Last night, Campagnolo Roma hosted another one of its famed Quinto Quarto dinners, an offal-themed culinary extravaganza inspired by the Roman “fifth quarter” feasts of yore. I was flying sort of solo as Akemi had bowed out on account of the far-too-late-for-her 8:30 p.m. seating. That and the emphasis on liver.
Like I said, I was flying “sort of solo” because, even though I didn’t have a date, I had plenty of company in the form of some adventurous friends. There was Robert of course, a mainstay at these events (in fact, we met at one of Roma’s Whole Hog dinners) who was, in turn, joined by his buddy, Dave. Longtime dining companions Jodi and Steve also put in a surprise appearance. And, since the meal was family style (meaning you’re sharing a table with strangers), we ended up making some new friends as well: Barbara (whose husband used to work in the local t.v. industry and was also flying solo), Rosita (an accountant with a taste for adventure) and Su (who runs a catering company).
Now, the last Quinto Quarto dinner I attended was full of surprises (most of them good) so I wasn’t expecting this one to beat it. But, damn, if the gang at Roma didn’t surprise me yet again. The meal broke down as follows:
That’s the way it was listed in the menu. Rather uninspired, I thought. And I was thoroughly prepared to be underwhelmed given how much I loved the appetizers (spleen sliders!) from the last Quinto Quarto dinner – and how much I don’t like tripe. But this dish turned out to be one of the highlights of the night, an outstanding combination of textures and flavors. The addition of parsley and mint brought it to a whole other level.
Speaking of outstanding – I could have eaten a double portion of this and the appetizer and gone home singing the praises of “My best meal in recent memory!”. The pasta was perfectly al dente (can’t tell you how important that is).
Okay, let me start off by saying that this was, without a doubt, the best calves liver I’ve ever eaten – sweet, tender, but intense. No second helpings for me. Growing up, this was one of my father’s favorite meals, and mom would prepare them the same why: fried with onions. It took me back.
This is the only way to eat brussels sprouts = with bacon!
Hmmm. This one didn’t do it for me. The salad was interesting, the mustard greens possessed of a nice little kick, but those kidneys were akin to oversauced mushrooms. Not my thing.
As much as I applaud the courage and creativity that goes into an offal-inspired dessert, I can’t really say I’ve ever had one that made me say: “Wow! They’ve got to put this on the regular menu!”. Not the black pudding and chocolate ice cream I once had at Refuel with Marty G. and Jewel. Not the ricotta and pig brain cream in the cassata siciliana served at the last Quinto Quarto dinner. And, to be truthful, not this sweet black pudding with pannetone and marsala zabaglione. Nevertheless, it WAS good. The hazelnut black pudding and chocolate cake was reminiscent of fruit cake – but in a good way.
Overall, I quite enjoyed the meal and, based on those first two dishes (appetizer and pasta) have to give the edge to last night’s Quinto Quarto dinner over the previous one I attended. Can’t wait for the next one!
Special thanks to the gang at Roma – especially the two individuals who created the menu and cooked the food: Chef Nathan and Chef Ted…