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Bermuda Dinner

Hamilton, February 9, 2013

A Balsamic-inspired Italian dinner at the Little Venice Restaurant

In Italy it's all about the la famiglia. This evening's dinner at the Little Venice Restaurant hosted by Manager Constanzo di Meglio and Managing Director Emilio Barbieri was no exception. From Italy Marica Benatti owner of L'Acetaia del Cristo in San Prospero (Modena) joined us.

We were introduced to an exciting juxtaposition of tastes as this traditional balsamic vinegar producer drizzled her collection of sweetly rich, exotic vinegar over dishes created by Chef Michele Celentano for the occasion.

The first drizzle was over crude chunks of Parmegiano Reggiano, accompanied by thin slices of smoked and cured Italians meats. Ms. Benatti explained the process involved in creating a true balsamic. She emphasised the essential aging process to develop a deep satisfying taste and texture. Like a choice wine, achieving the correct balance between sweetness and acid is critical. Patience and experience are key to its success.

Braised radicchio Trevigiano served with a Parusso Lenghe Bianco was our introduction. Bitter at first bite, a drizzle of balsamic balanced the taste with the crumbled blue cheese. The wine was certainly challenged to compete alerting our taste buds that surprises would follow. Next was a veli di crudo di manzo dressed with sautéed mushrooms and a distinctive black truffle cream. The aged vinegar balanced well the rich flavours and earthy sweetness of the cured and thinly sliced beef. A Renato Ratti Dolcetto d'Alba 'Colombe' was an inspired choice.

Risotto essential to Italian family dining followed. Rich Parmesan worked into the arborio was livened with a balsamic drizzle. Guests were invited to use their 'balsamic spoon' to taste this rich, aged vinegar ‘naked’. Ms. Benatti explained that vintages of the vinegar had distinct taste profiles, many being wonderful to taste in their own right made as they are from the juice of grapes!

A delicious cotechino di Modena, a pork sausage from the Emilia Romagna region, poached and served with braised lentils and a healthy drizzle of superior aged balsamic was a highlight. The dish was accompanied by a fine Bruno Rocca Barbaresco 'Rabaja' 2008. Smooth on the palate and earthy in taste this combination was a winner.

Mousse di cioccolato bianco classically paired with strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar, all the flavours and tastes coming together beautifully in the finale to a lively and delightful evening 'al italiana'. We had no problem imagining a visit to Emilia Romagna, trattoria, and la famiglia with whom to enjoy it all.

Joe Gibbons
Conseiller Culinaire