It was a unanimous decision amongst my family that a feast we ate in Florence was the highlight of our recent trip to Italy. We sat down at a nice table in the corner of a crowded restaurant and my sister immediately charmed the waiter with her fluency in the language she was able to pick up during her semester there. She told him we were ready to eat and drink whatever they were willing to bring, and I think they took it as a challenge. We were then brought course after course of amazing food, and enough wine for easily double the amount of people. When we got home, we wanted to share the experience of the feast with other relatives and loved ones who weren't as lucky to be there with us that night. There won't be recipes here like a normal blog post, I just wanted to share scenes from that beautiful day with you all.
When we had the beans at the feast, we all sort of agreed that they had a certain flavor often present in my grandmothers cooking, but hard to put your finger on and often hard to recreate. My mom thought that it might just be the addition of pork bones in her red sauce. I used dried small white beans and put them into a crock pot with canned crushed tomato, some garlic sauteed in olive oil, plenty of salt, and 7 or 8 pork ribs. Sure enough the beans had that hidden flavor we were all looking for.
We made fresh pasta and also gnocchi for the pasta course. These were not directly based off things we ate at the feast, but rather just generally influenced by some pastas we ate on the trip.
I enlisted Aaron and my sisters help to roll out the gnocchi.
We noticed that none of the gnocchi we ate in Italy had the indented lines that I am used to seeing, so we left them off for this dinner too.
Chopped herbs, tomatoes, and broccoli rabe prepped and ready for the various dishes.
A bunch of potatoes ready to be roasted. These come out with the meat course.
Grilled zucchini, tomato, basil, and mozzarella for another side dish.
We started out the feast with homemade bread, olives, cheeses, and cured meats. Then we all sat down for the pastas. This was fresh pappardelle with tomato, broccoli rabe, basil, and olive oil.
And of course the wine was plentiful.
A fresh salad was floating around. Not traditional in Italy, but hey, we like a good salad.
The gnocchi was in a sauce of browned butter, garlic, sage, and truffle oil.
The grill was right next to the table so my dad was able to cook the meat and still be part of the group. He took a few group shots while grilling. The meats were just lightly marinated in oil and tons of herbs.
We lovingly referred to this course as the "meat pile" after we ate the original feast. In Florence there was beef, pork, rabbit, lamb, veal, and chicken. Our meat pile back home was beef, pork, and chicken sausage.
The crispy potatoes.
The zucchini stacks got a quick bake in the oven before serving just to melt the cheese.
Those tasty pork loaded beans.
For dessert, in addition to gelato and tiramisu, we had some biscotti dipped in a sweet wine called vin santo, which was one of my moms favorite parts of the original feast.
We all left just as full and happy as we did after the first feast, and I think we did a great job bringing the magic home!