I was recently invited by Casa Vinicola Zonin for an Italian Culinary Experience. This is my second event of that sort and I admit that I love it, because it is not only about the wine, but also about the marriage of wine and food. This time, the wine was paired with the food from Osteria Del Circo, one of the many restaurants from the Maccioni family. If you are a foodie, this name cannot be totally unknown! They own few restaurants, the iconic one being Le Cirque! And we got the privilege to meet with one of the Maccioni brothers: Marco. We even spoke with him after the event, for couple of minutes and he was very nice! During the evening, organized at The International Culinary Center, he entertained us with great stories from his family, and making me realizing how big Le Cirque is, considering how many renown Chefs worked there, from Francois Payard, Jacques Torres, Daniel Boulud or Geoffrey Zakarian. The way Marco told these stories, you could feel that he was proud and it was not pretentious at all, making us forget that we were at a marketing event, and giving us the impression that we were invited at some friends' gathering and Marco was one of the guests.
Interesting enough, he presented Osteria Del Circo as the anti-Le Cirque, giving as an example the fact that you have to wear a tie at Le Cirque and not at Osteria Del Circo. We saw few years ago a documentary called A Table in Heaven, where the brothers tried to persuade their father not to impose such a formal attire. We mentioned it to Marco whose reaction was "Oh God!"...
Also present was the Casa Vinicola Zonin crew, Jelena, Paolo and Francesco, as well as Chef Alfio Longo who is the executive chef of the kitchen at Osteria Del Circo.
|A student from the ICC, Chef Alfio Longo, Marco Maccioni, Francesco Rabellino and Jelena Meisel|
(Paolo, where were you???)
Chef Longo has an interesting story: born in Germany to an Italian family, he was raised in a small town close to Florence called Pistoia. After developing a culinary passion and studying at the F. Martini Culinary & Hotel Management & Tourism Institute in Montecatini where he graduated in 1998, he worked in famous restaurants in Italy. In 2003, as a sous Chef at Uno Piu Restorante in Montecatini, he impressed Sirio Maccioni and his family so much, who were spending the summer there as it was their hometown, that they proposed him a job! After many tribulations and travels around the world, he was appointed Executive Chef at Osteria Del Circo in New York City.
So, with such a cast, we were ready for this long awaited Italian Culinary Experience!
We started off with canapés, one bite food. The first one was tomatoes and mozzarella:
Then, my favorite: prosciutto wrapped figs!
This was simple, but heavenly good, with the saltiness of the prosciutto and the sweetness of the fig complementing each other.
After, smoked salmon canapés:
This was a fantastic way of preparing our palates for what would be an incredible experience! These canapés were served with Zonin Prosecco, which was also the welcome drink.
Then came the first dish: Vitello Tonnato, salasa verde and capperi or veal tenderloin, tuna sauce, salsa verde and capers:
The way the Chef prepared it was by cooking the veal in boiling water for one hour, making it moist and tender, then cutting it carpaccio style. He will then roll it around the marinated canned tuna mixed with aioli (to simplify, mayonnaise with garlic) and capers. The salsa verde was made with parsley, mint and avocado.
This was a surprising dish in the sense that I never had meat and tuna together. Canned tuna and mayo does not scream elegance, but I think the Chef succeeded in elevating the dish and make it elegant. I really liked the different flavors and wanted more of the salsa verde that was not too overpowering, added some freshness and let the other components of the dish shine.
It was paired with a glass of Vermentino Calasole Rocca Di Montemassi 2011, a dry white wine, tangy and crisp.
The second dish was Pasta Paccheri All Anatra, Zucca and Funghi or Del verde paccheri pasta, with braised duck, butternut squash and mushrooms:
It was a very hearty dish, made with pasta that I never tried before! Chef Longo picked this pasta, not only because they are not common, but also because he wanted thick pasta to go with the duck ragout which had robust flavors. Chef Longo cooked the duck in red wine and vegetables (celery, carrots and onion) for three hours. That is true that the pairing with the thick pasta, as well as the butternut squash was perfect to add a bit of texture and the latter added a nice sweetness, subtle, but nice.
The wine served with it was my favorite of the night and will be in store in approximately a month: Berengario Zonin.
This wonderful wine from Northern Italy is made of grapes from merlot and cabernet sauvignon, named after the first king of Italy.
Dry and soft, it was perfect with the bold flavor of the ragout.
The next dish was Trippa classic con crostone ai carciofi or Italian-style tripe with a gratiné artichoke bruschetta:
It has been so long I did not have tripe and I was very excited to try that dish! It is a traditional dish where the tripe is cooked for four hours in tomato sauce. It smelled very good and the first bite was divine. The tripe was not chewy and perfectly cooked and the sauce had a robust flavor, counterbalanced by the bruschetta (first eat the tripe, then the bruschetta); another hearty dish for sure.
It was served with a glass of Chianti: Classico Le Ellere Castello D'Albola 2009.
This was another great red wine (yes, the bottle is empty, but it is not my fault!). The way they describe it is:
"Offers a medium red ruby color and a perfumed light cherry nose with touches of toast. The wine finishes soft with round tannins and dry sweet fruit flavors".
That was perfect for this dish that was rich and had strong flavors.
Last was the dessert: tiramisu!
If there is one thing that an Italian restaurant must make perfectly is tiramisu and Chef Longo made one that I will remember for a while!!! It was amazingly delicious: creamy, with the right balance of ingredients, with the perfect amount of coffee and not too sweet. In fact, they paired it with a glass of Rosato Castello Del Poggio that we tried the last time, which was a great choice for this dessert.
This wine is made with a blend of moscato bianco and pinot noir grapes. I love the way their describe the bouquet and flavor:
"Fruity and ﬂoral, with delicate rose and exotic fruit scents.Fresh and pleasantly sweet with a taste that reveals its varietal characteristic".
Thank you to the Casa Vinicola Zonin, Osteria Del Circo, Delverde pasta USA and the International Culinary Center for hosting us: this was a great evening that not only allowed us to discover some great wine and food, but also to learn more about one of the iconic families of the culinary world in this country.
Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!
Please note that, in accordance with the FTC guidelines, I must disclose that I was contacted directly by the restaurant or a PR and that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!