Discovering Calabria – A Rustic Southern Italian Dinner Party
Inspired this past weekend, by the recent gift of a new Calabrese cookbook, my friends and I prepared an authentic Southern Italian feast. The setting was beautifully simple, complete with herbs, flowers and citrus fruits from our gardens. For the menu, we adapted seven recipes from My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher, with outstanding results.
We enjoyed exploring this lesser known regional cuisine, learning about the remote and somewhat mysterious Calabria as we constructed our menu. Dusty and hot mountainous regions, steep slopes, and narrow coastlines all contribute to the uniqueness that is La Cucina Calabrese.
We served esoteric Italian wines with the meal, wines that paired well with the simple yet robust Calabrese cuisine. Unfortunately we had difficulty locating wine specifically from Calabria, but we certainly were not disappointed with the fabulous bottles that graced our table. And we enjoyed Gino’s locally famous homemade limoncello to cap off the affair.
Unlike most of our dinner parties, the dishes were served family style. There was plenty of conviviality and great food & drink, as we experienced Southern Italy via Southern California.
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Branzino Sotto Sale, Salmoriglio
Whole Salt-Baked Mediterranean Sea Bass
with an olive oil-lemon-garlic herb sauce with red chiles
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GRACIOUS ITALIAN HOSPITALITY, A MOST MEMORABLE MEAL
I write this post for my friends and readers in the Greater Los Angeles Area aka The Southland, all 17 million of you. And also for those who plan to visit LA or the OC anytime soon. Wherever you find yourself in this great basin of 34,000 square miles, I promise that a trip to Long Beach, or more specifically the charming neighborhood called Naples (a little island in Alamitos Bay) for a dinner at Michael’s on Naples Ristorante is well worth the drive.
Leave the food and wine choices to Executive Chef David Coleman and General Manager Massimo Aronne, as we did, and you will enjoy an Italian dining adventure like no other…Massimo’s expert wine knowledge paired with Chef Coleman’s gifted approach to Italian cooking will refresh your appetite for Italian cuisine.
The dining experience here is not only about the food, or the wine, the service or the atmosphere – it is the synergy of all these elements. At Michael’s we feel as if we are guests in his home. The staff is professional, artfully trained yet simultaneously warm and friendly. Massimo is not only a master of Italian wine, but is generous with his knowledge and happy to share his passion. Chef Coleman’s cooking is bright and creative, while still respectful of the traditional Italian kitchen. And Michael is that ultimate gracious Italian host.
For my friends who won’t be visiting The Southland in the near future, I hope you take a look at, and gain inspiration from, Chef Coleman’s dishes – a true treat to Taste With The Eyes.
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BRANZINO ALLA GRIGLIA
whole grilled branzino
with brussels sprouts & beet greens
(always accompanied by what’s freshest at the farmer’s market)
served with confit meyer lemon oil
The eponymous name for his Italian Ristorante is immediately obvious. At Michael’s on Naples we get the extraordinary feeling that we are dining in Michael’s own home – from the warm sophisticated ambiance to the gracious hospitality and impeccable service, to the passion for food and wine…
Michael’s has been rated the #1 Italian restaurant in Long Beach and the #2 Italian restaurant in all of Los Angeles. The Branzino, a Mediterranean sea bass, is just one of many fabulous dishes, and happens to be our absolute favorite.
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