Massimo Bottura is the chef owner of the Michelin 3-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. The restaurant was voted the #1 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list in 2016, and this year was named #2.
He was in New York recently to prepare a meal to benefit God’s Love We Deliver featuring some of his signature dishes which were matched with wines by master wine maker Roberto Cipresso.
Michele and I were fortunate enough to be invited to this event by Natalie Oliveros, owner of La Fiorita Winery in Tuscany.
The event was held at Ellis Island. About 100 guests boarded the ferry at Battery Park and cruised past the Statue of Liberty to the museum where the event was held.
Actor Chazz Palmentieri was the host and entertained us with charming stories of his life and career.
Bottura also spoke about his approach to cooking.
We can’t do any better to describe the spectacular dishes that were served that night than to quote Bottura’s own poetic descriptions which follow along with the wines that accompanied them.
An Emilian chef dreams of the Mediterranean Sea in the form of a baccala filet floating in a verdant broth of Vesuvian tomatoes and green olives infused with Sorrento lemons, wild oregano and extra virgin olive oil.
Falaghina Del Sannino 2016 DOC Lorenzo Nifo Sarrapochiello made from 100% Falaghina made from organic grapes. The soil is clay and calcareous marl, The vines are 10 to 15 years old, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier, guyot. Harvest is by hand the third week of September. The grapes are crushed and then fermented for 18 to 20 days, followed by 2 months in stainless steel and 2 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of pear and pineapple with a touch of spice
Polenta and Rice in Praise of a Pizza
This is not a pizza. When the northern Italian Vialone Nano rice and polenta tradition encounter the southern Italian flavors of tomato, anchovy and oregano even a serious risotto can become sunny. The rice is simmered in buffalo mozzarella milk, the polenta is crisped in the oven like pizza crust and the classic pizza toppings are hidden from view.
Pinot Grigio 2016 IGT 100% from vineyards in the Dolomiti Casata Monfort made from 100% Pinot Grigio. The vineyard is at 300 meters, sandy soil and the training system is pergola trentina. Grapes are pressed in a completely sealed environment and then the wine making process takes place. Fermentation at a controlled temperature with selected yeast strains. The wine was pile yellow with copper highlights. This is a distinctive fruity wine with hints of ripe pear.
Chef Bottura mischievously re-invents the classic Italian recipe while remaining faithful to his childhood memory of stealing he burned corners from his grandmother Ancella’s labor of love. A sheet of crunchy tri-color pasta balances on a hand chopped meat ragu and airy béchamel like a bird about to take flight.
Beautiful, Psychedelic, Spin-Painted Veal, Not Flame Grilled
A tribute to English artist Damien Hirst’s spin-painted canvases, this beef filet takes on the Tuscan tradition of grilled meat without lighting a flame. The meat is marinated in milk as if it were veal, brushed with vegetable charcoal for a fax-grill effect then cooked at a low temperature to preserve essential proteins. It is dressed with creamy potatoes, puree of orange and yellow peppers, a red beet reduction and extra old Villa Manodori Artigianale balsamic vinegar from Modena.
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006 DOCG La Fiorita made from 100% Sangiovese from the 3.1 hectare Pian Bossolino vineyards at 350 meters. The exposure is south east, training system is spurred cordon and there are 7,000 plants per hectare and the soil is galestro. Harvest is at the beginning of October. Fermentation is Slavonian oak casks for 10 days with selected yeasts. During maceration pumping over and delestage takes place. Type and capacity of aging casks: 12 months in new and second passage French oak; 12 months is Slavonian oak of 80Hl. Aging time: 24 months in wood, 6 months in steel and 30 months in bottle before release. This is a complex wine with hints of red fruit, spice, balsam and a touch of tobacco and chocolate.
Since 2011 the winery has been owned by Natalie Oliveros. Natalie was sitting at the same table as Michele and I. I had met her when I was the wine director of i-Trulli and was the first one to buy her wines.
The evergreen and stoic Caesar softens into an ornamental garden of late summer fragrances and colors. Chrysantheum petals, elderflower vinegar, dried cherries, and chamomile honey dressings reminds us of nature’s bounty as we safeguard our memories for the long winter to come.
Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart
This dessert calls attention the poetry of imperfection. Lemon zabaglione, verbena sorbet and fragmented pie crust meet candied bergamot, savory capers, dried oregano and hop pepper oil in praise of southern Italy, a place that is broken but never without emotion.
Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Natural Grand Cuvée Del Fondator, Motus Vital Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Natural- Millesimato 2015 Rive San Pietro Barbozza Bortolomiol made from 100% Glera. Elvira, Maria Elena, Giuliana and Luisa Bortolomio run the winery. This wine was created to honor Giuliano Bortolomio the founder of the winery in the 1940’s and the first to produce a Prosecco brut. Training system is capuccina modificata. Harvest is at the middle of September. There is a gentle pressing after the skins have been removed. Fermentation at a controlled temperature with selected yeasts. The sparkling wine method used is the Martinotti-Charmat. The wine is left on the lee for ten months. Residual sugar 0 g/l: dosage zero. This is complex and dry Prosecco with nice white fruit and a perfect way to end this wonderful evening.