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We browse the aisles with Italian celebrity chef and television presenter Gino D'Acampo. His latest book is Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape (Hodder & Stoughton, £20).


‘It has to be freshly grated – definitely not the dried stuff that smells like old socks! Parmesan lifts the flavour of pasta to another level; just make sure that you don’t add it to seafood pasta – a big no in Italy!’

Dried pasta

‘If I could, I’d eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It’s the ultimate fast food – just boil, then drain and add extra-virgin olive oil, chilli flakes and a sprinkle of Parmesan.’

Balsamic vinegar

‘I like the syrupy rich flavour of a good balsamic. It can liven up any veg dish, or be used as a marinade or dipping sauce.’

Tinned chopped tomatoes

‘So many pizza sauces, pasta dishes and stews all begin with a tin of chopped tomatoes. They add vibrancy and flavour.’

Extra-virgin olive oil

‘An amazing, versatile ingredient. A good extra-virgin olive oil is fruity and bitter. It’s perfect for salads, as a dip for breads, and for drizzling over dishes.’

Fresh rustic bread

‘Sharing bread and oils before a meal is an Italian tradition. My grandfather had a wood-burning oven and locals used to bring him the ingredients so he could make them fresh breads and pizza. I still remember the delicious smell of the bread baking.’


‘I love Guinness! A pint with a spicy pizza and a game of pool – the perfect boy’s night.’


‘I’m a fan of hazelnuts and chocolate combined. Nutella ice cream sandwiched between freshly baked cookies is a must-try!’


‘Parboil them, then pan-fry with a little olive oil and pancetta, and serve sprinkled with Parmesan.’


About the author

Leah Hyslop
Leah is our lovely food director. You'll most likely find her scoffing cake in our test kitchen...