Last night I tweeted from the first installment of The Pasta Tree's proposed 20-dinner series, "Discovering Italy One Region at a Time," which featured the northwestern region of Piemonte, where my roots lie.
The dinner was co-presented by The Pasta Tree's general manager Jarid Bacon and Bill Gardner of Madison's L'eft Bank Wine Co. Bacon introduced the dishes that he spent two days perfecting and Gardner discussed the wines.
Bacon also put together a packet of information with recipes for the evening's dishes and some information on Piemonte. I was happy to see my great-grandma's town of Fubine included.
Drew Olson (add him, too: @Drew OlsonMKE) joined me and added some tweets of his own.
In case you're not following me on Twitter (@BobbyOnMKEcom), here are my tweets from that event, which I'm expanding a bit with more information since OnMilwaukee.com isn't counting my characters...
#Looks like we're starting with the bagna cauda, perfect for a piemontese dinner!
@DrewOlsonMKE: Bring on Barolo braised beef!
#Pasta Tree gets a thumbs up for the attemp at bagna cauda and for the results, which are impressive. A great start. (A traditional bagna cauda, with a selection of vegetables and individual little hot pots is a risky thing for a newcomer, but Bacon made a good showing.)
#Bongiovanni arneis is an explosion of crisp fruit. we await the vitello tonnato -- my favorite. (This arneis -- a dry white wine was perfect with the tuna flavor in the vitello tonnato.)
#I've never had the sauce on the side but otherwise this is an impressive first stab at vitello tonnato! Bravo Pasta Tree! (I only missed seeing the capers.)
@DrewOlsonMKE: Pasta Tree is perennial winner in OnMilwaukee.com readers poll in "most romantic" category. Also strong in Italian, wine list and others.
#My old friend barbera. In this case d'Alba from Marcarini. Here comes the risotto. (You could smell the scent of truffle from the risotto, but it couldn't be seen. I stopped thinking about that, however, whenever I sipped Marcarini's barbera, which was earthy and pleasingly acidic.)
#Drew prefers the Vietti nebbiolo but I'm sticking with my barbera. Having said that, the Vietti is quite delicious. (The only reason this nebbiolo -- made in the Barolo zone by Vietti, which is in Castiglione Falletto -- is that it wasn't bottle aged long enough.)
@DrewOlsonMKE: Love at first sip. Vietti nebbiolo langhe perbacco. A delicious cousin of Barolo.
#Main course: Brasato al Barolo with polenta. (Drew stopped talking for a while once this arrived!)
#Drinking sweet as apricots Saracco moscato d'Asti and awaiting dessert ... zabaione with berries on the side and chopped hazelnuts on top.
@DrewOlsonMKE: A great effort by Pasta Tree on Piedmontese dinner.
No word yet on which of Italy's other 19 regions will be featured next -- or when the event will take place -- but as soon as we hear, we'll let you know.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.