Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cena Toscana

Traveling offers inspiration.  My recent trip to Tuscany is no exception.  And not surprisingly, my inspiration came in the form of food.  This past Thursday at Lucca we hosted a Tuscan Dinner to celebrate this inspiration.  A family style dinner for seventy featured dishes I ate in Tuscany and wines from wineries I visited.  A good portion of the dinner was based on the meal I helped cook at Fattoria di Petroio.  Some of the pictures look remarkably similar.  Dave and Lori Hoyle from Creative Growers in Noti, OR were our guests,and I used their produce exclusively. 

We started with Prosecco to set the mood.  Platters of local salumi, pecorino Toscano, olives and pickled carrots were on the table.  Nothing like meat and cheese.  Well, except maybe fried cheese.  that being the case, we stuffed squash blossoms with herbed ricotta, dipped them in buttermilk and semolina, fried them up and served them over lemon - zucchini cream.  

Wood Fired Eggplant and Corno di Toro Peppers with Burrata

We poured 2009 Vermentino from San Felice, enjoyed the obligatory white wine, and then quickly got into the reds.  A new world-style 2007 Chianti Classico from Antonio Sanguineti nicely complimented the parade of crostini. 

Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini

Crostini with Porcini and Salsa Tartufata

 And of course....Lardo!!

Yep. Came home and made some lardo.  Better than butter on toast.  Also made chicken liver pate cooked with Vin Santo like I had in Siena.  Next we poured 2007 Perazzeta, Rita Montecucco Sangiovese.  A little big at first but played nicely with the gnocchi and house-made sausage made from Tails & Trotters fabulous pork.  

Bread Gnocchi, Sausage, Walla Walla Onions & Pecorino Toscano
Since rabbit had been the highlight of the trip (after the lardo) I knew I had to feature it.  Polenta, a gratin of dinosaur kale and a simple green salad completed the main course.  Too much food, of course, but the meal was based on eating in Italy.  So the menu written in Italian, making it all a bit of a mystery, and eating until beyond full, were requisite. The 2004 Fattoria di Petroio Chianti Classico Riserva was so tasty with the braised rabbit.  

Braised Rabbit, Cipollini & Chanterelles with Creamy Polenta & Mascarpone

Took a little liberty with the dessert, as I think I only ate dessert once on my trip, aside from a few biscotti and two scoops gelato on my last night.  (I know it sounds tragic but I was always too full!)  So we served butterscotch melon sorbet topped with a splash of prosecco and hazelnut biscotti.  Using figs and cheese as some of my fondest Italian memories, we created the 'uncheesecake'.

Wood Fired Figs, Ricotta, Honey and Fig-Anise Bread