Thursday, August 20, 2009

Italian Cooking Show III part 2

Remember back in June when I said that the Italian Cooking Show was informative and fun and you ought to go? Well, maybe not so much.

This was, I think, the fourth of the Italian cooking demos held at Mia Cucina this summer (and the third annual series, which is where the III comes from), and the last before the grand finale in September. I would have thought they'd be getting better at running them, but there were serious logistical problems this time around.

I'll spare you a full pointless blow-by-blow, but suffice it to say that out of the six dishes, we got three proper cooking demos and three cooking-free descriptions. And none of the recipes demoed or described matched what we had in our handouts.

But demos aside, we still got full-serving samples to try with some very nice wine pairings so it wasn't an entirely wasted evening.

My favorite dish in concept was the fregoletta prepared by Chef Davide Piana from Sardinia. (The name of both the restaurant and the cuisine. Piana himself is from Genoa, I believe he said.) Fregoletta is a somewhat paella-like dish of saffroned fregola, a grain I don't think I've ever had before, tomatoes and clams. If they had bowls so the dish could include the clam broth that moistened the dry grain and tied the dish together, I think it would have been quite good indeed.

My favorite dish in actuality would have to be the Calabrian stuffed peppers prepared by Chef Rosario Corrao from Pelican. It was just a standard stuffed pepper, but the pepper itself was fork tender but not at all mushy which I've never been able to accomplish with the recipes I've tried. I wonder if that's from simmering them before stuffing and then a short baking without saucing. That's what he described, but the recipe in the handout skips the simmering and has the peppers in the over for an hour. That seems more practical to serve a large group so I think maybe it was done that way instead.

Other than those two dishes, it wasn't so great this time around. I'm not entirely disuaded from attending the finale, but they'll have to have some pretty compelling attractions to get me there.

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