The combination of people congregating around food and wine has always created an amazing sense of home for me. Perhaps it’s my fond childhood memories of Dad’s arrival on a Friday afternoon after a long workweek that signaled the fundamental queue that we would be hanging out in front of that old cast iron barbecue. It may sound simple, but our family’s Friday night tradition was something my sister and I would never have traded. Sitting on folding lawn chairs grill-side with Dad, enjoying our salads with anchovies while the steaks cooked, is an irreplaceable memory. Everything special about my childhood revolves around the community of family, friends, food and music. Interestingly, my mother did not enjoy cooking, nor would I say that my childhood memories were enveloped by gourmet cuisine. However for me personally, there are many memories that encompass the preparations of food. Whether it was my grandfather returning from a fishing day on the Chesapeake Bay with bushels of blue crabs, or watching him meticulously clean pounds of Old Bay boiled shrimp, the memories are endless. Maybe not in the traditional sense, but for me, the kitchen is steeped in lovely memories that are recaptured with the essence of any number of things and sometimes just by the camaraderie of friends joining me to prepare a meal. It’s no wonder that I have grown into a foodie of sorts, and why I want for others to find the same pleasure.
One of our family's long time dining traditions is Thursday nights with Chef William Phan at our favorite local sushi bar, Sushi Nami. Chef William’s abilities and creativity with fresh fish and the use of ingredients that complement the main attraction, “the fish” is not always a conventional find in a typical sushi bar. Our family rarely orders from the menu, but rather requests Omakasi, which ultimately showcases William’s amazing contemporary flare. We often bring Chef William fun Italian staples from traveling abroad, such as Olive Oils, Truffle Cream, Truffle Salts and then let the Chef take to his cutting board! In Italy, raw selections of fresh fish are served with olive oil and pink sea salt and are referred to simply as "crudo".
On one of our trips to Italy, we indirectly connected two chefs and established friendships in the process. If you know me, there’s certainly no mystery that I love Italy, its beautiful people, the enchanting regional foods or any of the amazing wines produced there. So, on a cool night in October while in Rome with friends, we ventured down the cobblestone alleyway behind our hotel to find the very tiny and quaint “Ristorante Montevecchio”. On that particular evening we were lucky enough to happen upon an amazing culinary talent, Chef Federico Zanellato. We enjoyed the dinner prepared by Federico so much that we decided to return on our final night in Rome. Federico offered to prepare a special coursed dinner for our group. It was such an unforgettable night that we exchanged contact information, because we knew that we would want to follow Chef Federico on future visits back to Italy. In my journaling of travels throughout Italy, I have always saved the scribbling’s on business cards of special people and familiar places. It’s those scribbling’s, keepsakes, and memorabilia that have enabled us to reconnect with special people we've met along the way.
After returning back to Atlanta, we decided to share our crudo “find” prepared by Chef Federico with our friend, Chef William Phan. It is now one of our favorite dishes at Sushi Nami and has actually been added to their menu under the name "Rosen Carpaccio". Everytime we order it, it brings the fondest of memories of that special night with Chef Federico. Shortly after meeting Chef Zanellato in Rome, he and his family moved to Australia. He now resides there with his wonderfully talented wife, Michela Boncagni, a gifted professional photographer and Sommelier. You can find them at LuMi located opposite of the Star Casino at Warf10 in Pyrmont, 56 Pirama Road, Pyrmont 2009 NSW +61 2 9571 199
Photographs by Michela Boncagni
Debbie Tyson Rosen is a travel, food, wine and music enthusiast and embraces life at every turn with unfettered ambition and a love for all things, Italy. She loves photography, and enjoys being in her own kitchen creating her versions of classic Italian cuisine. Whether it’s her heart-warming stories and captivating pictures from the road, a glowing vocal performance with her jazz quintet, or a transparently honest review, she conveys the essence of simple truths, sharing Passion with Enthusiasm.