Monday, August 31, 2015

A Summer Serata with the Ragosta Hotels Collection - Hotel Raito, Raito (Sa)

Save the date, Karen...22 August.
Those were the words spoken to me by Chef Francesco Russo a few months ago after an early spring lunch at Il Golfo Ristorante in Raito (Sa) He continued by explaining that the Ragosta Hotel Collection chain of 5 star hotels would be hosting the third evening of  three part dinner series  there at the hotel.
It sounded interestingly tasty, so I penciled the date into my agenda...

The date arrived - a late summer Saturday evening.  The six hands dinner which showcased the talents of three chefs from three separate hotels in three separate regions.  Six hands that worked well together thanks to not only their professionalism, but also to a  strong friendship that ties them together.

From left to right -Chef Francesco Russo of Hotel Raito on the Amalfi Coast, Chef Simone Strano of Palazzo Martemartini in Rome, and Chef Giovanni Grasso of La Plage Resort in Sicily.

The meal began with a light breeze and Neapolitan music on the terrace of the hotel.

I was given  glass of spumante and a  welcome from the chefs featuring fried anchovies, anchovy butter, foccacia bread, and tomatoes.

Each chef personally accompanied their dishes to every table and spent time with the guests to explain their dish and wish a sincere Buon Appetito...

First up was the host of the evening, Chef Russo whose dish represented his region, Campania.

Chef Francesco Russo

A sfogiatella pastry appetizer filled with eggplant parmigiana. This sat on a ragu sauce that was made with moscardini which are baby octopus.  The wine served with this dish was from Campania as well. Tramonti Bianco Costa D'Amalfi Doc 2014, Cantine Giuseppe Apicella.

The next course was a pasta dish presented by Chef Strano.

Chef Simone Strano

The chef's plate represented the region of Lazio  and starred an oxtail stuffed ravioli with an oxtail and tomato sauce. This dish was paired with De Notaris Malvasia Lazio IGP 2014.

The secondo, or main dish was presented by Chef Grasso who put together the flavors of Sicily.

Chef Giovanni Grasso
That included a swordfish flan which he stuffed with sun dried tomato confit, clams and mussels.  He served it on top of crushed potatoes.  A Sicilian rose' wine was chosen from this dish; Pietradolce Etna Rosato DOC 2014.

Time for dessert. Cannoli, lemon, zabaglione, and ricotta cheese formed a tight friendship on this dessert plate... like the chefs who prepared them.

Right after dessert,  I decided to stroll around the terrace and take a look at some of the works of art on display.  Paintings, or better yet, Food Paintings produced by Chef Russo himself.  The chef joined me and pointed spoke with me about several...

For example, his World Wine painted with tinted extra virgin olive oil and wine.  The world map is changed by the presence of the Americas on the right and not the left.  He also pointed out  that between Asia and North America there is a profile of female face, inspired by Caravaggio's Magdalene

Or this one entitled Tumeric which is exactly what he used along with oils and acrylics and the help of a fork, not a paintbrush.

World Coke features real coke cans and melted plastic forks.

Salmon and Spinach was painted on 170 wine bottle corks.

The evening was over.  I made a quick trip to the upstairs bar for a quick caffe' for the road, a few minutes of fireworks, a few words with the chefs before I hit the road.  

But not before mentally adding two future dinner dates in my agenda...

Sicily and Rome.
Why not?

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