“The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later, you’re hungry again.”
Before I get started, let me be perfectly clear… I was not in fact in Southern Italy, not that I wouldn’t LIKE to be in Southern Italy, but I wasn’t (yet!) This dinner took place in Toronto, on my brother’s rooftop featuring Southern Italian food.
I’ve written before, several times I’m sure, about how food focussed my family is… we talk about food, some might say incessantly, we plan what meals we will prepare and share, we discuss the outcome of each dish, then we start all over again for the next day. It is without doubt the central theme running through our lives.
When my brother and his family were in Southern Italy on vacation recently, my sister and I received regular text updates with pictures and descriptions of all the wonders of Southern Italian cuisine. I looked forward to those texts more than is probably normal and my enthusiastic remarks in return were met with an invitation to dinner upon his return, where he promised to recreate his favourite dishes from that trip. My plan worked!
I’m happy to now (after a bit too long a wait and I do apologize for that) share this wonderful evening with you by way of another photographic journey.
I should point out that not only can my brother cook (and man can he cook!) but he also happens to have a really pretty special home… not least of its delightful qualities is the rooftop patio. Oh the views! 360° to be precise!
We began with a few small bites, specifically warm olives with lemon zest and herbs and if you’ve never tried this very simple little trick with olives, I urge you to do so!
Since Greg has been contributing wine expert here on Be Still & Eat I’ve discovered that we share very similar taste in wines. His choices for this evenings feast proved it once again. His goal was to as closely represent the wines he enjoyed while in Southern Italy, although his hosts there made it very clear that they keep all the best grapes for themselves!
Seems reasonable (and yet also a bit unfair) to me!
First, we were treated to a take on a pizza they had with a really great extra virgin olive oil, prosciutto, smoked scamorza cheese and shaved ham and black cherries. Since I arrived bearing a loaf of freshly baked sourdough (more on that topic this coming autumn here on Be Still & Eat – but if you’re interested in some of the early work, check out my Instagram!) he turned it into a crostini.
The results, sublime.
This lovely rustic display offering a wide range of flavours and textures is like a warm up for the palate. Little did we know at the time, that like any good workout, a warm up was required… a second stomach might not have been a bad idea either.
A little hint of what’s to come!
It was rather a challenge to not grab a fork and dig in I can assure you!
“Hand cut beef carpaccio?” I asked with great excitement. “Yes! But with black truffle oil which I ripped off from the beef tartare that we ate in Matera, a fascinating city in Basilicata.”
This was the point of the evening where I lost a little of my ability to articulate and just started making noises. There may or may not have been references of cutting into a gorgeous burrata as comparable to egg yolk porn.
Burrata with tomatoes and basil – “Basilicata claims to be the home of Burrata, where we ate this a lot.”
As one does.
Here’s where the rooftop part of the evening begins
A gorgeous array of fresh produce in containers around almost every corner.
And a none too shabby view.
One of my personal favourite views – an assortment of wine, some photography equipment and you can just see the burrata peeking its delicious little head over the edge of the tray.
The light was truly beginning to seduce my eye… to say nothing of the food!
But let’s get back to the carpaccio and burrata shall we!
I live somewhere up there in about the middle distance at 12 or 1 o’clock. Hideous view no? You should see how awful it is in the autumn.
Just LOOK at that light! You’ll also perhaps notice that where I went, so did my wine glass… you know the way some people have a signature piece of jewelry or colour they wear? Yeah, it’s a thing of mine.
Okay, it’s about to get real up on the rooftop. Seafood tartare – specifically shrimp and prawn with green apple, from Martina Franca in Puglia.
I’m happy to report without even a moment’s hesitation that it offered creamy and tart in perfect proportions.
It goes without saying that we would be treated to a pasta course. Apparently, pasta carbonara is served everywhere in southern Italy. I hope to discover this first hand one day, but in the meantime, Greg’s interpretation was as rich and delicious as it looks.
I should also state that by this point we are starting to get a teensy bit full! Remember that chicken and rapini a few images back? Wait for it…
I really must discuss the less than acceptable views with my brother. Honestly, I’m not sure how he lives like this.
“The chicken we ate in Francis Ford Coppola’s hotel in Bernalda in Basilicata, where his family is from. Very typical in many parts of Italy. The rapini is from our rooftop garden.”
As you can see this dish is lit by candlelight, not ideal for food photography by any stretch, but ideal ambience to close out a perfect evening on the rooftop with Southern Italian Fare.
Goodnight & Namaste!