Thursday, February 25, 2010

GALA Italia

The luncheon buffet

Panforte, the Italian dessert with nuts and fruit like a fruitcake

Nutella snacks

A view from the top!

Grapefruit, strawberry and blackberry salad

Artichoke salad

GALA Italia took place today, despite the snow "storm" and the wintery weather. It seems to me that since 2007 that I became a regular attendee at the GALA Italia, it snows the day of the event. So, what better than wine tasting and Parmesan cheese when Manhattan is taken by a snow storm?

The informal tasting luncheon was held at Marriott Marquis Hotel - in the Manhattan Ballroom on the 8th floor. The menu, courtesy of Marriott's executive chef Armano Monterroso included a fresh and balanced roasted vegetable wild rice salad and haricot verts with bacon, pecans, cherry tomatoes and garlic; pleasantly warm herb roasted chicken breast and sauteed mushrooms and pan gravy; nicely baked salmon with asparagus tips and lemon caper sauce; garlic smashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. For dessert, guests tasted the Tuscan selection of typical Siena's cakes and biscuits; apple tart; New York mini cheesecakes and parrozzino. Guests also tasted a number of wines, all of which were at the tasting tables on the 6th floor. I will make a note of the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Spumante Millesimato 2009 and of the Fattoria di Montecchio, Chianti Classico Riserva 2005. It was a simple and elegant lunch and if you were lucky, you could be strategically seated next to an Italian producer and ask interesting questions about the wine trade, the trends and the weather in Italy. All, under an awesome view of the Times Squares and the snow falling.

Later on, the doors of the 6th floor opened and the 24 different wine stations offering from Prosecco to Barolo and also the Moscato Bianco Nivole, one of my favorites. Parmezan, Provolone and Mozarella cheese with honey, apricot and cherry jams were on the table for a quick bite together with bread sticks and crackers. Amongst of the regular exhibitors were: Nutella and Ferrero, Lavazza coffee and Segafredo. Italian Olive oil producers and the Acqua Smeraldina.

Guests seemed to enjoy their wine tasting, strolling leisurely from one station to another with no major rush. When the restaurants started serving their delicacies, attendees moved towards the sides to experience samples from a number of Italian restaurants in the city. Serafina Fabulous Grill offered a thinly cut artichoke salad served with grated Parmesan cheese, light and fresh. SD26, a unique, in taste and presentation, cheese custard and prosciutto on top. Il Punto's citrus salad with strawberries and blueberries was colorful for the eye and mouthwatering; I passed quickly the pasta tables as I am not really a fan. Osteria del Circo vegetable soup was a treat for such a cold day and the desserts from the Caffe Falai were tiny but big enough to satisfy the sugar crave.

I found that the GALA Italia this year was less crowded - maybe due to the weather - but far more elegant and selective. Before I forget, there was also the Little Bookroom exhibiting with their travel guides. A new, nice discovery in the world of food and travel books.