My two and a half week journey across two continents came around at a rather unexpected circumstance with very hasty itinerary planning. I wasn't even planning to do any serious meals during my 4 days in my last stop of Milan, thinking I would just check out whatever they got at the Expo site and do a walk-in. Then a couple of weeks before the trip began, I learned about a special dinner being organized by the USA Pavilion featuring Chef Massimo in celebration of the Independence Day. Not only it coincidentally fell on the very Saturday that I was in town, ticket for the event was still available this late in the game, something highly unusual for such an occasion and publicity given the chef's fame. So all of a sudden, that dinner became the most anticipated activity on my itinerary.
Osteria Francescana in the small town of Modena in northern Italy, was recently named the world's number 2 restaurant, among the many awards he has won. Just a few months ago I got the chance to learn a bit more of the chef, his story and the restaurant through the recently released documentary series called "Chef's Table" on Netflix (which I recommend everyone to watch if you happened to love food and cooking and dining), which only made the dinner even more exciting as I finally came to the opportunity to try his food in person.
James Beard House in New York City.
Damien Hirst known for his work of "spin-painting". Speechless, I was just speechless as I heard him talking enthusiastically about the dish, how he came up with the idea, how it was done. It only took someone crazy like him to pull off something like this with such great effect.
I hate to go all philosophical and analytical for any meal but for me this is truly one memorable dining experience. I still found it a bit surreal sitting in this intimate venue together with such a small crowd (with no less VIPs than the US ambassador and a few congressmen and dignitaries among those in attendance, sitting not far from my table), with one of the best chefs and the most talented culinary minds of our times cooking this one-time-only menu, with dishes after dishes that I could only describe as whimsical, playful and out-of-this-world excellent. If there is one time I could describe myself as lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, this would definitely be the top one on my list. His cuisine was subversive in a sense, pushing the limit with his outrageous creativity and impressive re-interpretation of classic dishes, yet somehow stayed true to the original flavors and did justice to the ingredients, walking that fine line between innovations and traditions. He spoke with such energy and enthusiasm of his cooking that I am willing to pay just to hear him talk about his food, let alone try them myself.
More pictures on my Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/sets/72157655600365115
When? July 4 2015
Where? James Beard American Restaurant at Seven Stars Galleria, 5th Floor Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Corner Piazza Della Scala, Milano, Italy
Feudo Principi di Butera, Chardonnay, Sicilia DOC 2014
Tenuta Ca'Bolani, Aquilis Sauvignon Friuli Aquileia DOC 2013
Castello d'Albola, Acciaiolo, Toscana IGT 2011
Podere il Giangio Recioto Passito Gambellara Classico DOC 2011