Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Preview: Taste of Italy

by guest blogger @iam_robot

The Taste of Italy will be back for its seventh year, and this year’s food and beverage participants include food-scene mainstays like Drago Centro, Valentino, Rao’s, Locanda Del Lago, Pedroncelli Winery, and Peroni, among others. Benefitting The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, these restaurants will feature finest Italian cuisine and wines on October 10th in Little Italy’s iconic 1869 Pico House, right across from the Union Station. And let’s not forget about cooking demos from some of the most revered Italian Chefs such as Chef Peppe Barone (director of the Mediterranean School of Food and Wine in Italy) and Chef Gianfranco Minuz (Locanda Del Lago). Slated to open later on in 2015, the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles will showcase the history and ongoing contributions of Italian-Americans to Southern California and the U.S. In addition to historical exhibitions, the museum will host film screenings, language classes, and a variety of cultural public programming.

Last week I had a chance to sample many of the wonderful bites and wines to be featured at this premier food event. There were many memorable bites but my favorite was the Baked Little Neck Clams with Italian Breadcrumb Stuffing from Rao’s.
This dish is the ultimate comfort food – It reminds me of Thanksgiving. Maybe in a better way! Clams were pleasantly supple yet the stuffing didn’t mask the inherent brininess of the shellfish. Stuffing was equally delightful - breadcrumbs were warm, moist, and crunchy. I could eat a tub of these!

My other highlight was Rao’s Fiocchi Ravioli Filled with Ricotta Cheese and Bartlett Pears.
Initially I was quite thrilled with the buttery flavor of brown butter but as I chewed through I loved the creaminess of the ricotta cheese and the sweet finish of the pear and dried cranberries. All the flavors meshed beautifully in right proportion.

Finally, I also enjoyed a couple of the classic dishes – Rao’s Meatballs with Marinara and Caprese Skewers with Di Stefano Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Reduction.
The meatballs had a delicious beefy taste and basil flavoring, but the ultimate star of the dish was the tang from the marinara sauce. Definitely one of the best marinara sauce I’ve tasted.

Additionally, the Caprese Skewers were pleasantly light and refreshing. Flavor-wise, it’s quite textbook but the grape tomatoes packed a wonderful surprise – firm in texture yet juicy and sweet when I bit into it. I’d recommend eating the skewer in 1 bite. IMG_1662[1]
Bruschetta with Arugula, Rao’s Roasted Red Bell Peppers with Golden Raisins, Pine Nuts, and Ruliano Prosciutto
Moving along, drinks will be plentiful for this event. As expected, Italian wineries will feature their greatest hits. I really enjoyed the Harmonium Nero D’ Avola 2011 from Sicily. It’s a dark blend with ripe scents of cherries, plums, and blackberries combined with nutmeg, rhubarb, pepper, and dark chocolate aromas. The result is a full-bodied wine with intense scents of fresh fruit and greater acidity. Other than that, 100 world-class wines will be served by participants such as Casa Torelli, Ca’Momi, Gruppo I Vinai, and many others.

All in all, I think the Taste of Italy will offer plenty of thrills. Again, the event will be held in 1869 Pico House.
Ticket ranges from $55 General to $125 Premiere. The general admission includes 6 food tickets and 6 pours while the premiere ticket includes 8 food tickets and 8 pours. Additionally, when you purchase the premiere ticket, you'll get a gift bag with Peroni’s beer glass, green olives/ olive oil/ balsamic vinaigrette, and Ritrovo Selection’s Truffle &amp Salt. You’d definitely want to stay until the end of the event, there’ll be a raffle to win a trip to Italy (worth $26,500). Raffle ticket is priced at $50 but there’ll be only 500 tickets sold – decent odds. Hope to see everyone there!

Event details:
Taste of Italy
October 10, 5-10pm
1869 Pico House, 424 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA
Purchase tickets here.


Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital