|Chef Giulio Coppola and Pasticcere Antonino Maresca|
17 December, Karen. Save the date.
A quick message from Chef Giulio Coppola via WhatsApp.
An appointment for lunch. Coppola had even invited his close friend, Pastry Chef Antonino Maresca, to share in the festivities.
No stress, just good food-good friends, just the type of event to kick off the Christmas season.
Coppola’s restaurant, La Galleria, is located in the heart of pasta land, Gragnano. The streets of the town were dressed in Christmas red ready to host their annual mercatino di Natale/Christmas market. Inside the restaurant, the spirit continued featuring Christmas lights and decorations winding up the staircase and spread throughout the dining room.
But I was curious as to what as going on in the kitchen of course! Preparations for lunch in progress! Coppola, Maresca, and the small kitchen brigade were at work to set out a Christmas spread that was original, entertaining, but above all appetizing!
Here’s a look…
Aperitifs prepared by La Galleria; rice chips with beet cream and gorgonzola. Chicory stuffed with hollandaise sauce. Roulade of marinated meat with ricotta cheese...
Toasted panettone (made with olive oil and verbena) topped with butter, anchovy, lemon and truffles.
Topinambur (Jerusalem artichokes) chips.
In addition, a series of breads made by Maresca including an olive filled cornetto.
Then on to the appetizers;
A light, delicate chard ravioli alla marinara (shrimp, octopus, clams) with infused lemon.
Coppola’s prize winninggourmet pizza with "hot dogs" and potatoes with mayonnaise and "checiap".
Spaghetti with spring onions, lemon, and smoked cerino, a fish from the mullet family.
Plin pasta stuffed with cauliflower and sea snails.
Topped with purple cabbage and its fantastic broth.
It would not be Natale without cod and Coppola did not disappoint.
Still have room for dessert? Of course!
Maresca presented a series of dolci like this predessert – cubo di Natale/Christmas cube. Smoked grapefruit, corbezzolo (strawberry tree) and fresh pine nuts.
A personal Christmas message from Maresca included.
Then “Mi Sembrano Mille”, Maresca’s take on a classic Italian dessert, the millefoglie. A piece of appetizing artwork featuring a surprise. Panettone ice cream!
The end of any Christmas meal includes picccoli pastries like these prepared with seasonal citrus fruits and yellow tomatoes stuffed with red ones.
And of course, panettone! Maresca treated us all with two types – the classic version with candied fruits and nuts and one with annurca apples.
Panettone prepared by Forno Guarino alongside Maresca himself.
At the end of the meal, alongside a chiacchierata and coffee the chefs finally filled us in on the mysterious A that had accompanied one of the spectacular desserts tasted.
No, we were told –
A is for Amicizia.