, traditional Italian bread. Colombo is like Panettone (the traditional Christmas bread– but without the candied fruits. Colomba sets itself apart by being baked into a pigeon-shaped form; its texture is a moist, buttery, bready cake topped with a sugary almond icing. Fluffy, moreish and melt-in-the-mouth.

The dove shape is to symbolize new life in Christ, the resurrection, and the Easter message. It was a Milanese baker Angelo Motta, who popularised panettone at the beginning of the 20th century, who created the Colomba Pasquale. Instead of the dome or cupola-shape of the traditional Christmas panettone he turned it into a dove of peace for Easter. As well as the shape, he changed the recipe, taking out the raisins and adding a little something extra – amaretto. The rich, springy sponge is pricked with cubes of candied orange peel and topped with crunchy sugar and almonds.

Both breads are fantastic, traditionally eaten fresh and in winter warmed in the oven or near an open fire. Colombo and Panettone are bought wrapped in clear plastic bags and boxed in often elaborate colourful boxes depicting their shape and also an image of what the centre looks like. It can be purchased from many delicatessens and some bakeries that specialise in Italian breads.

If you are a fan of the light and buttery French brioche then the Panettone or Colomba might just be your Italian counterpart.

Now I have not used Colombo in this recipe but I did have some panettone left over from my own Italian celebrations, I decided to put together this decadent dessert or breakfast dish. I say breakfast or dessert as it would work in both genres. So with the use of some simple ingredients, Sicilian sweet Marsala wine and an healthy appetite here is my recipe.

View the recipe for Toasted Panettone with Marsala caramelised apples, Lindt chocolate and vanilla ice cream Recipe

Tag Archive for: Italian food