Usually, food lightning never strikes twice, especially in the same week. But leave it to food festival season 2014 to surprise me and make me feel like a newbie once again.
Last I left you, I was regaling about the great time at Ginny’s for the Kehinde Wiley event. It was a truly magical evening. Next on the roster was my first time to Identita Golose New York (@IdentitaGolose). Held at Eataly, this four-day seminar and dinner series celebrates the beauty of Italian food through the minds and hands of New York and Italy’s finest chefs. Though in its fifth year, I am grateful now to have finally been turned onto this great event.
Each seminar at Identita Golose paired chefs from New York and Italy to showcase their talents, teach and prepare a dish at La Scuola, the cooking school in Eataly. As if sent from the food gods, my first seminar was headlined by the mother of Italian cooking in America, Mrs. “Tutti a Tavola e Mangiare!” (“Everyone to the Table and Eat”) herself, signora Lidia Bastianich (@LidiaBastianich). She was joined by chef Rosanna Marziale of Le Colonne restaurant in Caserta, Italy.
Together, Bastianich and Marziale put on a “woman-powered” lesson, starting with Marziale making palla di mozzarella, a breadcrumb-crusted mozzarella ball filled with basil pasta and served with pea puree and grilled tomato sauce. Each dish was paired with a wine—this one with sparkling rose from Berlucchi.
In true Lidia Bastianich form, she welcomed us into her kitchen and shared her philosophies on food and cooking. Her dish was pesca spada alla bagnara con scarola (swordfish bagnara-style with braised escarole), a very simple preparation of swordfish with lemon, capers, garlic and oregano. The escarole was prepared with black garlic and anchovy. I took note. Never has my swordfish been so moist and flavourful. Thanks for the lesson on garlic too. Enzymes—got it!
The next event was an all-star chefs dinner hosted by Mario Batali (@MarioBatali) at Eataly’s Birreria. Chef Massimo Bottura (@MassimoBottura) gave a beautiful piece of art with his antipasto course of salmon with caviar he entitled “Back to the Future,” paired with an absinthe horseradish julep garnished with a spoon of salmon roe from chef Lorenzo Cogo. I also enjoyed chefs Ugo Alciati and Alex Pilas’ potato and ricotta agnolotti with rabbit ragu. It was light and filling at the same time.
My favorite dish of the night came from the winner of the Grana Padano DOP competition, held in Milan. Chef Denny Imbroisi from Calabria, Italy, a chef at Jules Verne in Paris, made the last course of Grana Padano gelato with extra virgin olive oil crumble, shaved black truffle, 25-year balsamic and Pink Lady apple mousse. The dish was absolutely everything you want in a last bite. I am honored to have eaten it.
I certainly could have stopped at this point, but when you see Executive Chef Bryce Shuman (@BryceShuman) of Betony (@BetonyNYC), recent recipient of one Michelin star and three stars from The New York Times, on the roster, you do not think, you just go. Go I did to see, hear and taste what he and chef Luciano Monosilio of Pipero al Rex (who received one Michelin star as well) were creating at La Scuola di Eataly.
Monosilio started with trippa e cozze (tripe and mussels) in a hearty beef broth topped with raw ice meringue. The translator couldn’t keep up with the excitement of the chef. The dish showed great craft with each element cooked to perfection and sparked the mind with whimsy.
Shuman began with a solid primer on fermentation as he first explained his dish called nduja (spicy sausage) with fermented pickles and ciabatta. His survey of the room netted only one person who attempted sausage. He quickly allayed apprehensions, suggesting using mini wine cellars at home to cure a mixture of pork shoulder, fatback and spices for 45 days. I was already moving my red wine out of my cellar in my mind.
My adoration of Shuman only magnified after tasting this seemingly simple dish. The perfect level of spice, amazing texture and right level of acid made me take my time on each bite. My desk mate and I just stared at each other in disbelief.
I felt compelled to talk with Shuman after the seminar. It would be our second tete-a-tete since meeting at Taste of the Nation. He is grateful for the recent accolades received for his work at Betony, but he stays remarkably humble and, more importantly, still excited by his work. I had to push the envelope and ask for some of that prepared sausage so I could try my hand at it at home. Thank you, chef!
It’s safe to say that I had a great time at Identita Golose. I learned a lot, met new and exciting people in food and, most importantly, got to taste, eat, mangia e beve. It will certainly be in my queue for next year.
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter + Instagram, and on Facebook. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.