Last night I had the privilege of attending a five-course dinner at Osteria Pronto, an Italian fine-dining restaurant inside the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Accompaning each plate was a Banfi wine, along with the grandson of Banfi’s founder, who shared many family anecdotes about their wine philosophy.
While I plan on writing a full-length food resolutions post soon, it makes sense to mention here that one of my resolutions is to better understand wine. That is, knowing that there’s more of a difference than just WHITE and RED. At least I know there IS a difference.
Thankfully I didn’t need to be a wine expert to attend this dinner. JW Marriott reached out to Doing Indy about a possible giveaway of tickets for some promotion of the event through a blog post, and they graciously offered for myself and a guest to attend as well. Naturally, I asked Tamre if she would be my guest, and she accepted the invitation. Onward to food adventures!
Osteria Pronto is of similar calibre to Capri, one of my favorite Italian restaurants, one that I only go to when there is a special occasion. Yet I did not anticipate that I would be eating so many things for the first time at this dinner (and have goodies to take home with me to continue the experience).
When we walked through the restaurant to our tables I admired the surroundings – an open counter at the front of the restaurant where it looked like people could order carry-out or room service. We were tucked away in a large, private room at the back of the restaurant with four long tables. Tamre and I both grabbed a small flute of champagne as we shook hands with Bill Whiting of Banfi Wines, who led the conversation of the wines for the evening.
Crostini with bruschetta, slices of shaved cheese and a balsamic vinegar glaze along with herbed Kalamata and green olives were laid out as light appetizers we could enjoy while we waited for everyone to arrive and take their seat. I’m not a huge tomato fan as you all know, but there was something about the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar that diminished my dislike for tomatoes.
Tamre and I eagerly awaited the first course to arrive. We listened to Bill discuss how Banfi wines came to be, how he was involved, and why we would love his wines. There were many notable points, some I remember and some I surely don’t, but with my limited knowledge of wines I’ll spare myself from reporting a fact incorrectly and focus on the food.
First up was the amuse course (short for amuse-bouche, meaning a small appetizer) – jumbo shrimp, in the shell, that was brushed with bourbon and a maple jam that the chef made that morning, with a mango-frisee salad. As soon as the shrimp was set before us, Chef Rino Baglio, Cordon Blue graduate and former personal chef for the Princess of Monaco, came out to explain the dish. He stressed the importance of using shrimp in the shell vs taking the shell out, and how the shell helps retain moisture and flavor. The texture was perfect – I could have eaten two plates of this! Pair this with the Castello Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio, a light and refreshing wine for a light course.
While the amuse course was plated individually, the next three courses would be presented family style. While I enjoyed the interaction with those around me, I’d say that I would have preferred for these dishes to be plated individually only because I missed getting good photos of the gnocchi, as the family dish was not near me.
Regardless of the photo, this gnocchi was slightly sweet but savory with the combination of the mushrooms and the creamy sauce. This was also my first taste of truffles – a subtle, light flavor that enhances the dish instead of defining it. This gnocchi was served with Castello Banfi Cum Laude.
When I heard that quail was on the menu for the second course, I got really excited. Maybe even too excited. My first time trying quail was during the Cerulean dinner I attended last month, and while I didn’t know what to expect, I somehow knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. The difference with Osteria Pronto’s quail was that it was wrapped in prosciutto, stuffed with veal and sausage and baked. I asked the chef how he kept the quail from becoming greasy, and he said that you use very little olive oil on the baking sheet and that wrapping the quail in prosciutto will help aid with soaking up any unwanted grease. We enjoyed a delicious Castello Banfi Brunello 2007 wine along with the second and third course.
I could have licked the gravy off that plate.
Another first was presented to be in the third course – lamb. This dish was a little easier to get onto the plate because of how it was structured on the plate. Tender, herb-rubbed little rounds of lamb meat sat delicately on top of cheesy polenta croutons. I could have eaten two servings.
And finally, dolci – meaning dessert. Chocolate cream puffs filled with chantilly cream and sprinkled with a strawberry coulis. Knowing that a dessert wine would accompany the dish, I looked forward to tasting the Banfi Rosa Regate. The fork cracked the shell of the puff, exposing the chantilly cream that oozed onto the plate. Then I took a bite of the strawberry couli and a sip of wine, and I felt like THIS is was dessert is supposed to be like.
The fun didn’t stop there. As we wrapped up the meal and got up to leave, we were presented with white gift bags. Tamre and I found olive oil, homemade marinara sauce, a menu and a promotional card to entice me to visit Osteria Pronto again (which I will). I even have meatballs in the freezer that would love to swim in this sauce.
Nothing about this meal or the wine was disappointing. Each course was presented with intention, and Chef Baglio’s intentions were well understood. I would like to revisit Osteria Pronto and try his pasta dishes.
I may be getting a bit addicted to five-course dinners. Rahul and I will be at Sahm’s Restaurant for a five-course dinner pairing with Bier Brewery. One would think that a five-course dinner is a lot of food, and I’d be stuffed to the brim after th3-hourour meal. However, that is not the case at all. When you know that you’re about to eat several plates of food, you may not eat the whole plate for fear of filling up and not being able to try the last meal.
Next time I won’t be so worried.