Last night we had our first L'Ost event, an Italian regional food and wine dinner.
I first of all wanna thank all the guests who came to our event, thank you for your support, your enthusiasm and kind words. Thanks to Aaron and Jes for letting us use Osteria Stella, I could't think about a better place to launch our project. Thanks to John, Stella's Chef de Cuisine, who helped me to get comfortable and have fun in a commercial kitchen and to Brad for the best service experience. Thanks to Reed Schick for these cool pictures. Thanks to Maja for getting into this adventure with me.
We had a blast! I was very nervous, I will be honest. I am getting used to private dinners but this was another story. This was really getting out there, putting your face, publicly promoting an event that might be a flop. And what if this dish doesn't turn out, what if people will still be hungry, what if... I had a couple of sleepless nights with these "what if" torturing me. Well, nothing bad happened, everybody left happy and, above all, Maja and I had a lot of fun.
The first region I picked was Lombardia, the region I come from. Milan, the capital of fashion and the hub of Italian economy, Como with its stunning lake, but also the mountains, the countryside with rice plantation and vineyards, the little beautiful cities (Pavia, Mantova, Lodi, Bergamo…). My passion for food started in Milan, I cooked my first dinner with my best friend Valentina when we were 13 and I don’t know how our parents ate it. Here I started thinking about transitioning from Fashion to Food, attending Food Genius Academy. Here I hosted an infinite number of dinners with friends. Despite my apartment was only 462 sqf I managed to host up to 12 people more than once. Here I started to host guests for Airbnb experiences with my dear friend Elena. Here is where I have the sweetest family memories and where I met Jace, the reason why I am in Knoxville so yes, I couldn’t have started with any other region.
Talking about food… I would like to share some details about our dinner for all the people who weren’t there. Since I moved to the US, there is one thing I am craving most of the time and that I cannot find in Knoxville: Stracchino. This dinner was the motivation to finally learn to make it myself. Stracchino is a soft cow’s milk cheese from the Northwest of Italy, it’s delicate but has a nice acidity that makes it so unique. We paired it with a sourdough Focaccia and another dish I am obsessed with: Giardiniera, pickled vegetables in oil and vinegar, traditionally served with coldcuts and cheeses. I think I will keep making tons of it in the next months as I looooove it!
Of course I couldn’t skip the signature dish of Lombardia: Risotto allo Zafferano, a beautiful golden color rice with saffron. The dish my grandpa Walter was cooking to perfection. I brought back from home a special Carnaroli rice that had the perfect texture. Despite the stock was vegetable based (as the whole dinner was vegetarian), the final mantecatura with butter and Grana made it perfectly balanced and tasty.
Cotoletta, another must when we talk about Lombardia. We made Cotoletta using beautiful Oysters Mushrooms from Extraterrestrial fungi. Even the most carnivore guest were impressed, you could barely say it wasn’t meat. Frying them into clarified butter made the rest.
There’s nothing that pairs with wine better than cheeses. We chose Taleggio and Gorgonzola Dolce, both with a bold flavor but delicate at the same time, creamy cow’s milk cheeses with different aging times.
Dessert was hard to choose as I had in my mind I was gonna bake Panettone, the Christmas dessert from Milan but… the dinner was postponed and Christmas was over. I went more on the sentimental side of things rather than strictly regional. I chose to make one of my mom’s and grandma Angelina’s favorite desserts, Meringue with whipped cream and these amazing Marron Glacee’s with brandy (brought from home).
Each course was perfectly paired with amazing wines chosen by Maja, who shared her knowledge and made this night very educational.
Maja and I at the end of the night were over the moon. Not only because everybody had a good time but because we made it through our first event! We did it and we did it smoothly. We will brainstorm to understand what can we do better, what should we change and when to have the next L’Ost dinner! We can’t wait! But also… what region will be next??!