Siena brings Italian pastry to Chicago

July 6, 2013 5:59:40 PM PDT
Of all the antipasti on the large menu at the new Siena Tavern in River North, there is one item that stands apart for its harmony of sweet, salt and fat. It was discovered on the team's research trip to Italy.

"It's called cocoli and it's just some warm, kind of toasty bread with prosciutto di Parma, stracchino cheese and they just did a little bit of honey and fresh shaved truffles and that was kind of the dish," said David Blonsky, the Chef at Siena Tavern.

A choux pastry is made from hot butter and flour; transferred to a stand mixer, it's beaten while eggs are added for richness. Small balls of dough are then deep fried until the exterior is brown. On a rectangular board, thin slices of prosciutto di Parma are plated with quenelles of stracchino cheese and a few of the fried dough balls. The plate is drizzled with herb oil and sweet, fragrant truffle honey.

"You just take a little bit of the cheese inside, a little bit of the prosciutto, some of the truffle honey, herb oil, it all kind of comes together and it's a nice little bite to start your meal off," said Blonsky.

On the dessert menu, there's gelato of course, but one with a twist. After combining vanilla beans and lemon zest to their gelato base, they'll drizzle in alternating layers of olive oil and generous sprinkles of sea salt, for a sweet, somewhat more balanced approach.

"Well if you add a little lemon zest, it kind of makes the olive oil pop, the sea salt makes the sweetness pop and it kind of all melds together to form that gelato," said Blonsky.

So those three tastes - salt, fat and sweet - play so nice together, and it's even more fun when you have them at the start of a meal, like an antipasti.

Siena Tavern
51 W. Kinzie Ave.
312-595-1322
http://www.sienatavern.com/


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