Culinary Concierge

culinary concierge, blog

ViaMedina is a culinary concierge service providing private chefs, cooking lessons, exclusive events, and interactive food and wine tours.

Posts in ViaMedina Signature
Gorgonzola, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok I know, there are a lot of gimmicks out there these days, and every one is serving the next weird combination in a mason jar or on a shovel or something so I would understand if you'd dismiss this recipe as another bit of hipster whimsy. Lord knows that when i first dreamt up the idea i thought of them as gimmicky, and it took me years to actually give it a real chance. But the more I made them and the more I've developed the recipe I think they're not only delicious but a really interesting bit of culinary logic.

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Pasta Party- Cauliflower Leaf Pasta dough/ Cauliflower Ravioli in Brodo

Any good myth of origin is always a kind of underdog tale-a rough and tumble fighter who rose up from nothing to become a champion despite the odds being stacked against them. You know, the kid from the wrong side of the tracks with a heart of gold but has been written probably because of that one time he got into a fight at the roller rink with the football captain. Well, cauliflower leaves are a lot like this: delicious, full of potential and yet often tossed aside and written off like a bad metaphor. Well, consider this recipe that come from behind movie with Coolio, and consider us Michelle Pfeiffer. 

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Toasted flour Grissini (Maximising flavour)

As the toasted flour pasta I started working on was a success,  I started to think about other applications that would work. It's a particular flavour so I wondered what else would benefit from that hint of bitterness and more robust texture. So, I took some time to think about what a grissini would be like if the crispy texture and flavour of the cooked outside went all the way through rather than the more conventional idea of what the breadstick has become.

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Fennel Pollen: The Kanye West of Ingredients

So here is the thing about Yeezy: he's overexposed, too expensive and a bit overwhelming all around. He also keeps some random kinds of company and puts his name on some pretty rubbish projects. Yet still, no one can deny that Kanye has real talent, and real insight both into the way that music should sound and the things that artists need to do to get there. Also, when he wants to he gives a hell of a performance (ligger motherducker notwithstanding, of course). 

Much like Kanye, fennel pollen is an overrated, overused, way too expensive product that gets tossed around by too many people and used in some terrible ways. However, it is a beautiful product and really special, not in small part due to how difficult it is to produce. Here in Italy we are blessed with tons of wild fennel all over the area; as Mark's mother Maureen told us in our tour of her garden  fennel is a wildly parasitic crop and incredibly hearty, so it not only spreads like wildfire, it survives just about anything. 

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A Brief, Inaccurate and Most Likely False History of Carbonara

La vita è una combinazione di magia e pasta. 

(Life is a combination of magic and pasta.)

- Federico Fellini


The myths we recount about of origin of things are often as important as the things themselves. We love a good story, and where the isn't one we are very happy to fill in the blanks with apocrypha, even when it borders on the absurd. Indeed the more emblematic a particular item is and the more vital its symbolism to the construction of a particular identity, the more we will create legends around its beginnings. The more convincing those stories are, the more likely we are to believe in them and believe in our own origins as a result. In the US, we've just celebrated the mythic origins of our own country and regardless of our rational selves on those other 364 days we cannot help but feel the tug of something profound on this one day where our pride in being part of this story surges forth. So you see, nations are built on this premise. Heroes are made. Legends are written.

A pasta dish is born.

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Soil Block Brownie

he soil block brownie came out of our first year at Casa Caponetti, where Ginger and I split our time between kitchen, construction and garden. I can't remember which one of us it was but while we were seeding the vegetable garden and creating the small blocks of soil that seeds must grow in before being planted in the ground, one of us noticed how much this little pile of dirt looked like it would make a really tasty treat. Of course, that was dirt. 

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Toasted Flour

The idea of a burnt pasta was a great one, and I really liked the way that the orecchiette and peas turned out earlier this week. But then it got me thinking about variations, and I started to want to play around with the idea of changing the flavours and having it come out more toasted instead of completely burnt.  Like anything else, it's not a new idea: we use toasted flour in some meat braises to add a depth of flavour, and the Sardinians have Fregula, known as Sardinian cous cous which is made from balled up pasta that is dried and toasted. Google "toasted pasta" on the internet and you'll be told that you can take dry pasta into a new "stratosphere" by toasting it. 

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Olive Oil Panna Cotta (or A beginning of sorts)

If you have been keeping up with our daily posts, you may have noticed a theme emerging. For example, as Ginger mentioned yesterday, the nearly 18 months that we've lived in Tuscania has become an important element of our story and it informs a lot of our interests. As a chef, coming here has not only made me technically better, it's allowed me to develop a lot of ideas that I've been turning over in my head for years.

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Grano Arso/Burnt Flour Pasta

One of the things that has always drawn me to Italian cuisine since I first began cooking was the tradition of La Cucina Povera, the poor cuisine. The translation sounds awkward but the idea is clear: many of the most famous and indeed most delicious dishes within the Italian canon come from the choices that Italians had to make in times of extreme poverty, and their ingenuity is what makes these dishes stand alone as classics. We'll be returning to this theme a lot in our blog posts, and below I'll begin with one of my recent favourites. 

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