Friday, June 19, 2009

Italian Cooking Show III

Last night I attended the third night of this summer's Italian Cooking Show at Mia Cucina on Miracle Mile that you've probably seen mention of on some of the other Miami food blogs.

Mia Cucina is an Italian kitchen furniture store so they had a dozen display kitchens over which to strew displays of the sponsors' products as well as a working studio kitchen in the back for the cooking demonstration.

We had Chef Riccardo Tognozzi of Blu Restaurant cooking dishes from the Lazio region:

Gnocchi di semolino - home made semolina dumplings
Saltinbocca alla Romana - Roman-style veal with ham and sage sauce
Ciambelle ruzze - Ring-shaped biscuits

and Chef Julian Baker of Cardozo Restaurant cooking Trentino Adige cuisine:

Speck con rucola e grana padano
Canederli Tirolesi - Bread dumplings with speck in hot broth
Strudel di mele - apple strudel

These were all quick and easy versions--Tognozzi didn't roll his veal scallops and Baker didn't soak the raisins or toast the pinenuts for the strudel--and I think the recipes were the better for it.

The audience got full servings of every dish which is a practice I'd like to commend to every cooking demo. And we got glasses of three wines from 24SunnyWine importers with refills even. I particularly liked Rosso Sicilia IGT's Rosso Sicilia (made from 85% nero d'avola and 15% merlot grapes) which had a balanced sweetness with a cherry tartness and a little bite at the swallow plus a long subtle but tanniny finish. Well, obviously, I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to wines, but it was tasty.

Of the dishes, I found the gnocchi the most interesting as it was a disk of stiff cream of wheat baked with butter and Parmesan (although all the Parmesan this evening was substituted for with Grana Padano, a rather milder crumblier cheese being promoted at the event, to the detriment of the speck salad I thought). If you can call that a gnocchi when it's made of different ingredients and cooked differently from what most people know as gnocchi then what is the essential essence of gnocchiness? It didn't taste particularly great, but philosophically, it's intriguing.

For eating, my favorite was the ciambelle ruzze--a dry cookie made with white wine, olive oil and anise. I could sit around eating these things all day long and I intend to make a batch so I can do just that.

After the cooking was done, they gave away a bazillion door prizes. I won a couple bags of pasta (which brings the number of varieties of pasta in my pantry up to an even dozen) and a bottle of Villa Caviciana Letizia 2005. The bottle says it's from Lazio too so I'll open it up when I make saltimbocca which turns out to be a lot less complicated than I thought.

There was a reception afterward where you got to dig into those sponsor displays I mentioned up top but I skedaddled pretty quickly instead. I hadn't paid the extra $10 fee for it and fair's fair. Plus, from the crowd reaction when my name was called for my door prize, I think maybe one or more of you, my lovely and charming readers, were present which meant there was the very real risk of someone attempting to talk to me. And, as I had chosen this event as specifically something I could say I've gone out and done when in fact I was just sitting quietly and staring attentively ahead while balancing a plate in my lap in a different room than usual, I wasn't really prepared for social interaction.

Reception aside, this was a pretty darn good cooking demonstration. They've got a few more scheduled for this summer and I recommend going.


LaDivaCucina said...

Glad you went to give the feedback, I wanted to go but was too busy getting ready for my own class. Nice to get the full plates, sponsorship really helps with that!

La Diva Cucina is thinking of doing a class there myself! How many people would you say turned up?

billjac said...

My count was somewhere around 50 although that probably includes all the sponsor staff. There were only two dozen when the event started, but the space filled up over the next half hour.