consulate general of italy

Feeding the Revolution-Part II: Forchette in Downton

5:19 tavolo apparecchiato At the Italian version of a Downton Abbey dinner, things do not exactly run like clockwork: unexpected guests show up, glasses break, truffles do not arrive in time, the silverware is mismatched, quails catch fire and staff all loudly speak at the same time while enjoying wine.

On Sunday, the Forchette Tricolori, the cooking group of which I spoke last week, humored me by playing butlers, footmen, housemaids and kitchen maids to my Mrs.Patmore (for those who don't know, she is the legendary cook of Downton Abbey).


The result, was a dinner for 50 lucky guests held in San Francisco's  Consulate General of Italy, in support of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day.

5:19 Aperitivo

After we all enjoyed Aperol sangria and hors d'oeuvres in the delightful garden, we maneuvered our guests into the formal dining room were they sat down to a dinner inspired by the crossing of our local seasonal bounty with the best of Italy's food imports.

And despite the Butler's attempt on the Ambassador's welfare, a footman kidnapping a quail off a plate and a few drops of hot coffee spilled by a housemaid on a guest or two, the evening still received a standing ovation by the attendees who asked that a mailing list be started to receive early notification and priority admission to next year's dinner.


The Forchette Tricolori get a standing ovation


You can read all about the course and scope of the evening in this lovely article by Nickolas Marinelli of L'Italo-Americano.

In the meantime, I am treating you to the recipe for a fabulous risotto I got to make during my stint as Mrs.Patmore.



Mosaico di Carnaroli giallo e fuchsia Fuchsia and yellow Carnaroli rice mosaic

This award winning eye and mouth delight was created by my dear friend and extraordinary chef Olivia Bonomi.

for 4 people 1 to 2 red beets, depending on size    Mosaico risotto 1 shallot 1 quart vegetable stock 1 pint heavy cream 1 sachet powdered saffron 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 pound Arborio rice 1/4 cup white wine 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 cup grated Grana Padano

Steam, peel and purée beets. Mince shallots. Bring stock to a boil. In a sauce pan, simmer the heavy cream until reduced to 1/3. Add saffron and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep hot.

Soften the shallot in the heated olive oil and over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir continuously until the grains are “toasted”-coated in oil and translucent.

Turn up the heat and deglaze with the white wine. Lower the heat to medium and start ladling in the stock. Start tasting around minute 14, depending on your preference, it will be done somewhere between 18 and 21 minutes.

With the last ladleful of stock, add the beet purée and mix well. Remove from heat and add butter and Grana Padano for the “mantecatura”.

To plate sprinkle a little saffron sauce (like a Jackson Pollock painting) on dish , and scoop risotto in the middle. With a spoon make a little hole in the centre of the risotto and fill it with hot saffron sauce. Serve immediately.

Feeding the Revolution

Making cappuccino pork tenderloin with Valeria, Alexandra, Antonella and Barbara Didn't make the cut off age to march for women's rights and my last name put me squarely, though not ideologically, on the wrong side of the fence of labor movements. But finally my time has come to join the revolution. The great Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day.

Le Forchette Tricolori, a group of lively Italian women residing in the Bay Area who love to cook and be together and of which I am lucky to be one, are taking over the Italian Consulate (thank you Consul General Mauro Battocchi) and cooking up a storm for 50 lucky guests. You can find more details here.

The event's proceeds will be devolved to Food Revolution in support of Mr.Oliver's continuing efforts to "keep cooking skills alive". By the way, if you want to more know about the scope of the initiative, listen to Jamie's own words about Food Revolution Day.





This is the menu and the Forchettine (as we like to call ourselves), clad in aprons and armed with spoons, will "cook it, share it, live it" to change the world one forkful of great Italian food at a time.



Here is a sneak preview of  some of the deliciousness we will be offering. Tune in next week for more recipes and some gossip on the outcome of the evening.

Thank you to Jamie Oliver for the inspiration he gives daily to so many, I am proud to be part of your Revolution.


Sangria di Aperol e prosecco con ciliegie e gelsi~ Sparkling sangria with Aperol, cherries and mulberries

The drink that will set the lively mood of our Food Revolution

for 1 bottle of prosecco: 1/2 bunch mint1 cup cherries 2 ripe peaches 1 cup mulberries juice of 1 Meyer lemon 1/4 cup raw sugar 1/2 cup dry rum or other dry hard liquor 1 cup Aperol

Pick the leaves off the mint sprigs, stack them and roll them along the longer side. Cut them in very skinny ribbons with a very sharp knife.

Stone the cherries and peaches. Slice the peaches and combine them in a bowl with the mint, mulberries, lemon juice and sugar. Muddle using a pestle or the back of a wooden spoon, ensuring the sugar dissolves.

Cover with the rum and Aperol, mix well and let stand in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours. This step can be done the previous evening.

Right before serving, add a few cubes of ice and slowly pour in the prosecco. Stir gently and serve.


  • Aperol, a light alcohol drink reminiscent of Campari can be substituted with Campari if unavailable. Remember to adjust sugar and lemon juice to balance the extra bitterness
  • Mulberries are not always easy to find. Though they have been all over farmers' markets here in NorCal, should they not be available where you are, swap them for blackberries


Bruschette di piselli alla menta ed aglietto con profumo di limone e ricotta salata Mint scented English peas and green garlic bruschetta with Meyer lemon and ricotta salata

for 6 people 2 pounds unshelled shelling, English or snap peas 1 or 2 green garlic stalks. 1 Meyer lemon 12 to 14 mint leaves 12 slices of bread extra virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup shredded ricotta salata

Shell the peas. Clean the garlic stalks. Zest the lemon and cut the naked fruit in wedges. Stack and roll half the mint along the longer side and slice into very thin ribbons. Mix the mint and zest.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and drop the peas, all the green garlic except for 1 small piece and the remaining mint leaves in it. Cook until the peas are quite tender but still bright green, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, brush the bread with olive oil and toast until crunchy outside but still soft in the middle. When ready, rub lightly with the saved garlic while still hot. Keep warm.

Drain the peas, mint and green garlic and blend into a smooth spread with a bit of olive oil. Adjust salt and pepper.

Spread over the toasted bread. Dust with the ricotta salata. Top with the mint and zest and finish by squeezing a few drops of lemon juice on each bruschetta.


Pescespada alla livornese Livorno style swordfish

This recipes appeared last month on this very blog. Click here for it.