A Squared: Sampling the Food & Wine of Piemonte at Eataly

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sampling the Food & Wine of Piemonte at Eataly

Something really cool happened to me recently.

Have you seen those commercials where Mastercard sends Justin Timberlake to the home of one of his biggest fans to surprise her? It's part of their #PricelessSurprises campaign where they gift random surprises to cardholders... and I got one! Now, I didn't get to meet JT but Mastercard knows how much I love food, so my Priceless Surprise was a pair of tickets to a class at Eataly... amazing!

I grabbed my friend Alexis and we headed over to Eataly to attend Chef's Kitchen: The Cooking of Piemonte with Chief Alex Pilas. Chef Pilas is the executive chef for Eataly North America, so it was a real treat to sit in this small classroom watching him cook and listening to him speak about the food and history of Piemonte. And to eat his food, of course!

Piemonte (or Piedmont) is the most northwestern region of Italy, it is the home of Eataly's founder, and it is known for its red wine and its beef so as you might have imagined, this four course meal was super hearty and delicious.

Our first course was a simple Carne Cruda alla Piemontese, which is essentially the Italian version of beef tartare. While the French serve their raw beef with a raw egg and capers and other accoutrements, this version was a simple fresh chopped beef seasoned with sea salt, olive oil, and lemon juice served with simple olive oiled toasts. I am not such a huge fan of raw meat usually, but since it was prepared by chef Pilas and its a signature dish at Eataly's Carne restaurant, I gave it a go and actually enjoyed it. This course was paired with a Dolcetto, a fruity red wine variety unique to the Piemonte region.

Our second course was by far my favorite. It was pasta, of course. Handcrafted Tajarin pasta (like a cross between angel hair and linguine) tossed in burro di tartufo, or truffle butter. Need I say more? The pasta was super tender, the butter super rich, and it was just kind of amazing.

This course (and the next) was paired with my favorite wine of the evening, a Nebbiolo. Nebbiolo is also a traditional Piemonte red wine that's acidic and complex and pairs well with rich dishes like this pasta and our meat main course.

Speaking of our main course, how hearty and amazing does this look? This Brasato al Barolo con Polenta is the perfect dinner for a cold winter's night... and frankly, we have had a few of those recently even though it's April. Beef shortribs were braised in Barolo wine for several hours until they were soft enough to pull apart with a fork-- my favorite way to enjoy beef! The sauce was a pureed combination of the braising liquids, tomato paste, and slow cooked veggies poured over the shortribs and served on a bed of creamy polenta.

And no meal is complete without dessert! I don't think we were even hungry at this point, but when they placed this Bunet in front of me there was no way I was passing it up. This chocolate amaretto pudding had such great flavor: rich chocolate, spicy Amaretti cookies, and hints of rum, coffee, and Marsala all baked into a perfect little portion. I hate a gelatinous flan, but the consistency of this bunet was more rich and creamy like a creme brulee. Dessert was served with a really fun wine, Brachetto d/Acqui Spumante. It is a sparkling wine with a beautiful hot pink color and a light sweet flavor. Perfect for dessert!

Thanks to Eataly and Mastercard for a wonderful evening-- and a priceless surprise!

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