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Spices aren’t the only ingredients that will inspire a dish’s flavor. There are others that ensure your meal has a distinctive taste of a specific locale. Here are few ingredients you can use in your recipe to bring a little Italy into your kitchen.

1. Sheep's Milk Ricotta

When shopping there is a large chasm between the ricotta you see in plastic tubs at your grocery story and ricotta fresca, found at a proper cheese shop. The former provides a smooth texture with a mild, sweet flavor. Whereas the latter, fresh sheep's milk ricotta will practically transform a tomato, olive, and basil bruschetta into its very own meal, or enjoy it on its own, with a drizzle of honey, served alongside fresh figs and crusty bread.

2. Mostarda

This is not your French’s mustard and should be consumed in more ways than just on the familiar hotdog. Try it alongside some taleggio cheese, washed down with a glass of friulano. Another option is to join the jam-like condiment of candied fruit (often quince) and mustard powder, a traditional snack of Northern Italy. While mustard and fruit may sound like a strange combination, it's actually a refreshing and unique complement to the cheese board served at your next dinner party, and may stir up some fresh conversation.

3. Chianti

A dry red wine, synonymous with Italy, and use of the bottle as a candle holder, it's also great for cooking.

4. Fresh Pasta

If you like pasta (is that even a question?), try making it at home at least once. Like buttering your bread, it’s so easy, I'm sure you'll want to do it again. Here is the ingredient list which consists of just four items: flour, water, one egg, and a simple pasta machine or rolling pin.

5. Saffron

One of the most precious and expensive spices in the world, saffron is that extra ingredient that will set your Italian cooking apart; it adds color, aroma and flavor to both sweet and savory dishes—and a little bit goes a long way.

Resource: http://www.marieclaire.com/travel/a23859/secret-it...

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