An Amicale Dinner at SpezieNovember 19, 2008
Spezie in Italian means "spices" and the Bailliage of Washington, DC was treated to an Italian cooking tour de force by Chef Cesare Lanfranconi at his restaurant Spezie on November 19, 2008. When the Board of the Bailliage met and consulted with Chef Lanfranconi about possible menu choices earlier in the month, they found that they were unable to narrow the menu, because each dish was so exquisitely prepared and perfectly seasoned. The Board then threw "caution to the winds" and decided to choose them all, resulting in a truly grand feast!
We began the evening with glasses of Riondo Prosecco Spago Nero which was generously poured as we enjoyed the passed hors d'œuvres. The salted cod croquettes with agliata, the braised tripe bruschetta with Parmiagiano Reggiano were not outdone by the carne cruda all'Albese. Bailli Paul Haar and his wife, Xiangnan Haar warmly greeted members and guests, making each feel welcome as they arrived.
As we took our seats, we were presented with our first course of braised snails with Chanterelle mushrooms on soft buckwheat polenta, brilliantly paired with Chasseur 2005 Chardonnay from Sonoma. This was followed by two types of homemade raviolis. The first ravioli was filled with Porcini mushrooms and ricotta, served with a Pistachio cream sauce; and the second was filled with roasted veal, Prosciutto and spinach with a red wine reduction. The Prunotto Barbera D'Asti Fiulot 2006, vivid ruby red in color, was warm and well balanced and paired well with both pastas. The next course, a Porcini mushroom risotto, served with a perfect, translucently-cooked Maine sea scallop perched atop the rice, was paired with the 1999 Gaja Langhe Sito Moresco. The roasted Muscovy duck breast with baby spinach, sour cherries in Grappa sauce, followed and was paired with the Mayo Ricci Vineyard Zinfandel 2000. We paused and cleansed our palates with mango sorbet, and prepared for our dessert of quince, apple and pumpkin strudel with dried fruit compote and ricotta and Amaretto semifreddo. We sipped our Castello di Poppiano Della Torre Grande Vin Santo 2001, as we reflected on what an amazing and sumptuous banquet we just enjoyed.
Between courses, members introduced their guests and there was a spirit of camaraderie among all. Laughter and interesting conversations filled the room as old acquaintenances renewed friendships, and guests and members mingled, sharing experiences and generating a wonderful energy. Bailli Paul Haar, in a moment of enthusiasm, stood on a chair as he described the many exciting upcoming events that are planned. Chef Lanfranconi and his Chef partner, Enzo Livia, joined us in the dining room to great applause shortly thereafter. They were presented with a La Chaine plaque as a token of our appreciation for what truly was a special Spezie spectacular!