Alajmo Art & “Fluid Light” Revive Ristorante Quadri

The news has got around by now the the Alajmo brothers of Le Calandre fame have taken the one-and-only Ristorante Quadri* under their wing — and, as is their habit, they are aiming for the sky.

Most know the famosissimo Quadri for the caffè; others have dined at the historic, classic restaurant upstairs, the only one on Piazza. The old girl has gotten quite a lift since Max (the youngest chef ever to receive three stars from Michelin) and Raf set up shop earlier this year, and deservedly so.

Some things haven’t changed. The massive Murano chandelier still illuminates intricate ironwork and red brocade tufted walls; in the evening, light shimmers through Roman shades draped over wide windows perched above the Piazza. But look closer: the new drapes are a dramatic gauzy black, classic linen tablecloths are knotted around and underneath to expose gracefully carved pedestals; gotò inspired glassware freshens elegant place settings as do transparent red bread dishes in the form of a painter’s palette, testament that chef Massimiliano’s artistry extends beyond the kitchen; you’ll discover it in almost every aspect of the restaurants’ decor, design, and artwork.

That is precisely what inspired the 12 courses we were served that warm summer’s day at the Quadri. The LuceFluida menu coincides with the Biennale; Le Calandre and the Quadri each serve a different versions through November 27. You could even consider them collateral exhibitions.

 (Nan McElroy)The intention, according to Massimiliano, “is to bring the concept of light to food;” he calls it an edible art event, and so it is. That little red palette bread dish might as well have been loaded with textures and tastes from mostardo to mousse, from creamy to crunchy croccante, from delicate to hearty, peppery to sweet to spicy to positively explosive. You don’t have much trouble imagining the kitchen as artist studio, with the cooks working along side Executive Chef Silvio Giavedoni whisking and swiping and searing and dotting to create each portata effortlessly and expertly, swept out just at right moment to present to the delighted guest.

Presentation, in fact, takes on a completely different meaning in the context of the Lucefluida meal. There is an accompanying notebook, with whimsical designs and inspired phrases and poems for each course — all by Max’s hand, of course — and the possibility to record lingering impressions as they come to you. Invention isn’t limited to only the fare —  but it’s best not to get any more specific, it’ll just ruin the surprise. (There are quite a few surprises, in fact; it pays to stay flexible.)

Of course there is a traditional menu as well as two other tasting menus; don’t expect the Alajmo team to contain themselves there either, Biennale or no. Suffice it to say the the meal is extraordinary, right down to the wine pairings which open with the Reims Vieille France Champagne to the Anselmi passito for dessert. A meal at the Quadri is an airy, yet intensely memorable celebration of abbinamento, the deft combining of all aspects of the dining experience, in an ambience unique in all the world. Squisito.

 

Ristorante Quadri (upstairs)
caffequadri.it

Lunch, 12:30 – 2:30 pm
Dinner, 7:30 – 10:30 pm

Closed Monday

*One footnote: the restoration/renovation of the Grancaffè downstairs is underway as we speak. Look for news on that soon.

Eating Venice: Tiny Yellow Tuna Fins

Whether yellow, blue or bigeye, raw or cooked, when the red flesh of tender tuna arrives at our table, these tiny, sturdy, perfectly positioned, radiant yellow fins that propelled this magnificent fish across ocean depths have long been discarded. But what an impression they make when still intact — and what would it be like to see them in use…

from the upcoming Eating Venice iPhone & iPad app — stay tuned!

The white côtes of Burgundy: what Chardonnay was meant to be

Translated from a post by regular eno-contributor Fabrizio Gallino of enofaber.com  where he relates an encounter with an unknown commodity, a Burgundy white…

Burgundy.

Immediately you think of “big red,” of aged pinot noir, of the almost mystical elements that speak to you, that tell you stories. That’s of course because the land of Burgundy is a little like the ancient and mysterious East, from whence merchants returned and recounted to the rest of those who were unable to travel there.

So when find yourself instead before a bottle of white from that promised land, knowing absolutely nothing about it, you feel caught a bit off guard.

You think of the everyday Chardonnay, done very well perhaps, but certainly far from the poetry and mysticism of the Burgundy reds, right?

Jane, you ignorant slut…

If every Chardonnay was like this Chardonnay, I swear that I would drink only Chardonnay from now on…

To be honest, opening this young bottle now was a bit like committing infanticide, but I just couldn’t resist. Given to me by a friend who knows Burgundy like the back of his hand, this one reveals itself to be mystical libation that first lifts you up then pummels you with its myriad soft contrasts. Verticality and horizontality, already round but always vibrante, sharp. Light and weightless in appearance, but as powerful as Cassius Clay in substance, this wine stuns and dazes you — in the most pleasurable way.

And still you hope to find a bit more in the glass…

I wonder, if after only 2 years it was così, like this, what would it be like in 2, 4, 6…and 10 years?

_________

Read Italian? See the original post here.

The wine is Puligny-Montrachet AOC 1er Cru Le Cailleret 2009, produced by Domaine Michel Bouzereau et Fils. Located in the Côte du Beaune, Bouzereau has vineyards in Meursault and in Puligny-Montrachet, the area producing whites almost exclusively, and almost exclusively of 100% Chardonnay. This wine comes from the 1° cru of Le Cailleret, located west-nw and just up the slope from the village of Puligny-Montrachet. (Don’t confuse this cru with Les Caillerets, a tiny 1° cru on the northern edge of Meursault.)

 

Who sat on my peaches?

“Snuffbox” peaches: make the Bellini cocktail’s perfect puree…

…or eat them one by one (warning: have plenty of napkins handy).

These white tabacchiere (named for their snuffbox shape) dell’Etna, also known as saturnine peaches begin to show up at markets here mid-to-late July. They’re cultivated in Sicily, at various locations that circle the Etna volcano, where the climate and the soil are perfectly adapted to their needs: warm and dry, with well-drained soil. According to Slow Food, they’ve only been around since WWII, when estate agricultural laws changed to permit perennial cultivation (as opposed to only annual), which would fortunately include peach trees.

While the snuffbox name might not be an appetizing association, these are some of the sweetest and juiciest to be had, and due to their soft pulp make an excellent choice for the puree required to whip up the famous Bellini on a summer’s eve.

Recipe from Harry’s Bar:

Made with Prosecco instead of Champagne, it is nevertheless widely regarded as the best Champagne cocktail in the world.

When making a Bellini, everything (the glasses, Prosecco and white peach puree) should be as cold as possible.

The general rule is to use one part white peach puree to three parts Prosecco. Use fresh frozen white peach puree when you can, but when making your own puree, never use a food processor because it aerates the fruit. (Maurice Graham Henry often uses a cheese shredder, shredding the peaches and using a strainer to collect the maximum amount of juice.) Add a bit of sugar or some simple syrup if the puree is too tart or a tad sour.

And absolutely never use yellow peaches.

In recent times, Bellini recipes have begun to include a touch of raspberry juice — evidently the white peach color isn’t lively enough. Some use a two-to-one ratio of puree to Prosecco; Mario Batali uses goes one-to-one in Simple Italian Cooking, and has adapted the recipe for other fresh fruit, including pomegranate. Now that would be a color the maestro Bellini (after whom the cocktail was named) might have found truly appealing!

In order not to diminish the peaches’ sweetness, a dry Prosecco is probably preferable to a brut. I love the idea of using a cheese shredder for the puree — but I keep consuming the peaches by themselves so that I don’t have enough left over for the cocktail. Markets are open again on Tuesday, I’ll give it another try then…

 

Mountain Men and Mountain Wine

Enofaber introduces Vincent Grosjean

Fabrizio Gallino lives in the Piedmont, north of Torino near the Valle d’Aosta, in the land called Canavese. He a family man who works as an editor, and in multimedia and the web, but his passion is wine and food, Canavese, Italian, and otherwise. He’s been an AIS sommelier since 2008 (encouraging me via Twitter before my own final exam), and continues to deepen his knowledge around all aspects of it — a search that never ends, he says.

Fortunately for us, he also writes, maintaining his blog enofaber.com. I like the way he writes about the experience of drinking wines, meeting vintners and other “personaggi” he comes to know (mostly small producers and lesser known wines); it’s not a report or a review, he says; he prefers to relate more “the emotions of the moment,” as he puts it.

I am delighted that he’s given me permission to translate selected articles here. The first is from a visit with Vincent Grosjean of the Maison Vigneronne Fréres Grosjean in the Valle d’Aosta. Enjoy.

_____

Vincent is a man not much taller than me, well placed with large, calloused hands that make you remember that the earth is low… 

Hands like two shovels, that if one slapped you across the face your head would spin for three days.

Vincent who, when I first arrived at the vineyard for a visit, made me wait half an hour because he had other things to take care of. I was also met with some suspicion.

Vincent, arrives now to shakes my hand firmly, give me a pat on the back and smile at me, eyes and mouth. Still maintaining a bit of a “low profile,” but much more jovial now and friendly. Maybe he came to understand that my love for the Valle and his wines is authentic without any ulterior motive.

So much so that he let me taste this wine, retrieved from his personal stock: Pinot Noir 1989, 22 years old. In 1989, I was 16; I did not drink, I did not smoke and I’d just become interested in women (mamma mia, how much time I’ve spent on least two of these activites). 

Well, this wine is like Vincent. It’s of him. Healthy, compact, all in one piece, but richly faceted. The smell of woods after a spring rain, a scent that fills the air once you seek it out.

This is the land of damp woods that crown to Ollignan, the village where Maison Grosjean vineyards are located. But there are also traces of the freshly cut meadow grass that surround the vineyards; of spices, of the herbs found in these mountains. Verticality, in every sense. At the beginning — just like Vincent — it’s rough, surly, calloused. You have to know to wait for it. You’ll then be presented with a truly memorable wine, but only when the it decides. It also has the power to last, last, and last.

Stainless and in one piece, just like Vincent Grosjean.

Merci bien, Vincent

____

Grazie a te, Fabrizio…

 

Leggi l’italiano? Vai all’articolo originale.

Images courtesy of grosjean.vievini.it