Last night hubs and I attended another supper hosted by Massimo Bruno. This will be my fifth event, and the fourth for hubby. Considering we would not usually opt to dine with a bunch of strangers, we find ourselves quite relaxed at Massimo’s events. More than anything, it’s the food that brings us back time and again. What drew me to this event is that Massimo’s mamma, Francesca, was cooking. She is visiting from Puglia, Italy. What a treat to have her at the event! As soon as we walked through the door, imagine seeing a little Italian woman rolling out pasta dough and making cavatelli! I could tell this was going to be a special meal.
Not long after hubs and I were seated, a young woman seated across from us introduced herself. This is not unusual given that the long table is mostly occupied by strangers. Either you become a social recluse, or you make friends, and it’s easier to make friends. What was interesting about this woman is that she felt certain that we had met before. Somewhere in my memory bank, her name was found and I shouted out, “Fresh City Farms!”. She came out one week to volunteer, and I remembered her because she had a camera and told us she was a food blogger. Her name is Annie Chu, and her blog is Chu on This. She had attended this event with her Italian friend, Lorenzo. I enjoyed the conversation and left thinking about corn flavoured gelato with olive oil and planning a visit to Death in Venice.
I’m not sure if I mentioned this in previous posts, but Massimo does keep the price ($120 per person, taxes in) down by making it a BYOW event. I love this. As you look up and down the table, there are dozens of wine bottles on the table. It can act as a conversation starter, and it’s a great way to learn about new wines. I noticed more bubbly wines at this event than in the previous supper events. The event always starts with pouring yourself a glass of wine, and trying not to eat all of the homemade focaccia. My mission is to learn how to make focaccia barese like that.
One of the things I love about Italian food is the simplicity of the ingredients, yet how flavourful everything is. Take the humble tomato.
Sprinkle some toasted bread crumbs on top and add it to burrata cheese, pass the bowl please! It was deconstructed burrata – all the oozy good stuff, with some of the outer layer.
This was just the start. Next came cured meats and sheep cheese, rice and potatoes with mussels, and eggplant parmigiana.
One of the other reasons I signed up for this event was because they were serving OCTOPUS SALAD!! If you’ve read my posts from Croatia and Italy, you will know I’m a die hard fan of this simplistic dish (boiled octopus with olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh parsley). I could eat it all day. I’m not sure why, but this dish did not seem that popular, so when I saw the plates being cleared, I finished off as much octopus as I could. This is not a good idea, because when you are eating the Italian way, you really need to pace yourself. Not me. And I had no regrets, even if the octopus was a little over cooked. It’s octopus salad! Hubs likes to make fun of me because I don’t like sushi octopus, but I will consume an entire portion of octopus salad on my own. In this case, I think I consumed at least two portions (bowls).
With the antipasti dishes cleared, next was the primi course consisting of spaghetti pomodori. It’s spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce, but it’s lick-the-bowl delicious. And then bowls of mamma’s cavatelli with garlic and rapini were set on the table. It was very similar to how we were taught by Chris from Alimentari. We loved this one just as much, and it makes me feel proud that ours tastes similar. The rapini is chopped more finely, which does look prettier. Our version is a little more rustic, and we usually throw in sausage, but that’s the entire meal.
As I mentioned, you need to pace yourself. We learned this very quickly when we were in Puglia. But I had eaten so much octopus salad, so by this point I am starting to feel very full. I knew I had to slow down or risk experiencing syncope. For the secondi, grilled zucchini and asparagus with balsamic and fresh mint was served along with veal cutlets. I would never forgive myself if I didn’t have a taste. Molto bene!
I have to say that of all the desserts I’ve had at Massimo’s, last night’s was maybe my favourite. Mamma’s Pizza di Ricotta was sweet, but light. We also had a pastry stuffed with custard. The custard wasn’t too sweet. Of course the meal wouldn’t be complete without an espresso. It was a delightful evening and the food was, as always, perfectly executed.
Thank you Massimo, mamma, and the whole team!
Here is the menu:
Francesca Bruno’s parmigiana di melanzane
Insalata di polpo (old-style octopus salad with lemon and olive oil)
Bombette di maiale (Pugliese pork rolls with caciocavallo and arugula) Cured meats and pecornino
Riso, patate e cozze (typical Pugliese dish with mussels, rice & potato)
Cuore di burrata (creamy burrata cheese hearts)
Cavatelli colle rape (my mom’s version of Puglia’s most famous dish)
Spaghetti con pomodori al forno (my favourite pasta growing, simple and rustic)
Cotolette di vitello con funghi, peperoni (veal cutlet with mushroom, peppers and white wine)
Verdure con menta fresca (my mom loves mint in her vegetables)
Pizza di Ricotta (my mom’s version flourless ricotta lemon cake)
Fichi con mandorle (dried figs stuffed with almond) Custard filled pastry