` Eataly Chicago Hosts a Celebration of Italian Flavors

Food & Cooking

Eataly Chicago Hosts a Celebration of Italian Flavors

Nov. 7, 2014
By Luciana Squadrilli

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Davide Oldani of D’O Cornaredo (Milan) and Lee Wolen , chef and part­ner at Boka in Chicago (photo Bram­billa / Ser­rans )

Olives – beside olive oil — are a sta­ple of the Mediter­ranean diet and appear in many tra­di­tional Ital­ian recipes, but they are not often con­sid­ered as a real ingre­di­ent” and are often ignored by mod­ern, cre­ative cui­sine.

Focus­ing on culi­nary tra­di­tions and inno­va­tions was the aim of the lessons recently held at Iden­tità Golose Chicago, the roam­ing Ital­ian culi­nary con­gress hosted for the first time at Eataly’s La Scuola.

Ital­ian and Amer­i­can chefs were called in to inter­pret dif­fer­ent Ital­ian ingre­di­ents cho­sen by the event orga­niz­ers.

As founder of Iden­tità Golose, Paolo Marchi pointed out Italy pro­gresses — it is not only made of pasta and pizza, and it con­tin­ues to think over its own gas­tro­nomic cul­ture. This is why it is impor­tant to show the con­tem­po­rary face of our tra­di­tion.”

So, after a les­son ded­i­cated to truf­fles, the Ital­ian chef Davide Oldani (known for his pop” cui­sine at D’O in Cornaredo near Milan) and Cleve­land-born Lee Wolen (chef and part­ner at Boka restau­rant in North Hal­sted Street, Chicago) had to find a way to include olives in their recipes.

And they did it glo­ri­ously.

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Wolen is incred­i­bly good at trans­form­ing veg­eta­bles, usu­ally hand­pick­ing them at the farm­ers’ mar­ket at Lin­coln Park, into the main char­ac­ter of his imag­i­na­tive and tempt­ing dishes.

At Iden­tità, he cre­ated a recipe where the olives play a cru­cial role. The roasted cau­li­flower with black olives, oregano and figs was a stun­ning dish, where every ingre­di­ent had a deep and defined taste. Cau­li­flower was sim­ply roasted in a pan until it dark­ens on all sides, then it was served with a spiced olive may­on­naise, oregano fla­vored bread­crumbs, chopped olives, toasted almonds and fresh figs cut into thin slices and then soaked in a sherry vinai­grette.

Oldani came up with a recipe inspired by Italy’s typ­i­cal rus­tic cook­ing but with his own cre­ative twist, where dif­fer­ent tastes and tex­tures play their part to reach the final bal­ance. His tur­bot with black olives is a per­fect dish to embody his phi­los­o­phy of sim­plic­ity, detectable tastes and sea­sonal and inex­pen­sive ingre­di­ents.

The tra­di­tional tech­nique called car­pi­one” (where the main ingre­di­ent, usu­ally fish, is cooked by soak­ing it overnight in vine­gar and wine, or is soused after cook­ing) has been reju­ve­nated” by the chef. He cooked the tur­bot in clar­i­fied but­ter to give it a nice round­ness though leav­ing its taste untouched. This round­ness was then bal­anced by the con­trast of the stronger taste of the sweet and sour onion which gave the tart­ness of the usual car­pi­one.” Finally the black olive sauce is sim­ply made by blend­ing them with water and corn flour.

Tag­giasca olives were used to make a crunchy wafer: they were depit­ted and blended with ham, mixed with but­ter and licorice pow­der and then cooked in the oven for a short time.

This crust” was laid over the fish accom­pa­nied by ground cocoa beans which enhanced the bit­ter taste of the olives and give a crisp note to the dish.


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