Telling a story at Osteria al Fico

where do they make parmesan cheese

When owner Jeff Courington first envisioned the dining room at Osteria al Fico, he could already see the black-and-white analog photos that would line the walls.

That’s just one of the images, above, by Austin-based artist and photographer Nils Juul-Hansen who traveled to Italy with Jeff for a two-week trip and shot a series of image “telling a story about Italy.”

It’s a shot from a Parmigiano Reggiano aging cellar where the wheels rest until their ready to be sold. It’s there that they achieve their singular crumbly quality.

“When I decided to open Al Fico,” says Jeff, “I didn’t just want to open another restaurant. I wanted to tell the story of the Italy that I’ve come to know over the years traveling there.”

Chef Clinton and Jeff are literally putting the final touches on the dining room as they prepare to open the restaurant, including the hanging of Nils’ photographs (like the one above).

Some of the images will surely wow you, others may surprise you. One thing is certain: Chef Clinton and Jeff have a great story to tell you.

Stay tuned…

Red grape harvest in Italy, from Piedmont to Tuscany to Salento

Across Italy, grape growers have been harvesting their best red grapes this week.

We just had to share these awesome photos by De Gusto Salento from the Cantele Negroamaro harvest 2015 on Puglia’s Salento peninsula (the heel of Italy’s boot).

Growers in Salento are expecting this to be a super vintage for Negroamaro.

salento puglia grape harvest

negroamaro grape bunches

negroamaro harvest 2015

“Italy 2, France 0.” French president wowed by Osteria Francescana in Modena

osteria francescana best restaurant italy

Above: Five ages, textures, and temperatures of Parmigiano Reggiano at Osteria Francescana in Modena, one of Chef Massimo Bottura’s signature dishes.

On Thursday, French president Fran├žois Hollande and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi held a meeting over dinner at Chef Massimo Bottura’s 3-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena.

At the end of the meal, when the chef went out into the dining room to chat with his guests and ask Hollande what he thought of the meal, the French president responded: “Italy 2, France 0.”

Don’t get us wrong: We love French food just as much as anyone.

But Italian food rules!

Image via Class V’s Flickr.

Rome dispatch from @VinoRoma: “settembrini” figs, the figs of September

hande figs

Being that we love figs and that our restaurant is named Al Fico (“by the fig tree”), we just had to share this image posted by our favorite Rome-based microblogger and Italian wine educator Hande Leimer (the best place to follow her, imho, is her Instagram).

Here’s what she had to say about these settembrini figs, the ones that are picked around this time of year, hence the name, “September” figs (because they are among the last to be harvested).

Don’t let the pale-ish color fool you, these are sweet as can be settembrini figs, to be eaten later today by my guests with some prosciutto. Btw, did you know a lot of vegans consider figs to be non-vegan due to the wasp ingested by the flower as it becomes a fig?

Aaaaaa… figs… we just can’t get enough of them!

A preview of Chef Clinton’s new fall menu

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If you haven’t already read about it over at Eater, you can check out a preview of Chef Clinton’s new fall menu here.

Osteria Al Fico should be opening any day now. Stay tuned!

Grape harvest begins in Italy!

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Feast your eyes on those Glera grapes, baby!

This photo was taken yesterday (August 27, 2015) in Prosecco Country, Italy, in the township of Asolo to be exact.

Glera is the primary grape used to make Prosecco, the gently sparkling white wine from the Veneto region in the northeast of Italy.

Growers there began harvesting their fruit this week. The winemaker who took us to see his vineyards started picking yesterday morning (thanks again, Luca, for taking time out on an extremely busy day for you!).

Here at Al Fico, we’re putting together an all-Italian wine list that will cover every one of Italy’s 20 regions.

From Glera grapes in the northeast to Nerello grapes on the island of Sicily in the south, our wine program will feature native grapes and traditional winemaking.

Can you think of anything better to pair with classic Italian cooking?

No, neither can we.

Al Fico will be opening shortly. Stay tuned for more posts on our wine program and Italian wine in general!

It’s all about a fig

fig 1

As the opening of Osteria Al Fico draws closer, not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask us about the name of the restaurant and why we call it that.

The word osteria (pronounced OH-steh-REE-ah) means tavern, inn, or small town restaurant in Italian. It comes from the Italian oste or host.

The other half of our name, al fico (AHL FEE-koh), means literally by the fig tree. Many Italian restaurants are named after trees and there’s a reason for that.

fig 2

In the old days, salami and cheese makers would often set their roadside stands up in the shade of a fruit tree. Not only did the tree help to keep the food cool and fresh but it also provided a sweet treat to accompany the salty cured meats and cheeses.

We decided to call the restaurant Osteria Al Fico because there’s no Italian fruit that we love more than the fig.

If you’ve ever had a perfectly ripe fig you know what we mean. There’s probably no greater pleasure in life (well, actually, we can think of a few greater pleasures but you know what we mean).

Stay tuned: We’ll be opening soon!


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