Every month, Il Fornaio explores the food and wine of a different region in Italy with its regional festival, called Festa Regionale. For two weeks, a specially crafted, regional menu is available along with wines from the region. In March 2012, the regional menu will be available from March 5th through March 18th, and Trentino-Alto Adige is the region that is being explored this month.
The Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy borders Austria and is therefore influenced by Austria. While Alto Adige is in the northern part and heavily influenced by Austria and the German language, Trentino is in the southern part of the region and is more Italian than Alto Adige.
The regional menu features a nice selection of appetizers. There is a potato and leek soup with Swiss chard, spinach, and grilled focaccia. Another appetizer features blanched and chilled white asparagus with diced egg and Cesarina dressing. Finally, there are spinach, ricotta and bread dumplings topped with Parmigiano, served in chicken broth.
Pasta dishes include rigatoni pasta tossed with pork tenderloin, bacon, shiitake mushrooms, Parmigiano, brandy, cream, and fresh thyme. There is also a fettuccine dish with smoked salmon, dill brandy, and capers in a cream sauce. Furthermore, there are butternut squash gnocchi with pancetta, black kale, and white wine cream sauce.
The main course choices feature chicken, pork chops, venison, and salmon. One main course dish is chicken medallions roasted with gruyere cheese, speck, grilled Portobello mushroom, and white wine. The chicken is served with braised sweet and sour red cabbage, broccolini, and mashed potatoes. Another main course is a pork chop that is wrapped in pancetta and roasted in the oven with herbs, white wine and brandy. It is also served with braised sweet and sour red cabbage and mashed potatoes.
The regional dessert is Sacher Torte, which clearly shows the influence of Austria in the region as it is the most famous dessert in Vienna, Austria. Sacher Torte is a chocolate, hazelnut, and rum sponge cake layered with apricot preserve and covered with a dark chocolate ganache. The cake is served with crème anglaise and chocolate sauce.
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[Note: An earlier version of this post was published on Examiner.com.]