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The 7th of March, the Italian Embassy in Washington D.C. will host an exclusive dinner to celebrate the Year of Italian Culture in the US on the elegant premises of Villa Firenze.
The special Ambassadors of Italian food and wine for this exceptional event are S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, together with Frescobaldi, Masi, Donnafugata, Berlucchi, Alma School, and world famous Italian chef Massimo Bottura. The sponsors wish to offer also some scholarships to young American chefs for the chance to attend a cooking course in Italy at ALMA, in Italy.
Tonight's dinner is a special invitation to discover the culinary culture of Italy and is the second in a series of three events. A previous dinner was held in New York at the ICC, International Culinary Center (in the picture above), and the last one is to be held in Los Angeles on March 10th, 2013.
Italy's culinary world is a vast discovery of influences, traditions, history and territory. Italian food and wine is such an integral part of Italy's way of life and to fully understand Italian culture you must "taste" it. With three Michelin stars and awards for Best Italian restaurant and 5th Best in the world at the 2012 World's 50 Best Restaurants, Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana restaurant in Modena was chosen to create a very special menu to interpret this concept: Come to Italy with US.
“For me culture is at the heart of the Italian kitchen, and the kitchen at the heart of our culture”, said Massimo Bottura to FDL. “The experience I hope to create for our guests is one of surprise. For this reason the menu does not follow a classic Italian menu pattern – appetizer course, pasta course, main course - but follows a geographic plan – from South to North – from the West to the East and back again. Each dish is an explosion of flavors, concentrated and intense. They are also expressions of territory and history".
"There are stories, told through ingredients and traditions, that inform the flavors and bring them to life. I don’t think there is one recipe on this menu that can be found anywhere else in the world right now. These plates are absolutely unique to Osteria Francescana and yet at the same time they are intrinsically linked to our culinary history. They are 100% Italian and yet brand new at the same time. This is what makes this menu so special and so unique”.
The menu also entailed a process of pairing wine and water with the food experience. Massimo Bottura explained: “The process of designing the menu and pairing the wines was a collaborative effort with our partners: S.Pellegrino, Donnafugata, Masi, Berlucchi and Frescobaldi. Together we tasted and experimented with wine solutions both traditional and audacious, to keep our guests entertained and on their toes. As each wine producer originates from a specific region of Italy, our itinerary became richer and more diversified as we passed from Sicily to Veneto to Franciacorta to Tuscany and back to Sicily again. Adding Acqua Panna still water to the menu was a dream come true. I have often expressed over the past years that water is one of the most important and undervalued elements in the kitchen and the dining room.”
Now, discover the Come in Italy with US menu: chef Massimo Bottura explained each dish to us.
The key to Italy
"We begin in Sicily, a place that has captured the hearts of artists and authors alike that it has been given the name “the key to Italy”. Sicily and Pantelleria produce such fragrant ingredients, like Zibbibo grapes, capers, and oregano, almonds from the valley of Noto blend with Calabrian bergamot to create an unexpected Sicilian granita – not sweet but savory. Combined with Acqua Panna, luminous and crystal, this amuse bouche prepares the diner’s palate for the journey."
Baccalà Mare Nostrum
"The plates in essence is an emulsion, a verdant and bright broth of Sorrento lemons, verdute olives and Vesuvian tomato water, fragrance with anchovy water and oregano and emulsified with extra virgin olive oil. The baccalà floats above this gulf of ingredients, indicating where we are heading next, to Northern Italy and the Adriatic sea." This delicate starter is accompanied by Lighea 2011 - Donnafugata Zibibbo, Sicily IGP.
An eel swimming up the Po River
"A curious eel retraces the footsteps of the Estensi dynasty from the lagoons of Comacchio to the canals of Modena. During the 16th century the Estensi family was cast from the capital Ferrara to Modena. Travelling against the current, the eel gathers a wealth of ingredients: polenta and Amarone from Veneto, Campanine apples from the Mantova, saba from the countryside. Entering into the canals of Modena, the eel is lacquered with saba and Amarone, accompanied by a cream of polenta and an apple extract. Served with a majestic and complex Masi Riserva di Contasera 2007.”
Risotto ‘cacio e pepe’
“This plate is dedicated to Italy’s most renowned cheese – Parmigiano Reggiano. By using vialone nano rice we are paying a tribute to the Mondine, as were called the women who wadded knee deep in water picking rice in the countryside of Mantova and Veneto. Vialone Nano rice is simmered in Parmigiano Reggiano broth. The plate takes on an extra twist as it is accompaned with both San Pellegrino sparkling water as well as a fresh and zesty Franciacorta by Guido Berlucchi ’61".
Harlequin veal, not flame grilled
“This patriotically painted veal fillet takes on the great Tuscan tradition of grilled meat without lighting a flame. The veal is cooked sous-vide at 64° C to preserve essential proteins then dressed in Italian flag with chlorophyll, potato puree and a reduction of Villa Manodori Balsamic Vinegar and Frescobaldi CastelGiocondo Brunello from Montalcino."
It’s just a dessert
“The Trail of Tiramisu” reported by The Washington Post has become the definitive story behind the instant Italian “pick me up” created in the late 1970s. Adding to the infinite renditions prepared globally, chef Massimo Bottura has made a proper mess of it by betraying form in the name of flavor. Afternall, beauty is in the eye of the beholder." The dessert is accompanied by Donnafugata Ben Ryè 2010 Passito di Pantelleria DOP.