Thursday, June 28, 2012

I am not dreaming, it is REAL!

Just before I left for my trip to the USA, we were watching America Top Chefs. We paid special attention to one of the competitors. We knew that my step daughter Erin had been to his restaurant in the LA area several times and had become acquainted with him. I am talking about Chef Fabio Viviani who was voted the Top Chef, Season 5, Fan Favorite. His restaurant, Cafe Firenze, is just a 10 minute drive from her home. 


Erin knew I would be thrillled if I were to get to meet the chef, so she took us to his cooking demo at his restaurant on the first weekend after we arrived in California. While we waited in queue to check in, I had the pleasure to meet this Baby Chef who was in line ahead of us. Are all chefs so charming?


Cafe Firenze is a large, noisy, but nicely decorated restaurant, and very typically Italian. As we walked into the main door, we were greeted by friendly waitresses and waiters. The first thing we saw was a huge marble bar with a wide selection of liquor and wines. More wine seemed to cover every available wall space throughout the restaurant.


Erin introduced us to the co-owner of the restaurant (and an award winning mixologist), Jacopo Falleni, before we were led to our table. He is a warm and friendly guy (also very Italian) and made us all feel very special. My Quay Lo bought their cookbook and Jacopo signed the book for me immediately. I also got Chef Fabio Viviani to sign the book. Prized souvenier!

Jacopo Falleni and Quay Po

Here are the two partners as pictured in the book with barman extraordinaire
Jocopo on the left and Chef Fabio Viviani on the right

I am glad we got a table because the room was packed with attendees. I am not surprised at all. I was told most of his fans are female and sure enough, all of us admiring ladies sat around anxiously awaiting the arrival of Chef Fabio. My Quay Lo yawned, and to no one in particular, wondered aloud what he was doing there.


As soon as we settled down, my step daughter Erin told me that I must try this wonderful Balsamic Martini. WOW!  I cannot find words to describe this drink to you. It was SOOO GOOD!!


Chef Fabio introduced himself and started to show us how to make some of his signature appetizer dishes. His demo was lively and entertaining. He was a humorous guy and I am sure all of us enjoyed ourselves watching him cook. He made cooking look so simple. 

Chef Fabio Viviani in action

Here are the dishes that he cooked and we got to taste. They were simple to do but over the top delicious!

 The focaccia bread was flavorful

Pomodoro sauce with onion, eggs and cheese. The egg was
cooked just right

gamberoni in camicia - pacetta wrapped jumbo prawn filled with 
Italian sharp gorgonzola with parmesan polenta and sauteed "spinachi"
This is an awesome dish which I would like to try soon.

Italian meat ball in pondoro tomato sauce.
Another very simple-to-make dish 
with an explosion of flavors in each bite.


deep fried prawns with homemade mayonnaise
I did not know making our own mayonnaise
is so simple.

After watching the cooking demo, eating the scrumptuous lunch, and maybe another martini or two, we all had stuffed bellies, so we called it a day. There was one last thing to do before we left. I had to take a photo with the chef for my album. Yay I did! 

As soon as we were back at Erin's home, I quickly transferred all the photos taken at the demo into my Quay Lo's computer hard disk and erased those on my SD card. As I was editing the photos I realized the photo of me and Chef Fabio was missing!!! What???  I can't believe I lost the most important photo of the event. Can I be anymore 'Lucy' than that? I was so upset that I screamed out so loud "AUNTIE LUCY!, are you kidding me???!!" My Quay Lo thought I fell down or hurt myself. He came running to me only to find out that I had lost the photo. He sensed that I was very upset and he asked Erin to quickly call the restaurant and tell Chef Fabio what happened, then ask if I could go back and take another photo with him before he leaves. He was kind enough to ask me to return to the restaurant. This time I made very damn sure Aunty Lucy didn't lose it again. I had the photo in my Quay Lo's hard disk, my SD card, and a separate USB flash drive. LOL!!

Chef Favio Viviani and Quay Po

If you would like to know more about Chef Fabio Viviani, watch this interview.
He always make people laugh. Isn't he good looking and cute? LOL!


The first dish that I tried to make at home (here in K.L.) that I learned from the cooking demo is this yummy light meal.

Pomodoro (tomato) sauce with onion, eggs and cheese
Recipe by Chef Favio Viviani with slight variations by yours truly.


Ingredients:
1 can (250gm) plum tomatoes
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp italian herbs
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp thinly diced spring onion 
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar 

Method:
Heat oil and saute garlic till fragrant. Add plum tomatoes and break them up. Add Italian herbs, salt, pepper and let it simmer for about 10 mins and reduced. Transfer to a bowl. Add cheese and crack an egg onto the sauce. Bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees C for 10 mins till cheese is melted and egg white cooked but yolk still runny.


Note: I served the dish with freshly baked crusty bread and my good friend, Wendy's brussels sprout chiffonade with hazel nuts. One bite of crusty bread dipped into the sauce followed by a spoonful of brussel sprouts, MM... MM...MM...Brilliant combination. 










50 comments:

  1. lovely post and food
    that prawns look delicious

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    1. Thanks. The prawns is very good. Will make it soon and then share the recipe:D

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  2. That looks like a simple but great egg dish. Something I can try for lunch one day.

    You look like you enjoyed the cooking demo very much!

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    1. Yen, I DID!! Chef Fabio is very funny. hehe

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  3. Veron, I wanted to say this soup is very delicious.. Feel like cooking it this sunday for brunch. My son definitely love it, since I have leftover bread in the fridge. Think of making croutons as well!

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    1. Yes, cook for your kiddies, they will love it. Croutons with this is good.

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    2. Sure, you can use fresh tomatoes, even better. Make sure it is pomodoro tomatoes because they are sweeter.

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  4. Auntie Lucy, you erased the most important pic in your SD?? You better join in my club too!! I often do this too, gosh.. but I am not so blessed as you.. can go back to take the picture again... lol... so nice of your hubby and the chef...

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    1. Claire, I thought I already have my own Lucy club and invited you to join as lifetime member? Oh yes, my Quay Lo is very sweet to get Erin to call the chef and brought me back to the cafe to take another photo with chef Fabio.

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  5. Oooo ... yum, delicious! And I mean the recipe ... REALLY!! :)
    I'm going off now to get the ingredients to make this for lunch.
    And I have another thing to say .... SHARE! And I'm NOT talking about the recipe :D

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    1. Ping, don't pretend lah. I know you mean both delicious. LOL! Hey you know me I share a lot of things but something cannot be shared and you know what:D

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  6. Ooooo....the celebrity chefS meet!!! Handsome guy eh? Why the chefs there all so good looking, unlike our local ones? LOL!!!

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    1. Arthur, I have to disagree with you. Now the young local chefs are handsome too. At least the few that I have met.

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  7. That is one delicious looking dish.....as I always loves tomatoes! Would you mind if I baked to put in some slice bacon in it? And that...side dish brussel sprouts, its my love too. I just made this recipe the other. Delicious!!

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    1. Bacon is a miracle ingredient. Go ahead!

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  8. I'm taking the note for this recipe. Love this very much. Looks great for appetizer or for whenever.

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  9. Lucy , you're one lucky gel ! He looks really hot ! ;D Your dish looks as scrumptious as Favio's himself ! lol

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    1. He is HOT! haha, you cracked me up with your comment on the dish.

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  10. I thought this is some otak-otak dish when I saw ur FB post :P

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  11. you really Lucy lar, hahaha. Luckily you are still able to take photo again with him..This dish look simple and good!

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    1. Ya lor, no one can snatch this title from me ever! hahaha

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  12. Yes, I remember this chef from the Top Chef show ;-) Nice photos and great looking dishes...yumz!

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    1. Thanks Chris. His recipe are simple and good.

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  13. Quay Po,you lucky girl! That dish (I mean the Pomodoro Sauce) looks absolutely delicious. Something different for me to try.

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    1. Yes try. This is simple enough for anyone to try.

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  14. He is so nice. I bet he is honour to have you go all the way back there for a photo. His num 1 fan

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    1. That was what my Quay Lo said also. He must be thrilled to know he has a fan all the way from Malaysia.

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  15. When I looked at the picture of you and Chef Fabio Viviani, my eyes had started to fill with tear. I was so touched. I was touched because of what your Quay Lo had done for you. He is really a very supportive and loving husband to you.

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    1. Yan, I was touched too. Next life I must also find Quay Lo again to be my husband if there is such a thing called reincarnation. hehe

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  16. Great post and I am sure you enjoyed evry moment of this day. Stay well Diane

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    1. Yes, I did, very much. You too stay well Diane. Hugs.

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  17. The dish looks delicious! From the way Quay Lo responces to you can see how caring he is as a husband, you are indeed blessed Veron :)

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    1. I am Tze. You too my dear. You have a wonderful family.

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  18. oh u r so lucky and blessed!!! What a lovely treat. and yes, treat that photo with care!!
    Back to the food- this is MY kind of food. So clean and fresh and EASY!! Bookmarked!

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    1. hahaha, I will hold on that photo like gold. Maybe one day when Chef Fabio become a Top Chef in the world, it will worth a million dollars?? You can get creative with this sauce. It can go with so many things.

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  19. You must be so starstruck. Lucky you! He was so kind to invite you back to have another photo session with you. hahaha. you really are a good cook. Your version looks the same as Chef Fabio's! And I love the highlight on your hair..you are so 'in'!hehe.

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    1. I can see anything you wrote about the photo or the dish. I can only see that you love my hair!! Thanks, I love the one strand highlight too. I thought it is cool!! hahaha, I am self praising, how can you stand me?? Hugs.

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  20. You're so lucky to have a chance to meet Chef Fabio, tried his food and have photos with him Twice! That's Incredible!

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    1. Yes Veronica, I was lucky that he had not left his restaurant yet so that I have that second chance.

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  21. That looks like a fun and tasty place!

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    1. It was a nice restaurant with good food and excellent service. We went back a second time to have dinner there. The food was awesome!

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  22. Such an amazing restaurant review, Veronica! Loved the photos of you and chef Fabio...both look so cute; and you're always so photogenic.
    The dishes sampled are so mouthwatering, scrumptious. Lucky you that you got to sample all those goodies.

    The title: Pomodoro...literally means tomato...so it's a Pomodoro sauce, not Pomodoro, and Tomato=same thing in Italian and English!
    I've made these for years, and everyone in my family loves it. Now, you've inspired me to make them real soon. Looks yummy and perfectly done:D

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    1. Eliisabeth, thanks for pointing out my mistake. It is fixed:D

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  23. omg !! FABIO VIVIANI and you get to take picture with him jealous =P . i like him among all the top chef so far he is funny and love his accents ;D .

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    1. Sorry I miss your comment. Oh yes, he is a lovable guy.

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