Recipes

Simone’s Orecchiette with Broccoli

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Chef Simone has done it again! His tasty Orecchiette with Broccoli recipe was a big hit at Via Umbria this past Wednesday.

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Curious customers of all ages were able to watch the cooking process and enjoy the delicious end result!

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In case you missed out, here is the recipe so that you can try it at home!

Orecchiette with Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of broccoli
  • Anchovies filet
  • 2-4 cloves of Garlic
  • Chili pepper
  • ¼ cup of olive 0il
  • Salt

 

Instructions:

  • Boil broccoli in salt water for 3 minutes
  • Sauté garlic, chili pepper, and anchovies filet in olive oil
  • Add broccoli and cook for 10 minutes
  • Using water, boil orecchiette for 10 minutes
  • Drain and serve with a sprinkle of parmigiano

 Buon appetito!

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— Via Umbria

Via Umbria's new hit Read more

Chef Simone has done it again! His tasty Orecchiette with Broccoli recipe was a big hit at Via Umbria this past Wednesday. Curious ...

Simone’s Butternut Squash & Sage Tortelloni

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We were lucky enough to have Simone in the store with us on Wednesday, to teach us how to make delightful fresh pasta with butternut squash filling. See our previous tutorial on how to make the fresh pasta here.

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INGREDIENTS

• 1 egg per person • Extravirgin olive oil

• 100g 00 flour

INSTRUCTIONS

• Weigh the flour and place on a wooden board in a pile

making a well in the middle.

• Break the egg into the well and stir into the flour slowly

using a fork.

• Add a drizzle of extravirgin olive oil.

• Mix the dough into a ball.

• Knead the dough using the ball of your hand until it is

smooth, soft (not sticky) and springy.

• Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for 15-30 minutes

before rolling.

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FILLING  FOR TORTELLONI

INGREDIENTS

Butter

Sage

Parmigiano

Nutmeg

White pepper

One whole butternut squash

INSTRUCTIONS

Peel the squash and cut into cubes.  Sauté in oil until lightly roasted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add water, lower heat and cover.  Cook until very soft.

Purée squash with 1 egg yolk and grated parmigiano. Season with nutmeg to taste.

Once tortelloni is made, garnish with sage and serve!

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For the real treat, join Simone on his home turf for a cooking tour with Via Umbria. Cucinapalooza will be happening April 18 – 24, 2015.

Or for an experience close-to-home, join Simone next week on Wednesday as he makes oricchiette with broccolini, from 5-6 at Via Umbria. See you next week!

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— Via Umbria

Chef Simone has done it again! Read more

We were lucky enough to have Simone in the store with us on Wednesday, to teach us how to make delightful fresh ...

I Came, I Sausaged, I Conquored

Sausage 007

Laws are like sausages.  It is best not to see them being made.
— Otto von Bismarck

With all due respect to the Iron Chancellor we couldn’t disagree more.  Maybe he’s correct with respect to law making, but certainly not with respect to sausage making.  It is better to make them yourself.

It is January, the beginning of the New Year, when thoughts turn to resolutions, diets and exercise.  It is also the time of year, for the past five years, that we welcome back chef Simone Proietti-Pesci for his annual US visit.  Yesterday marked the beginning of his return, a three week tour and tour de force that begins in the Napa Valley of California and will take him (and us) to Washington, DC, New York, South Florida, Boston and the Cayman Islands.  We’ll chronicle Chef Simone’s daily activities here on Dolce Vita for those of you who cannot get together with him in person.

Sausage 009
Our first activity, just hours after connecting with Simone at SFO (he having flown from Rome, we having taking the shorter trip from Washington) was to set up camp at our friend Pete’s in Napa Valley where Simone (and his able assistant Austin) will prepare an Umbrian dinner party this evening.  With nothing formal on the day’s schedule (other than dinner at Bouchon) Pete suggested that we organize a sausage fest, relying on our expert Umbrian sausage maker to help make Umbrian sausage and Pete’s family recipe from his Sicilian aunt.

 

Pete had prepared in advance, laying on provisions, including ground pork (for the Umbrian variety) and ground pork and veal (for the Sicilian).  He also trotted out his new toy, a LEM sausage packer that looks like a cross between Pinocchio and the Tin Woodsman.  This gadget would make Chancellor Bismarck particularly happy, packing the sausage filling seamlessly and without mess into the casings that are loaded onto the spindle.  Having watched Julietta, our local butcher in Cannara hand pack sausages at a cooking class earlier in the year, we even more appreciated the crank it and forget approach afforded by the LEM.

Much weighing of ingredients and calculations of salt percentages were made by Pete and Simone and the ingredients mixed and massaged by hand.  Help was enlisted from Pete’s parents and the rest of our assembled group and then magically, from a mass of ground meat and simple spices emerged from the LEM not Neil Armstrong, but an unending array of dirigible shaped delicousness.

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Houston, we’ve got a sausage.
Close your eyes, Bismarck!
Close your eyes, Bismarck!
While many of the links will be consumed at Simone’s Saturday Umbrian open house in San Francisco, we did sample enough, including a generous portion added to a pizza Pete threw together, to attest that home made sausage beats store-bought any day of the week.

Including (if not especially) Wednesday, the day we started Simone’s three week US adventure.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

Behind the Scenes of Sausage Making Read more

Laws are like sausages.  It is best not to see them being made. -- Otto von Bismarck With all due respect to the Iron ...

Simone Proietti’s Pasta

On January 13th we will have the opportunity to host a few weeks of food events with our favorite chef Simone. Here is one of his classic Italian recipes; simple, easy, and thoroughly delightful. In the past he has cooked us Osso Buco, lentil soup, Crescionda Spoletina, and eggplant.  We keep on coming back for more.

We are lucky enough to have Simone joining us for free pasta making classes in-store the next two Wednesdays from now. Join us at Via Umbria from 5-6 and learn from the our friend and master chef. The fresh pasta will take this recipe to gourmet status! RSVP here.

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Cook time: 30 minutes (with pre-made pasta)

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

500g pasta

5 cups arugula

2 cups cherry tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

Thyme and basil, to taste and chopped

Food IMG_2569 ©2014 Eric van den Brulle

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

Bring water to boil for pasta.

Toss tomatoes with olive oil and bake in the oven at 300F until soft and wrinkly.

Let cool slightly and toss with salt, basil, and thyme.

Add arugula to boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and immediately put in a bowl of ice to cool.

Add pasta to boiling water and cool to al dente.

Add drained arugula to blender and blend with salt, pepper, olive oil, walnuts, and parmigiana until smooth.

Drain pasta and mix with tomatoes in a large bowl.

Stir in arugula pesto, mixing well. Shave some more parmigiana on top and serve!

 

Food IMG_2560 ©2014 Eric van den Brulle

Buon appetito!

— Via Umbria

Pesci's Arugula Pesto with Roasted Tomatoes Read more

On January 13th we will have the opportunity to host a few weeks of food events with our favorite chef Simone. Here ...

Lucky Lentils

Umbria scenery_MG_1804 ©2014 Eric van den Brulle

The most difficult time for a small business is typically after the holiday season. So while we don’t wan to worry, we will be angling for all the luck we can get. A delicious, Italian tradition is the eating of lentils on New Years Eve to bestow financial health and general good luck in the coming year. See this article  for a brief history on why and where these lentils are eaten, and then pop over to the Barilla Academy for another variation on the recipe. Maybe this tasty dinner will help us in the New Year?

Here at Via Umbria we hope that your New Year involves health and stability, and we wish you all the best in 2015.

 

— Via Umbria

Happy new years! Read more

The most difficult time for a small business is typically after the holiday season. So while we don’t wan to worry, we ...

Ravishing Ravioli

There is something about ravioli that is so appealing right now: simple enough to be a weeknight meal, with endless customizations ranging from pumpkin for the holidays to truffle for those days when you need a little richness. And ravioli freeze very, very well, making them the perfect holiday meal to serve with the appearance of slaving all day in the kitchen but the delight of a 10 minute prep time.  Just dab some flour on your head to add to the “I’ve been ravioli-ing all day!” effect.

Yesterday we had the delight of making ravioli pasta in-store with Dorrie Gleason of The Silver Fig Cuisine. You can find our previous tutorial on Tagliatelle here, where we explore the basics of pasta making.

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To begin, we make our basic pasta:

Homemade Ravioli

INGREDIENTS

• 1 egg per person • Extravirgin olive oil
• 100g 00 flour
INSTRUCTIONS
• Weigh the flour and place on a wooden board in a pile
making a well in the middle.
• Break the egg into the well and stir into the flour slowly
using a fork.
• Add a drizzle of extravirgin olive oil.
• Mix the dough into a ball.
• Knead the dough using the ball of your hand until it is
smooth, soft (not sticky) and springy.
• Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for 15-30 minutes
before rolling.
Buon appetito!
(Recipe courtesy of Dorrie Gleason – The Silver Fig Cuisine )
And now, the filling!  Dorrie used a recipe adapted from Ernesto’s restaurant in Umbria, home to many an adventurous cooking class.
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Homemade Ravioli Filling, for 12 ravioli or two people
INGREDIENTS
• 1 cup fresh ricotta • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano
• 1 apple peeled/diced • 2 tbsp butter
• 1 tsp cinnamon • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
• Crushed walnuts
INSTRUCTIONS
• Saute apple in 1T butter with cinnamon and clove
until tender.
• In a separate bowl combine ricotta and parmigiano.
When apples are cooled, add to cheese mixture and
gently stir until blended.
• Roll out pasta dough until paper thin, add cheese
mixture and cover.
• Cook in boiling water 2-3 minutes until ravioli rises
to the top of the pot.  Serve immediately with melted
butter and crushed walnuts.
By the time we were done creating the unconventional filling the creative wheels were turning with ideas for fabulous future stuffings. Plans for a ravioli dinner party where everyone brings a different filling were formed.
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The stars were very fun to punch out, and we have snowflakes and hearts here at Via Umbria as well. How thoughtful would it be to make ravioli in the shape of hearts for someone you love?
Thank you Dorrie for teaching us the ways of the expert pasta maker, we will be coming back for seconds!
—Via Umbria

This recipe will make you lick your fingers! Read more

There is something about ravioli that is so appealing right now: simple enough to be a weeknight meal, with endless customizations ranging ...

Pasta Making for Dummies!

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Pasta is one of life’s simple delights. Most pasta only has two ingredients: eggs and flour. If you have never eaten fresh pasta before, it is time to give it a whirl, because even dummies (aka our own Bill Menard) can make it successfully, and the taste difference is incredible.

On Wednesday, Bill taught us how to make tagliatelle. For the next two Wednesdays, November 12th and 19th, we will make chitarra and ravioli – come join us by RSVPing through Eventbright: //goo.gl/PdqNNk. We also have recipe cards explaining the whole process with measurements in-store, come grab your 00 flour and a card soon!

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To make pasta properly you really must use 00 flour — it finer than normal flower and makes the texture of the pasta smooth, not dough-like.

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After measuring out the correct amount of flour, you make a little nest for your darling egg. Then smash it with your hands!  This is a step that we all wanted to do as kids and is very fun yet mildly gross as an adult.

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Then the egg is whisked into the flour, kneaded, and formed into a ball. We let the ball rest for 15 minutes while examining our flour-ed cloths and wishing we remembered an apron. During this time you can also get your pasta sauce started.

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Next the rolling technique. Bill shows us the correct Italian technique, which he has learned from the Italian masters and a lot of practice.

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We roll out the dough, fold and slice it up, and then wait for it to dry about 20 minutes. This is the perfect time to return to the sauce you started to make and finish it. Then we boil the pasta for about five minutes. We topped ours with our spicy arrabbiata sauce.

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Fresh pasta is more tender and delicate and almost buoyant on the tongue than the packaged stuff. We could get used to this.

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— Via Umbria

Step by Step Read more

Pasta is one of life's simple delights. Most pasta only has two ingredients: eggs and flour. If you have never eaten fresh ...

Auguri!

Today we have a guest post from back in Georgetown, as Bill and Suzy continue on their Italian journey. The following comes from Elsa, the Social Media and Marketing assistant at Via Umbria. 

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Two years ago I ushered myself into my 20’s in Florence, with a profiterole at Gilli’s, a gratitude session on the Ponte Vecchio, and a late night stroll past the silent Duomo.

Last Friday I entered my 22nd year, still celebrating Italian-style.

Continue reading Auguri!

Home Cooking

Why is it that we tend to make friends in Italy so often with chefs and winemakers? It must have something to do with the question posed to Willie Sutton about why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is.” Continue reading Home Cooking

Of course with Ernesto! Read more

Why is it that we tend to make friends in Italy so often with chefs and winemakers? It must have something to ...

We Have a Wiener!

It has been a long, and I mean long, week since I last wrote to you. Easter in fact, when we were soaking in the rain in Duomo square in Florence, shoulder to shoulder with devout Christians and non-believers alike, their common faith in and fascination with the power of explosives being the common theme. Then a train north to Venice followed by a couple of days back in New York before red-eying it back to Rome. That’s 4,530 miles as the crow files. That’s a pretty tired crow.

So after a day in Rome to try to re-orient ourselves we greeted at Fiumicino airport our arriving guests who will be with us for the next week. And with that our first April Food and Wine tour begins.

The day begins with a brief visit to Orvieto, a fascinating Etruscan town roughly along the route from Rome to the villa. The highlight here is always the duomo, or cathedral, in the main square. It is a massive gothic cathedral with a façade of stripes in travertine and basalt, which has led us to nickname it the cathedral in pajamas. It is raining, lightly but steadily, so after a short visit we seek refuge across the square at a local enoteca, to introduce our group to Umbrian salumi, cheeses, porchetta and wines. It is not a bad way to start out the trip. But the real treat, what has kept us going the past week through trains and flights and sinus infections and jetlag is the evening’s program. The Gelso Throwdown finale.

* * *

The competitors – Paolo (left) and Giuliano (right)

For those who are not regular readers, I point you to our April 5 posting (“There’s a New Chef in Town”). There we described a memorable dinner at the villa prepared by our friend Paolo as part of a Bobby Flay-type “throwdown,” where Paolo was to match his culinary prowess against that of his friend-cum-competitor, Giuliano. Paolo’s dinner had been a surprise masterpiece, putting the heavily favored and supremely confident Giuliano seemingly a little on the defensive. As the date of Giuliano’s dinner approached, however, he had been unleashing a stream of trash-talking emails that would make an NBA star blush. His swagger was back. He was predicting victory.

And tonight we would see if Giuliano’s walk would match his talk. Whether his bark was bigger than his bite. Whether. Well, you get the point.

* * *

Giuliano arrived at an empty villa late in the afternoon. It was not so much empty as its inhabitants, all of whom, other than Suzy, had flown in from the U.S. that morning or the day before, were sleeping in their rooms, trying to bank a little rest in anticipation of a late evening. It was to prove a wise decision indeed.

Giuliano, who owns a food service business but who is a businessman rather than a chef, was all business. Just outside the kitchen he parked one of his refrigerated delivery trucks into which had been loaded an assortment of fresh seafoods, the evening’s wines and assorted other ingredients for the evening’s meal. When I arose from my power nap I popped my head into the kitchen and Giuliano and his companion Sonia were already hard at it, shelling and cleaning scampi and various other shrimp-like crustaceans for some of the numerous antipasta he had planned as well as his signature risotto with scampi. When Giuliano finally noticed me, a broad grin swept across his face. He had much to show off to me about the evening’s meal, from the ingredients, which were laid out everywhere in the kitchen, to the menu, which he had printed out on special parchment and tied in ribbon. The top of the menu read, in English, “The Gilocchi Show Presents . . .” Tonight’s meal was indeed going to be a production.

Reading through the menu I began to realize just what an evening we were in store for. Ten or twelve dishes, it was impossible to keep track of them all, and each one featuring fishes and shellfishes we hadn’t even heard of. In fact, the kitchen resembled a high end aquarium, every corner filled with strange, unknown species. We have marveled in the past that, like the Eskimos who reputedly have 40 different words for snow, the Italians seem to have dozens of words for shrimp. And tonight Giuliano was planning on giving us a complete vocabulary lesson.

Over the next couple of hours, before our guests began rising from their power naps and the outside guests began to arrive, I would occasionally check in to see how Giuliano and Sonia were doing. Each time Giuliano would smile that broad smile of his and excitedly grab me and lead me into another room where he would show me another ingredient he was now working on. He was particularly proud of the whole fish that were in repose on ice in the dishroom in enormous styrofoam boxes – whole branzino and whole spigola that would be featured in the evening’s secondi.

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Around seven o’clock the guests began arriving. The room that serves as the villa’s dining room and living room had been re-arranged to accommodate a larger table for the 20 guests that would be dining that evening. That required furniture to be moved and the living room area compacted, so as the crowd grew they were funneled into a smaller than usual space. But with a roaring fire on one side and an exceptionally beautiful table on the other the room seemed to open up and accommodate everyone comfortably and welcomingly. In contrast to the non-stop activity in the kitchen next door, the living room was a picture of calm comfort.

Closer to eight o’clock the outside guests began arriving – our associates Corrado, Paolo and Luigi, an Italian version of Moe, Larry and Curly, then Giuliano’s associate Fabio with his wife Valentina and Giuliano’s son Francesco. For the next hour or so this mob of Italians and Americans made each others’ acquaintance in front of the fireplace, outside by the outdoor oven and in front of the house sharing a cigarette. English, Italian, Spanish and the occasional French word were floating in the air, as this eclectic group worked to find enough commonality of language to communicate with one another. The effort was seamless and, judging by the smiles and laughter that were coming from all quarters, surprisingly effective.

Meanwhile, Giuliano and Sonia soldiered on, their preparations becoming more grandiose, more complex and more saliva inducing. Everywhere you looked another dish was laid out, ready for cooking, the whole resembling a multicar pileup on the highway, a jam of platters stretching throughout the kitchen and all the way back to the dishroom. Yet unlike a traffic snarl, Giuliano’s kitchen was completely in order, each platter and skillet in perfect readiness, clean, well ordered, cool and collected. Just like Giuliano. He was a general on the eve of battle, confident of his battle plan, liking his chances and confident of victory, a fact he crowed about to anyone walking through the kitchen.

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And then, after Fabio ceremonially opened the first of many magnums of prosecco, it began, the “Gilocchi Show.” It began as we stood in front of the fire, continuing our multilingual conversations as a delizia di frittura was passed around. Small cones made from rough paper had been filled with an assortment of bite sized sea creatures, delightfully fried and still hot, crispy, salty and sweet. A small plastic fork was provided but nearly everyone picked the morsels from the cone with their fingers or simply poured them into their mouths. And the cones had been decorated with little American and Italian flags (and an assortment of Norwegian ones as well, perhaps playing up the Nobel angle or perhaps because that’s how they were packaged). Our American guests were overwhelmed by the simplicity and explosion of tastes from this simple appetizer. But so, too, were our Italian guests, whose eyes were wide and who were already buzzing about how special the dinner already was. And we were only through the first dish of a menu that promised at least twelve courses.

Then we were seated, introductions were made and the rules recited. As with the previous dinner, we were using “Modified Iron Chef” rules – up to 20 points could be awarded by the three judges for each of the 3 courses. Five points could be awarded for presentation, five points for originality and up to ten points for taste. Giuliano, in contrast to Paolo who had prepared one dish per course, had decided to offer multiple dishes per course and the rules were interpreted to allow up to 20 points for the course overall, not for each dish. This would prove to be both helpful and a negative for Giuliano, as the best dish in each course was to be weighed down by the lesser dishes.

And then the antipasti course began. It was to be a steady stream of four dishes – cocktail di scampi, insalata di polpo, gratin Royal and soute di vongole – but the stream was more of a rushing river, carrying our appetites downstream, out of control as we gorged on each succulent shrimp, the creamy mayonnaise of the scampi cocktail, each razor clam, mussel, scallop and canocchie until our stomachs crashed on the rocks below. In all, the first course, our antipasti, our “appetizer,” lasted well over an hour and tipped the calorimeter at the thousands. But looking around the table, no one seemed concerned that we would not make it to the finish line which was to occur hours later.

No, a sort of hypnotic state seemed to have taken hold of our group of 20. They were under the spell and the complete control of Giuliano and his cooking, this mago nella cucina. Words were lost, the power of speech was lost, manners were lost. During the gratin Royal, a plate of shellfish and bivalves lightly dusted with breadcrumbs and baked in the oven, mussels were torn from their shells by hand and literally sucked from the shell, scampi heads were sucked clean and the canocchie, little transluscent crustaceans that look like a failed laboratory experiment to crossbreed a shrimp and a centipede, were being eaten every whichway by Italians who cherish them and the Americans who developed for their love for them that night. And don’t get me started regarding the soute di vongole – bowls of tiny clams baked in the most delectable broth. My plate of empty shells tells the story.

But the evening’s menu was just beginning. There was the primi to come. And I use the plural primi rather than primo because, of course, there was more than one plate. Giuliano had prepared two primi, his famous “8 hour risotto,” described on the menu as perle di riso agli scampi and pennette pasta with a spicy sauce and small bits of spigola.

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On any other table the pennette would be considered a delight. But matched against Giuliano’s signature perle di riso it seemed overmatched. Here is where the judging, which had already taken place for the antipasti, hurt him. Had he simply served the risotto, an absolutely perfect fusion of the flavors of the rice, scampi and a most subtle flavoring made from the stewed heads of the scampi, he would have no doubt received perfect marks. But Giuliano seemed not interested in just winning the contest, but in proving his culinary fitness. I can tell you that it is beyond reproach.

Then on to the secondo, again two dishes described as “tastings” – one of branzino cooked in parchment with mussels and shrimp, the other of spigola cooked in a salt crust. When Giuliano burst from the kitchen with the branzino on a rolling cart, enormous aluminum foil bags were venting a most delectable steam into the room. With a flourish he opened the bags and showed off the contents, the whole sea bass that he would portion out in the kitchen, leaving a trail of perfume that made us want to eat now. A few moments later another cart slammed through the doorway, this one with two enormous mounds of coarse salt resembling freshly dug graves under which the spigola had baked in their moisture. The salt mounds were flaming and Guiliano toured the cart around the room, eliciting oohs and ahhs and assuring high marks from the judges on the presentation factor.

A final vegetable course (not scored) was presented before Sonia took over the show. After serving a palette cleanser of sorbetto, Sonia took to the cart, with a fantasia di dolce, a selection of homemade sweets including fresh ricotta cheese with honey, cinnamon and pine nuts, fried beignets topped with chocolate sauce that she prepared on the cart and “sugar peach,” an absolutely unique dessert that was a sort of chocolate and cream bun dusted with sugar. And garnishing each plate was a small handmade chocolate in the shape of a sea creature, in keeping with the evening’s seafood theme. It was all so good that it almost made us forget of the fruit salad – one that Suzy remarked was the most beautiful fruit arrangement she had ever seen – that was served to cap off the evening, now approaching one o’clock in the morning.

And so the dinner a multicourse, multihour, multimedia extravaganza had come to an end, save for more wine and after dinner drinks. And it was time for the judges to render their decision. Paolo or Giuliano.

And although it was truly a close contest, in the end Giuliano’s relentlessness – relentlessness in besting Paolo, in designing an incomparable menu and, most of all, in preparing an unforgettable dinner, won him the title of Winner of the First Gelso Throwdown. And with much fanfare, pomp and ceremony, and belts let out a notch and pants quite possibly unbuttoned, Giuliano was awarded the coveted Golden Hot Dog Trophy, a trophy heretofore unknown in either America or Umbria, but which from now and into the future will be sought after by amateur chefs from Foligno to Trevi, from Montefalco to Marsciano. And Giuliano Gilocchi, the business executive and all around good guy and bon vivant from Terni will be able to tell contender and pretender alike, “that is my trophy. I won that trophy on a night they called the Gilocchi Show.”

Jolly good show, Giuliano.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

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The Gilocchi Show! Read more

It has been a long, and I mean long, week since I last wrote to you. Easter in fact, when we were ...