June 2 was the 150th celebration of the Festa della Repubblica Italiana, a national holiday commemorating the birth of Italy as a democratic nation. It was on this date in 1946 when Italians flooded to the polls to vote for a republic form of government over a monarchy, marking the fall Fascism and the exile of the reigning Savoia family to Switzerland.
Heads of state from all over the world were in Rome today to celebrate this event. Among the events scheduled for them was a pranzo at Palazzo del Quirinale, home of the President of the Italian Republic. I wonder what was on the menu?
Taleggio, made from cow’s milk, is one of the oldest Italian soft cheeses. It has a mild flavor and creamy texture, which is wonderful spread on crackers. Taleggio stands in contrast to Roquefort, a strong, tangy French blue cheese made from goat’s milk.
Chicken on this grill is an easy favorite of ours. Buy a whole chicken in pieces, remove the skin, and once on the grill splash on a marinade of olive oil, wine, rosemary, garlic and salt. See the Methods section for more information on the marinade.
The highlight of this meal, however, was the arugula and cherry tomato salad. I’d had arugula on my mind every since reading a StarTribune article about fresh arugula available at a local farmer’s market. Stefano’s mom used to grow arugula at her house by the sea, and we’d eat it all summer long. This salad is one of the simplest and most delicious ways to serve arugula. The sweet and tangy cherry tomatoes balance the sharp, peppery flavor of the arugula, while the olive oil adds a smooth, earthy flavor that pulls it all together.
If you can’t obtain fresh grown arugula, store-bought works just fine. Add arugula to a salad bowl. Throw in quartered or halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle sea salt liberally over the salad, and drizzle plenty of olive oil on top. Stir with salad tongs, and serve.
We opened a bottle of 2008 Italian Sauvignon blanc from the producer Villa Chiopris. The crisp acidity and fresh green fruit flavors of this wine paired well with the salad and chicken, and were quite interesting with the cheeses and blueberries as well.