“My attention was captured right from the start. Salt cod is a palate favourite. ” writes Rebecca Varidel from  @InsideCuisine

This week Osteria Balla launched Italian Regional Dinners – commencing with Tuscany. As we’ve come to expect and love from Chef Stefano Manfredi and Head Chef Gabriele Taddeucci, all of the dishes exhibited great care in the planning and cooking and wrapped us in great flavour-filled eating. Yummm! The menu was beautifully balanced. And there were some bloody fine wines (courtesy of Marco Balestrini of Lario International) for the first evening.

Tuesday 12th June 2012


Baccala’ coi porri
salted cod braised with leeks
2009 Torre Varao Taburno Falanghina


Pappardelle al sugo di coniglio e castagne
house made pappardelle with rabbit and chestnut sauce
2008 Ferentano Falesco Roscetto


Peposo all’Imprunetina con polenta
beef shin slow cooked in Chianti and served with polenta
2007 Il Marroneto Ignaccio Rosso di Montalcino


Torta d’erbi
traditional pie made from wild greens
2010 Bera Moscato d’Asti Naturale

My attention was captured right from the start. Salt cod is a palate favourite. Add to that the beautiful history of traditional preservation – salting and curing excesses of the catch for leaner times – and you have a magnificent start to a winter seasonal menu. Next with the introduction of rabbits and chestnuts to pappardelle, for the start of winter in Sydney, warmed us further. Sweet nutty crunch offset the soft texture of rabbit, and the al dente of hand made (house made) pasta. Superb!

The central focus of our night was another traditional dish: Peposo. The richly sauced beef, was slow cooked by Balla (and Tuscan) Chef Francesco Mannelli in red wine for more than four hours, with freshly ground pepper added midway. Chef Stefano Manfredi mused at my table, that perhaps the original tradition, in adding so much pepper, came about to try and hide that the meat was perhaps at less than its best. You could be right Chef. But whatever the reason for this traditional recipe, the end result – cooked Osteria Balla style – gave us a round full flavour up front and a peppery afterglow. Pepper, slow cooking and winter? You bet; it’s just right!

Chef Stefano Manfredi explained the regional menu to a packed house. The first night was a sell out. And while he was born further to the north in Brescia, two of his chefs are from Tuscany. Later (and actually on twitter as I wrote this) Tuscan Head Chef Gabriele Taddeucci explained that the dessert recipe is from his aunty. He’ll be seeing her when he goes home in two weeks and will pass on our appreciation. Apparently the dolce (made with wild greens) dates back to medieval times. Now, although it’s too long since I’ve been to Tuscany, I feel all the more connected. Grazie Aunty (and Chefs!)

Other regions of Italy will be featured each month:

July – Piedmont (and truffles)
August – Lombardia
September – Sicily
October – Emilia Romanga
November – Puglia
December – Buon Natale traditional Italian Christmas menu

June 15 2012 by  in Eating + drinking
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