LE BACCANTI AIRED ON US TV THIS SEPTEMBERby Filippo BartolottaI thought this summer I had had the chance of a few days of holiday, but between the tasting days for the "Espresso Guide on Italian Wines" and a wine and food show with the US main entertaining network I got stuck in Chianti.
So I decided to enjoy work as much as possible, making the most out of it. And when the attitude is positive good things come your way. And so it happened that after our ItalyatYourTable.com US RoadShow we have been asked to show a few Americans a couple of segments of an authentic Italian Food and Wine Experience.So we immediately said yes and went for it. This meant a couple of months of story boards, logistics, wineries, chef and gourmet shops to coordinate for the US Tv.It was also my first TV show and I enjoyed every single minute of it. Lisa and Gary -the executive producers-, Lary and Carlo -the producers-, Jim -the sound man-, Douglas -the camera man- and Michael -the conductor- helped making this an amazing experience making me feel part of the team. This show has been running for decades and I am very flattered I have been asked to be part of it. Very soon we will let everyone know when it will be aired.Meanwhile some pics of this amazing adventure which will be broadcasted to over 2,5 million Americans twice!So let's start the day with Rome's best coffe: Caff Sant'Eustachio.Here from the 1930's over 4000 coffees a day have been served with their own coffee beans toasted on location to brew the naturally sweet and creamiest espresso in town.
Granted our caffeine fix, now is time to buy the ingredients for our cooking class at La Terrace, Sofitel Restaurant. First thing first then with our Gourmet Market Walk of Rome in Campo dei Fiori, where we try and buy the tomatoes for the Amatriciana, garlic and herbs for our sea bass and some fruit. Claudio's kiosk is the most reliable of all!
Considering that the main courses of our cooking class were three ancient Roman pasta sauces -Gricia, Amatriciana and Carbonara- the main ingredient had still to be purchased: guanciale -a non smoked beacon with a little more fat to add up sweetness to the sauce- and pecorino romano (salty hard sheep cheese) Best bet for this is the gourmet heaven Roscioli in via dei Giubbonari.
The Gricia sauce:Guanciale andPecorino RomanoGet some guanciale and cut it into little stripes. Cook it for 2 min. Through the pasta in the pan when ready and add up the Pecorino Romano to taste.The Amatriciana sauce: Guanciale, Tomatoes and Pecorino RomanoThis is a Gricia with Tomatoes. Gricia is more ancient as tomatoes arrived in Italy only after the discovery of America. So once the guanciale is crunchy add up the tomatoes for two minutes cooking and then one you stir the pasta with the sauce, add up the pecorino cheese.The Carbonara Sauce: Guanciale, Eggs and Pecorino RomanoFry the Guanciale for a few minutes, then prepare a few eggs (at least one egg yolk per person plus a full one), then pecorino cheese as much as you like on the pasta.Stir the pasta on the frying pan and while you do that slowly add up the whippedeggs with the pecorino cheese and serve as soon as possible.Before going to La Terrace at the Sofitel we had to purchase some sea-bass. So we go to Emiliano near Campo dei Fiori. This is a tiny little fish shop with fresh produce only. Emiliano is so proud of his product that whenever I happen to go go there he would show my the freshest fish and let me taste it there on the spot: authentic mediterranean sashimi! The Americans looked at my a little puzzled but happy to see how much I trust the guy:)
SoNow...time to go cook!Our destination is the Sofitel in Via Lombardia, right in front of Villa Borghese next to Via Veneto, near the US Embassy.
Talking about positive moods, the Sofitel of Rome played a big part on our success with this project. Marie, the Director has been looking after us from day one, making us all feel at home. The Sofitle MyBed is so comfy making my-real-bed just a couch! ouch! Whenever I end up in Rome and I sleep at the Sofitel I know is going to be tough to sleep somewhere else for the next two nights! The main reason though why I choose Sofitel is related to the roof top restaurant LA TERRACE on top of the world. Sunset and sunrise are my two favorite moments there as rome seems to be talking to you then. Villa Borghese is right there, great for walks, jogging or resting in the park to get away from the city traffic. the rest of town is right there starting from Dolce Vita via Veneto one block south.So La Terrace was our setting for the cooking class with Claudio and Luca.Here we learnt how to cook all those traditional pasta sauces from Rome, dining al fresco with a glass of the crisp, floral and creamy fruit driven Luna Mater Frascati of Fontana Candida.No better way to drink something made 15 km away from the immortal city, by one of the leading wineries of the nearby Frascati Area.
From Rome we got to north a couple of hours drive to Florence to the The Grand Hotel Excelsior.One night of relax and then off to Chianti with a little pit stop in Barberino Val d'Elsa to buy Extravirgin Olive Oil at Il Canto di Baccio. This is a tiny cozy little shop were Danila, the owner, sells the organic products of La Spinosa Farm.
Once we got the Extravirgin Olive oil we launch ourself to Castello di Monsanto for a Wine Tour and a Pasta Challenge with Tina.Here our Television learns how to make pasta from scratch with flour and eggs, some pesto -basil, garlic, pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil sauce- and Peposo -a veal stew with Chianti.
At the Castello di Monsanto we open a magnificentChianti Classico Riserva il Poggio 1982: Orange peel, licorice and leather with an amazing truffle and cherry finish. Smooth tannins track loads of refresching acidity.With this stunning Sangiovese 100% Chianti Classico the group learned how to taste wine: what a wine to start the day and then we went ahead for the cellar tour.
The end of the morning was spent making pasta with Tina and having a great Italian lunch paired with Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva il Poggio 2004. Great match to see the same wine 25 years on. The 2004 was way denser and more extractive style with a lovely Sangiovese cherry touch and very slick tannic structure. I love this vintage.PS: you can find these wines in the US at www.italianwinemerchants.comThe meal and the morning was finished off with the Cantuccini di Prato by Corsini Biscotti which went deliciously with the Castello di Monsanto 1995 Vin Santo.
Corsini Biscotti make also a chestnut flour and chocolate luscious cake called Polendina: a great surprise also for me. I had half a cake left from the photo shoots and my kids polished the whole tray the next available breakfast!Finally at 1430 we made it for lunch eating our very own pasta. Thank you everybody, including Benedetta Marinelli who just joined LEBACCANTI, helping me with ITALYATYOURTABLE.COM. Welcome Benedetta in the crazy Baccanti world.These were three amazing Italian days which soon will become a TV show. I'll keep you posted!