2nd dinner with Mario Batali
This year, we were part of the group at our school that outbid the others at our school auction for Mario Batali to have a dinner for us. We won this prize last April and we started planning when we could all be available - 6 couples - we came up with December 4th. I thought the whole planning process was hilarious considering that it took that long for all of us to be available at the same time. Busy lives.
We all know Mario since he is also a parent at our school so that made it even more fun. He came with his pastry chef, Gina DePalma, which was an added bonus.
So, we began cocktails with champagne and passed antipasti misti's. Small deep fried risotto balls which was a pop in the mouth and really tasty. Sardines marinated and wrapped around small sticks of carrots and celery root. Crispy baked Parmesan rounds with balsamic onions on top. My favorite was aged prosciutto wrapped into little purse sacs around pomegranate seeds. After all these delectable goodies, we sat down for dinner.
The first course was an Acorn Squash Sformato with small greens on top this was served with a white crisp wine from Mario's own personal vineyard. We learned that formato means form and sformato means form outside the original form. They had taken acorn squash and created with cream and other ingredients a small custard then reshaped it back a small round mold with greens over the top and a light sauce. It was not too rich and the consistency was that of a soft custard. Nice starter.
Second course was with 2 of Mario's favorite ingredients - truffles and beef cheeks. He feels that there are parts of beef that no one uses and are the tastiest if cooked the right way. He made us Beef Cheek Ravioli with Black and White Truffles. The white truffle root was the palm of my hand and the smell is intoxicating. The beef was braised with spices almost like a pulled pork. This was inside the ravioli and garnished with butter, cheese and the two types of truffles. He prefers the white. This was served with a barollo.
Third course was Duck Tortelli with Sugo Finto. A red duck sauce over large thick pasta. Pieces of duck. It was really delicious.
Fourth course was Osso Buco Deconstructed. We asked him how he came up with this one. He makes classic osso buco, takes out the bone and marrow, and takes the meat off the bone. Then puts the marrow and gremolita inside the meat and rolls it up into small round but flat portions. It almost was the size of an individual tart. He served small greens over that as well. Really beautiful presentation.
The last course was dessert. Gina is one helluva of a dessert maker. She also has a cookbook coming out with I am definitely going to purchase. She made an upside down individual cranberry tart with the flakiest crust and vanilla gelato served over the top. It was unbelievable. Along the side a biscotti and small cookies...but of course.
All and all, lots of eating and drinking going on. It it always a fun night. The crowd was great and listening to Mario discuss his passion for food and wine is always captivating. At the end of the evening we were all thinking what how we can win again the auction this April and what could be fun next year....