Chef Renato shares cherished Italian holiday traditions

December 19, 2012  |  Recipes  |  1 Comment

Chef Renato de Pirro remembers fondly his holiday traditions. “When I was little, I was receiving presents on January 6th, the epiphany, when the “Befana”, an old lady on a broom, with a sac full of candies and toys for the good kids, and carbon for the “naughty” ones was going down the chimneys to fill the stockings, in the same day the three kings were delivering their presents to baby Jesus. The Italian holiday customs are a compilation of Christian and “pagan” traditions” said Chef Renato.

His favorite moment of the holidays is when the whole family gathers around the table, where plentiful amounts of food are awaiting for the feast. Of course, in every region and corner of Italy there is a different array of recipes and foods, founded in the deepest traditions of those regions.

The feast starts on Christmas Eve, where fish and seafood take the stage since meat is forbidden on that day. On Christmas day all the meats, fowls, poultry and game are on the table, until the day after Christmas. This is in honor of Saint Stephan, the first protomartyr of the Catholic Church, and that’s when the “leftovers” takes place.

These days there are dishes that are always on the holiday tables, like the traditional sweets, panettone, Pandoro , the Tuscan panforte, panpepato and ricciarelli.

Throughout the world, the night between December 31 and January 1 signifies the passage from one year to the next and is considered a reason to celebrate. Italians normally celebrate with friends by eating a big dinner on New Year’s Eve, similar to the meal consumed on Christmas Eve. Some of the traditional holiday foods include zampone, or pork trotter, and cotechino, pork sausage with lentils.

According to tradition, people eat large quantities of lentils because they are believed to bring good economic fortune in the year to come, probably due to the fact that the beans look like little coins.

Once dinner has come to a close, Italians normally party all night long. Each city has its own traditions, however some customs can be found throughout Italy. Fireworks are set off at midnight as a modern-day version of the old tradition of making a lot of noise on the last day of the year to scare off spirits. Another Italian tradition calls for wearing red underwear, which is supposed to bring good fortune in love.

We hope that you have a very Happy Holiday season and maybe incorporate one of these lovely traditions into your families’ customs.

Here are examples of traditional holiday dishes:

Stewed Eel

This is a typical dish of Neapolitan gastronomic tradition very much in vogue during the Christmas holidays until the New Year. In reality, the eel, is not consumed only in Naples, but also in all of Southern Italy where it was, and is, eaten to ward off evil. In reality, the eel, is not consumed only in Naples, but also in all of Southern Italy where it was, and is, eaten to ward off evil. Nowadays, the intrinsic meaning of this dish is lost but, stewed eel remains a classic dish of Neapolitan Christmas Eve dinner on the table. Prepare stewed eel is not difficult and at the same time you have on the table one of the most typical dishes and original Christmas tradition.

Click here to see the recipe for Stewed Eel


Mixed Boiled Meat with Salsa Verde

Traditionally served in Northern Italy, this dish pairs well with salsa verde, a mix of chopped herbs, or mostarda, fruit preserved in sugar and mustard oil.

Click here to see the recipe for Mixed Boiled Meat


Cotechino with Lentils

Served across Italy on New Year’s Eve, cotechino sausage and lentils is a succulent dish believed to bring good luck to those who eat it in the year to come.

Click here to see the recipe for Cotechino with lentils

Tortellini in Brodo

Tortellini are small culinary masterpieces with a welcoming and genuine flavor. This is one of the most famous Italian recipes around.

Click here to see the recipe for Tortellini in Brodo


Houston Holiday Shopping

December 12, 2012  |  Featured Post, Shopping  |  No Comments

Hotel Granduca is perfectly situated to be your base for holiday shopping adventures this December. Our convenient location in Uptown Park provides you with ample upscale shopping opportunities.

As one of the finest hotels near the Galleria in Houston, Granduca is just minutes away from the ultimate shopping experience.  For our guests we even offer car service to the Galleria. We also have wonderful amenities for local Houstonians who just want to escape the crowds of driven holiday shoppers.

Here are some great holiday shopping opportunities within minutes of Hotel Granduca:

 Uptown Park  

This December Uptown Park is featuring Holiday Shop Up  featuring later shopping hours until 8pm, complimentary valet parking, free gift wrapping and live music on Tuesdays in December!  Uptown Park is a fabulous marketplace offering 38 unique and upscale shops, boutiques and retailers. After your done shopping, stop by Bar Malatesta for a cocktail to relax and unwind.

The Galleria 

The Galleria is Texas’ larges shopping center and features 400 stores and restaurants. If you can’t find what you are looking for on that holiday gift list here, then you probably won’t find it. There is also a full-size ice rink, so you can even ice skate in between shopping sprees. Who say’s you can’t ice skate in Texas? This is the ultimate shopping center for shopaholics and holiday shoppers alike.

Galleria shopping in Houston

We hope that you find every item on your list and enjoy the fine stores and boutiques in the Houston area. After you have shopped until the point of exhaustion, we recommend stopping by the Granduca for a little quiet time and nourishment at Ristorante Cavour.


Italian Marketplace this Saturday October 27th

Italian Marketplace this Saturday October 27th

October 22, 2012  |  Featured Post, Italian Marketplace  |  No Comments

With only a few days until A Taste of Italy, it’s time to finalize your plans and buy your tickets! We don’t want you to miss out on the exceptional Italian Marketplace at Hotel Granduca this Saturday, October 27th from 2-6pm.
Click here to purchase tickets.


Click here to read the full list of the selected vendors.


A Taste of Italy in Houston

A Taste of Italy in Houston

October 19, 2012  |  Featured Post, Italian Marketplace  |  No Comments

When you walk through the doors of the Hotel Granduca you are transported to a little bit of Italy right here in Houston.  As you savor the flavorful cuisine, fine wine and exquisite products of The Italian Marketplace at Granduca, you will be enveloped in all things Italian, join Hotel Granduca on October 27 from 2-6pm and celebrate the finer things in life. In the spirit of true hospitality, a portion of ticket sales benefits Texas Chidren’s Hospital, one of  “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.”

 Join Ristorante Cavour’s executive Chef Renato De Pirro as he shares the flavors and traditions of his native Italy. His deep and personal connection to Italian culture and cuisine shines through each exquisite dish he creates for Ristorante Cavour, a fine dining restaurant in Houston. Experience the tastes and memories he invokes in each culinary delight that are certain to open your mind to a new understanding of Italian cuisine.


Hotel Granduca will be showcasing Houston’s finest Italian offerings with a carefully selected list of Italian vendors who demonstrate the same dedication to detail and excellent services as the Granduca. Whether you prefer the speed and grace of the Lamborghini, pure muscle of the Ferrari or the eco-chic styling of the Vespa, you will be able to explore and interact with exceptional Italian designs and engineering. Beyond the fast world of luxury automobiles, take in the trend-setting Italian couture, fashion and style, the unbelievable floral art of David Brown Flowers, and other distinguished services and vendors in the Houston area.

Click here for more information on Tickets.