I recently enlisted a new team member here at Restaurant Live. Her name is Sophie and she’s interning to learn all about the magical world of digital media and marketing. Wordpress, Mail Chimp, Libsyn, Highrise, Buffer. So many new platforms, lots of new skills. But, I’m having the most fun teaching her about FOOD. Having her join me at a few recent food events, I have realized I take a lot of my food knowledge for granted. Mise en place, a roux, the difference between black and white truffles, are all apparently hallmarks of, dare I say it, a foodie? I prefer the term ‘food fan’ or ‘food enthusiast’, but whatever the terminology, it was fun to introduce Sophie to some new foods and foodie lingo at a recent visit to Pane e Vino. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either before they dropped me a line inviting me to come check it out. Located in the shopping center on the northeast corner of Pima and Pinnacle Peak, they’re doing classic comfort Italian with a hint of sophistication, and have been for 18 years. We sat down in our cozy booth and session 1 of “Sophie School” was in session.
First up to bat: Beef Carpaccio.
What constitutes “carpaccio”? The name apparently is inspired from an Italian painter who was popular when the dish was introduced. But, as a dish, it’s any time raw meat is pounded thin and dressed. It’s a crudo application. This rendition was one of my favorites of the night. Arugula, shaved parmigiano reggiano, balsamic vinaigrette. The best way to eat it is just like a salad….a tasty meat salad.
Next up: Cioppino
This is an American invention with Italian influence, originating in San Francisco. The tradition is a mix of the catch of the day in seafood, in a rich tomato broth, served with toasted bread for dipping. This rendition featured a fresh array of mussels, shrimp, clams and calamari (ordering seafood in Phoenix is not always advisable, but these folks are properly sourcing their products) and also included a bed of pasta. In case you’re in a quandary on how to eat this, remove shelled items individually and use a fork to spear the meat and eat, then discard the shell onto a provided discard plate. As for the broth, it is completely reasonable to dunk your bread and eat with your hands, or grab a spoon and eat the broth straight like soup.
Third and final lesson of the night was my favorite: Tiramisu
This dish is a point of pride for many Italian cooks. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told, “but you have to try MY tiramisu.” Regardless who is making it, you can anticipate mascarpone, ladyfingers or cake dipped in espresso and a hint of cocoa. Tiramisu translated into Italian:
- Tira – to throw
- Mi – me
- Su – up
Mmmmmm… “throw me up” cake. But, “throwing up” doesn’t mean in Italian what it means in English. It moreso means, to literally elevate you, more accurately expressed as “pick me up”. This action of elevation is in thanks to the espresso. It gives you a little post-dinner jolt, assisting with the digestion of a hearty Italian dinner.
Thanks to Sophie for being along for the ride and stay tuned for more Sophie School education!