Samui Wining & Dining
Do it Yourself!

Learning how to prepare one of La Taverna’s favourite dishes – Antipasto Rustico.

 

16Ordinarily, we feature a recipe from one of the island’s top restaurants in this section. It’s an opportunity for you to recreate a dish at home that you may have tried here. And, hopefully, Samui’s restaurateurs and chefs can help you impress your friends and family with your new-found culinary knowledge.

However, this month is slightly different. Yes, we have a dish from one of the best restaurants on the island. But the ‘recipe’ is more a philosophical approach to entertaining rather than following a rigid set of cooking instructions. Carlo Magello is the owner of La Taverna Italian restaurant on the lane which runs parallel to Soi Green Mango, off the Chaweng Beach Road. And before opening his restaurant here he spent 15 years as the Managing Director of Gucci (UK). Socializing and entertaining come naturally to him and his presence in the restaurant is a large part of the attraction of La Taverna. “I like to greet every guest personally as you would when you invite anyone into your home. You make them feel very welcome, ensure they’re comfortable and ask them what they’d like to drink.”

His thoughts on food are just as straightforward. “Keep it simple, traditional and authentic. We import most of our produce directly from Italy and that’s important when it comes to the flavours we need in many of our dishes. In addition, many of our ingredients are unique to specific regions of Italy and can’t be sourced from anywhere else.” So what’s an easy, authentic way to have an Italian night at home? As Carlo says, anyone can make some pasta and a reasonable sauce but there are more relaxed ways that don’t take too much preparation time. And spending the evening with your guests is more important and enjoyable than being hidden in the kitchen all night and virtually ignoring your friends.

Start with a selection of cut breads, some balsamic and a few extra-virgin olive oils – Italian, of course. And then present one of La Taverna’s most popular dishes, the Antipasto Rustico. Consisting of Parma ham, melon, mozzarella, mortadella, fresh tomatoes, salami, speck and coppa it’s a feast packed full of flavours. And it can be ready in minutes. You’ll be familiar with some of the hams, cheeses and fruits except perhaps for the last two, but they should be readily available at Italian delicatessens at home. Speck is a distinctively juniper-flavoured ham originally from Tyrol, a historical region that since 1918 partially lies in Austria and partially in Italy. Its origins at the intersection of two culinary worlds are reflected in its synthesis of salt and smoking. And its incredible flavours will linger in your memory for a long time to come.

Coppa (or Capocollo) is a traditional Calabrian cold-cut made from pork shoulder or neck, and dry-cured whole. It’s a typical dish of the city of Piacenza, and is popular in Switzerland near the border with Italy and on the French island of Corsica. Little known globally until recently, awareness has increased largely due to frequent mention on the popular television series, ‘The Sopranos’, and in the wonderful film adaptation of ‘The Godfather’. It’s a must for a classic antipasto rustico and will have all your friends asking you where they can buy it.

Naturally, one should have some wine with antipasto and Carlo recommends a white Vermentino Di Sardegna DOC Argiolas Costamolino 2006 or a red Morellino Di Scansano DOCG Cantina Leonardo Da Vinci 2006. And, if you really want to impress, then get hold of a good bottle of grappa. Carlo has more than two dozen different grappas on offer and it’s primarily served as a ‘digestivo’ or after-dinner drink. Try something like a Grappa Nebbiolo Berta Barricata 2001. Or, better still, drop in and have a chat with Carlo about it, he’s something of an expert on the subject and would be more than pleased to pass on any information.

Entertaining at home shouldn’t be a chore and Carlo’s ‘recipe’ has success written all over it. When you get home, invite your friends round and, as Don Corleone would say, “Make them an offer they can’t refuse!”

 


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