The Authentic Italian Table is back in Toronto, but this year, with a touch of nostalgia. Well, for me anyway. In short, The Authentic Italian Table is one arm of the True Italian Taste Project, a series of initiatives to highlight authentic and delicious Italian products with DOP, DOC and IGP designations.
Just like the “influencer-based” educational tours to Italy that I was a part of, The Authentic Italian Table is also a series of educational tours to different regions in Italy, with participants from each of the Italian Chambers in North America: Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, New York, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Mexico City (note: they’ve also started some work with a few cities in Europe and Asia). The difference? The invitees are all local chefs. The catch? They all have to back to their home cities to cook an incredible meal for all to experience. This past April, the four lucky chefs from our Region who went on this trip were Roberto Fracchioni of Centennial College, Fraser Macfarlane of Quatrefoil (located in Dundas), Michael Russell of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club and Andrew Thorne of The Good Earth Food and Wine Co (located in Beamsville).
The reason for my nostalgia is that these chefs traveled to the central Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, the exact same region I had the pleasure of visiting myself in 2017. Once you’ve submerged yourself in high quality Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano and Aceto Balsamico di Modena for a week, it’s really hard to leave the place and its flavours behind! This dinner was a nice reminder of the things we experienced there.
The chefs also had the opportunity to collaborate with Chef Carla Brigliadori and the renowned Casa Artusi, the first center of gastronomic culture to be established devoted entirely to Italian home cookery.
Upon their return to Toronto, the chefs each hosted in a dinner in their respective restaurants, cumulating with a final ensemble dinner at the Local Cafe & Restaurant at Centennial College last week. Each chef (including Chef Brigliadori) made an Emilia-Romagna inspired dish to be paired with an excellent DOC wine. As usual, the entire evening was a delight.
Here’s the meal in a few photos:
Prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano with Asparagus, olives and olive oil on toast, paired with a Labrusca Lini Lambrusco Rosso DOP (fun fact: we drank more Lambrusco in Italy than I have in my entire life. Emilia-Romagna isn’t well known for their wine production, but they certainly know how do do Lambrusco justice!)
Cheese Tortelli with Nutmeg and Butter (led by Chef Carla Brigliadori) paired with Marramiero Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Altare 2019 DOC, a beautiful orange wine as pictured below (Note: tortelli is not a typo on the word “tortellini”. See my recipe for this Emilia-Romagna dish here!).
Cured Black Cod with Pea and Prosciutto Brodo, Peas, Parmiagino-Reggiano Emulsion, and a Pea Panna Cotta, paired with Campodora Albana Secco Romagna DOCG (led by Chef Andrew Thorne).
Balsamic Roasted Squab with Hazelnut Puree, Roasted Fig, Cipollini and Prosciutto, paired with a Tini Sangiovese Romagna DOC (led by Chef Roberto Fracchioni).
Rack of Lamb with Stuffed Artichoke, Dandelion Greens, Shoulder Crochetta, Onion and Anchovy Sauce, and an Oregano Jus, paired with a rich Batasiolo Barolo 2014 DOCG (led by Chef Fraser Macfarlane).
Basil Yogurt Semifreddo with Strawberry, Shortbread, Aceto Balsamico di Modena, paired with a Viticoltori Acquesi Brachetto d’Acqui, DOC (led by Chef Michael Russell).
To find out more about the Italian Chambers of Commerce of Ontario and the True Italian Taste project, please visit my post on cooking pasta at ALMA, my guide to Cremona, Italy, my interview with ICCO’s director, Corrado Paina, or my post on last year’s Authentic Italian Table dinner. For more information on upcoming dinners and events, visit: http://www.italchambers.ca/authentic-italian-table/
Please note: I was a guest of the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario for the meal featured above, but I was not monetarily compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.