Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Casa Vissani

Many of my experiences in Italy were made possible by my good friend, and as he calls himself, my Italian manager...Giusseppe Bombara. Giusseppe has made my trip to Italy a dream come true. To name a few things, he took me to his home in Sicily, organized my trip to Norcia to visit the Prosciutto makers, took me to many dinners with famous chefs, wine-makers and friends, organized horseback riding, set me up to make pizzas at one of my favorite restaurants (the chef and owner is his friend) and essentially gave me a glimpse of what it is really like to live like an Italian. Without Bombara, my trip would have been nothing compared to what it has really been.Gianfranco Vissani is regarded as one of the most if not the most famous chef in Italy. Now this would be an honor to be of this stature anywhere in the world, but to have such a reputation in the country that is maybe more known for its cuisine than anywhere in the world is truly incredible. I'd already had really good food in Italy but I was looking to spring to an even higher level. I wanted Casa Vissani...the platform where Vissani showcases his sensory tantalizing fare in the most serene and luxurious atmosphere imaginable.
(Different flavored butters and salts from all over the world)
Throughout my stay here I have found it very difficult to show my thanks to Giusseppe because he won't accept anything nor let me pay for anything. I tell him all the time what a difference he has made for me, how good of a friend he is and that I appreciate everything. I told him without debate I was taking him to Casa Vissani to show my thanks...no argument...and we were getting everything!!!
I was totally excited about this night. I love good food, good service and more than anything, being around people who are in love and passionate about what they do...if you are in love with what you do...get in my life...I gravitate to passion/s...I have so many of them:)
As we approached the door a woman opened it and to my great surprise Gianfranco was waiting at the door for us. Hold up, the most famous chef in Italy is at the door of his restaurant waiting to see and talk with me?...SWEET! Gianfranco speaks only a little English but we had a nice time conversing. He took us to our table and pulled my chair out for me...I think this is a real rarity as everyone in the entire restaurant looked at me in complete awe and shock haha.
We were getting everything...the full tasting menu, the wine pairings, of course the cheeses and all the desserts our little hearts could desire. I absolutely love not having to worry or think about what comes to me. Although I love eating good food I hate ordering food. My dream is to always have food that I'll enjoy simply placed in front of me without the hassle of searching through the entire menu haha:) At Casa Vissani I was in luck!
Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect from fine-dining in Italy. At this level each chef really has their own personality and style that comes out through their cuisine. I wondered how complex things would be, how things would be presented to us, would there be traditional classics elevated to a new level...who knows? I am by no means a food expert nor a chef but I have had some darn good food in my young little life. I think I have a pretty decent idea what things should taste like, what the consistencies should be feel like, and maybe to a little lesser degree, what smells should arise from different products. The food at Vissani, just as I'd expected, was beautifully prepared and absolutely delicious...touching all my senses.
(Chianina beef which is very famous in Italy)
(The very extensive and impressive cheese cart. When they opened the drawers to create our cheese plates the aroma of old, smelly, perfectly ripened cheese poured out and traveled deep into my senses...ahh it was so amazing. One of the cheeses we had only supplies Casa Vissani with one form every four years because the cheese is so rare and high quality, mmmm)

Throughout the meal Vissani came by several times to ask us how the food was. At the conclusion of your meal you can either be served dessert at your table or be taken to what is essentially a living room with beautiful decor, couches and chairs. We decided to eat dessert in more comfort, in the other room. However, before we left a waiter approached us with a bottle of wine and said, in Italian, "this bottle of wine is a gift from the table over there to congratulate you for all of your success." I thought to myself, "what the heck? How do these people know who I am?" The bottle turned out to be a 1983 vintage of Sauternes from Chateau Luduiraut...I know very little about wine but Giusseppe who is the wine business, and other wine experts we talked to later, said this wine and this vintage is probably the most famous dessert wine in the world. What? Are you kidding me?! I was amazed. We tasted the wine and I promptly went over to thank the very gracious people. It turns out one of the women at the table recognized me (from the Olympics & World Champs) and confirmed with her waiter that I was who she thought I was. Weird?
Before retiring to the dessert room Vissani took us into the kitchen to meet and take pictures with the chefs. I loved it, I don't think these people understood what an honor it was for me to meet them and see how they work. What a beautiful kitchen too!
The desserts were delicious and very comforting. The Sauternes was literally the most vibrant and mouth dazzling wine I've ever experienced. Thank you to the very generous and kind people who bought it for us!!
Before leaving we toured their very extensive and large wine cellar which is filled with many of the most famous wines of the world. Luca, Gianfranco's son presented me with one of Gianfranco's most famous books and personalized it for me (unfortunately Gianfranco was gone by this time). We were the last to leave the restaurant...1:20am. Ha.
A very successful night. I was definitely sprung to the higher level my palate was longing for.


Kait W. said...

This blog officially made me HUNGRY! lol All the pics of the food look SOOO amazing! I'm guessin they dont have cheese like they did on that cheese cart in Wisconsin LOL also that's pretty awesome that people recognized you! But then again......if they LOVE swimming like I do they would know haha On a side note.....your tweets today HILAR! Ur Gma sounds like one cool lady! lol So how badly dead you beat those kids on ur Razor scooter? HAHAHAHA
Have fun in good 'ol 'sconny! HAHAHA (btw Chi-Town is where it's at) LOL

J said...

Garrett, fabulous...the part of loving and being passionate about your goals and job in life is true... best part of a movie I ever saw ...please excuse the cheese factor...Anne of Avonlea is the last part of the line "is what you bring to the world." Your bring your game face everytime a blog is written..passionate and inspiring to all people! PS...fiesty grandmothers are awesome ....love mine to pieces...she was the one that took us to swim practice in the afternoons as kids! The second to last dish..the meat ....served medium/or rare....better flavor? And the dessert...was that shaped to look like almonds!

PS...fiesty grandmothers are awesome ....love mine to pieces...she a latin ...so much personality! Enjoy the time with family and friends...that are what make living this life worthwhile!

Ashley said...

Oh my. It all look SO amazing. I seriously think you need research this Italian Jew thing. You look so at home and relaxed in Italy!

Glad to read on Twitter that you made it home safely and are having a great time w/ your family (especially Grandma!! ;-))

Safe travels back to Texas when you head back down that direction.

Unknown said...


I have to say I am totally envious. Not only of your talent, but you're dedication to hard work. I am proud to see a fellow Wisconsinite have the talent and experiences you have worked so hard for. You have no idea how jealous I am that you have learned the art of true Italian pizza and fine italian cuisine. When I went to Italy for 3 weeks after senior year, the pizza in Naples was truly life changing(gained 20lbs), but nothing like your experiences in Italy. I'll miss catching up at Dave Joyce's workouts over the holidays. Good luck in your future endeavors, whichever they may be. You never know, maybe I'll see you at Trials in 2012, I'm tossing around the idea of trying to requalify, I'd like to see you make the team again.

Mark Johnson

idoia said...

Everything looks delicious, the pics made me hungry, and I just had dinner... You should do the same in Spain, you'll love it also.
Have you ever tasted Cabrales cheese?? smells like feet, LOL, but tastes like heaven!!

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