|Reflections - Steve of Slow Living enjoying the Amalfi Coast|
What a delight to find a chef in Sausalito at the very popular Poggio bringing those qualities to life for us to enjoy without an expensive ticket and long flight! And no surprise that his menu grows more like one you would find in a great Italian village restaurant, where all the ingredients sing of the freshness and locality - that's where he honed his craft and passion.
Peter McNee has nurtured relationships with local farmers and artisans to follow in the Italian village-style of cooking and is delighted to introduce us to a new local farmer creating his beloved mozzarella di bufala, and ricotta di bufala. Craig Ramini joins us to tell of his passion to bring this ultimate Italian ingredient in its truest form to American restaurants and consumers.
And finally, we talk to an Italian wine importer who focuses on collecting wineries that represent the historical traditions of Italy's diverse wine regions. Siena Imports devotes its search for wines to producers who maintain regional traditions while pursuing the best possible vintages.
Executive Chef and Partner
Executive Chef Peter McNee’s rustic, soulful menu features spit-roasted and slow braised meats, blistered Neapolitan pizzas, an extensive house-cured salame menu and housemade pastas paired with slow cooked sugo. His weekly treks to the hillside organic garden and farmer’s markets, even traveling to Piemonte in search of his prized tartufi bianchi (white truffles) act as inspiration to the menu at Poggio.
Driven by a deep love and respect for Italian cooking and with the desire to learn first-hand, Peter embarked for Italy to cook in rustic Italian kitchens and live in the homes of families. From there this passion developed into a quest to not just cook, but to understand, live and breathe Italy. “The friends I made and the time I spent living (in Italy) are more valuable than any recipe I brought home with me. I picked up as much from the Nonne (grandmothers) who spent time cooking and talking to me about the food they had learned from their grandmothers, than any of the restaurants I worked. To me, Italy is about the connections created through sharing food and enjoying the times spent together in the kitchens, at the markets and around the table."
Since joining the Poggio family in 2003 to help launch the restaurant, and becoming Executive Chef in 2006, Peter has devoted himself to recreating the best of Italian culinary traditions through local ingredients. Following peasant tradition, he challenges himself to use every part of the animal and was honored to come in first place at Cochon 555 in June of 2009 where he competed against five Bay Area chefs to prepare a whole hog.
As a member of Slow Food, and dedicated to preserving Italian traditions, Poggio prepares nearly everything in house from the house cured salumi and prosciutto to the hand pulled burrata and tender pastas. His signature Porchetta is the same as he prepared in Toscana, a young pig stuffed with herbed sausage and slowly roasted over a wood burning fire and the restaurant imported a carello (cart) from Italy in order to serve the classic Bollito Misto presentation of mixed simmered meats served table side.
Today, he is still manning the stoves, cooking soulful northern Italian cuisine while continuing to develop relationships with local farmers, ranchers and vintners, ensuring only the best ingredients find their way onto the menu at Poggio. It is this authenticity and dedication that have helped earn the restaurant the “Top 100 Restaurants in the Bay Area” ranking in the San Francisco Chronicle since 2008.
Ramini Mozzarella is a new food company that is in start-up mode, located in Tomales, California. The vision for the company is to make healthy, local, fresh mozzarella cheese that is worthy of comparison to the wonderful mozzarella di bufala that is made in Italy. With about forty beautiful animals that are milked every day, Ramini makes mozzarella and ricotta from the whey. The milk is luxurious and abundant.
Siena Imports, Inc
Siena Imports, Inc was founded in 1978 by partners Romano Chietti and Andrea Bartolozzi, who wanted to create a family-run endeavor based in San Francisco. With the addition of Jason Chietti in 1997 and Serena Chietti in 2000, as well as an experienced and enthusiastic support staff, Siena Imports has developed into a multigenerational organization with a heartbeat of its own.
Siena Imports, Inc. was created with the intention of providing the American market with fine Italian wines that represent the historically diverse spectrum of styles from the 20 regions that comprise the Italian peninsula.
At a time when winemaking can be affected by modernization, emerging technology, and changing trends in production techniques, Siena Imports devotes its search for wines to producers who maintain regional traditions while pursuing the best possible vintages. Not surprisingly, many of them have gained worldwide recognition. As a result, Siena Imports represents more than 160 wines from 40 PRODUCERS by focusing on both small, family-run wineries as well as large, international cooperatives such as Machiavelli, Cesari, and St. Michael Eppan.
Siena Imports devotes its search for wines from producers who maintain regional traditions while pursuing the best possible vintages. Not surprisingly, many of them have gained worldwide recognition. As a result, Siena Imports represents more than 160 wines from 40 Producers by focusing on both small, family-run wineries as well as large, international cooperatives such as Machiavelli, Cesari, and St. Michael Eppan.