The Starter

Just as every game of rugby, tennis or cricket needs a kick-off, a serve or a bowl respectively, so should every successful meal be started with an appetizer. An appetizer, or starter, is served before a meal to whet your appetite or instead stimulate hunger for more food. An appetizer can be either edible or sometimes a delectable drink. So, let’s take a look at some Italian favourites to get those tummies rumbling.

Prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks with cheesy dipping sauce

  • 25g fresh farm butter
  • One tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 200ml full cream milk
  • 150g grated cheese (mix cheddar and mozzarella for flavour and stringiness)
  • Three tablespoons sweet cream
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
  • 100g prosciutto

The method, it serves 6 in 20 minutes. In a small saucepan melt the butter over low heat, being careful not to burn it, add the flour and stir entirely then add the milk stirring slowly.

Once this is well combined, add the cheese and cream and continue to cook all the ingredients adding salt and pepper to taste. Now wrap the breadsticks in the prosciutto and place them on a plate with the cheese sauce alongside it in a dipping bowl.

Italian Baked Crunchy Mussels in the Shell

  • 500g well-cleaned mussels
  • Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Two cloves freshly crushed garlic
  • One handful newly picked and finely chopped parsley
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

The Method starts with putting mussels, a dash of olive oil and half of the freshly crushed garlic in a large pan over medium to high heat. When they show signs of opening, remove them from the pan, preferably with a spoon that can drain, to allow the liquid to stay behind, pour this liquid through a fine sieve.

Open the mussels altogether now, placing them on one side of the shell on a baking tray. Now form a paste with the remaining garlic and a bit of salt, add the breadcrumbs, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons of the left-over cooking liquid and a grind of salt. Spoon this over the shell cradled mussels and place in a 180-degree preheated oven, cook for roughly 10 minutes or until the crumbs turn golden brown. Serve with iced white whine.

Closing off the Evening

Whether you are having a dinner party, trying to impress your mother in law, or planning a romantic night for yourself and the hubby, you can’t go wrong with either of these starters.

Follow with central like a lasagne, and then delicious Tartufo. After this it is advisable to put the children to bed and end the evening off with a drink like the Godfather, or Godmother for the ladies while discussing the performance of Gary Player in his golfing career, or how much money you lost betting on the Jaguars to win in the Super Rugby finals.