A Rossini evening & the maestro's favorite cocktails
For the french version of this article, go to Unidivers, a breton web magazine where I'll be regularly writing about food from now on!
Every two years in the early days of June, the city of Rennes is the theatre of a beautiful event: thousands of revelers gather in the city's main square, nestled between the city hall and the opera house to sit down to watch the most famous operas of the repertoire, broadcast live on giant screens from the stage of the Opera next door. Two years ago, it was La Traviata, and this year, Rossini's La Cenerentola was performed by the Opera de Rennes and the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne.
How should you celebrate one of Rossini's greatest operatic achievements properly? We decided to add to the conviviality of the evening - imagine, you're surrounded by 7000 opera lovers! - by bringing some food and some drinks that the Maestro Rossini would have approved of.
Gioachino Rossini is said to have cried only twice in his life, once at the premiere of the Barber of Seville - a resounding fiasco - and the second time when a young fat chicken, stuffed with a few pounds of black truffles, fell into a lake during an excursion. Music and food. Two passions he pursued with equal gusto, writing arias and cavatines when risottos were cooking - I am talking about the famous Ari del Risi from Tancrede, of course - or by dunking his plume in the caramel sauce, when there was no ink left, to finish a score!
And when the music was no longer the center of his life - he retired at 37 - he dedicated his life to food; to the pursuit of the plumpest, most fragrant truffles, and the silkiest foie gras... He moved to Paris in a house conveniently located close to one of his favorite restaurants, La Maison Dorée. He became friends with the most renowned gastronome of its time, Antonin Careme, and together, they created the most amazing recipes. Tournedos Rossini, anyone? The juiciest filet mignon, on buttered toast, on which sits a thick slice of sautéed fresh foie gras, with a madeira and truffle sauce... A legendary dish that has to be tried once in a lifetime. Rossini liked a rich, opulent cuisine, but that was simply the taste of his time. No expense was spared, and almost every one of his recipes included an inordinate amount of truffles.
I tried to figure out if , by any chance, my great-great uncle Chambon had sold some of his truffles to Rossini - but the dates did not match: Rossini died in 1868, and our family's business was just starting at the time.
So, of course, we could have brought some paté de foie gras for the concert, but we decided to be a bit more original, and do our own Rossini inspired sandwich: layered with olive oil, ham from Venice, fresh burrata (from the Balé Fromagerie) and roasted wild asparagus (from Annie Bertin).
I imagine this is the kind of "snack" he would have eaten in the middle of the afternoon, to tide him over between lunch and diner...... And we made one of our favorite cold pasta salad with orzo and tapenade.
As for the drinks, a Rossini Cocktail was the only option. It was really his invention. Pureed strawberry and champagne! Fresh and deliciously tart.
THe Maestro's PANNINI - Burrata, Prociutto And asparagus sandwich
Ingredients - 4 servings
- 1 ball of extra-fresh burrata
- 1 lb of green asparagus
- 16 slices of prosciutto
- salt 1 pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Coat the asparagus with olive oil, add salt and pepper
- Roast them at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes ( until slightly charred)
- Cut 8 1/2 inch slices of country bread, or sourdough, and coat one face with olive oil
- Add the ham, spread the burrata on top, and the roasted asparagus, finish with another slice of ham.
- Cover with another slice of bread. Enjoy!
Ingredients - 4 servings
- 16 strawberries
- 2 Tbsp of granulated sugar
- 1 bottle of champagne ( or Prosecco)
- Mix the strawberries with the sugar in a blender or a food processor
- Reserve the coulis for one hour in the fridge
- Add 2 teaspoons of coulis in a champagne flute, pour the chilled champagne on top and mix with a spoon.
- Drink and enjoy right away !