Happy (almost) Hump Day, Noshers! I’m definitely thankful for a shortened work week. What did you do this past Labor Day weekend? I cooked up a storm, including a huge batch of quinoa (I didn’t know it expanded that much – oops), and I’m definitely enjoying the fruits of that labor this week!
Today, I’m excited to share with you a fun and delicious event that I recently attended – Dinner With Luca, hosted by Grana Padano and MasterChef Season 4 winner Luca Manfé! I’ve said this multiple times before – if I had to eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be cheese. I just loooove cheese! So I was super excited to atttend this event, where we learned all about Grana Padano cheese and its three distinct ages:
Each of the three ages was distinctly nuanced in texture, flavor, moisture content, and my favorite part of aged cheeses – this crunchy, crystalline tyrosine nuggets. Yum! Grana Padano, originating from Northern Italy, is a raw cow’s milk hard cheese, perfect for incorporating into dishes, grating, or in my case, eating straight up on its own. (Ha!)
To make matters even more delicious, Luca as well as MasterChef Season 5 contest Christine Silverstein prepared a mouthwatering multi-course meal, successfully incorporating Grana Padano into every course – yum:
It didn’t hurt that the event venue, The Kitchen Table, was absolutely gorgeous. I forgot how many times I said, “Wow, I want to live here!” before losing count. Check out this simple but elegant tablescape 🙂
It was so fun to watch Luca and Christine do their thing in the kitchen, and chat them up. Luca spoke of a favorite comfort dish that his grandmother used to prepare, called frico – a gooey, melty, rich dish made of cheese, potatoes and onions. SO GOOD! He recreated this dish with mounds of Grana Padano, and we each got a generous sampling (accompanied by pancetta – perfect!):
But we had to save room – there was much more to come!
After the frico, we were treated to another “off menu” delight (first picture) – caprese panna cotta – a savory take on this traditionally sweet dish!
Our next dish, the pasta course, featured paccheri with asparagus puree, Grana Padano fondue, and prosciutto bread crumbs. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t use extra bread to sop up that fondue – absolutely mouthwatering!
For our main course, we had pancetta wrapped veal, with Grana Padano, sage, zucchini three ways, and white wine sauce:
By this time, I admit I was pretty full – but who’s every going to turn down something wrapped in pancetta? Not this girl.
We finished off with the dessert course – which Luca prefaced by saying that he wouldn’t be offended if we didn’t finish (we had been eating for about three hours by this point!). But not finish dessert – me??? Unthinkable. Especially when it is chocolate pudding with salted caramel sauce and toasted brioche:
But since one dessert can only be bested by two desserts, we were treated to truffles by Christine – featuring what else – Grana Padano! These were goooood.
This evening was fun, delicious, and informative – not only did I learn all about Grana Padano cheese and eat a amazing meal in a warm and intimate environment, but I also left with Luca’s newest cookbook (signed with my name 🙂 ) and various goodies including – you got it – a huge chunk of Grana Padano for my eating pleasure:
That piece of cheese is significantly smaller now, ha…ha. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the cookbook as well (cookbooks are my nighttime reading), and will definitely be trying the frico recipe featured in the book in the very near future.
Have you tried Grana Padano cheese before? What’s your favorite type of cheese?