When one thinks of natural, organic, or locally-produced food, it’s hard not to image low-sodium, gluten-free, non GMO, tofu—or other equally appealing items. For the typical Italian-American, who is used to something a little less “Marin County,” it’s easy to see the disconnect between good food and “good for you” food.
Those stereotypes were shattered Sunday night, when famed chef and culinary educator Viola Buitoni thoroughly impressed and wowed everyone at the Italian Consulate in San Francisco to celebrate Food Revolution Day 2013. The event, entitled A Tavola con le Forchette Tricolori was booked solid almost as quickly as it was announced, and the four dozen lucky attendees must have felt like they had won the culinary lottery.
Under the direction of Perugia native Viola Buitoni, Le Forchette Tricolori prepared a multi-course meal that was anything but stereotypical, uninteresting, or tasteless health food. According to Signora Buitoni’s website (www.ViolaBuitoni.com), “Le Forchette Tricolori are a group of Italian women residing in the Bay Area who get together monthly to enjoy each others’ company and their love of all things food. They believe that the table, just like friendship, should be tight, and that Northern California is a blessed place for those who appreciate all that food can do for a happy community.”
The event was part of Food Revolution Day 2013, the brainchild of Food TV’s famed “Naked Chef” Jamie Oliver, whose Better Food Foundation whose mission is to promote not only healthy food, but the skills to prepare those foods in an interesting and satisfying way. According to Mr. Oliver, “My charity aims to inspire people to reconnect with food. It’s all about raising awareness and individual responsibility, resuscitating dying food culture around the world and, ultimately, keeping cooking skills alive.”
Hosted by the Consulate General of Italy in San Francisco, the evening began on the patio of the Consulate with an aperitivo of Sangria frizzante con Aperol, ciliegie e gelsi (sparkling sangria with Aperol, cherries and mulberries), as well as an assortment of beautifully prepared antipasti (hors d’oeuvres). Guests were then invited upstairs to the reception hall, where tables had been set with the most exacting detail. After opening remarks, the primo piatto (first course) was served: Mosaico di carnaroli con barbabietole e zafferano (carnaroli rice mosaic with saffron and red beets), served with a Contessa Giulia Prosecco N/V.
After an entremets of granita alle erbe di giardino (garden herbs granita), the secondo piatto (main course) was presented. Guests had a choice of quaglia ripiena di fregola al profumo di tartufo nero (quail filled with black truffle scented fregola), served with a Montresor Bianco di Custoza DOC “Montefiera” 2011, or, pescespada alla livornese e crostoni di pane casareccio (Livorno style swordfish with homemade bread crostoni), served with a 2010 Montresor Ripasso della Valpolicella DOC “Capitel della Crosara.”
As for dessert, one could have made a meal of the cavalcade of delicate but filling dolci e formaggi (desserts and cheeses) that followed. Crostata al cioccolato con scorzette e nocciole (chocolate tart with candied orange peel and hazelnuts), bignolina allo zabaione (zabaione cream puff), bavarese ai pistacchi sicilliani con gelsi gelato di mandorle tostate (Sicilian pistachio bavarian with mulberries and toasted almond gelato), piatto di formaggi italiani composta di peperoni gialli marmellata di peperoncino sciroppo di datteri (Italian cheese selection, yellow peppers conserve, chili jam and date syrup), served with the most elegant dessert wine, a 2007 Montresor Ricioto della Valpolicella DOC “Re Teodorico.”
And of course, it was all topped off with caffè e mignardises (expresso and confections).
Amazingly, this gourmet feast was not prepared by a cadre of professional world-class chefs, or served by the wait staff of a four-star restaurant. Instead everything from planning, cooking and serving was accomplished by a small group of women, who spent many hours preparing and serving the incredible meal, with their time and talent being donated for the evening’s charitable cause. Among the dedicated women who gave their all for the evening’s event were Alexandra Amati-Camperi, Alice Amigassi, Valeria Barbero, Viola Buitoni, Ingrid Campos Sperow, Alessandra Cassar, Leonora Chianello, Antonella Dalla Muta, Barbara D’Aloisio, Elisabetta Fagioli, Vania Ferraro, Marialuisa Manca, Giovanna Riva, and Laurence Zambrano. Special mention must be made of the hardest-working man in the kitchen, the Consul General’s partner, Mr. Asher Berry, who worked feverishly throughout the day and night, and who personally prepared the best home-made gelato this side of Italy.
In addition, gratitude for their help is presenting the event was expressed to Consul General Mauro Battocchi, Director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in San Francisco, dott. Paolo Barlera, and Food Revolution’s Ms. Ann Blankenship.
The entire evening could not have been possible without the generosity of the sponsors who donated their products and services, including Howard and Kristina Case of Casa De Case, Edoardo Montresor of Cantine Montresor, Laurence Zambrano of Mr. Espresso, Piero Cipriani of Tartufi Italiani, Adriana Silva of Tomatero Farm, Tiziana Costamagna of Un Po’ Pazzo Selections, Antica Fattoria La Parrina, Gary Rulli of FGR Chocolate Collection, Shepard Smith of Your Printer, and Chiara Paoletti of Il Tocco Kitchen.