After “I can’t be bothered to figure out how long,” I decided recently to make my triumphant return to the food and wine writing scene. I almost used the word “blogosphere” un-ironically but no matter how much I pretend being cool doesn’t matter, I couldn’t stomach the idea. Bear with me as I attempt to re-learn English after “I can’t be bothered to figure out how long” in the basement kitchen.

I can’t even count the amount of emails I received in my absence; “Chef, please write another article! I have no idea how to go on dates without your recipes and wine pairings!” Mostly because no one emailed me, but rest assured, I have a few articles queued up to help crush your summer fling and any hope you had at a beach body. Including the following tale of a lovely hike and some killer antipasto procured from a killer bottega around the corner from my girlfriend’s house.

An afternoon spent with your partner taking pictures on the edge of cliffs to scare your mum just begs for an evening of antipasto and sparkling wine. Don’t ask me why the two are related, just go for a hike and tell me you don’t want to stuff your pretend-healthy face full of meat, cheese, and preserved things. It’s the closest you’ll get to a proper Calabrian excursion in Ontario and it’ll only cost you half the beauty. Additionally, I figure the last thing you’ll want to do after physical exertion is put effort in to cooking food so here’s my antipasto suggestions and how much to buy of each so you don’t look like a jackass at the deli counter. The method here should be pretty self-explanatory but just in case; put the food on a wood board in the prettiest way your deft hands know how.

Antipasto Meats

  • Spicy Calabrese salami (200g regular sliced)
  • Italian Prosciutto (150g thin sliced) – the attendant will think you’re the worst but thick sliced prosciutto ends up tasting like a pig-ear treat for dogs
  • Sweet Capicolo Ham (250g regular sliced) – this will round out your sweet, spicy, and salty meat selection

Antipasto Cheeses – there’s going to be some curveballs here that aren’t traditional Italian choices but trust me on these ones.

  • Applewood Smoked Cheddar (250g – it’s a lot but you’re going to love it)
  • Goat Cheese (150-200g, rolled in whatever kind of dried herbs you like)
  • Double Cream Brie Cheese (200g)

On the Subject of Antipasto Preserves

This part is largely up to you because of the subjective nature of things like olives, onions, artichokes, and the like. A solid all-around choice is a pickled garden vegetable mixture, black and green olives, some pickles, and a bit of mustard. Additions like fresh cherry tomatoes and fennel fronds are a colourful option but, again, subjective.

The Wine

To be one hundred percent honest, we drank beer all evening on this date. I won’t go in to specifics (because I drank Molson Canadian) but I can tell you from experience, my favourite wine pairing with this experience will always be Blu Giovello Prosecco. To be fair, it pairs with most experiences, food and otherwise related, that I can think of. But antipasto in particular, I think, is best friends with a dry prosecco like this. The dry, citrus flavour in combination with the carbonation will help cut through any oily residue on the palette left from the antipasto, allowing for a real purity in each bite.

Also, who doesn’t like getting prosecco drunk on a date?