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Meet the Spice Blend - Mambo Italiano

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Welcome to the next installment of my Meet the Spice Blend series, where I'm sharing the inspiration for, back stories of, and uses for my ever-expanding collection of small batch, handcrafted spice blends. Next up, let's meet Mambo Italiano (formerly known as Frutti Di Mare Spice Blend)!!

Mambo Italiano
Mambo Italiano

The Inspiration and Back Story -

If you've been following along on this Meet the Spice Blend adventure, you already know that I spent my Junior year studying in Bologna, Italy, which inspired my Italian Countryside blend. And although Bologna and the surrounding countryside will always hold a special place in my heart, if I had to pick another favorite part of Italy, it would undoubtedly be the Amalfi Coast. I first visited the Amalfi Coast, which spans from Naples in the north to Salerno in the south, in April 2022 and spent a week (including my 20th birthday) exploring the southern stretch from Sorrento to Salerno (including a side trip to the islands of Capri and Ischia) with my parents. I can still remember the way the air smelled like a mixture of lemons and the sea, how the brilliant blue of the Mediterranean was almost blinding under the early Spring sun, how the sounds of the waves lapping on the shore and the gulls barking overhead sounded just like home (but in Italian somehow), and how although I grew up eating fresh seafood, every dish I ate there was like a revelation. The flavors were simple and familiar and yet new somehow, as if I was finally tasting dishes I had only dreamed of.

Now, the Italian phrase for seafood is frutti di mare, which translates to "fruits of the sea," and I just love that. It conjures up images of fishermen plucking fish or squid or shellfish out of the sea like lemons from a tree. So when I was looking for a name for a new spice blend inspired by Italian seafood, I went with Frutti di Mare Spice Blend. But as time went on, I realized that not only did I want to use this blend of basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, onion, thyme, parsley, California chile, and kosher salt in literally everything I cook, but I do a little dance every time I cook with it, so when I did a brand refresh earlier this year Frutti di Mare became Mambo Italiano.

Flavor Profile - Mambo Italiano

Mambo Italiano combines the robust earthiness of basil, rosemary, and oregano, creating a foundation of aromatic herbaceousness that dances on the palate. The warmth of garlic and onion adds depth and richness, while the gentle notes of thyme and parsley contribute a delicate balance. A subtle kick of California chile lends a mild, lingering heat that elevates the experience, without overpowering the ensemble. Finally, the sprinkle of kosher salt ties all the elements together, enhancing each ingredient's essence and delivering a satisfying finish. Mambo Italiano is another love story to my time in Italy, and I hope it makes you do a little dance.

Versatility in the Kitchen - Mambo Italiano

Mambo Italiano offers a versatile and flavorful touch to a variety of dishes. Here are some creative suggestions on how to use it in your home cooking:

  1. Pasta Perfection: Sprinkle Mambo Italiano onto your pasta dishes, whether it's spaghetti, penne, or linguine. It can be a fantastic addition to tomato-based sauces, creating a nuanced layer of herbal complexity that elevates the overall flavor.

  2. Roasted Veggies: Toss your favorite vegetables, like zucchini, bell peppers, or even tomatoes (yes, I know they're technically a fruit), with olive oil and Mambo Italiano before roasting. The blend's herbs and spices will infuse the veggies with an irresistible Italian flair.

  3. Homemade Pizza: Enhance your homemade pizza with a dusting of Mambo Italiano over the cheese before baking. The blend's medley of flavors will add an authentic Italian touch to your pie.

  4. Herb-Infused Olive Oil: Mix Mambo Italiano with extra virgin olive oil to create a fragrant and flavorful dipping oil for bread. This can also be used as a marinade for meats or a drizzle over salads.

  5. Seasoned Popcorn: Elevate your movie night with seasoned popcorn. Sprinkle a bit of Mambo Italiano onto freshly popped popcorn for a unique and delicious twist.

  6. Grilled Meats: Marinate chicken, beef, or pork with a blend of Mambo Italiano and olive oil before grilling. The combination of herbs and spices will create a mouthwatering crust and deep flavor.

  7. Creamy Dips and Sauces: Stir Mambo Italiano into creamy dips like hummus or yogurt-based sauces for an unexpected burst of flavor that complements the richness.

  8. Homemade Bread: Incorporate Mambo Italiano into your bread dough for an aromatic homemade bread with Italian flair. The herbs and spices will infuse each bite with delightful complexity.

  9. Frittatas and Quiches: Mix a pinch of Mambo Italiano into your frittata or quiche batter before cooking. It will add layers of flavor to the eggs and other ingredients.

  10. Soup and Stew Enhancer: Enhance the depth of flavor in soups and stews by stirring Mambo Italiano into your broths or bases. It's a quick way to elevate the taste of your comforting dishes.

  11. Seafood Dishes: This list wouldn't be complete, course, without mentioning seafood. Whether you're making Linguine and Clams (check out my recipe here), Shrimp Scampi, or grilling up some fresh swordfish, Mambo Italiano is your secret flavor weapon.

Remember, Mambo Italiano is about exploration and experimentation. Feel free to adjust the quantity based on your taste preferences and gradually discover how this blend can become a delightful staple in your kitchen creations.

Ready to get your own Mambo Italiano? Get it here.

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