Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Night in Tuscany (on a student budget.......)

I got lucky. I got reservations to a special themed event "A Night in Tuscany" at Creo on April 6th. Executive Chef Eric Sell together with wine aficionado Joe Armstrong wove together an inspired dinner that carried me all the way to Italy in a flood of flavors that left me feeling loved.

And I loved right back.

We started with a Del Professore Vermouth Blanc - not Tuscan but in the spirit of - sweet and smooth and enticing like a possible date, it didn't need ice or lemon or gin to make it wonderful. Nice start.
The pourings were delicious and well considered - BRAVO!
The first course was a fettunta - crispy hard rosemary bread rubbed with garlic and topped with chicken liver pate, capers, and anchovies. The flavors just about blew my cover they were so strong, rich and salty - served, interestingly enough, with a dry, light, floral, even grassy white, San Quirico Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG (certified organic - nice touch). Puppy thought that a red would have been a more intuitive choice, but the pairing was a great date.
First course: Zena's cover is almost blown by the strong flavors of the fettunta
Next was Ribolita - bean soup with bread topped with fresh kale, laced with smokey ham and tomato, this was earthy and wintry, with reminders of summer in a hearty winter bowl of happiness. This with an Altesino Rosso IGT 2014 (Joe explained that this one was made from 80% Sangiovese grapes and a 20% mixture of Merlot and CabSav) - dry, rich bodied, and tasting of cherry - gently holding hands with a simple but tasty dish.
Ribolita - simple and tasty, with kale, which I can do without

A Wild Boar Ragu served with house made fennel parpadelle was a good idea but not as well executed as it could have been (I wanted more of that delicious sauce and the pasta could have spent another minute in the pot), but it got a quick kiss from a Valdipiatta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG that was delicate and velvety smooth. TBB, sitting to my right, just sipped and smiled.
The Wild Boar Ragu was tasty but fell short so it got kissed by the Valdipiatta Vino Nobile
The best part of the meal was the Bistecca all Fiorentina - a thick cut of porterhouse from Kilcoyne farms hugged and held close with olive oil, salt and pepper - buttery, powerful beef, served rare and tender with a side of garlicky broccoli rabe. The wine was Pratesi Carmignano DOCG - robust and hearty - together this pairing was certainly like an all nighter - I'll never forget that beef - ever.

Chef presenting the bistecca - rare and tender (the meat, not Eric, or maybe he is, I'm not sure, but he was very nice)

We wrapped up with Zuppa Ingles, layers of cake flavored with liqueur and custard, topped with berries and cream, and a Vin Santo dessert wine that was cold and sweet and refreshing, like a hot date that ended well, leaving you full and happy, petting your own belly. I had to skip the Biscotti and Poli Moscato Grappa digestivo - too full by now to do much more than roll over and close my eyes and remember my amazing night in Tuscany.
No way I could eat all my  dessert but I took a few might big mouthfuls and closed my eyes with joy before I called it quits

Tuscany, on a student budget:  per person the meal was only $40 plus tax and tip. I got lucky. I love these events - such creativity and passion went into everything. Grazie e buona notte.

Zena, Goddess of Fire

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