La Panarda - 35 Course Dinner at Le Virtu - Philadelphia PA

Last Sunday, October 23, 2011, my husband A.D. and I attended La Panarda, a thirty-five course dinner to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Le Virtu, a wonderful restaurant in Philadelphia, PA that specializes in cuisine and spirits from the Abruzzo region of Italy. La Panarda is a traditional Italian feast that is often associated with religious occasions or events of social significance.

The dinner was prepared by Chef Joe Cicala, and hosted by Freddie Cratil. There were fourteen guests, and we were seated at a family-style table where we instantly began talking and joking as if we were old friends. Every dish we had is one that I would order again; here are a few of the stand-outs:
  • Pappardelle con porcini e tartufo nero: black truffle bruschetta
  • Whole roasted turbot with fingerling potatoes and green olives: turbot is a fish that I don't eat often, but it's one of my favorites. Le Virtu's is the best I've had.
  • Pecorino canestrato with chestnut honey and pears
  • Salsiccia e polenta: the sausage for this is made in-house; it is beyond compare.

Each course was paired with wines from Cantina Frentana, a "cooperativo" located in Chieti, Abruzzo's southernmost province at the base of the Maiella mountains. According to the literature, "...vines have been grown here and wines produced since pre-Roman times, when the Frentani, an Italic tribe, dominated the area". Two of the glasses that I especially enjoyed were:
  • Cococciola Terre Valse IGT: white wine made from a very rare grape
  • Rubesto Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC: a red made from a grape so exclusive to Cantini Frentana that this dinner was the first time this wine was served here in the United States.

The entire dinner, from the first bite of artichoke to the final spoonful of panna cotta, lasted eight hours. Here is the is the full menu:

Le Virtù
La Panarda
23 ottobre 2011
with special guests and wines from CANTINA FRENTANA

i piatti...

Frittelle di verdure, bruschetta con tartufo nero e guanciale, pizza fritta

Primo servizio di apertura
Stewed cuttlefish with spring peas
Scampi with chickpeas
Brodetto of assorted shelfish
Whole roasted turbot with fingerling potatoes and green olives
Baccala in umido with tomatoes, olives, and capers

Secondo servizio di apertura
Brodo con pallotte di carne e cacio e uova
Zuppa di salsiccia e lenticchie
Farrotto N'ndocca n'docca
Pasta e fagioli

Terzo servizio di apertura
Radicchio, heirloom apples, muffata pecorino, walnut vinaigrette
Pecorino canestrato with chestnut honey and pears
Grilled zucchini and mint

Primo servizio dei piatti forti
Crostino of ventricina Teramana
Culatello with eggplant oreganata
Capocollo with sweet and sour onions
Testina with frisee and mustard sauce

Secondo servizio dei piatti forti
Sagne con ragù d'agnello (lamb ragu)
Pappardelle con porcini e tartufo nero (black truffle)
Maccheroni alla chitarra con pallottine
Gnocchi di castagne (chestnut) con ragù di cinghiale (boar)

Granita di limone

Terzo servizio dei piatti forti
Pollo alla casalinga
Coniglio (rabbit) “in porchetta”
Salsiccia e polenta
Tagliata di manzo (beef)
House dry-aged pork rib roast

Primo servizio di credenza
(Artisanal sheep's-milk cheeses from Anversa degli Abruzzi)
Pecorino scorza nera
Gregoriano pecorino
Muffato pecorino

Secondo servizio di credenza e confetteria
Panna cotta allo zafferano aquilano
Ricotta fritta
Ravioli al cioccolato e peperoncino (hot pepper)
Biscotti misti

The wines...

APERITIVO: Pinot Grigio Terre Valse IGT
PRIMO Serv. APERTURA: Pecorino Terre Valse IGT
SECONDO Serv. APERTURA: Cococciola Terre Valse IGT
TERZO Serv. APERTURA: Trebbiano d'Abruzzo Terre Valse DOC
PRIMO Serv. PIATTI FORTI: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Terre Valse DOC
SECONDO Serv. PIATTI FORTI: Rubesto Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC
TERZO Serv. PIATTI FORTI: Panarda Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC

Additional wines will be served to accompany the final "servizi di credenza"


To read my previous post about Le Virtu click here.

To read more posts about food, tea, fashion, gardening and events:

Photo of Chef Joe Cicala by A.D. Amorosi
Photos of food by Glamorosi

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