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PASSION FOR TRADITION  
PHOTO; Italian chef Ghini Marco gives Manila a bite of heirloom recipes from the Emilia-Romagna region.
A wise man once told me that painting is like cooking: To paint like Picasso, start by learning to draw like Michaelangelo. In culinary terms, he meant the cook should master the classic recipes before experimenting with fusion. That sage will love what’s happening at the Manila Hotel and the Cowrie Grill, where an Italian from the Emilia-Romagna region, chef Ghini Marco, is preparing traditional dishes, handed down through generations of farmers, cheesemakers, and vintners. READ FULL STORY...


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Passion for tradition
Italian chef Ghini Marco gives Manila a bite of heirloom recipes from the Emilia-Romagna region.


Chef Ghini Marco

MANILA, NOVEMBER 24, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Sol Vanzi - A wise man once told me that painting is like cooking: To paint like Picasso, start by learning to draw like Michaelangelo.

In culinary terms, he meant the cook should master the classic recipes before experimenting with fusion.

That sage will love what’s happening at the Manila Hotel and the Cowrie Grill, where an Italian from the Emilia-Romagna region, chef Ghini Marco, is preparing traditional dishes, handed down through generations of farmers, cheesemakers, and vintners.


Lamb rack with parmesan mint crust (Images by MANNY LLANES)

Chef Marco (as he is known in the field) was raised by two kitchen geniuses. His grandmother was one. She fed her family nothing but made-from-scratch bread, polenta, pasta, braised meats, family-grown greens, and desserts, all prepared using a wood-fired stove and, along the way, taught her grandson Ghini everything there was to know about Italian cuisine from her region. His mother, on the other hand, spent 28 years in the restaurant business.


Crostone and panzerottto antipasto

Following their footsteps, Marco sharpened his skills at Instituto Alberghiero Nazareno di Carpi in Modena, before moving to Agriturismo Riviera in Novellara. After working all over Italy, he established a gastronomia that served traditional and Italian cuisine called Cibo & Vino Enogastronomia.

It became very popular for its private cooking lessons, which were attended by foreigner residents and tourists from Asia, North America, and Europe.

He calls Manila home, these days, having happily settled in the country with his Filipina wife Nieves, whom he met at a National Geographic photography workshop in Sienna.

No matter where in the world he is assigned though, Sundays are extra special for him and his family. After church, they will eat cappelletti in brodo, an age-old recipe that combines a rich broth with egg pasta, stuffed with meats and cheeses.

This tradition harks back to generations of Sunday lunches in Italy.

“Every Sunday, my grandma would make cappelletti for the whole family [even if] it meant working the night before, making the pasta and stewing roasted bones for the broth,” Marco recalls.

To show off Marco’s remarkable skills, the Manila Hotel is holding an Italian Food Festival starting today, Nov. 20, at Café Ilang Ilang. I was fortunate to taste a special preview of the food festival dishes and found the selections several scores above what’s being served elsewhere in the city.

The main course, rack of lamb in parmesan-mint crust, was fork tender and perfectly pink at the center. Marco made sure every bite had generous portions of the crisp crust, made from very finely grated parmesan, garlic, mint, and other herbs and spices.

Appetizers were miles better than the standard antipasti we were used to.

One had Italian-cured meat wrapped around watermelon and then baked. The contrast of sweet and salty, hot and cold was refreshingly complementary, as was the blend of several cheeses layered with melanzane (eggplant).

The dessert menu included dozens of sweets, flavored with Italian spirits and fruits, perfect with brewed coffee and after-dinner drinks.


Savor the flavors of Italy at the heart of the capital with Manila Hotel's Italian Food Festival,
happening from November 20 to 30 at Cafe Ilang-Ilang.




Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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