Joe Hurds Christmas Wish List:
I can remember the last Christmas list I wrote. I was probably about 10 and ambitiously penned the demands on Christmas Eve before popping it into the fire place with all that magical innocence, and faithful expectancy children invest into heating vessels this time of the year.
Of course, I was quietly disappointed the next morning when the Captain America outfit, figurine and VHS failed to manifest themselves under the tree. To some degree, it was my own little acid test of the season, a challenge to Babbo Natale, Sintaklasse or Dun Che Lao Ren to see if he really did last minute wishes.
Clearly he didn’t. It would of been 1996, he probably was too busy delivering Bill Clinton a Nintendo 64 or fetching matching Buzz Lightyear playsuits for Liam and Noel.
To save myself the abject pain of being left out in the cold, or probably “mild” these days, Im vesting the ever reliable Delitalia with the task of making my Christmas complete, all I can suggest is that you do the same.
1. Sicilian red prawns. The moment some oil rich Sheikh or former Russian peasant who bought a discount aluminium mine from Yeltsin back in 1989, realises the taste, texture and appearance of these coral translucent crustacea blast caviar out the water, you will be looking at them through thick glass display cabinets in Piccadilly. The king of the sea and the king of your Christmas Eve Vigilia. Best eaten raw with a little lemon, salt and Eleusi Oil. Otherwise, chopped very fine and added to the back end of a simple risotto with Acquerello Rice.
2. Marramiero Novello: After you ploughed your way through a mire of Barolo’s, Tiganello, Nero di Troia, Maglioco’s and all the other heavyweights slumped in the red corner of the wine ring, your body might thank you for the light, fruity Christmas overtones of a Novello. Chill it down, fetch yourself a straw and some left over panettone and wile Christmas afternoon away drifting in and out of consciousness while watching The Spy Who Loved Me for the trillionth time.
3. Berlucchi Franciacorta: Prosecco has become the Fergie of sparkling wine royalty; tart, tired and tawdry. Be THAT person this Christmas who when asked if they would like another glass of bubbling, acid death exclaims “I only drink Franciacorta these days!” Followed by a snorty little laugh.
4. Domenic the Donkey: I genuinely cannot think of a Christmas where this classic Louie Prima song has not trotted out the speakers of my record player. The harbinger of the yule and essential for ersatz Xmas morale. You don’t have to stop at there thought, mix up your antipasto plate with a few slices of salame d’asino and watch the mother-in-law balk
5. Tropea Onions: If you are struggling for gift ideas for anyone originating south of Napoli, watch their faces light up on Christmas morning when you present them with one of these regal little purple onions wrapped up in a bow
6. Torpedino tomatoes: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if you didn’t gorge on your favourite food. Do as I do at least one day over the holidays, defy convention, pass on the mince pies and quality streets to sneak off and make a plate of pasta pomodoro. There is only one tomato to use for this and thats Marianos Torpedinos, with a handful of basil, a little salt and good olive oil.
7. Maletti 1867 Truffle Mortadella: The thought of another slice of dry, saline rich danish pig cooked until its sharper than obsidian makes me want to spend Christmas with the Taliban while revising for a French oral exam. Swap your salty swine for a big pink bouncy Mortadella speckled with the best truffles of the autumn and enrich your life.
8. San Vincenzo Nduja. Not only is it red, which makes it incredibly festive, its also pure fat. This is essential for anyone living in the UK as temperatures in January and February can sometimes get below 5 degrees and a few inches of blubber will be vital to stave out the cold as you walk between your favourite bars in the new year.
9. Menabrea: Push those watery Peroni’s aside on the communal drinks table this New Years eve and get stuck into a bottle with bite.
10. Callipo Buzzonaglia: They call everyday, ordinary tuna “The Chicken of The Sea” so by my reckoning this fatty pastiche of belly meat, light and dark flakes held together under a film of oil is the “truffle pate stuffed Guinea Foul of the sea” Blow peoples minds by offering them this rich, umami tuna flesh on a piece of carasau, or added on a torpedino base pizza, hot out the oven with some slivers of tropea onion.