Pan-Seared Branzino, Cucumber Salmoriglio, Borage Blossoms

branzino, salmoriglio, ciao fiore

Pan-Seared Branzino, Cucumber Salmoriglio, Borage Blossoms

Here we are on the sparkling azure Mediterranean. I’m in the cucina with Chefs Norma and Debi, cooking for opening day of our virtual ristorante Ciao Fiore! Norma is in the process making ricotta fresca for the extravagant antipasti tavola, and Debi is using sodium alginate and calcium chloride to craft the strawberry caviar which will top her lavender & mascarpone panna cotta as a part of the fabulous dessert course.

branzino, borage, salmoriglio, castelvetrano

My job is to execute the main course, and with the risotto already done, imagine my delight as the fishing boat pulled up to the dock, loaded with just-caught branzino! Fresh from the sea pan-seared fillets will be served with salmoriglio, a Sicilian fish sauce made with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs. For our grand opening, this particular version of the classic sauce will be enhanced with Meyer lemon confit, red chiles, cucumber, and Castelvetrano olives. Borage blossoms will finish the dish, with their sweet cucumber flavor accenting the sauce while their bright blue hue mirrors the sea.

Continue reading “Pan-Seared Branzino, Cucumber Salmoriglio, Borage Blossoms”

La Cucina Calabrese – A Rustic Southern Italian Dinner Party

calabria, calabria dinner, my calabria
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.

Continue reading “La Cucina Calabrese – A Rustic Southern Italian Dinner Party”

Branzino Sotto Sale, Salmoriglio

branzino salmoriglio

Branzino Sotto Sale, Salmoriglio

Whole Salt-Baked Mediterranean Sea Bass
with an olive oil-lemon-garlic herb sauce with red chiles

Continue reading “Branzino Sotto Sale, Salmoriglio”

Gracious Italian Hospitality, A Most Memorable Meal

spinach agnolotti at michael's on naples ristorante, long beach

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.

Continue reading “Gracious Italian Hospitality, A Most Memorable Meal”