THE ART OF ITALIAN DINING
Lately work has been an absolute blast. There is nothing i enjoy more than meeting three or four different group
of people every week and see them interact around a table. It says so much about who they are and their stories. Leaving their homes and see the joy in their eyes…this is what really rewards me and this is why i have such a passion for my ‘job’. Knowing i have created memories through food makes my heart smile. It is magical.
I have been busy organizing the menu for the next CULINARY MISCHiEF which sold out in less than 48 hours. Amazing. iL TOCCO is booked until the end of January, something that I was not expecting but I happily welcome. It makes me proud to know that I created something people look forward to and customers appreciate as well as understand my cooking philosophy.
Holiday season is right here, at our doors. Two weeks and our houses will be smelling like roasted turkeys, tables will be dressed for the occasions, wine racks emptied. A blink of an eye and we’ll be roasting chestnuts on an open fire, drinking Vin Brule’ and waiting for Santa to come down the chimney.
Last week we planted Red Chard in our backyard along with some new Sage, Cinnamon Basil, different types of Mints, anew Rosemary plant, some Arugula, Lettuce, Mixed Greens and Onions.
Thursday I woke up and finally harvested our basil plant. We got 23 jars of pesto out of it. It was a record. That plant keeps growing like I have never seen in my life and I swear to all my friends that we do not feed it anything but water.
I threw a couple of jars in my bag and flew to LA to relax and meeting with a few friends.
Had a wonderful time adventuring to a few new places in town like SoHo House and Café’ Stella. It was equally exciting spending time with good friend Duncan. On Saturday, Ricky, a talented photographer who works in LA, and I visited him in Malibu to get togehter and cook up some lunch . The weather was perfectly cloudy. Temperature was idyllic.
Duncan and I picked up some Black Mission Figs from his garden, lemons, rosemary and passion fruits.
Back in the kitchen it wasn’t difficult to envision what lunch in a few minutes would have been like: a wintery caramelized fig, cherry, passion fruit, and balsamic vinegar sauce to spread over grilled pork chops. To go with it, classic Brusseles sprouts with bacon, garlic, red chard and a handful of walnuts.
Figs have a special place in my heart because of my grant Aunt Maria. Her yard, behind her house, was my late summer childhood playground and in it were three gigantic fig trees. Years of aluminum pie pans hung from the branches of these trees – the first and only line of defense against a steady stream of crows. Eating warm figs right from the trees and watching my great aunt make fig preserves were two great childhood memories – listening to the “tis, tis, tis” of the pressure cooker as the fragrance of cooking figs filled the kitchen.
And now here we were, sitting down, sipping on our coffees, the door open, dogs barking, and the smoking food over the table waiting for us to be enjoyed.
Fall has unexpectedly arrived. Nothing could I have asked more but sharing this moment with people I love, overlooking at one of the most beautiful sceneries California has to offer: Malibu.
It was worth a thousand words
The evening highlight was great drinks and dinner at SoHo House in LA and their Mac and Cheese with 10grams of shaved truffles on top. The price is TOP secret but I thought I would share my own recipe (below) to make them home, especially now that truffles are in season.
Heat oven to 475°. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
For The Béchamel: In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat; bring just to boil then remove from heat. In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Do not brown. Remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly until milk is incorporated. Repeat until ½ cup of the milk has been added. Add remaining milk ½ cup at a time, incorporating between additions, until all milk has been added. Return to low heat and cook, stirring frequently, especially along corners of pan, until béchamel is the consistency of thick cream. Stir in salt, season with nutmeg and remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
For The Pasta: Combine fontina, asiago and gorgonzola in a large bowl. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain pasta, immediately add to bowl with cheese, add béchamel and toss together to combine well. Transfer pasta to a baking dish, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Once out of the oven, shave truffles on top or drizzle with truffle oil. Serve immediately.