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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Combal Zero-Creative Cuisine

As everyone knows, the hubby and I are big eaters, we're everything eaters and adventurous ones too. I can say there are only a handful of foods I cannot eat aka do not like but of course have tried and tried to no avail. Just to name a couple, na-toh sushi(fermented soy bean sushi) and uni (sea urchin roe). All bets are off on everything else.

It happened to be Claire's birthday this week (Happy Birthday!) and to celebrate they drove up from Florence. Deme made a reservation at Combal Zero, a creative, micromenu sort of a place, for dinner. We did not even bother looking at the ala carte menu, we wanted creativity and sought to have our curiosity met.

At the end of the evening we all received a little bag with a tin can in it. I opened mine later that evening and found it was just canned tomatoes, but the menu we received that night is printed on the backside.

I must say my favorite dishes were the Affogato di Merluzzo-this is a mousse of cod served in a martini glass with flavored mashed potatoes. Another favorite was the Petto di Faraona-a tiny breast of grilled guinea fowl with paper thin slices of pineapple.

My least favorite dish was the Ostrica Virtuale or Virtual Oyster, it was a piece of cubed watermelon with a fishy sort of topping. We were told to close our eyes and pop them into our mouth. I tasted a juicy, briny creature of the sea yet this dish contained no such ingredient. I was a bit taken aback, mostly since I had been fooled. Thank goodness they followed with real oysters.

The last dish the Elio Campari was a real kicker. Tiny Campari bombs in plastic wrap, were served with candies and a helium balloon. We stuck the plastic balls in our mouths, let the Campari explode, ate some candies then were instructed to inhale the helium from the large, white balloons in front of us. Enzo did a few imitations, Deme told a few jokes and before long we were all laughing uncontrollably.


This is the Cyber Egg it is a raw egg yolk in one layer of plastic and in another layer there was caviar. We were told to take the Exact-O knife, make a small slit in the plastic, put the entire thing into our mouths and eat...I am not fond of raw eggs but the combo with the caviar was quite a surprise.

This is the Piola Kit. A piola is a place where older men hang out and eat, play cards and socialize, much like a nice osteria. So when the kit came we received in 6 little jars the various traditional foods of Piemonte and well as a small deck of cards. Deme and Enzo were playing Poker and Black Jack. One in a while I heard the word cento mille or 100K pop out of one of their mouths. It was a really wonderful conceptual idea, they played, laughed and I bet they could have carried on all night this way. So the 6 jars contained:

1. Salsa verde and tomini (a chevre)
2. Chopped good ham and mashed potatoes
3. A mini bagna cauda-a garlic, anchovy sauce and olive oil sauce that is used as a dressing and dip for vegetables.
4. Tiny, tiny ravioli called agnoloti in a warm broth
5. A tiny bollito misto-a tradional meat dish made from all parts of the pig and cow in rich gravy.
6. The dessert was a panna cotta with a carmelized sugar syrup.

This was also an interesting dish, The Fossil. We were handed a box filled with warm cedar chips, a clay fish, and a hammer. "Break open the clay" the waiter said. We saw several other diners whacking away at something in a box so were excited when it arrived at our table. When the clay was broken open, a tiny little package emerged. A delicate piece of fish on a bed of scallions, still very hot from the oven, was presented before us. One bite later it was gone.

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At 11:26 AM, Blogger H. (aka. NC_State_Gal) said...

Whoa..that beats any CA Fusion cuisine that I have heard of! Interesting combinations.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Gia said...

Crazy cool

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Ms. M said...

Well, that menu is definitely CREATIVE. So what was the Henry Potter?

I'm not sure if I would have been up for all the selections on the menu but it sounds like it was a fun adventure anyway.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

I know it says Henry Potter but they meant Harry Potter. The Harry Potter dish was a celophane bag with 4 "candies" inside. One was a stewed beef tidbit, another a piece of pork (we thought) with tripe or caul wrapped around it, another was a pear gelatin and the last one was a pink, cotton candyish rice thingy.

At 11:12 PM, Blogger barbara said...

Wow! the Piola Kit is awesome!! With the bollito sausages and agnolotti al plin (the piemontese name of really tiny ravioli).. yummii!!
Where did you get it?
I'm envious of you!!

At 8:59 PM, Blogger Mona said...

Wow, anything including fossils and raw egg yolks goes way beyond adventurous in my book. Holy moly, I thought I was "adventurous" until now :)

At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Laurie said...

My dear friend Sheila calls this sort of cuisine "watermelon squid" -- an interesting coincidence considering your Ostrica. Occasionally delicious, almost always deeply annoying. (Fusion cuisine, not your beautiful blog!) But then you know I am an old fuddy duddy!

At 4:05 AM, Anonymous www.coruña-3d.com said...

This won't truly have success, I think this way.


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