Monday, July 30, 2007


They say "imitation is the best form of flattery", but that idiom is a bit tired and there is more to this story.

Aiight, so the other night while making Panzerotti (a fried savory ravioli of puff pastry and Ricotta), I recommended that we make a dessert version with sweetened Ricotta and either a homemade marmalade or chocolate sauce. My idea was met with an “eh”; a typical indiscernible Italian euphemism that could mean anything. Then, 3 days later (as you might recall), I had a dessert much the same at Agiolina. The difference being that Melanzana (Eggplant) was whipped into the Ricotta.

A few days later, the phone rang in the cucina and it was for me (which it never is). Ettore (who was not present for my dinner out) decided to put my dessert of the menu on a night that he was hosting one of his more important dinners. We tweaked it our own way, gave it a touch of a homemade Arancia (Orange) Marmalade, a shaving of Chocolcate, a dust of Powdered Sugar, but in the end it looked a lot like what I had ordered at Agiolina. But was my dessert original? It was my idea and tasted scandalously good. There is no singular answer, especially considering this is a dessert which appears on many menus around the world. It felt like my idea, but I was reticent to take any credit for it, since just days before, there it was on another menu! Does the fact that I recommended we make it (prior to going to Angiolina) make it any more "mine" than if I had made it after being "inspired" by what I had elsewhere. Too many questions folks, too many ;)

I now realize why we keep certain things simple on the farm, namely dessert. The fact is, this gem of a dolci had many stages and was not only time consuming but hard to manage. Dessert is a signal that our night is almost over; a slice of an exceptional Cake or Semifreddo is welcomed after a night of whisking, dipping, frying, baking, pounding and chopping.

Editor’s note: this dessert is not a new idea of mine. 4 years ago, I made this for my parents’ anniversary with strawberries and fresh whipped cream. That meal still remains one of my best to date. Ask them if you dont believe me ;)

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