Hardly ever do you get to taste Italian cuisine this authentic in New York City.
In the small room of Red Inside Culinary, at 109 MacDougal Street, a homey space overlooking a professional kitchen, chefs Massimo Andrea Di Maggio and Pasquale Martinelli, along with project manager Toni Augello, brought the flavors of Puglia to Manhattan with the eighth edition of “Colto e Mangiato.”
The cooking workshop had attendees donning aprons and chef’s hats, putting them to work cooking orecchiette and eggplant.
We, the few guests of the evening, did not resemble the ladies who prepare fresh pasta every day in kitchens along the cozy streets of Bari. At that table, just below Washington Square Park, there was certainly less manual dexterity, but no less enthusiasm.
“Crush with a knife and roll,” taught Chef Martinelli, owner of Private Culinary Concierge Alloro. The results with the orecchiette were not the best, while the eggplant, stuffed with a mix of egg, cheese, oregano and breadcrumbs, was a great success.
Once the practical work was over, it was then the turn of the real food–that prepared by those whose skills allow them to put a smile on the faces of their clients.
Very rich menu: Pumpkin “pettola” with red shiso leaves and maple syrup as entree, then Gargano Autumnal Pancotto followed by handmade orecchiette with savoy cabbage, oil, fried bread, almonds and diavolicchio; stuffed eggplant with tomato sauce misticanza and cheese, and finally, a quince with buffalo ricotta cream, dark chocolate chips and fig vincotto.
All seasoned with the stories of the chefs, who presented each dish explaining in detail the origins of the products and recipes.
In fact, the goal of “Colto e Mangiato” is to engage participants in an experience designed to generate greater food awareness and enhance the Mediterranean diet through seasonal, possibly organic and 0-km food. “These come straight from Italy,” was heard several times during the dinner.
An idea of cuisine that over the years has found considerable success with the public, finding space on television, in newspapers and on the web, until it received the attention of New York, where it also arrived thanks to the collaboration of Cristina Racchella of Princeton, who helped bring the aromas of Gargano to Manhattan.
Oohs and aahs of amazement as the freshly baked bread, just prepared before the eyes of those present, arrived on the table. Eaten with fresh-pressed oil, just two weeks old, and lightly flavored with a clove of garlic rubbed in at that moment, it was a touch of simplicity and tradition capable of drawing applause.
Dessert, to end an evening not for weak stomachs, was the result of a last-minute stunt by Chef Di Maggio. He had something else on his agenda as he stepped off the plane at JFK, but when walking among the stalls at Union Square Market he noticed a basket of quinces, he was reminded of the desserts his grandmother in Puglia used to make for him as a child. “I looked at my colleagues and said, let’s make that.”
An explosion of flavors that is hard to forget even for those who have never eaten quinces.
From Gargano to New York. From the Apulian countryside to the skyscrapers of Manhattan. “Colto e Mangiato” is now a reality in the United States as well.