The Art of the Italian Dinner Party
In the Italian countryside, "Farm to Fork", "Sustainable", "Seasonal", "Organic", "Local" are not recent fads, cool buzz phases, or political statements. It is the way life has been for millennia, and for good reason. Life is too short to just eat. Every meal is a celebration of life, the people around us, our blessings, and great food and wine. In Italy out of season goods picked green and shipped a thousand miles won't do, the Italians eat fresh in season, and while it is in season preserve as much fresh goods as possible, or simply do without until the next season.
In Italy taste is king. While there have been many "more efficient" farming practices developed in modern history, hardly any of them are trying to improve taste. Most are to get livestock and produce to market faster, create larger and more abundant harvests, or growing goods that are visually pleasing. There is good reason why the slow food movement originated in Italy not far from our maternal ancestral home. When the world started to develop a desire for better tasting goods they didn't have to look far to find where they have always been.
But creating great ingredients is a major investment, not only in dollars but in time, effort, and emotional commitment. The fact is heritage breeds grow 3 times slower, but taste much better... heirloom vegetables are lower yielding, smaller, and many times less visually consistent, but taste better... and so it is with all of what we consume. And nowhere does the general population demand quality, freshness, and authenticity more than in Italy. There are reasons why the wine and dishes from each region of Italy are unique. Sometimes in large ways, and many times smaller more subtle variations make the difference. Even before the tomato, pepper, potato, and corn came to the pennislua from the new world, dishes had been developed to be in balance with the land, and the wine produced at that location.
Special dishes require special ingredients... authentic both in manner and location, with respect to tradition. Please consider doing business with our resources:
Gustiamo Foods - Enter "Giuliano" in the gusti-code for a custom discount!!
"Chef" is a term our clients and friends seem to enjoy using, I prefer "cook".
Growing up, I remember almost every meal was a family gathering. Most times it was just the 6 of us, but occasionally the whole family would get together, 50 or so Aunts, Uncles, Cousins... Insanity! At our home there were what seemed like weekly dinner parties, some planned - most impromptu. My parent's entertaining of friends and family seemed like a natural occurrence, and as children we were always involved and included. My father in his business would use a meal at our home to facilitate meetings, negotiations, or even conflict resolutions. Bringing people together for a simple but great meal lubricates open heart-felt communication, and fosters deeper understanding... of course a few glasses of Italian vino never hurt either.
My wife and I used this same strategy in my consulting business for years, and we came to discover we had a natural affinity for entertaining and an intuitive understanding of the art of the Italian dinner party... the food, the wine, the music. At first we held three parties each summer season that grew over a few years to 200+ guests, and an increasing number of smaller dinner parties. In 2005 we launched a week long Leadership Vacation Beach-Side Retreat at Emerald Isle North Carolina, where we cooked the evening meals and included our guests in the fun and joy of The Italian Dinner Party .
In 2009 I took a break from the consulting field, disillusioned with what I call the modern corporate business ethic.
A short time later, a client requested we travel to their winter home to cook a formal meal for their 10th anniversary. At first I rejected the request as folly, there was a good Italian restaurant just down the street from his building, but his continued insistence wore us down and peaked my interest. The trip was simultaneously nerve racking and exhilarating.
Then while at the dentist I came across an article in Martha Stewart Magazine by Cesare Casella from Lucca, Tuscany. Cesare was discussing the meaning of "true" Italian cooking and shared his recipe for "Bistecca di Miele con Pepernato"... I felt compelled by the story to make the meal, and while preparing the dish I felt a deep connection to my roots. It was "authentic", both to Italian tradition and more importantly for me, to my soul. I knew someday I would have to experience this connection to the countryside of Italy first hand.
Like too many Italian Americans, our parents and Grandparents never talked much about "the old country": where in Italy we were from, if we had relatives living there, what life was like for our family. These things I longed to discover, but I never actually considered traveling to discover the answers.
In 2010, thanks to the same very insistent friends, we set out on the adventure of a lifetime... a trip to Italy to study food and wine. After a week of wine, food, and Tuscan countryside, Lisa and I borrowed the rental car for a Saturday to search for, travel to, and find my father's mother's birthplace, returning to Cerreto Alpi just shy of 100 years after she had left. 6 hours of back roads and 1000-foot switch back drop offs we arrived to find almost no one in the village spoke English, and I do not "parle Italiano molto bene!" Regardless, it didn't take long to find family, explain who we were, and quickly become the center of attention. After lunch we were invited to walk to the very house my Grandmother Domenica was born in, a house we came to discover was the birthplace of our direct lineage since 560 AD. This is the place of our roots... the place as my "Zio" Renato Tronconi described as, "il Casa di Sangue" (the house of our blood). It was a sobering moment to stand on the threshold stone, worn down by centuries of human feet. This magical place where a young Domenica decided to take her daughter and follow her husband, leaving behind all connections, immediate family, comforts, and familiar surroundings to bravely face a new world of opportunities... all of it for the belief in my (and all of us in the Juliana family) future. That day in a remote Apennine village we reconnected with our Italian famiglia, and Lisa and I fell in love with the people and the lifestyle of the Italian countryside.
Bisbigliare... the Italian word I feel that describes Osteria di Giuliano and our philosophy of what we do.
The universe we perform in seems to be overflowing with culinary professionals desperate to make a name for themselves... shouting, pushing for innovation, and searching for the newest trend. We whisper. Continually reminding ourselves to remain rooted in Italian tradition. One of the most treasured compliments we have received came from a self-appointed local food critic attending one of our Osteria style dinners, stating that he could describe our cuisine in one word: "Singular".
We really are not excited to see what cool things we can do with an ingredient, not obsessed with creating layer upon layer of flavors. In our world each single simple ingredient is our focus. We are striving to bring out the most flavor of each ingredient, and we like the way each one tastes. We whisper!
From that first authentic meal, we have been blessed with clients finding us, and it has become an all consuming passion... Osteria style!
Cesare Casella I found out later that my family's village is just a few kilometers from Cesare's home, and we had passed his family's home and restaurant on the way from Lucca to the village after taking a wrong turn.... Fate?
http://www.dalpescatore.com/lang_en/ The Italian chef Nadia Santini of the restaurant Dal Pescatore is COMPLETELY SELF TAUGHT. Nevertheless, in 1996, she became the first Italian female chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. And, as if that prestigious honor was not enough, last year she was crowned the “World's Best Female Chef". Nadia Santini - http://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/talking-nadia-santini-worlds-best-female-chef:
The Late John Pinette on eating in France and Italy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX00Tr7n3vY