Toronto native Massimo De Francesca grew up with a firm appreciation of his Italian heritage. His parents, immigrants from southern Italy, took pride in teaching their children how to prepare the culinary delights of their homeland.
A graduate of the George Brown College Culinary Arts School in Toronto, De Francesca honed his skills on the Adriatic Coast, where he trained with Michelin star Chef Vincenzo Cammerucci at Ristorante Lido Lido in the port town of Cesenatico. He returned to Toronto in 1999 where he was fortunate to work under the tutelage of world-class French chef Jean Pierre Challet before leaving again, this time for warmer climes in the sunny Cayman Islands.
These days De Francesca is the executive chef at Hotel Palomar’s Domaso Trattoria Moderna in Arlington, Va., where patrons savor cuisine that marries his Italian heritage with the flavors of his global experience in a setting that offers a spectacular view of the Georgetown skyline.
Spaghetti carbonara Serves 4
12 ounces spaghetti, fresh or dry
5 ounces Virginia ham, sliced into 1/4-inch matchsticks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 small shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely ground
4 egg yolks
8 ounces heavy cream
4 ounces Parmigiano cheese, finely grated
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 ounces dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay)
4 quail yolks (optional)
Salt, to taste
In a medium pot, bring 5 quarts of salted water to a boil.
Combine egg yolks and half the heavy cream (reserve the other half) in a mixing bowl. Mix until smooth with whisk.
In sauté pan, sauté shallots, garlic, peppercorns and ham in olive oil and butter for 5 minutes on medium heat. Do not brown. Add wine and simmer until dry. Add the reserved cream to the shallot mixture and bring to simmer. Reduce by half.
Submerge the spaghetti in the boiling water and stir for a few minutes to ensure the pasta does not stick. Cook to desired doneness, 9 to 11 minutes. When cooked to preference, drain the spaghetti while reserving some of the pasta water. Add the reserved pasta water to the sauté pan. Return to medium heat and bring back to a simmer. Remove sauté pan from heat and stir in egg yolk mixture and grated cheese. Stir rapidly until egg yolks and cream cook and become thick. Adjust thickness with reserved pasta water.
PRESENTATION: Serve in warmed pasta bowls or on a warm platter. Garnish with freshly grated Parmigiano cheese. For added richness, top each serving with a quail yolk (optional). Season with fresh ground pepper.
Scallops carpaccio Serves 1
For the vinaigrette:
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Juice of ¼ lemon
½ ounce extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch pink peppercorns, crushed
Combine the mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl. Mix until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking at a steady pace until it is incorporated. Add crushed peppercorns. Set aside.
1½ dry scallops
¼ ounce pancetta, cut into small cubes
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch fennel pollen
½ radish, julienned
Micro celery, for garnish
Place the pancetta cubes in small pan over medium heat to slowly render the fat. Continue cooking until the pancetta is crispy. Set aside. Cutting across the grain, slice the scallops paper thin and layer pieces onto a plate. Sprinkle scallops with sea salt, fennel pollen, radish slices and crispy pancetta. Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with micro celery or micro greens.
Domaso Trattoria Moderna
1121 N. 19th St.
Arlington, VA 22209
tel 703 351 1211
Château Élan Winery & Resort reopened in Braselton, Georgia, following a $25 million comprehensive renovation. The first major refurbishment since the resort’s inception in the mid-1980s pays homage to the estate's 16th-century charm, while taking the property into the future. Now, the resort offers 251 brand-new guestrooms and 24 suites, four new food and beverage venues, an immersive spa, pool terrace and new lobby. The winery likewise received a facelift.
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