The Italian Culinary Experience

Collective Plate was fortunate enough to be invited to an Italian Culinary Experience. The event was sponsored by Casa Vinicola Zonin Vintners and the cooking was hosted by Julian Baker, executive chef at Toscana Divino restaurant. As this was my first food and wine pairing I had ever been to, I was excited to see what was in store for me.

The Italian Culinary Experience was being held at the wonderful Miami Culinary Institute. As I arrived, I was greeted with a lovely glass of Zonin Prosecco, which is a fantastic sparkling wine. It is extremely easy to drink and had a great balance of flavors. As I took my seat with the other foodies and chefs, Executive Chef Julian Baker greeted us all. He explained that all the food and wine would be from the Tuscany region in Italy, where he had spent four years mastering the Tuscan food. Here is the food and wine I was ever so privileged to try:

Pappa Al Pomodoro: This dish is a Tuscan tomato and bread soup with a Organic Poached egg, Salame Finocchiona and eggplant. This dish was a food creation sensation! The tomatoes tasted creamy and buttery and it complimented the poached egg really well. This was paired with a superb Chianti wine that was bursting with wood flavor.

Tortelli Di Ricotta Di Bufala E Spinachi: which was Tortellini pasta stuffed with Ricotta cheese and spinach. The sauce was made with brown butter and sage. This was my favorite dish of the event! The pasta was cooked to perfection and the blend of the brown butter and sage sauce was to die for. I am very picky with pasta and have not had that wow factor for a long time. This sure hit the mark! The wine was also paired outstandingly. It was a classic Chianti which was called Le Ellere.

Guanciale Di Vitello Con Fagioli All Uccelletto: Chianti braised veal cheeks, herb citrus and hazelnut, sauteed chard, toasted sesame seeds, tomato ginger mostarda. The veal was super juicy and the knife cut right through the tender meat. Even though there were a lot of different flavors in the dish, it still tasted simple and the veal was the strongest flavor like it should be. The red wine was another variant of Chianti wine, which I have to say I have become a big fan of.

Crespilli Al Castagnaccio: Sweet ricotta cheese, honey and chesnuts, vin santo, pine nuts and rosemary. Out of all the outstanding dishes served, this was the one I liked the least. The mix of flavors was interesting but as a dessert I felt the ricotta cheese was not sweet enough and fell a little short of the mark. The wine was called Catello D’ Albola Vin Santo which was an extremely thick and sweet wine. To me it almost tasted like syrup. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the dessert wine either.

All the dishes that were served (apart from the dessert) are served at Chef Julian Baker’s restaurant, Toscana Divino. I have to say I can’t wait to try out his restaurant and see and taste some of the other dishes that are served!


Toscana Divino
900 South Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33130

Twitter: @ToscanaDivino


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Categories: Chefs + Food Personalities, Food Festivities, Miami


A sports fan, super geek who loves his fiance, writing, beer and video games.


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3 Comments on “The Italian Culinary Experience”

  1. Marlena
    April 30, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    The Tortelli Di Ricotta Di Bufala E Spinachi sounds delicious. I would definitely order this if I found myself visiting Toscana Divino one of these days…

  2. May 2, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    WOW! All the dishes are so detailed in their description that I can practically taste them right off the internet! I am especiallly drawn to the “Guanciale Di Vitello Con Fagioli All Uccelletto.” Chianti-braised veal, herb citrus and hazelnut??? I’m drooling! Must visit Toscana Divino!

    • May 5, 2012 at 5:01 am #

      The food was amazing and we’re glad the descriptions do them justice. Definitely stop into Toscana Divino – well worth it. πŸ™‚

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