A quick exchange on WhatsApp between Chef Angelo Borghese (Osteria Al Paese) and myself.
Karen, buonasera, com stai? Listen, on the 23rd of August will you be in the area? I, along with Gian Marco Carli will be hosting a dinner at Il Principe in Pompei….
Hi Angelo. I’m fine, thanks. The 23rd I should be around…even if Pompeii is about an hour’s drive. Remind me! Ciao!
Well, the chef didn’t need to remind me -as the weeks went by, the date remained saved on my mental calendar like a post it note. A post it note with a half a dozen question marks scribbled on it. Questions and curiosities that motivated me to arrive a little early for the sold out event.
Since I was the first to arrive, I headed straight to the kitchen where I found Borghese and Carli adding the final changes to dishes that were to be prepared in little less than an hour. Borghese handed me the menu for a quick look. A menu rich with brand new dishes prepared by the two chefs specifically for evening.
Together they picked out the ingredients, tried, tasted, tried again and finalized a full menu. I could almost imagine the two young talented chefs working together tied by a special bond of amicizia/friendship. A friendship which began on a boy’s night out some time back.
Two friends, just one hand, a dining room that was filling up.
Guys, do we have time for a quick brindisi? Certo!
|Chefs Gian Marco Carli and Angelo Borghese|
A glass of sparkling wine – and forza ragazzi! Then I took my seat with the diners to see what that boy’s night out so many months ago would produce at the dinner table.
After our aperitif, three appetizers headed our way.
The first, Babba’.
The classic Neapolitan dessert? No! This one was instead of rum the chefs used tomato water. Other ingredients to make this dish savory included chantilly cream (made with provola cheese), lime and basil.
Second – Gambero.
Shrimp, fennel, anchovies from Cantabrico, escarole, raspberry vinegar, almonds and oranges.
Third – Totano
Totano is flying squid in English. The chefs served it filled with Campania’s Provolone del Monaco cheese, yellow bell peppers, salicornia (glasswort) and bottarga.
Our aperitifs and appetizers were paired with two wines from the winery chosen by the chefs for the evening - Tenuta Iovino.
Their Pompeiano Frizzante 2017. (Caprettone, Falanghina, Coda di Volpe, and Cacamosca)
followed by their Coda di Volpe.
When it was time for the primo piatto, it was also time to change directions. As the sommelier poured me a glass of Terra del Gragnano 2017....
I was served their Tortello
Handmade tortello pasta filled with a Campania favorite – Genovese sauce. Genovese is a pasta sauce made by slow cooking beef and onion together. The chefs chose the sweet coppery Montoro onion. Layered on top a veil of Bluefin tuna belly that practically melted in my mouth and soy sauce air.
Moving right along.
Octopus prepared in a cacciatora estiva sauce. Cacciatora means hunter style – a sauce prepared with onions herbs and tomatoes. The chefs made it estivo…summer style, so light and delicate. Alongside the octopus? Celery root.
Wine paired for this dish? Piedirosso 1890 – which I must admit that after only 2 sips (I was my own designated driver) I decided right then and there that I needed to discover this wine again.
The evening went by smoothly…beginning around 9 pm…every now and then a chance to stand up, stretch your legs, and go outside for un po di aria fresca/fresh air.
Then time for dessert – beginning with a predessert to clan our palate.
A ginger granite with matcha tea poured on top table side. Refreshing!
Then dessert – Fichi
A dessert made with figs, milk chocolate and topped with foamy foamy buffalo milk mozzarella.
And so, an evening that began with a simple audio message concluded. Or did it? I could add the hour or so of after service chitchat that I had with both chefs. The tons of info that I l learned about the original Il Principe Restaurant dating back to 1986 (!!). The plans that both chefs have for incorporating the dishes into their own menus. Plans for the future, etc etc.
I could…and I will. Soon. Very soon!