Periwinkle Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman launched a three-part dinner table series celebrating regional Italian food and wines.
When it comes to food, Italy is as diverse as any country in the world. Each of its regions has its own style of cooking and its own specialities. And Italy’s wines are just as diverse.
To celebrate Italy’s regional cuisine, Periwinkle Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman teamed with Tortuga Fine Wines & Spirits to launch a three-part Italian dinner table series that runs through June. The first dinner on 12 April focused on Campania, a region in southern Italy.
The concept for the series is to serve authentic food from each highlighted region and to help make sure that happens, Periwinkle’s Italian Sous Chef Stefano Attardi is on hand to help Chef de Cuisine Jordan Barnett create the menu. Since Attardi is from Naples, the capital of Campania, he was quite familiar with the food served in opening segment of the series. Barnett said that the recipe for one of the dishes served that night was actually from Attardi’s grandmother’s.
Barnett noted that Campania had both coastal and mountainous areas and that the cuisine reflected both.
“The food from Campania is all about the mountains and the sea,” he said. “So you get the best of both worlds.”
The dinners also featured the wines of Zonin Vineyards, which has wineries throughout Italy. To start the dinner off authentically, guest were greeted with a Prosecco welcome cocktail.
The meals are designed to be served family style at one very long table next to the Periwinkle boat dock, but late afternoon rains forced the restaurant’s staff to set up several large tables under the roof of the open-air restaurant.
As would be expected with a celebratory-like Italian meal, the food was delicious and plentiful. The first course – primi in Italian – started with a hearty lentil soup with smoked pancetta and rosemary essence. It was followed by Parmigiana di Melenzane – eggplant Parmigiana – made with fresh mozzarella cheese and then panzarotti sanniti, basically mini calzones filled with cheeses, basil and prosciutto that were dipped in marinara sauce. Primi was served with Zonin’s Ca’Bolani Pinot Grigio, which came from another region of Italy, Friuli, in the northeast.
This would have likely been enough to eat for many people, but the dinner was just getting started.
The second serving – secondi in Italian – started with linguini allo scoglio, flat pasta with mixed seafood and cherry tomatoes.
Then Italian sausages were served with toasted garlic rapini – broccoli rabe.
Secondi was served with Zonin Bardolino, a light-bodied red wine. Tortuga’s Massimo Consolini, an Italian himself, said Italian food needed certain wines.
“You can’t have an Italian dinner without Italian wines,” he said.
The food continued to come. Next out was baccalo alla Napoletana, salt cod with purple potatoes, tomatoes, olives and basil, served with sauteed escarole.
Attardi vouched for the dish’s authenticity.
“We did it exactly the same way my mother would do it at Christmas time,” he said.
And if the guests hadn’t had enough food already, one bonus course was served – lamb chops with basil gnocchi.
“This is a typical Italian dinner,” said Consolini. “You’re already full and there’s more coming.”
Of course, no Italian meal can end without dolci – dessert – and for this, guests moved to the area next to the dock where dinner was supposed to served. By this time, the rains had passed and it was a beautiful, cool starlit night. Guests sampled a trio of desserts, including Inglese alla Napoletana – a trifle typical of Naples – while sipping on the light and effervescent Moscato D’Asti.
“We started with bubbles and we’re going to end with bubbles,” said Consolini. “That is a very traditional Italian way to have a dinner.”
The Italian Dinner Table Series concludes on Thursday 14 June with a tribute to Tuscany.