By Laura Stec
Italy By The BayUploaded: Jun 25, 2017
I am not a native to Italy, but I got there as quick as I could.
Last year we did a culinary tour around the country, including a stop to Casa Caponetti, a farm-to-fork cooking school north-east of Rome about 1.5 hours. Run by Lorenzo Caponetti, this Tuscania agriturismo, B & B, and organic farm is surrounded by olive trees and wide open space.
They offer seasonal cook classes and olive oil harvesting, plus the grounds are a historical reserve of ancient Etruscan tombs (700 – 300 BC). So creepy and yet sooo cool.
If you’ve gone to Rome a few times and looking for a fun expedition outside the City, this is a terrific choice. The local bus takes you right there.
Not going to Italy any time soon? A fun way to explore from our Bay backyard is at Festa Regionale. We Food Partied! at one of Il Fornaio’s expeditions through twelve diverse regions of the country. Every month one of their chefs, often native of the featured region, designs a menu celebrating its food, wine and favorite local dishes. As part of the program, you fill out a “passport” each month you go, earning a chance to win a trip to Italy. Plus you get a gift of food from the region at the end of the meal.
We celebrated the northern region of Emilia-Romagna. My favorite dish was Erbazzone (puff pastry with spinach, leek, dandelion, Grano Padano and ricotta - $11.50) very rich and a classic from the region.
The Trenette alla Riminese (spinach and egg pasta with shrimp, scallop crab tomato wild arugula - $20.50) was lighter and lovely.
The Branzino con Funghetti (sea bass with Sangiovese, shitake and potato -$28.50) was my least favorite. The fish was overcooked and the red wine sauce needs improvement.
But the Zuppa Inglese (liquor-infused lady fingers with vanilla and chocolate -$10.95) won back my heart. I licked the bowl clean (yes, I did).
It was perfectly paired with the Rosso, Nespolino 2014. Try a flight of regional wines - three for $16.
Also notable was lady chef Leslie Pineda – you go girl! It’s rare to see a woman in charge of the line in a restaurant. Toques off to Santa Clara Il Fornaio and this new-ish addition to their family of restaurants. July region is Veneto (Venice) and August is Campania. See other months here.
Buon Cibo, Buon Vino, Buoni Amici!