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Posted by rossella rago
rossella rago
Welcome to Cooking with Nonna!!!!!!!!
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on Tuesday, 03 September 2013
in Cooking Demos

A Beautiful Evening at Joanne Trattoria

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On June 26th, 2013, I had the honor† of hosting a dinner at Joanne Trattoria† on New York's Upper West Side, owned† by Joe and Cynthia Germanotta.† From† the moment I entered their charming† restaurant, I† felt a responsibility to throw an unforgettable Cooking† With Nonna production. I immediately felt† at home in their cozy dining room,† and chef/manager Travis Jones' warm and friendly demeanor made me feel as if we† had known each other for years.†† Upon meeting the team at Joanne, I† knew I wanted to plan something really† special that would allow both of our† businesses to work together.

Last March, Nonna and I were incredibly† fortunate to teach a class at La† Scuola di Eataly.† The formula for† the classes are usually the same, featuring† a 3 or 4 course cooking demonstration and a plated meal, with a wine presentation in between.† Now, to be honest, doing† live cooking demos was never quite my forte in the beginning of my career,† but they've actually grown on me quite† a bit.†† I used to be plagued† by nervousness and anxiety before, I'd† have to stand in front of a group† of people and prepare them a dish.†† I would just say a prayer that everything† would turn out edible and I wouldn't† end up† banally rambling about how† the bookstore was all out of Live† Cooking Demo's for Dummies† just to† fill up time.† These days, I really feel† a connection with an audience, and teaching† classes has become something I look forward to.† In fact, I try and replicate the learning† experiences I had learning from my own† Nonna in her kitchen.† After all, having† the Nonne present in the classes is† such a precious gift to begin with.

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Given the great success of the Eataly† class, I couldn't wait to plan another† event with some of the same structure.†† I was thrilled when the crew at Joanne† was as excited as I was about the idea.† The† result ended up being an unforgettable† evening for all who attended.†† From† the moment the guests arrived, they were in† awe of the amazing tablescapes created† by Maryla Colandrea of Art of Perfection† Event Design.†† She created incredible† centerpieces using empty tomato cans filled† with basil, sunflowers, and artichokes, creating† an environment as fragrant and rustic† as Italy itself.††† Everyone was† seated in such close proximity that by† the end of the evening† they were† all friends.† It completely warmed my† heart overhearing bits and pieces of conversation such as, "We should get together† next week" and "I can't wait† to share this recipe with you". As† for our recipes,† we decided on† a Sicilian/Pugliese fusion menu, honoring† the southern Italian heritage we share with the Germanottas. We served† an appetizer of Arancini, a typical Sicilian† street food prepared by Nonna Angelica,† a wonderful Sicillian woman who is definitely† no stranger to cooking.† Her family owns† a chain of pork stores in New Jersey† called Tuscany.†

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Rossella and Nonna Angelica

Nonna Angelica also lent† her expertise preparing a typical Sicilian† entre, Swordfish Spiedini stuffed with raisins,† breadcrumbs, and pine nuts.† Nonna Angelica† finished the evening with authentic Sicilian† Cannoli, which everyone enjoyed watching being† made--and eating!

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Annie Shapero


In between each course, Sommelier Annie† Shapero of Omni Wines gave wonderful insight† on Sicilian wines that paired beautifully† with our menu.††

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Rossella and Nonna Romana


Of course, Nonna Romana had to make† an appearance doing what she does best:† Pasta! Nonna and I made an† amazing† variety of pasta called Maritati, a rather† tongue-in-cheek dish, which is a† mixture of Orrecchiette and Maccheroni.†† They're name comes from the literal translation† of "married couple," because the Orrecchiette† and Maccheroni represent the male and† female anatomy that compose a married† couple.† We garnished our pasta with† a delicate tomato sauce and tiny eggplant† meatless meatballs.† These were a variation† of† "War" meatballs, or meatballs† made during World War II, which were very† popular in poor southern Italy when Nonna† was a young girl.

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Chef Pasquale Martinelli

While the Nonne and I were busy† setting up demonstrations, my good friend† and colleague Chef Paquale Martinelli of† Warm Palate was toiling away in† the kitchen making sure that every dish the† wonderful staff of Joanne Trattoria produced† was up to Nonna's standards.† When† it comes to execution, there is no† one I trust more than Pasquale because† of his unfailing respect and appreciation† for Italian cuisine.† His style can† only be described as organized chaos, but† he handles every situation with the grace† of an actor performing great theater, and† never disappoints as far as execution† and entertainment. I'm so proud of the† work we have done together, and this† event was no exception.†

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Lucia Drago

Also in the kitchen was a wonderful† friend of Cooking With Nonna, Lucia Drago (Lucy's Place),† who is an absolute expert in Sicilian† cuisine,† Her† hand made Arancini† and cannoli were a tremendous success.† My many thanks to her and her personal† touches she lend to the evening.

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Maryla Colandrea

To conclude our food demonstrations, Maryla† from Art of Perfection Design transformed† Joanne Trattoria's beautiful back garden into† a stunning dessert† bar where guests† mingled and enjoyed even more of Lucia's† Cannoli as well as Cannoli imported from Sicily by La Corona di Sicilia, along with Lavazza espresso made by master† barista Salvatore Foto.†

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Goodies for the Gift Bag

The evening ended up being a huge† success, and everyone left with a wonderful† gift bag with great products from: Academia Barilla, Barilla, Ferrero USA, i-Italy, Lavazza, Lo Scoiattolo Pasta, Savarozza Foods.† I want to thank† Cynthia and Joe Germanotta of Joanne Trattoria† as well as Travis Jones for letting† me into their home and giving me† the freedom to throw this great event.

Tanti Baci,

Rossella

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Videos from the Evening

Part 1 - Arancini Video

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