National Italian Food Day

National Italian Food Day- Ocean Mist Farms Recipes

I’ve been on a National Food Day kick lately-National Cake Pop Day, National Chopsticks Day-and we now have one more very important “Day” to celebrate today...National Italian Food Day!

Last year, I wrote about 8 Little Known Facts About the Artichoke, one fact being that artichokes originated in the Mediterranean region. It is a superstar of Italian cuisine! So naturally when preparing this blog post, I asked Cathy Alameda, the daughter of Hugo Tottino (one of the pioneers of what is now Ocean Mist Farms), about her family’s Italian meal traditions hoping to uncover a few recipes and stories to share.

Michele (left) and Cathy (right), daughters of one of our company pioneers Hugo Tottino, graciously
prepared the perfect "Sunday" Dinner for us in true Italian tradition.

With true Italian hospitality, Cathy and her sister Michele invited us into their home to share a meal and sit around their table listening to how their personal stories are deliciously intertwined with their family food traditions. I love my job!

When we walked in the door, Cathy welcomed us warmly with a plate of Deep Fried Artichoke Hearts. It was a beautiful presentation and they tasted even better!  Delicious crispness surrounding a tender baby artichoke heart— no dipping sauce required. And a hint of... what is that…“beer”!? This recipe has been passed down in their family for generations and is now being shared with you, secret ingredient included!

Cathy (above) and Michele warmly welcomed us with a platter of freshly prepared Deep Fried Artichoke Hearts
Their family recipe will surely become a staple in your household.

We found our way to the dinner table, which was elegantly presented the Italian way complete with fresh ingredients as the centerpiece. The main course was Pork Roast with a side of Roasted Vegetables, Spinach & Fennel Salad, and Artichoke Focaccia.

Each dish was thoughtfully prepared with simple, fresh ingredients and a flavorful profile not even the best Italian restaurant can match. Hungry yet? This is the family Sunday afternoon meal that fills every hollow for the rest of the day and is perfectly complemented with a forum for family news. Can you remember the family dinner table when you were a kid? Some of the stories are more memorable than others, but it’s certainly the anchor of family food tradition we need to have in today’s fast-paced world.

Most of our desserts were served on a long, wooden charcuterie board. 
It was the perfect, simple way to let each treat speak for itself.

We finished our meal with a beautiful mix of sweet and savory flavors from fresh fruit, Parmesan Reggiano drizzled with honey, freshly baked Artichoke Nut Bread, and Bugia. Since we talk artichokes every day, we naturally gravitated towards the Artichoke Nut Bread, which is the perfect "anytime" snack with an even more memorable family backstory.

Back in the day, Mrs. Tottino used to prepare her Artichoke Nut Bread for family lunches at the golf course. After the first time she made it and sent the golfers on their merry way, she was horrified to learn that they later threw it out because it was green. Little did they know it was from the secret ingredient -artichokes! 

And what was that last dessert!? That would be Bugia, the Italian word for "lie", is a deep fried cookie rolled in powdered sugar. You can't lie if you sneaked a Bugia from the plate - that powdered sugar is a dead giveaway you've taken a bite!

National Italian Food Day just earned a place of distinction in my heart and stomach. Surely, delicious recipes to share any day of the year!   Buon Apetito!
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Diana McClean
Growing up on California's central coast, I enjoyed delicious artichokes around the family dinner table and always on Christmas Eve! It is beyond perfection that I now market artichokes for a living and get to share the Ocean Mist Farms story and my love of all things fresh.
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