Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sagra di San Rocco - Emerging Chefs

When you first read the title, you are likely wondering what a sagra is. It's an Italian feast celebrating food. It's the perfect way to get a taste of the country life Italian style. And Sagra di San Rocco was a fabulous evening of food and wine that tasted like a bite of Italy.

It was held at Saint Rocco's outside with old warehouse buildings as the backdrop. It was a sultry night but there was a nice breeze that kept things from being unbearable. Long tables were set up around the area by the bocce court and everyone mingled and helped themselves to sparkling water and beer before dinner.

The wines were all from Puglia in a last minute switch. Tuscany Distributors wanted to showcase some new wines they just received. These are not wines that you have probably heard of, but they were all delicious! Definitely worth seeking out. If you want a bottle (or two!) talk to Raffaele or Margaret and they will hook you up. Here's the list:

     Colli della Murgia Fontana di Ticchio Spumante - bubbles! 
     Tenuta Fujanero Nero D'Troia - white
     Cantine di Marco Bianco Locorotondo - white
     Tenuta Fujanera Falanghina - white
     Colli della Murgia Ambasciatore Rosso - red
     Ca Montebello Sangue di Giuda - red
Chef Jeff Fisher kept the food simple but packed full of flavor, taking advantage of seasonal ingredients at their peak. 

We started off with everyone's favorite - pizza! We had to control ourselves not to eat every single slice. We had a full pie between the four of us so it wasn't easy. Lots of fresh basil and smoked mozzarella made the flavors pop. 
Next up was a combo platter of gnocchi and panzanella. I'm an unusual Italian girl who doesn't normally love gnocchi but these were little soft pillows bathed in a light broth-type sauce that made me scoop up 2nds.

Panzanella is always one of my favorites and this one was especially tasty. The bread had absorbed just the right amount of juices so the chunks were soggy and the mixed heirloom tomatoes were bursting with flavor. I wanted to eat the whole bowl but everyone else loved it too so I couldn't get away with it!

We were already feeling very satisfied but we had 3 more courses to go. The highly anticipated octopus salad was next. It was like no other octopus salad I have ever had and it was absolutely delicious! You could easily make this a summer entree. 
A huge bowl was filled with white beans, more tomatoes, capers, green olives, caramelized onions, parley and baby octopus on a bed of fresh spinach. It was a party in your mouth. I loved the creamy beans paired with the bite of the olives and capers. A squirt of lemon brightened the flavors. Even if you THINK you don't like octopus, I bet you would have liked this. 


Even though we thought we couldn't eat more, we gobbled up the stuffed HOT peppers filled with ground pork and topped with a fresh marinara. I love hot food but these were like stuffed dynamite in your mouth! Thankfully they were served with some heavenly fresh focaccia. I wanted to stuff some in my purse but somehow managed to control myself. It was thick and just the right combo of chewy yet slightly cakey. 
Dessert was a homey polenta limoncello cake topped with the freshest of strawberry purees. I loved how the cornmeal gave the cake a little crunch. It was dense yet moist and the strawberry mixture was perfect with the lemon. I would have loved a little something creamy to top it with but it was fantastic as it was.

This event was definitely one of my favorite Emerging Chefs events. Maybe I'm biased because of the Italian theme but everything was absolutely delicious. I really hope that Chef Fisher finds a permanent kitchen because I want to see what else he has up his sleeves. You can see the rest of my pics here. And you can see the Emerging Chefs' video here.

Emerging Chefs has three more events in the works. Get your tickets early because they will certainly sell out. Click here for details.

1 comment:

  1. O M G , it was sooooooooooooo good thank you

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