Archive for the 'Vin Bar – Santa Monica' Category



Vin Bar

I have one comment about Vin Bar/Valentino – just go. All wines are from their list and all food is orchestrated by Chef Nico. We have one responsibility – just enjoy.

Vino Spumante to start

Fried Zucchini Blossom stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese on a bed of fresh tomato and basil – delicious

2nd wine – Fiano di Avellino from the estate of Colli di Lapio. The grape is from the Campania region of Southern Italy. Paul Sherman likened this to a “fat Reisling.”  The Colli di Lapio estate “was established in 1994 and it is family run. Up to 1999 a traditional press was used, then a pneumatic press and a bottling machine were purchased. The wine has been successful since the first vintage, winning many awards. Clelia now also offers an Irpinia Aglianico and a Taurasi produced from 2 hectares of vineyards in the Taurasi area. The family supervises the Aglianico grape production and the wine is vinified at the estate.”

Summer Figs wrapped with Speck, with spicy oil (the oil had been infused with peppers) and micro greens. The speck was from the Northern part of Italy, closest to Germany and lightly smoked. Another absolute winner.

Eggplant tortino, Cavalo, Coulis of sweet tomatoes and sweet red pepper and micro basil – The eggplant puree was like a soufflee in texture and taste and was absolutely perfect. One of the things that I love about Chef Nico’s cuisine is that it is executed masterfully but with a modern and innovative sensibility.

Red Wine – Pinot Noir- Paul Sherman likened this to a “mouth feel of a Syrah grape.”

Lousy photo but another perfect dish – the chef gets an A, the photographer a D+. Crepes filled with duck, bean cotta on a bed of a red wine sauce  topped with dried fruit with mustard, spinach leaf on the side

Quail wrapped with proscuitto and lardo, aged 12 months stuffed with Riso al Salto sitting on a risotto cake, drizzled with Marsala sauce, sage leaf on top – a marriage of classic cuisine and extraordinary technique – my initial comment about Vin Bar/Valentino – run don’t walk is totally applicable.

Next wine – Paul Sherman selects the appropriate wine for our courses – As an aside this is the one of the few restaurants that we never BYO – I want to drink from their list as most of the time you are having little known producers that have been discovered by Piero and match perfectly with the food.

Porcini and abalone mushrooms cooked in parchment with baked cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan on top – this was the equivalent of a meat course – earthy and could almost make me a meatless fan.

Pici pasta (a thick, hand rolled pasta, like a fat spaghetti, originating in the province of Siena in Tuscany) with braised duck ragu, mushrooms and pecorino cheese – another dish that John inhaled

Close-up of the pici

Fusilloro pasta with pecorino, black olives, extra virgin olive oil and parsley – One of the things that I love about going to Vin Bar/Valentino is that it is above and beyond just dining; it is a learning experience. Piero is kind enough to really explain the intricacies of Italian food. Now a brief history of Fusilloro:

The Fusilloro pasta is produced by Verrigni:

“The history of Verrigni Pasta began in 1898. In that year Verrigni, began suppling the noble families of ROSBURGO (now Roseto degli Abruzzi) a special “pulp” obtained by a unique and natural process of stone-grinding wheat. Since that time, for more than a century, the Abruzzese pasta has been popular because those who make it maintain the passion and creativity of their ancestors.”

“Gaetano Verrigni and his wife Francesca Castelli Petrei continue this great tradition. They are leading a new “era” of “pastificio” marked by respect for this great tradition of pasta-making that this region emboddies, and the constant quest for the highest in quality. Innovative packaging, an effective distribution network, and the innovative use of specially crafted, gold die has allowed their pasta factory to become a brand leader among Italian culinary products of excellence.”

“At the basis of their success is the selection of the best organic Italian durum wheat, grown and harvested in the Abruzzo farm of Gaetano’s wife Francesca. The Old Rose GardenPasta Verrigni produces about 80 different types of pasta, from traditional types to the more modern. Varieties are made with durum wheat semolina from organic agriculture certified dall’ICEA (Institute for Ethical and Environmental Certification), full meal, Kamut, Senator Hats and spelt. Verrigni was one of the very first pasta factories in Italy to explore the world of organics, and it’s high quality has been consistently recognized by distributors, merchants and consumers.”

“Another special feature of Verrigni pasta is its special process used in drying. Their dough is dryed very slowly and at low temperature – between 45 ° and 50 ° C – with a duration of up to three days. This ensures that the delicate character of their precious organic wheat is not altered. It also allows for the natural fermentation process that helps give Verrigni pasta its unmistakable flavor.”

“Perhaps few people know that pasta actually has a flavor,” says Gaetano Verrigni. “But it does. Our pasta helps them to begin to enjoy it.”

Mr Verrigni’s success has been based on his sensitivity to the evolution of modern taste, and to his new techniques for allowing the dough of his pasta to bring out its real flavor.This has been one of the key’s to the success of this great pasta company.

Package of Fusilloro

SPECIAL GOLD DIE

“In collaboration with the artisan jewelry Sandro Seccia, Verrigni pasta has created “spaghettoro” and “fusilloro.” These innovative products are made using, for the first time ever, die made of gold. Unlike other die, this unique instrument of pasta making give this brand of pasta a texture that is different and more refined.”

“Scientific research utilizing a blind test by a senior laboratory found that people experience increased satisfaction in the eating experience of “spaghettoro” and “fusilloro” in comparison to ordinary pasta. This is likely due to the reduced stress that the dough experiences when it comes in contact with this most supple and refined character of gold. The result is a texture characterized by a unique roughness, a subtle sweetness and a distinctive note that is charming to the palate.”

“In collaboration with the artisan jewelry Sandro Seccia, Verrigni pasta has created “spaghettoro” and “fusilloro.” These innovative products are made using, for the first time everdie made of gold. Unlike other die, this unique instrument of pasta making give this brand of pasta a texture that is different and more refined.”

“Scientific research utilizing a blind test by a senior laboratory found that people experience increased satisfaction in the eating experience of “spaghettoro” and “fusilloro” in comparison to ordinary pasta. This is likely due to the reduced stress that the dough experiences when it comes in contact with this most supple and refined character of gold. The result is a texture characterized by a unique roughness, a subtle sweetness and a distinctive note that is charming to the palate.”

All the above information can be found here:

http://community.foodandwine.com/_FUSILLOROGOLDEN-DIE/photo/11079895/117547.html

Gnudi with parmesan and ricotta – in a word delicious

Cheese Course – Asiago, Boschetta, Pecorino Sardo, Cacio Romano with walnuts, figs and apricots, and puree

A fantastic meal at a fantastic restaurant – I urge everyone to go and revel in the hospitality of Piero, the terrific Paul Sherman, the graciousness of Giuseppe and the exquisite cuisine of Chef Nico and Chef Fabio. This is our “go to” restaurant for any occasion – just for an evening out as well as a special occasion.

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Vin Bar

Vin Bar/Valentino is just getting better and better. This is just a perfect Italian restaurant with fantastic food and equally superior service. As usual we rely on Piero Selvaggio, Paul Sherman and Chef Nico to plan our evening.

What a surprise  – a red sparkling wine from Le Marche, part of the Adriatic Coast. “Le Marche is a beautiful wine region, with miles of untamed coastline, picturesque fishing villages like Portonovo, Renaissance gems like Urbino (where the painter Raphael was born), medieval hamlets such as Urbania, rustic mountain villages like Carpegna and wild expanses of nature that culminate in the splendorous peaks of Monti Sibillini.”  The DOCG Vernaccia di Serrapetrona is a unique red sparkling wine that has been made since ancient times and is even mentioned in Dante´s Divine Comedy.

Just look at that color!

A newly created dish by Chef Nico – Tuna carpaccio, served slightly warm on top of a pappa al pomodoro base. Pappa al pomodoro is “a bread and tomato “minestra“, that is, a thick soup, and one of the oldest and most typical dishes of the Siena area. It is definitely one of the most representative dishes of the Tuscan cucina povera, the poor people’s culinary tradition.” The tuna was crusted with mint. This was an absolute A+ dish.

Close-up of the tuna

Wine #2 – Grillo also known as Riddu is a white wine grape variety and is widely used in Sicilain wine-making.

Baked Ricotta Cheese, brown sugar on top, thyme,  rhubarb sauce, shaved summer black truffle – what a perfect combination of savory with a hint of sweet – Chef Nico does favor combinations that are always superb.

Wine #3 – also from the Adriatic coast

Galloni proscuitto, aged 24 months with a baked fig, shaved parmesan and a touch of moscatto sauce – The proscuitto is from F.lli Galloni S.p.A. which is a single-product company specialized in the production of superior quality Parma ham for close to 50 years – the quality of the proscuitto was extraordinary.

Duck cannelloni with dried fruit – cucumber, cherry, orange and a mostarda sauce with duck jus – the cannelloni was perfect as was the duck filling.

Crispy buffalo ricotta gnocchi, pancetta, fava beans, dots of goat cheese, foie gras, light cream sauce – another winner and I don’t know of another Italian restaurant in Los Angeles that does pasta, gnocchi, cannelloni as well as Valentino.

Lamb chops with a mint pecorino crust drizzled with a bit of honey, roasted asparagus, salty, crispy leeks, mashed potatoes – perfect is an over-used word but again an A+ dish.

On the side what Piero referred to as peasant spaghetti. He mentioned that this is a family guarded recipe that has been an old Valentino favorite for years – ingredients include fresh tomato, proscuitto, pecorino cheese, garlic, olive oil, parsley – John inhaled this dish.

Cheese plate – pecorino sardo, provolone, fig salami, apricots, figs, candied walnuts

What a fabulous meal.

Vin Bar

As I have stated numerous times before, we prefer dining in the casual part of Valentino, mainly because we have an opportunity to chat with Piero. The food is sensational and you are not dining from a casual/bar food menu but rather exquisitely prepared food from Valentino’s menu that just happens to be served in a casual environment. Per usual, we leave all decisions regarding wine to Piero and Paul Sherman and all food choices to Chef Nico and Chef Fabio. Our only responsibility is to enjoy and savor each and every choice.

Champagne to start from their list

Calamari Salad, lemon dressing, beet sauce, celery, carrots – calamari can be a disaster if not executed properly – these were perfect.

Australian Crab Cake, Orange Soup, Drops of Olive Oil, Fried Sage – the crab was delicious and the orange soup was a revelation. Chef Nico explained that it was just oranges ground in the blender and then strained – no cream, no bindings – just orange! This is an idea I intend to steal – it would make a tremendous sauce and as a cool soup it was spectacular.

White wine from Valentino’s list – this is the one place we never BYO – there is no need to as Valentino has one of the best wine cellars in the city.

Breast of Quail wrapped with Speck and stuffed with Raschera cheese on a bed of lentils with small dice of carrots, braised fennel on the side. Another A+ dish – the combination of the quail, the speck and the Raschera was a perfect marriage of ingredients.

“Raschera is a semi-hard pressed cheese from the Piemonte region. Raschera is a table cheese made from raw cow’s milk, but some sheep or goat’s milk is sometimes added. Aged anywhere from one to six months, Raschera is ivory in color, rich in mouth feel, with a buttery and mild taste that gets sharper with age.”

http://store.dipaloselects.com/raschera.html

Red Wine from Valentino’s list

Chef Fabio called this “My Italian Flag Pasta.” It was composed of 3 different pastas — the white was gnocchi, the green was spinach pappardelle and the red was beet pasta. The saucing was a lobster ragu topped with slivers of ricotta salata cheese – this pasta is made in house – perfectly made and perfectly cooked. My question is why go anywhere else for the best pasta in the city?

Spinach semolina dough, porcini tortellini (tortellini pasta filled with porcini mushrooms), foie gras, tomato confit, summer black truffles – another winning pasta dish

La Quercia Organic Pancetta, Amatriciani with sausage pearls and an array of fresh farmer’s market vegetables – corn, carrots, spring onions, sweet peas, green onions. The sausage pearls had been sauteed in their own fat. Again each element of the dish complemented the whole making for a stunning array of taste and texture.

Amatriciani is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (dried pork cheek), pecorino cheese and tomato. Originating from the town of Amatrice (in the mountainous Province of Rieti of Lazio region), the Amatriciana is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Italian cuisine.

Cheese course served with spoons of honey and pear salsa and a dried salad of apricot, salami, walnuts and fresh pear

There is only one word to describe this meal – perfect.

Vin Bar

I have said this many times, but Vin Bar continues to deliver with great service and delicious food. As always, we never look at a menu or the wine list and just let Piero chose the wine and Chef Nico devise the menu with the one caveat to keep the portions small.

Champagne to start

Scallop carpaccio, avocado, cherries and a sauce using colatura d’alici – an anchovy sauce made from an ancient Roman recipe of Italy’s Amalfi Coast. This was light, delicious and bursting with flavor – each pristine ingredient shown.

White Wine

Pan seared Sand Dabs, capers, wild arugula, beet puree, micro greens, lemon sauce – again this is ingredient focused cuisine perfectly executed.

Perline (little pearls) of ricotto gnocchi with shrimp and calamari ragu, peas – light fluffy gnocchi with an excellent counterpoint of flavor from the seafood ragu and fresh peas

Red Wine

Pici (a thick, hand rolled pasta, like a fat spaghetti, originating in the province of Siena in Tuscany) with fresh tomato sauce, pinch of chili peppers, parmesan – Pici will be available to purchase at Primi Al Mercato at Santa Monica Place opening May 20. I plan to buy some and also some of the sauces that will be made fresh daily – Vin Bar at home!

Cavatelli pasta with quail sausage, pink sauce (tomato with a touch of cream), pecorino cheese – another winner – straight forward cuisine that is just delicious

Lamb Saltimbocca (Italian for jumps in the mouth) The lamb is treated like veal in the traditional Saltimbocca recipe by being pounded. It was served with speck – a ham that’s salt-cured and cold smoked, natural jus.


Beef Spezzatino (Beef Stew) –  It takes its name from the meat that is cut into cubes, in fact the Italian word refers to something that has been broken into pieces. The beef was slowly braised in red wine and served with sauteed Maitake and Shitake mushrooms.

Cheese Plate – I stopped taking notes so I don’t have the names of each cheese served.

A must restaurant for great food and service – just a wonderful meal.

Vin Bar

Another perfect meal at Vin Bar/Valentino. It just gets better and better. As usual we didn’t order or look at a menu. We just let Nico devise our menu.

Mumm champagne to start – no picture.

Piero and I were chatting before our meal began and I mentioned the pop-up dinner David had just done at Royal T and that he had devised an all uni menu in honor of me. At that moment, our first course arrived – Sea Urchin with Blood Orange Segments and Blood Orange Juice – delicious.

First Wine – This wine is made by the monks in a convent near the Austrian border – clear simple crisp white wine

A perfect bread basket

Oscetra Caviar on a quenelle of burrata cheese with a touch of olive oil on the bottom and a dot of beet sauce. This is a classic combination and one that I am definitely going to steal and do at home.

Coniglio in porchetta – rabbit wrapped  in porchetta served with pear slices, a dried apricot and a sprig of rosemary (In the Italian language, “coniglio” means “rabbit” or “hare”.  The name is from the Latin “cuniculus”, which also means “burrow”, “tunnel”, or “waterway”.) Another winner.


Polenta, Quail Egg, Artichoke, Butternut Squash – Piero described this as a torta. From a google search, I found the following description – “Torte of various designs are made all over Italy today, but the Ligurians seem to produce the thing in its purest form—just dough and filling, unelaborated, undecorated, elemental. The only potentially complex Ligurian torta, in fact, is torta pasqualina, or Eastertide torta, which is filled with either artichokes or Swiss chard (mixed with eggs, cheese, and herbs).” I am not sure that this was Nico’s take on the Ligurian torta, but it did seem to encompass many of the same ingredients.

Mancini Mezze Maniche pasta with smoked proscuitto, broccoli, percorino cheese, romesco sweet onion sauce. A word about Mancini pasta:

“Massimo Mancini is a man on a mission: making the finest dry pasta in the world, buoyed by the intense belief that it’s the small choices that make all the difference when it comes to true quality.” … “The Mancini farm has been producing fine pasta for 60 years. All the wheat is harvested from their own crops. Three kinds of durum wheat are mixed to create the unique flavour of Mancini pastas.”

“Just like his country’s top winemakers, Massimo knows that greatness requires meticulous execution of every phase of the production cycle. The results of his painstaking labor are stunning: in a double blind tasting of top-tier pastas, Pasta Mancini was the unanimous pick of our panel of five NYC chefs and journalists.”

Piero plans on selling the Manicini at Primi Al Mercato at Santa Monica Place.

Piero and Fabio, the amazing pasta chef

Red Wine from their list – we do not BYO at Vin Bar/Valentino given Piero’s extraordinary wine list

Chocolate Garganelli with Lobster Ragu (“Garganelli are hand rolled pasta shapes (similar to penne) and they’re usually made using a little board called a ‘pettine’ – comb”)

Quail Breast from Napa Valley on a bed of risotto with gorgonzola and radicchio with a red wine based jus – perfectly executed risotto with succulent juicy quail

Cheese Plate – I was getting lazy and didn’t write down any of the names of the cheese

Colomba Pasquale (“Easter Dove” in English “is an Easter counterpoint of the two well-known Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandora. The dough for the Colomba is made in a similar manner to panettone, with flour, eggs, sugar, natural yeast and butter; unlike panettone, it usually contains candied peel and no raisins. The dough is then fashioned into a dove shape (colomba in Italian) and finally is topped with pearl sugar and almonds before being baked.”

The Colomba Pasquale was served with a sabayon and Straub Chocolate Syrup Sauce.

The defintion of Colomba can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Easter_cake

What a wonderful meal and I said to Piero as we were leaving, I could eat here every week.

Vin Bar

I have said this numerous times before, but I have to repeat it again, Piero Selvaggio ranks as one of the best restaurateurs in the country. He and Chef Nico Chessa orchestrate our meal and we never look at a menu. They devised a perfect tasting menu – a meal that had a wonderful internal harmony with just the right amount of food plus a perfect diversity of flavors and textures.

The gracious owner par excellence – Piero Selvaggio

One of the advantages of eating at Vin Bar and going early is that we have time to talk to Piero and catch up on his news. He does have GREAT NEWS! Piero described his plans for Primi Al Mercato at Santa Monica Place.  I for one will be there as soon as it opens – fresh Italian pasta made daily, fresh sauces, incredible cheese, unbelievable salumi – you can eat there or have the best home-made meal you don’t have to make yourself.

From Eater LA:

“Aha, one more food concept announced today for that anticipated new gourmet alley, The Market atop Santa Monica Place. It’s not Eataly but we’ll take it, Piero Selvaggio of Valentino Restaurant Group plans to open Primi Al Mercato on May 20, a dual trattoria and retail space known as the Laboratory di Pasta. The trattoria will serve “creative pastas” with sauces composed of seasonal ingredients from the nearby Santa Monica farmers market. On the subject of the Laboratory di Pasta, it’s high time the westside landed a specialty pasta shop, other than fresh/frozen pastas at Bay Cities, the packaged stuff sold at Whole Foods, and some farmers market vendors, there isn’t much by way of fresh pasta by the sea.”

http://la.eater.com/archives/2011/03/17/piero_selvaggio_opening_primi_al_mercato_at_the_market.php

Vin Bar room – casual and cozy

Nico Chessa, the executive chef.

I have posted this before, but it is worth repeating:

“Raised on the island of Sardinia, Nico Chessa has worked throughout Italy, mastering the signature dishes of every region.  He was privileged to be the executive chef for the gala reopening of the Sistine chapel in 1996, where he had the honor to serve Pope John Paul II.  Joining the Valentino Restaurant Group in 2003, after leading the kitchens of high profile restaurants in Houston and Washington, D.C., Chessa has long catered to a clientele of world-leaders, entertainers and notable dignitaries.  Acclaimed for his Sardinian-style food by award-winning journalist John Mariani, Chessa’s charismatic presence has brought him an added following as frequent guest chef for the premier Crystal Cruise Line.”

From here:

http://www.valentinorestaurant.com/giorgio/chessa.asp

This was a “take” on Vitello tonnato, chilled veal in tuna sauce. Instead of the main protein being veal it was tuna and the saucing was a veal sauce. Terrific.

First wine from their list

Grilled Octopus with Black Squid Ink Fregula. Fregula is a type of pasta from Sardinia. It is similar to Israeli couscous. “Fregula comes in varying sizes, but typically consists of semolina dough that has been rolled into balls 2-3 mm in diameter and toasted in an oven.” The octopus was tender and perfectly cooked with the fregula adding a perfect taste and texture contrast.

Pasta Fagioli (literally translated as pasta and beans) with clams – in a word – delicious.

Ravioli di Zucca con Tartufo Invernale Pregiavto – Spinach Ravioli stuffed with butternut squash, butternut squash cubes, winter black truffle, butter and sage – balance is the key for each dish served at Valentino. This is ingredient driven cuisine executed with finesse without an array of unnecessary accompaniments.

Fabio, the terrific pasta chef who has been at Valentino for 25 years presenting the next dish.

Hand-made Strozzapreti (priest chokers) with Ricotta, Pheasant ragu and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. The ricotta was baked and made much like a mousse – somewhat like an emulsion. In an earlier post I explained  that this is called “priest chokers”  because centuries ago, it was common practice to let priests eat for free in restaurants. Wishing to get rid of the “freeloaders”, chefs rolled the pasta in such a way with the hope that the pasta would get lodged in the priest’s throat and choke.

Close-up of the Strozzapreti – having perfect pasta is a given at Valentino and as I mentioned above Piero will be opening Primi Al Mercato at Santa Monica Place and you can  either have perfect hand-made pasta at home or just enjoy a casual meal there.

2nd wine from their list

gnocchi, ricotta di bufala, fresh tomato, basil, small dice of fresh mozzarella – light as air gnocchi with faultless saucing

Tortellini with Italian cheese, a “smear” of gazpacho sauce and a “smear” of bean puree – they did mention the special Italian cheese used, but I am not sure I got the name right so rather than make something up, I will just say Italian cheese.

Minted-flavored Tagliarini pasta with zucchini, carrots, calamari sauteed in garlic oil for about 1 1/2 minutes, sprinkled with bottarga –  a flawless preparation. Once again, I have to reiterate that this is cuisine where execution and ingredient quality is of utmost importance.

Agnolotti del Plin floating in chicken broth –  “Agnolotti Del Plin is a typical Piemontese dish that is rarely found outside of the area, even nearby in Northern Italy. Agnolotti Del Plin (literally in Piemontese language – “pinched” agnolotti) are stuffed typically with meat.”  The best description I was able to get was that it was stuffed with a “special” from Nico. My one thought –  “chicken soup for the soul.”

,

Porchetta with fava beans, red and yellow bell pepper, shaved pecorino cheese – a great ending to a wonderful meal.

Bottom Line: Run don’t walk to Vin Bar/Valentino and I intend to be at Primi Al Mercato as soon as it opens.

Vin Bar – Santa Monica

Vin Bar/Valentino is an unique restaurant with incredible service. I have said this before, but I will say it again Piero Selvaggio ranks as one of the best  restaurateurs in the country. We never look at a menu and just let Piero orchestrate our meal.

piero

Giuseppe and Piero

 

amuse

Amuse – from left to right – Arancini, duck prosciutto  on toast and cured salmon with sweet pea sauce – excellent beginning

 

salmon

Close-up of the salmon

 

wine 1

White wine – we never BYO at Vin Bar and again just let Piero choose the wine

 

scallop

Seared Scallop with abalone mushrooms – these scallops just came in and tasted as fresh as can be.

 

tuna

Crudo of tuna with anchovy brine, basil oil and slices of orange – absolutely perfect and better than most great sushi bar tuna in the city.

 

octopus soup

Baby Octopus soup with fresh tomatoes, green peas, basil oil, crouton – a homey, comforting dish

 

close-up of octopus

Close-up of the soup – gorgeous octopus

 

wine at Vin Bar - red

Red Wine

 

Tian

Vegetable and Cheese Tortino – the vegetables were spinach, zucchini, spring onions, abalone mushrooms. The cheese was Caciocavallo.

“One of the pear-shaped cheeses, Caciocavallo is tied at the neck with a cord and hung up to dry and ripen. Its name, which literally means ” horse-cheese ,” is said to derive from the way the cheese was originally slung in pairs over the back of a horse during transportation. The cheese’s composition, meanwhile, actually consists of whole or partly-skimmed cow (not horse) milk, with the possible (though more unlikely) addition of milk from sheep or goats.”

The Tortino sat on Pachino tomato puree.

“If you are looking for some of the sweetest, firmest, shiniest tomatoes with a long shelf like to boot, you need small, red juicy variety from Pachino, Sicily. Pachino tomatoes are rightfully famous, especially in Italy and Europe, and so treasured that a few years ago in their home country they were granted IGP status—a designation similar to the D.O.C. designation for wines, in this case certifying that at least part of the production of a product is in a particular area.”

pasta

Hand-made Strozzapreti (priest chokers) with mozzarella and oxtail ragu. In an earlier post I explained  that it is called “priest chokers”  because centuries ago, it was common practice to let priests eat for free in restaurants. Wishing to get rid of the “freeloaders”, chefs rolled the pasta in such a way with the hope that the pasta would get lodged in the priest’s throat and choke. 

close-up pasta

Close-up – I liked this so much that Piero added more pasta and ragu for me to take home so I could have it for dinner the next night!

 

cheese

Cheese Plate of Sottocenere, Gorgonzola Dolce, Raschera, Talleggia with apricots, fig, hazelnuts, walnuts and raisins.

An excellent meal – Vin Bar/Valentino is a treasure of a restaurant.


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