By food historian Francine Segan.
Galvanina, in Emilia-Romagna, is one of Italy’s oldest springs. Its delicious mineral water has been renowned since ancient Roman times when nobility would vacation near the source to enjoy the water’s many health benefits. The springs are located 1,000 feet above sea level in the town of Rimini, at the peak of San Lorenzo Mountain, a site so lovely that centuries ago it was nicknamed Paradiso, “Paradise.”
Now this famed water is available in the USA at FreshDirect.
The water starts hundreds of miles away in Italy’s Apennine Mountains. Rain collects in pools underground then slowly passes through sandstone and clay, becoming naturally carbonated and enriched with a delicate balance of minerals as it travels to the springs. The water’s trek takes almost three years moving through this natural filter until it bubbles out of the spring ready to be bottled.
To discover for myself why these springs there have been written about for centuries, I recently visited Galvanina company. I walked through the long underground tunnel with glass lined observation windows they built, so that visitors could view part of the spectacular journey the spring water travels through this Nature’s filtrations system.
One of the highlights of the visit was tasting the water right out of the gurgling spring! As the water travels it picks up just the right mix of minerals and natural salts. Like with wine, the water’s terroir imparts unique quality, crisp with clean balanced minerality. The effervescence is ideal, with the perfect tingle of refreshing bubbles. After this visit I truly understood that not all sparkling water is the same! Galvanina water is naturally effervescent, while other sparkling waters have bubbles added to them using carbon dioxide.
Not only is it delicious, but Just FreshDirect Italian Mineral Water is great to use as a baking ingredient too. Use it instead of tap water or other liquids in cake recipes. The sparkling water helps it to rise better. Try it when you make bread, pizza or focaccia for a lighter, more toothsome texture.
Fig and Rosemary Honey Focaccia
What You’ll Need:
10 1/2 ounces, about 2 cups, all-purpose flour
1 cup Just FreshDirect Italian Mineral Water, divided
1 packet, 1/4 ounce, fast acting yeast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
18 small figs, sliced in half
3 tablespoons honey, plus more as needed
What to Do:
Sift the flour onto a clean work surface or into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and fill with 1/2 cup of mineral water (keep the other 1/2 cup of water handy to add if needed). Sprinkle the yeast on the water, and wait until the yeast bubble, about 2 minutes. Then add the oil, sugar and salt to the well, and slowly begin to add in the flour, until dough forms.
Knead the dough until smooth, adding the remaining water, a little at a time, if needed. Let rest in a lightly oiled bowl until it doubles, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and oil a flat cookie sheet or baking pan, at least 12 inches wide.
Roll out the dough into a circle about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Place on the prepared pan. Pierce the dough throughout with a fork.
Arrange the figs on the focaccia, cut side up, pressing them into the dough as far as possible. Drizzle the honey over the top of the figs and dough. Sprinkle with rosemary.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and drizzle with more honey, if you like.