Thursday, October 30, 2014

Back home from Italy...Donabe Risotto with Donabe-smoked Scallops

We left the hotel on Saturday morning and drove to Milano Airport. Everybody else was going back to Tokyo, so I said good-by to them at the airport. I will miss them until next time...we travel together every year, and they are such wonderful companions.

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Travel back to LA was not too bad. During the flight from Milano to Frankfurt, they served a dish of smoked lamb and tuna. Both were basically raw, and I was surprised that they serve raw meat on the airplane! But, it was actually tasty. The dinner during the flight from Frankfurt was surprisingly good, it was chicken with morel mushroom sauce. I had a few glasses and fell asleep nicely!

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Back home, and I had a ritual of unpacking party. Upon Jason's request, I got nice local cheeses. All the wines were in perfect condition. I was so happy, and the cheeses tasted amazing.

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I brought home a bag of risotto and spice mix, from a rice producer in Alba, Piemonte. So, I translated the recipe by Google translate and made the risotto with my Kyoto-style shallow donabe, "Kyoto Ame-yu". I realized that this doanbe is perfect for making authentic Italian risotto because of the shallow body and how it distribute the heat. Right before finish cooking the rice, I added a slice of butter and blanched and cut asparagus.

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While the rice was cooking, I smoked scallops with my donabe smoker, "Ibushi Gin". Then, served them with the donabe made risotto. The dish came our perfectly!! Wow, I tasted the wonderful collaboration of Italy and donabe. I was so happy.

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On another day, with bottarga from Sardinia (I bought it directly from the producer at Salone del Gusto), I made bottarga pasta with radicchio in tagine-style donabe, "Fukkura-san". I grated almost 2 sacks of bottarga and also sliced some for topping. While boiling the pasta, I sautéed sliced garlic and radicchio in olive oil in the skillet of Fukkura-san. Once the pasta is ready, I transferred the pasta to the Fukkura-san and added the grated bottarga with a slice of butter. Quickly tossed everything and topped with some sliced bottarga and black pepper. It was so decadent and delicious!

Happy donabe life.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Trip to Italy (October 2014 - Piemonte)...Finale dinner at Ristorante alls Torre

Beef with Gattinara wine sauce

Our great adventure in Piemonte and Valle d'Aosta was coming close to an end already.

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After visiting Antoniolo, we visited Lake Orta. It's a historic town with a beautiful scenery. Inside of the lake is a small island. I loved the view and also the architecture.

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For dinner, we returned to Gattinara, to go to Ristorante alla Torre. The place is a recommendation from Rosanna of Antoniolo. They serve regional style Piemontese cuisine there.

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We had a private room and enjoyed our wrap dinner party. The dishes were so delicious, and so as the wines.

We are going home tomorrow...I don't want to leave Italy yet.

Trip to Italy (October 2014 - Piemonte)...Visit to Antoniolo

Antoniolo's winemaker, Alberto, in front of their vineyard

Later last night, we arrived in Sillavengo, about 1 hour drive to northeast from Torino.

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Until Saturday, we stay at this historic villa, which was originally built in 16th century. We had a late night meal at a restaurant inside of the villa, then went to bed. This morning, it was another gorgeous sunny day. I took a walk around the villa.

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Today's highlight was visiting Antoniolo, a leading producer of Gattinara DOCG in Piemonte. We met Antoniolo's 3rd generation owner, Rosanna, and their winemaker, Alberto. They drove us to their vineyard on and surrounding a hill. They grow Nebbiolo there to make very elegant Gattinara.

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After coming back to the winery, we had a tour of the inside. Then, we had a tasting of their lineup. As I've been a fan of Antoniolo's wines, it was such a great experience to taste their wines side-by-side after visiting the vineyards. So beautiful.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trip to Italy (October 2014 - Piemonte)...I went crazy at Salone del Gusto

Piles of Scamorza Appassiato at Salone del Gusto

In the late afternoon, we came back to Torino.

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We went to Salone del Gusto, which is the world's largest food & wine fair, held every two years in Torino. There are hundred of wine and gourmet producers from all over Italy and from different countries.

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The venue is so huge that it's impossible to walk around in just one day. So, I decided to focus on Piemonte and also checked out a few other regions of Italy.

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I kept walking and visiting different producers. I tasted so many different things, too. I met the winemaker from Carema, too! In just a couple of hours, I bought so many things that my arms felt like almost breaking. Cheeses, chocolate, rice, ancient beans, olive oil, and even a bottle of Bicerine, a historic chocolate & coffee liqueur from Torino!