Restaurant Visit: Osteria Francescana

Earlier this summer I were invited to one of my best friends wedding parties in Italy. Home of the pizza and pasta. Making sure I planned ahead I made reservations for 4 to Osteria Francescana. Osteria Francescana were originally fully booked as there some changes in how to make reservations. But the host was able to magically make a new table appear. So got very lucky to get a reservation. Just days afterwards they were given the “Best Restaurant in the World” award. So expectations were high.

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Got a picture with the Man himself, Chef Massimo Bottura

These are my mobile pictures I took of the meal. The meal was as you could expect top notch. But in any meal there were some I liked better than others. Attention to detail, atmosphere, and the total experience were just fantastic.

 

From the outside you couldn’t really tell what was behind those doors. Looks very hidden, but the best things in life are those that you explore. So this just got me more excited.

Selecting wine is not something that should be taken lightly. We started the meal with a nice Barolo 2008 and then a nice Lambrusco 2013. We selected the Tuffo menu, which is composed of the dishes you see on Netflix’s Chef’s Table. They also have another set menu, which you can find on their website.

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The meal started off with a little crispy toast with Rabbit mousse

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Tuile with Parmesan

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Meringue shells filled with Foie Gras and Puff Pastry filled with Rabbit Pate

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Tribute to Normandy
Tartar of lamb with a seafood sauce

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Lentils are Better than Caviar
Lentals cooking in a briney broth to emulate the saltyness of Caviar. This was probably my favorite dish.

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‘Riso Levante’
Risotto with Saffron

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Mediterranean Sole
Sole served with dehydrated salt water that create a thin paper that melted away in your mouth.

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An Autumn Ceviche in Modena
Mushrooms and chestnut in a cream sauce

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Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano in Different Textures and Tempratures
Who knew you could make Parmesan sing like this. Not just you addition to pasta.

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The Crunchy Part of the Lasagna
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At the Dinner of Trimalchione: Fowl in the Ancient Roman Style
Fowl with crispy skin with a dark and rich sauce made with the drippings

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Croccantino of Foie Gras
Foie Gras Popsicle covered with caramel chopped nuts. This was my favorite bite. But I do love my Foie Gras

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Caesar Salad in Bloom
Romain Lettuce with flowers and freeze dried raspberry powder

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Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart
Decontructed Lemon Tart, the small dots on the top of the plate were many different sauces and textures. Ranging from hot sauce and Capers, to different herbs.

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Chocolate Ganache with Freeze Dried Raspberry Powder

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Filled chocolate spheres with cherry liqueur, Chocolate Truffle, and Macaron with Black Truffle and Foie Gras

If you have a chance to dine at Osteria Francescana, it is something that is an adventure into the culinary marvels. The overall course and experience is something I will cherish for a very long time.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

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Bolognese Ragu & Ricotta Ravioli

Inspired by my recent trip to Italy and the Italian food capital, Modena. I wanted to create a rich Ragu using some of the fine ingredients I brought with me home, Balsamico Vinegar and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Two of the most known ingredients from the Modena area. If you make the trip to look at fast cars and taste the best food in the world, I would highly recommend stopping by Villa San Donnino for their excellent Balsamico tasting.

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I wanted to make a hearty dish for the fall season here in Seattle. Using the best of what is available at the farmers market. For the best tomatoes you unfortunately have to find in the can section, but don’t let that fool you to think you are getting a lesser product. Keeps well in the freezer and goes well with many different types of pasta. This will be your new go to ragu.

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Ricotta

1,8l Whole Milk
200ml Heavy Cream
120ml Vinegar (White, White Wine, Apple Cider, or White Balsamico Vinegar)
Salt

In a sauce pan heat the milk mixture with a little bit of salt. As it is heating up prepare your strainer that you line with cheese cloth. Once the mixture has reached 92c take it a side, make sure the milk does not burn on the bottom of the pan. Slowly add the vinegar (I used White Balsamico condiment) as you are stirring. After about 30 minutes strain the mixture. For the pasta dough, see my earlier post here. Create two pasta sheets and put a table spoon of ricotta in the middle about 4-5cm apart. Put the second sheet on top and make sure there is no air bubbles. Cook for 4-5 minutes in rolling salted water, or freeze for later.

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Shortrib Bolognese Ragu

Warning, recipe is large. It keeps well in the freezer and can be used with many different types of pasta.

5 Carrots
1 Sweet Onion
6 Celery sticks
4 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)

1kg of Short ribs
1l Beef broth
250g Panchetta
50ml Balsamico Vinegar (or Balsamico condiment)
450 ml Red Wine (Sangiovese recommended)
5g fresh Sage (finely chopped)
5g fresh Rosemary (finely chopped)
5g fresh Thyme (finely chopped)
2 Bay leaves
225ml Whole Milk
225ml Heavy Cream
1l Whole peeled San Marzano Tomatoes
5-6 pieces of Sun-dried tomatoes
10g MSG
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan

In a large dutch oven sear off the Short ribs and take them out of the pot. In the same pot add the Panchetta and let that render some of the fat before adding your mirepoix (Carrot, onion, garlic, and celery finely chopped). Once your veggies have been caramelized and golden add in your red wine. I added Balsamico condiment to get another layer for richness and depth. Once the alcohol is burned off, add the stock and reduce a little. Blitz up your tomatoes with a hand blender or food processor and add that to the pot with all your spices. So this is where we are adding a little MSG. MSG is to boost the tomato flavors and get that 5th taste (Umami) really going. Don’t be affraid, it will really make this sauce go from great, to YUM. Add you Short ribs back to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Let it gently stew away for 3-4 hours, trying not to sneak a taste as the wonderful smells fill your house. Finish the sauce by adding the milk and Parmesan. Serve with al dente pasta.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

 

Trio of Ice Cream

This summer have been a hot one, and to cool down I have been tinkering with some cold flavors. To make the ice cream I used Liquid Nitrogen (LN2), and the smallest container available for purchase at my local welder shop is 10 liters, so that creates about 3 batches of ice cream. Currently there is a trend to add Licorice to everything, so I wanted to make a ice cream with that. And to fill up the other flavors I made a Dark Chocolate ice cream. My friend, Joe from Measure and Stir, have been wanting to make a cocktail ice cream and made his take on a MaiTai. Ice cream is a dish that you can really taste great dairy, so worth the extra few dollars on the good stuff.

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Licorice Custard Ice Cream with LN2 Frozen Raspberry and Orange shards

Licorice

650g Whole Milk
225g Sugar
200g Egg Yolks
150g Heavy Cream
10g Licorice Powder (Fine)

3 about liters of Liquid Nitrogen

Mix all ingredients together in a Thermomix. Thermomix is a food processor with a heating element built in. Meaning you can set a temperature and have have it gently stir or chop. This processes helps making an ice cream base as you need to start with a custard. Put all the ingredients in the Thermomix except for the Licorice. Licorice is a pretty dominant flavor,so less is more. You should aim for where you can taste the Licorice, but not as intense as a Licorice candy. Stir the base at 70c for about 20-30 minutes, checking every so often to make sure you have a smooth thick custard base. Once you have your custard let it rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but if you can leave it over night even better. You want the custard to cool down and also settle the air structure inside the base. This step is not needed, but does help create a smooth texture ice cream. Using a stand mixer whip the base at medium speed while you pour in the liquid nitrogen slowly. Once semi frozen add to a contain and let firm up in the freezer. Served with Raspberries or strawberries. A great flavor combination is Fresh Strawberries with balsamic reduction with a scoop of Licorice ice cream.

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MaiTai Soft Serve Ice Cream with Fresh Mint and El Dorado 12yo

Mai Tai

You can read all about this cocktail ice cream over at Measure and Stir.

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Double Dark Chocolate Custard Ice Cream with Milk and White Chocolate shaved on top

Double Dark Chocolate

650g Whole Milk
225g Sugar
200g Egg Yolks
150g Heavy Cream
30g Chocolate Powder (Freshly roasted)
50g 66% Caraibe (Finely chopped)
50g 72% Araguani (Finely chopped)

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I followed the same process for Licorice ice cream base for this ice cream as well.I combined the 66% Caraibe into the custard base as it was mixing in the thermomix. This melted the chocolate to infuse the flavor. Caraibe chocolate have a nutty and fruity flavor and a gentle sweetness. I wanted this to play with the roasted rich chocolate powder. Once the base is semi frozen using the liquid nitrogen, incorporate the Araguani chocolate shavings. This will add small bits of crispy chocolate and bursts of flavor. The Araguani chocolate have a bitter flavor to really complement the two other chocolates.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!

Pappardelle with Shortrib Red Wine Ragu

Usual lazy Sunday tradition consists of going to Ballard Farmers Market in the early morning, watch Football, American Football, or any other sports that are in playoffs. And making some food with my old roommate from college and great friend, Gualtiero. At the market, I browsing all the treats that are on offer. There are a few stands I always gravitate to, Pasteria Lucchese and Skagit River Ranch, they have such amazing products. Pasteria Lucchese is run by a true Italian, he is quite the character and amazing to chat with. Always helpful and encouraging. If you don’t get there early enough, many of the different pastas are sold out. He got me inspired to make my own Pappardelle pasta and my take on a classic tomato based Ragu.

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Egg Pappardelle Pasta

Egg Pasta

170g tipo 00 flour
55g durum semolina flour
9 egg yolks
15ml olive oil
45 ml water

In a food processor combine the 00 flour (All Purpose flour can be substituted) and semolina flour, add the egg yolks and pulse to get it slightly mixed. As you have the machine going, slowly add in the water and oil until the dough comes together into a crumbly texture. Pour the dough out on a floured workbench and kneed the dough. This is to activate the gluten in the dough. Kneed for a few minutes. The dough will be soft and not sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. The gluten protein needs to rest before you can roll it out and cook it. Let it rest at least 30 minutes, but can rest up to 24 hours. Once rested get your pasta roller out and again flour (use semolina) the workbench. Cut the pasta dough into 4 even pieces and using your hand form to a flat oval disc. Run through the pasta machine until you get to 5 on the thickness dial on the machine. Gaultiero were keeping a watchful eye for quality control (checkout his pasta dishes). Gently fold the rolled pasta lengthwise and cut the pasta into 15mm thick ribbons. Hang or spread to dry a little bit before cooking in salted water (water should be as salt as the sea). This pasta dough can be used for other types of pasta (filled, lasagna, or ribbon pasta).

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Short Rib Red Wine Ragu

Short Rib Ragu

2 Carrots
2 Shallots
2 Celery ribs
500g Short ribs (bone in, medium to large pieces)
100ml Red wine (Bold Italian wine is preferred, I used a Masi Campofiorin)
180ml Tomato paste
180ml Beef stock
180ml Water
25g Dried Chanterelle mushrooms
100g Fresh Button mushrooms

I started the day before by sous vide the short ribs at 85c for 24 hours. Ideally you time the sous vide to be done when the sauce is done. Skagit River Ranch had some amazing Wagyu Short ribs that I used. If you are looking for some of the best meat, Skagit River Ranch got you covered. I have not had anything from them that have not been top notch. Go early to make sure you get some of the world’s best bacon. For the base of the ragu I start with rehydrate the dried mushrooms in the hot water for 30 minutes. Make sure to not toss away the leftover mushroom stock. Finely chop up the carrots, shallots, and Celery. In a pot add a little bit of oil and the chopped vegetables. Allow the shallots to caramelize and add the finely chopped dried and fresh mushrooms before deglazing with red wine. Once the red wine have reduced to about half add in the beef and mushroom stocks as well as tomato paste. Leave the pot on medium heat and reduce the liquid by half again. At the end add the short ribs (chopped/shredded, with no bones) to the sauce and let marry for 30 minutes on low heat. Add a little water if the ragu seems a little dry.

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Egg Pappardelle Pasta with Short Rib Red Wine Ragu

Boil the pasta until you get a slight chewy texture (al dente) and bring together with the ragu. The overall dish had a good texture from both the fresh pasta and falling apart tender short ribs. A nice sweetness from the tomatoes and mirepoix .The Chanterelle mushrooms and red wine really brought a deep rich flavor that just keeps you going in for more. Grate a little bit of Parmesan and finely chop some Italian parsley to sprinkle over the top. Served with a glass of red wine.

Affogato
Affogato with Talenti Chocolate Caramel Gelato

Affogato

To round of the meal, Gualtiero brought with him the Mokapot and some ice cream to make a sweet finish. He chose to use an Italian espresso blend for the coffee and Talenti Chocolate Caramel Gelato. Talenti makes an incredible selection of ice cream, gelato, and sorbet. I love Talenti’s line of desserts, as well as Snoqualmie Creme Fraiche ice cream.

See you next time. Hungry Eyes Full Heart, Can’t Lose!