10 March 2010

Carnevale was a night to remember!

On March 6th we celebrated our Carnevale di Venezia wine dinner and gala that you have been reading about for ages! It was an event that delivered everything that was promised. Fine food like fettuccine with wild boar ragu, creamy polenta with wild mushrooms topped with grilled quail and of course who could forget the succulent veal chop and those freshly baked frittole and castagnole? Thank you to all of our musicians and our guest vocalists as well! We can't wait for next year!

11 February 2010

It's Mardi Gras...well Carnevale on the other side of the pond

The masks were in from Venice. The flower arrangements completed with 20 inch ostrich plumes spraying out like colored fans, the menus were printed and of course, our costumes rented, the violin strings tuned, dance floor waxed and silver polished. We had been planning Vickers Carnevale di Venezia Wine Dinner and Masquerade Ball for months and it was a packed house, then...it snowed...and snowed...and snowed! Our February 6th event had to be canceled because of this blizzard that we can still see out our windown. But don't worry, we have rescheduled it for Saturday March 6th.

What is Carnevale...the original Mardi Gras!!!
The Venetian Carnevale, with all its splendor, originated in the year 1162 as a victory celebration for the Serenissima Republic in the war against the Patriarch of Aquileia. Dancing, feasting and celebration ensued in Piazza San Marco to celebrate this victory and the tranquility, durability, prosperity, fairness, and piety of the state.

By 1496, Venetians had adopted the wearing of masks in both daily life and for celebratory events and by that time mask makers (mascareri) had been recognized as distinguished artists with their own guild just as the glass blowers of Venice.
Today, the city of Venice comes alive every February to carry on the tradition of celebration! Out of the foggy mist that blankets Piazza San Marco, arise wondrous creatures, masked and glittering. Much pride is taken in the dressing for the Carnevale di Venezia and the city becomes a moving art installation with masked and costumed figures decorating every calle, canal and corner.

Here is one of our Favorite recipes for Carnevale! Crostoli, only found during the season. (Of course we'll be serving them at our Wine Dinner on March 6th! Reserve now 610-363-7998)

Crostoli (Sweet Ribbons) Yields about 3 dozen
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
• ¼ cup milk
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 ¼ cups flour
• 1 egg plus 1 yolk
• 2 Tablespoons Grappa
• 2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 Tablespoon almond extract
• 3 Tablespoons lemon zest
• Juice of ½ a lemon
• Vegetable oil for frying
• 1 cup Confectioners’ sugar

In a double boiler, melt butter. Add sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. Allow mixture to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, cooled mixture, eggs, milk, grappa, lemon zest and juice. Mix with an electric or stand mixer until they form a soft dough (about 5 minutes).
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into two pieces. Roll first half into a rectangle 1/8” thick. Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut into strips about 1’ wide by 6’ long. Tie each strip into a loose knot. Repeat process for second half of dough.
In a Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat 3” of vegetable oil to 375 degrees and fry each strip in batches of 2, turning them over once, until golden.
Drain well on paper towels or brown paper, dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

You can also check out our recipes in every issue of Chester County Life Magazine in our food column!

Chew on this!

Welcome to chewing history a blog dedicated to all things gastronomy. What makes this blog different? I'm selling secrets. Price: FREE! Here you will find the wonderful recipes from kitchens all over the world. Now I have already done the legwork for you. I've sat through long flights to Paris with a drunken man crying opera in my ear, I've sat in seat 42 D that was broken with no working headphones on a hop over to Scotland, I've taken my shoes off at nearly every airport security gate and stood on those crummy floors (It isn't pleasant in Cairo), I have lost my luggage numerous times (Always bring a pashmina!)and yes, I have eaten haggis that awful boiled mix of sheep's lungs, heart oatmeal and spices. Why you ask? Gastronomy of course! All for the sake of food! New York, Paris, Provence, London, Rome, Venice, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Egypt, Denmark, Edinburgh--I love you (although my stomach may not share the same sentiment!)

It's not the food that I love,really,--although that smell of butter and shallots almost brings me to tears every time--it is more the experience. I have been in restaurants my whole life, literally. First stop home from the hospital...Vickers, the wonderful place my family owned for 35 years. It was true fine dining. The kind that you simply couldn't find anywhere but in those beautiful restaurants of Paris. You didn't even need a menu. The waiters would come in early and leave very late. They knew every customer by name and had their cocktails ready and waiting as they walked through Vickers' doors.

Now ten years later...we have made that happen again. We repurchased the beloved gem and reopened on October 12, 2008. And we (and our customers) have never been happier to revive a little bit of history.

So welcome to Chewing History where you will get a little bit of Vickers history in the way of recipes, stories and photos. And if you want to test your skills, remember you can always come in to Vickers for the real thing!