Eggs of an hour, bread of a day, wine of a year, a friend of thirty years
Luigi Diotaiuti’s food is far more sophisticated that eggs, bread, and wine, but he clearly understands this proverb.
And while the recipes are those that he serves in the restaurant–they are refined into simplicity rather than elaboration. Pastas, soups, salads, mains, and desserts are honed dishes that will not fail in the home kitchen.
Diotaiuti organizes the recipes by eras in his event-filled life. He starts with the elegant dishes served at Al Tiramisu to customers who have become regulars–including some illustrious ones like George Clooney and Hillary Clinton. But even restaurant dishes like Tuna and Swordfish Crudo, Scallop Carpaccio, Taglierini with White Truffles, and Vegetable Terrine are simple. They take their flavor from the fundamental approach of Italian cuisine–good ingredients, prepared with imagination to taste as good as they can.
Whether it’s a simple minestrone, thriftily flavored with a rind of parmesan cheese, for a weeknight dinner or an elegant Cantaloupe Mousse with Strega Liqueur to top off a dinner party, these are eminently cookable recipes.
The chapters and recipes follow Diotaiuti around the world–from the fundamentals learned on his family’s Basilicata farm and student stint at cooking school in the city (often funded by the artisinal cheeses made on the family farm) to Rome, Sardinia, Venice, Paris, and Montecatini. At each stop, he honed skills and cooked to a new level of skill.
Diotaiuti was lured to America, to Washington, D.C., just as the country and the capital city were expanding culinary horizons. In D.C., Roberto Donna was educating diners on Italian food beyond red sauce and pizza. Diotaiuti dove in, cooked his way around the city and eventually found a spot of his own, where he has thrived ever since.
His success comes from undying enthusiasm for life–you’ll spot him in every picture in the book–he’s the one with the face-splitting smile, well, except for the photo of him running a marathon. But you can see that head-down determination on the track or in the kitchen. I won’t be following Diotaiuti onto the race course, but I will follow him into the kitchen!