La Cucina Calabrese – A Rustic Southern Italian Dinner Party

calabria, calabria dinner, my calabria
Discovering Calabria – A Rustic Southern Italian Dinner Party

Inspired this past weekend, by the recent gift of a new Calabrese cookbook, my friends and I prepared an authentic Southern Italian feast. The setting was beautifully simple, complete with herbs, flowers and citrus fruits from our gardens. For the menu, we adapted seven recipes from My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher, with outstanding results.

We enjoyed exploring this lesser known regional cuisine, learning about the remote and somewhat mysterious Calabria as we constructed our menu. Dusty and hot mountainous regions, steep slopes, and narrow coastlines all contribute to the uniqueness that is La Cucina Calabrese.

We served esoteric Italian wines with the meal, wines that paired well with the simple yet robust Calabrese cuisine. Unfortunately we had difficulty locating wine specifically from Calabria, but we certainly were not disappointed with the fabulous bottles that graced our table. And we enjoyed Gino’s locally famous homemade limoncello to cap off the affair.

Unlike most of our dinner parties, the dishes were served family style. There was plenty of conviviality and great food & drink, as we experienced Southern Italy via Southern California.

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The Magic of Galbi & The Korean Friendship Bell

galbi, kalbi

Galbi 갈비
Grilled Flanken-Style Beef Short Ribs in a Korean Marinade
Lettuce, Perilla, Pickled Cucumber, Scallion, Ssamjang, Sesame Seed Garnish

The magic of Galbi 갈비 is in the marinade. Asian pear tenderizes the meat and adds a hint of sweetness. Pear – combined with garlic, onion, and ginger, plus soy sauce, mirin, honey and sesame oil result in a full Korean flavor explosion.

This entire marinade is made in a food processor, it couldn’t be easier. The ribs are rinsed, coated, then left to marinate for eight hours.

grilling galbi, kalbi

Hours of marinating result in the tender yet chewy texture. Grilling imparts a wonderful smoky note to the already complex flavors of the marinated meat while the honey and sugar caramelize into a slightly sweet glaze – making this an absolutely irresistible barbecue dish.

galbi, kalbi

Galbi, ssamjang (spicy seasoned soybean paste), sliced scallion,
pickled cucumber, perilla, and iceberg lettuce.

Use a knife and fork or wrap all the ingredients in a lettuce leaf for one delicious bite.

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What is hip? Chicago’s Blackbird

amuse bouche, blackbird restaurant

What is hip?
Chicago’s Blackbird

chicago, blackbird restaurant

Come join my brother, sister-in-law and me for dinner
at one of Chicago’s hippest restaurants, Blackbird.
Established in 1997 it’s not new, but it is definitely cutting-edge.
Cuisine that has been described as “quietly revolutionary.”

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Gracious Italian Hospitality, A Most Memorable Meal

spinach agnolotti at michael's on naples ristorante, long beach

GRACIOUS ITALIAN HOSPITALITY, A MOST MEMORABLE MEAL

I write this post for my friends and readers in the Greater Los Angeles Area aka The Southland, all 17 million of you. And also for those who plan to visit LA or the OC anytime soon. Wherever you find yourself in this great basin of 34,000 square miles, I promise that a trip to Long Beach, or more specifically the charming neighborhood called Naples (a little island in Alamitos Bay) for a dinner at Michael’s on Naples Ristorante is well worth the drive.

Leave the food and wine choices to Executive Chef David Coleman and General Manager Massimo Aronne, as we did, and you will enjoy an Italian dining adventure like no other…Massimo’s expert wine knowledge paired with Chef Coleman’s gifted approach to Italian cooking will refresh your appetite for Italian cuisine.

The dining experience here is not only about the food, or the wine, the service or  the atmosphere – it is the synergy of all these elements. At Michael’s we feel as if we are guests in his home. The staff is professional, artfully trained yet simultaneously warm and friendly. Massimo is not only a master of Italian wine, but is generous with his knowledge and happy to share his passion. Chef Coleman’s cooking is bright and creative, while still respectful of the traditional Italian kitchen. And Michael is that ultimate gracious Italian host.

For my friends who won’t be visiting The Southland in the near future, I hope you take a look at, and gain inspiration from, Chef Coleman’s dishes – a true treat to Taste With The Eyes.

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Gastronomic Wonderland!


Come join me, my friends, in a Gastronomic Wonderland!


Hello my fellow foodies, bons vivants, gastronomes, gourmets, connoisseurs of the finest food and wine! To celebrate the end of a tasty 2010 and to welcome in a delicious 2011, come travel with us to Las Vegas this last weekend of the year and experience some of world’s best food created by renowned chefs, served in breathtaking ambiance with superlative service. Vegas, it’s a food lovers dream-come-true, a gastronomic wonderland!

An Invitation to Taste With The Eyes:

Twist – Pierre Gagnier
Comme Ca – David Myers
Jaleo – José  Andrés
Osteria del Circo – Egidiana & Sirio Maccioni
Mon Ami Gabi – Gabino Sotelino

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