We are lucky to have friends, Sybil and Simon who enjoy and savor food and wine as much as we do. Simon Majumdar needs no introduction given his frequent appearances on The Food Network and his best selling books Eat My Globe and Eating for Britain. He is about to embark on a trip around the world with Sybil, his beautiful and talented wife with some time-out time to write his newest book Fed White and Blue – his incredible journey to American Citizenship. We were thrilled they joined us at Valentino, one of our most favorite restaurants and to me the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. Piero orchestrated the wines and Chef Nico devised the menu. Many of the dishes Chef Nico brought out himself and explained what we were eating in rapid Italian. Trying to take notes was futile but to demonstrate how tremendous and gracious Chef Nico is he sent me via email the menu in English. That is going above and beyond to the utmost degree!
Bottom line – this was a fantastic meal with exquisite wines, exceptional food and terrific, entertaining friends. I have added some additional notes to Nico’s menu to give you a sense of the exceptional quality of the ingredients, the perfect execution and where necessary a brief description of Italian terms.
Catalina Island sea urchin on lemon-prosecco sgroppino ( a boozy Italian smoothie made with lemon and prosecco – my words not Nico’s) – I love sea urchin – Chef Nico knows this – what a perfect beginning
Little Bite of beef crudo and white truffle Albese style – a one bite wonder
Fermin patanegra on fettaunta, a rustic bread rubbed with heirloom tomato and unfiltered Sardinian olive oil – this is when first rate ingredients shine
My addition to Chef Nico’s menu notes: “Two years of air curing and aging in the mountain breeze allows the complexity and flavors of this incomparable Ibérico ham to develop and deepen. In the indigenous oak forest and savanna-like grassland dehesas of southwestern Spain, the Ibérico hog, a descendant of the wild boar, finds its natural habitat. Popularly known as the Pata Negra, or Black Hoof, the Ibérico breed’s characteristics are responsible for the unsurpassed taste and quality of this traditional dry-cured pork ham. Produced by the Fermin family, the original exporters of Ibérico hams to the US.”
Calamarata paella style of conch, seppie, shrimp, guanciale, chicken, frog legs and Romanesco beans – Calamarata is a wide tubular pasta shaped like a large ring – a perfect combination of exceptional ingredients
Pici with grappa-thyme wild boar and fiore Sardo pecorino – pici is a thick, hand-rolled pasta that originated in the province of Siena in Tuscany. “Fiore Sardo is produced on the island of Sardinia off the coast of Italy. This is a cheese with very ancient origins, thought by some to date back to the Bronze Age. Partly as a result of this, Fiore Sardo was awarded DOP (name protected) status in 1996. Although there are now industrially produced variations of Fiore Sardo that are sometimes made from a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk or even pasteurized milk, traditionally Fiore Sardo is made from fresh, unpasteurized sheep’s milk, sourced from native Sardinian sheep from a single flock.”
Black truffles and green apples stuffed rabbit with its own demi and grilled polenta – there is no way that words can convey how delicious this way plus handled with finesse
Roasted Muscovy duck breast with grape sauce and porcini – equally perfect
Formaggi – La Tour caw – sheep and goat milk creamy goodness from Piedmont and Moliterno Tartufato – sheep milk truffle cheese from Sardinia and the southern coast of Italy
Dolci – Pear sorbet, cannoli and chocolate cake
What a meal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Absolutely A+++++