A Tour Through Italy with Societi Bistro
On Saturday I got a well deserved break from science to overindulge my foodie whims after I was invited to the launch of the Societi Bistro “Tour through Italy”. I have big love for Societi and it’s sister restaurant, The Brasserie mainly because of their executive chef, Stéfan Marais, who you may remember from my recent post on some sustainable seafood events I’d attended. Stef is a long term supporter of WWF SASSI, an initiative close to my heart as a marine scientist. He is also passionate about free range meats and supporting local producers, so all round is a bit of a winner. And he’s not half bad behind the stove too!
The Tour through Italy has been running for a number of years now and consists of 10 special 3 course menus over 10 weeks, with each taking inspiration from a different region of Italy. It’s been a long held ambition of mine to take a food inspired road trip through Italy and as that particular pilgrimage is unlikely to happen in the near future, saturdays launch was a perfect stop gap.
We got to try a dish from each of the menus, paired with a local but Italian inspired wine, which has been picked to compliment the menu each week. We also got a lovely goodie bag, which was filled with gifts as the afternoon progressed; including wine, all the ingredients for Spaghetti alla Puttanesca and some great vouchers for discounts on Richard Bosman charcuterie and wine tasting at Spice Route – a place I’ve been keen to try for a while.
First up was Cape Fish (for the launch – green listed tuna) with caponata. This was one of our favourite dishes and will feature on the Region 1 Sicilia menu. It was served with Terro del Capo Pinot Grigio, which we loved and also got to take a bottle home. Other highlights from the menus, which will come over the next ten weeks included Cozze alla Tarantina (mussels with tomato, white wine, garlic and chilli – Region 3 Puglia), with a flat roof manor Pinot Grigio and Tiramisu, with De Grendel Pinot Gris (Region 10 – Veneto & Fruili, Venezia Guilia).
I was excited to see one of my favourite recent vineyard finds represented on the Tour through Italy menus. The Idiom Collection first impressed me during a brief stop at Peregrine farmstall, where a taster of their zinfandel is a very clear rosemary scented memory. We chatted extensively to them at Taste of Cape Town, and left with a Barbera, Zinfandel and SMV blend for our collection. Idiom are the wine of choice for weeks 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Tour and on Saturday the zinfandel was paired beautifully with a spaghetti all’ aglio olio e peperoncino (a delightfully simple pasta with olive oil, chilli and garlic – Region 5 Molise, Abruzzo and Marche) and the sangiovese accompanied a Bistecca alla Fiorentina (T-bone steak with lemon – Region 8 Tuscany and Liguria), braaied there and then with Stef as braai master.
I was also delighted to learn that Idiom have some great value blends, the Rosso di Stellenbosch was particularly good and was paired with a stunning charcuterie selection courtesy of Richard Bosman (Region 7 Emilia – Romagna). The Steenberg Nebbiolo was another wine highlight although I was too full by this point (I blame the Bistecca) to indulge in the Chocolate and Hazelnut gelato it was paired with (Region 9 North West Italy).
We’re hoping to go to Societi later this week for the Sicilia menu (available from Wednesday) and I’m particularly keen to try the Salami di Fichi gelato (fig, almond and walnut ‘salami’ crumbled in to gelato) from region 5. You can check out all the menus for the next 10 weeks here. Thanks to all at Societi and the event sponsors for a delicious afternoon.