Promoting Italian Food and Wine - region of Abruzzo @ Assaggio Ristorante

Assaggio Ristorante - 92 King William Road, Hyde Park

The Italian Chamber of Commerce kindly invited us to another one of their Adelaide #Qualitaly events. The Qualitaly dinners aim to take the guest on a journey into specific regions of Italy by story telling with food and wine.  Each dish is carefully crafted, wine varieties are thoughtfully selected to provide the diners with an authentic taste that best reflects each province.  This particular event was a degustation which showcased food by Assaggio's Chef Camillo Crugnale paired with wines chosen by Sommelier Allessandro Ragazzo from the region of Abruzzo.   All meals and drinks were provided free of charge.

Assaggio Ristorante
Assaggio Ristorante in Hyde Park
Italian Chamber of Commerce's Qualitaly event
I (Hayes) arrived quite early, and bumped into another blogger @Adelaidefoodies.  We were warmly welcomed and presented with a sparkling white (Terre di Chieti IGT Cuvee Farnese) to start the night off.  Within a few minutes the venue was packed and we were all seated down to be introduced by Sommelier Allesandro.  His intro was like a painting of the Abruzzo region, setting the mood for us all by detailing everyday life, the mountains and the picturesque rivers and seasides.  If the food and wine to come was as good as his introduction, the night was going to be pretty awesome.
Chopping Board
The wines on display (from left to right)
Casale Vecchio Pecorino
Farnese OPI Pecorino
Farnese OPI Montepulaciano D'abruzzo
Farnese Edizione Cinque
Terre di Chieti IGT Cuvee Farnese (sparkling white to start off the night)
Fish stew of mullet, tommy ruff, mussles and cuttlefish cooked in a terracotta pot with red wine vinegar and aromatic herbs
I'm a seafood man, and when I read about this dish on the menu, I knew it was going to be something good.  Allesandro gave a detailed description of how the people in the Abruzzo region would use the small coastal fish, scraps and carcass to create this dish.  As soon as this dish was presented before me, I could smell the perfect seafood aroma I was hoping for.  Served with a piece of crusty bread on the side, this was a delight to be had.  Each spoonful was like a magical experience, the different textures of the soft mullet, oilier tommy ruff, chewy cuttlefish and mussels each had their unique flavours accentuated by dark sweet fishy broth.  Paired with the sweet and spicy yet dry OPI Pecorino it was definitely a match made in heaven.  

If this dish came in a main size, or a massive pot on a permanent menu, I'm sure I'll be back for more. Absolutely divine.  

Baked eggplant layered with cheese, whole egg and house made Campotosto mortadella served with tomato ragu
Next up, a fancy looking layered dish with readily available ingredients.  Such is life, sometimes the simple things in life are often the best, and this dish certainly abides by that rule.  The pour over ragu sauce was sweet, and slightly tangy but when combined with the rest of the dish it was barely noticeable.  The combined flavours were very hearty and filling, with a very nicely melted creamy cheese centre to give a little bit of a surprise.  

Everything together worked very well, nothing was too overpowering, teamed with the Casale Vecchio Percorino, both wine and food was a very good rounded combination.  The only thing I could fault would be that it came after a strong seafood starter.  Definitely a personal choice but my palate was wanting more, and this dish was just not enough flavour to 'wow' me over such an amazing starting dish.       

Shepherd's pasta with low fat ricotta, pork and fennel sausage and parsley
Who doesn't love pasta and cheese? This dish was creamy and cheesy, actually too cheesy in a few bites, but I loved it.  Possibly too cheesy for some, but with a fantastic fruity red (Farnese OPI Montepulaciano D'abruzzoto) to accompany this dish, it balanced very well.  A taste of the salty pork and fennel sausage added a bit of variety to each bite.

Slow cooked tender rose veal in Montepulciano wine, tomato and veal juices with sauteed broccoli, olive oil and roasted garlic
The final main dish of the night was a beautifully presented slow cooked veal leg standing upright with veal juice as a pour over.  A quick flick of the knife and fork on the meat made the meat fall off the bone and onto the waiting veal juice.  This dish was demolished in an instant, simply because the meat was deliciously soft.  I totally forgot there was a wine to drink with this dish... I was too busy trying to eat every last piece off the bone.

I know I failed by not pairing this dish with the chosen wine - Farnese Edizione Cinque. I'm ashamed of myself, but blame that on the chef for making this dish simply so amazing and a delight to eat. The wine itself, I couldn't say much, and probably after drinking 6 or 7 glasses of the other wines, my palate was pretty much out of control.

Peppery orange Teramo Biscotti, with delicate strawberry gelato with Ascoli Piceno mulled wine flavoured with bay leaf
Last but not least, dessert time.  For those who have been following this blog will know that I am not much of a dessert fan.  I leave the commenting usually for Jess or Mirko, the blog's resident dessert critics.  However this dessert was very easy to eat, not overly sweet and quantity wise, just the right amount to satisfy a non-dessert lover like me.  The strawberry gelato acted very much like a palate cleanser for the night.  As I stated before, my mouth was pretty much out of control from all the different wines and flavours of the mains, but while I was eating this dish I felt refreshed and could not stop eating it.  

Accompanying this dessert was a nice surprise, a little shot of Punch Abruzzo stood silently next to the gelato waiting for me to consume.  Bang!  It was like a small explosion in my mouth!  An alcohol percentage of 45% was to blame for that, however it tasted more like a Sarsaparilla or Pepsi and once it was swallowed, there was no alcoholic aftertaste.  Great for the little kids who keep their parents awake at night times!

In summary, I would like to thank the Italian Chamber of Commerce for inviting us to another Qualitaly event, Assaggio Ristorante and Chef Camillo Crugnale and his team for providing the venue and a truly fun, memorable and delicious dining experience, Festival City Food and Liquor for providing the amazing wines, and last but not least, Sommelier Allessandro Ragazzo for conducting the very enjoyable event.  

For those who may be interested in joining the next Qualitaly event, more information is available by contacting the Adelaide chamber of the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

Blogged by Hayes

Assaggio Ristorante on Urbanspoon


  1. The reviews are so delicious that it makes you hungry after reading. Congrats for this tasty experience!


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