One of the absolute privileges of attending Terra Madre 2018 was being invited to a very special press launch of Slow Food Nations 2019. The event was hosted by Slow Food USA in the breathtaking Circolo della Stampa in Turin.
Slow Food Nations 2019 will be hosted in Denver, and so we were treated to an absolutely exhilerating aperitivo menu masterminded by elite chef Jennifer Jasinski. This melded the flavours of the state of Colorado with an Italian influence, in deference to our elegant surroundings.
Upon entry, we were greeted with a spritz made with Lambrusco and Leopold Brothers aperitivo from Denver. I really liked the balance of this aperitivo – it really had a great balance (which you would hope for in Turin as it is pretty much the home of these kind of bitter liqueurs!). The bitterness and sweetness counterbalanced perfectly, off set by another flavour element of citrus and all held together with a complex underpinning of herbal notes which I absolutely adored.
Chef Jennifer Jasinski
Then Jennifer Jasinski was behind the counter, explaining her neat and reasoned aperitivo menu as she and her soux chef prepped it for service. Each dish contained ingredients from Denver and wider Colorado, often blended in a very Italian style to create the mouthwatering menu.
Colorado Heirloom Beans
I was particularly taken with mixture of Heirloom beans in vinaigrette. This was a subtle blend of flavours, but the earthy characters of all of the beans shone through. This was complemented by a layer of rich duck pancetta on top. As someone who will always pick savoury above sweet, this was pretty much my dream dish and a great showcase of Colorado’s produce.
The most tempting smells arose from the station where dazzling fresh Porcini were being grilled and then served up with creamy ricotta. The umami was delivered with dazzling pizzazz. Once again this was made all the more impressive because we were in Piedmont. This dish stood up so well to all of the seasonal mushroom dishes I had been enjoying that week. You cannot underestimate the finesse added by the last drizzle of olive oil and balsamic. This is not completely surprising as Jennifer Jasinski has the art of Mediterranean cooking well within her repertoire.
Jimmy Nardello jam
The most beautiful dish by far was the yellow watermelon which was served compressed with Jimmy Nardello jam. Jimmy Nardello peppers are listed as an Ark of Taste ingredient by Slow Food in order to help preserve this sweet, almost smoky flavour. Their combination with the delicate fragrance of watermelon was a real hit with me – for all the senses.
And of course I cannot forget the Palisades peach preserve served with prosciutto on a pinenut cracker. It was a festival of texture. Another exciting precursor of what is to come for those who will be attending Slow Food Nations 2019!
A whistle stop tour of the evening I’m sure you’ll agree! Massive thanks to Visit Denver and Slow Food USA for being such fantastic hosts. Now I just need to find someone who needs me to cover Slow Food Nations 2019 for them! The tiny taste I got of the food culture in Colorado has only left me wanting more!
And did I mention how beautiful the venue was? Take a look around this spectacular room where we were captivated by the charismatic Alice Water’s introduction.