Semifreddo – which translates to “half cold/frozen” – is a classic Italian dessert that falls halfway between mousse and ice cream, with the consistency of a frozen mousse and the flavor of ice cream. At Toscana we make it with the very best of Irish dairy cream, our farm fresh organic eggs and a little love from chef Raffaele to make this a wonderful easy summer dessert to impress any guest.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
150g (5 1/2oz) croccante (praline)
625ml (2 1/2 cups) thick (double/heavy) cream
2 Eggs, separated
90g (3 1/2cups) Icing (confectioners) sugar
2 Tablespoons Mandorla (almond flavoured Marsala) or brandy
Milk chocolate squares
Finely crush the praline (croccante) in a food processor or in a zip lock bag with a rolling pin. Pour the cream into a large bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Beat the egg yolks with a quarter of the icing sugar until it has a pale appearance. Whisk the egg whites in a clean dry glass bowl until stiff peaks form (be sure not to have any yolk or egg shells inside), then gradually add the rest of the icing sugar and whisk until glossy stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg yolks into the cream, then fold the egg whites. Fold in the croccante and Mandorla.
Line six 250ml metal dome moulds with two long strips of foil each. Or you can use a Martini glass. Spoon in the mixture, level the surface and tap each mould on the table a few times to eliminate any air bubbles. Cover the surface with more foil and freeze for a minimum of 24 hours. To serve leave a room temperature for 5 minutes, then use the foil as handles to remove from the mould or serve straight from the Martini glass, dressed with grated chocolate and amaretti biscuit with fresh sprig of garden mint to garnish.
INSALATA DI MISTICANZA CON BRUCIANTINI AL BALSAMICO
At Toscana restauants in Dublin we love to grow our own fresh organic salads and fragrant herbs from our Wicklow family farm-house. So during the summer season this wonderful salad is very popular at our restaurants. Our recipe is for a great family bowl.
1 head radicchio
2 heads of other mixed green salad
1 tablespoon chopped thyme (no stalk),
1 tablespoon chopped chives,
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons (1fl.oz/30ml) extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons 45g of unsalted butter
1/4 lb (115g) pancetta, cut into thin strips
1lb (115g) Prosciutto di parma, cut to short strips
1/4 cup (60ml) balsamic vinegar
Wash and pat dry all of the lettuce leaves. Cut into bite size and in a bowl mix the chopped herbs and extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a pan melt 1 tablespoon of butter over the heat. Sautee the pancetta and the prosciutto until just beginning to crisp (2 minutes). Remove from the pan and allow to soak on paper towels. Degrease pan, then return the pancetta and prosciutto to the pan. Cook a further 2 minutes until crispy. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan, let it reduce by half, and add the remaining butter and whisk together. Spoon the prosciutto/pancetta mixture over the salad and serve warmed. You may wish to add a favourite, ours is with fresh mozzarella sliced and cubed.
Heat ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened, about 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
Add clams and increase heat to medium-high; cover pot. Cook, shaking pot occasionally, until clams have opened, 5–8 minutes (discard any that do not open). Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to clams and toss to coat. Add fresh flat leaf parsley. Cook, tossing and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Serve spaghetti and clams topped with fresh flat leaf herbs. Toss again.
Dubin’s iconic Toscana restaurants has always belonged to the Bitici family. Voted top 10 Italian restaurant by Lovin Dublin. Chefs Vetoni and his Irish wife Dee own Toscana Dame Street and brother Agi and his wife Anthea are proprietors of Toscana Seafront Dun laoghaire. Both brothers are chefs who began their careers travelling Europe and have worked in many countries such as Italy, Switzerland, Croatia and London for more than 30 years. Now stationed firmly in Dublin for the past 20 years, today one may say a great chef staying in one place that long is a rarity, but the Bitici’s have chosen to grow the perfect business here in Dublin and opened one of the first Farm to Table restaurants in Dublin in the late 90’s. In a city where a decade is usually the maximum survival rate for any given restaurant, the Bitici’s created a spot that has remained timeless.
Toscana’s kitchen has cooked for an array of celebrities such as Hollywood’s Brian Dennehy, Timothy Dalton, Bono, the Dubliners, Sinead O’Connor, George Michael, Rene Ruzzo, Olivia Newton John, Chris O’Dowd, Brendan Gleeson and many prestigious Irish politicians . Both Toscana restaurants are pioneers when it comes to Fresh Home-grown produce which they grow by the seasons from their own Wicklow farm-house gardens. At the heart of Toscana cooking lies a celebration of food that is fresh, home-grown by the seasons and unpretentious, elevating simple traditions and modern cooking into flavours customers enjoy. Toscana Restaurant was the proud winner of the Good Food Ireland best Grow It Yourself Restaurant in Ireland award. This award presented by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny has become the most coveted honour in the world of food and tourism in recognition of Irish food excellence.
“We have travelled the world to learn our craft but every chef knows the secret to the best ingredients are grown right here in Ireland. We rely on just the exacting ingredient to create our dishes from our own farm-house which allows our freshness and flavours to speak for themselves”. Says Agi. The use of polytunnels helps Toscana extend the seasons.
The farm-house gardens are in integral part of Toscana’s philosophy towards cooking and healthy lifestyle, and we believe that our customers should eat as well as we do at home. Avoiding nasty sprays, using organic farm eggs, we grow our own seasonal organic fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs. We pride ourselves on honest seasonal vegetables packed with nutrients. “Our aim is to bring the spirit of the Mediterranean lifestyle into our kitchens, having grown up ourselves on a Mediterranean diet and picking our breakfast from our fathers gardens my brother and I feel great pleasure combining the fertile Irish soil with the rich heritage of classic and modern Italian cuisine”. Says Vetoni.
Toscana menu specials changes nightly so there’s endless variety, but expect crisp, fresh vegetables in spring/summer and early Autumn and winter-cellar produce such as marinated homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, chillis and varieties of pestos, chutneys in cooler months: in short, food perfectly suited to the seasonal palate.
Watch Dublin come alive with the sights, sounds and smells of the Three NYE Dublin Festival! Hailed among the top five destinations for New Year’s Eve celebrations by the Lonely Planet, it attracts an enormous crowd from across the globe. The 4-day extravaganza starts on the 29th December, 2013, and will enthrall one and sundry till January 1st, 2014. Come on, put on your party shoes!
29th December: The Gathering at Leopardstown
Witness some of the spectacular races at one of the finest racecourses at The Gathering in Leopardstown. Get set to sway to the enchanting music of Finbar Furey and Mary Black, noted Irish musicians. What’s more! You can buy two tickets for the Gathering at the price of one if you are flying to Ireland with Ryanair.
The city steeped with music, literature and theatre, Dublin is waiting for you to explore and bathe in its richness, tradition and glory. Embrace the city on Love Dublin Day. The City music trail, the Little Museum and the city’s oldest Smock Alley Theatre await you at various venues, with a promise to give you a time to remember! There’s more. As the night falls, join the New Year’s Thieves at a mind-blowing party at the Sugar Club. Have a chat with the locals over scrumptious dishes and wash them down with traditional a beer.
31st December: People’s Procession of Light
The riveting People’s Procession of Light will mark the beginning of the Three NYE Dublin Festival that will meander through the city’s streets amidst loud cheers from the buzzing crowd. Performers, musicians and bright light are set to bowl the audience over with brilliant shows.
To usher in the New Year in style, be present at the Countdown Concert at Dublin. Welcome 2014 with grooving performances by Madness, Ryan Sheridan, MKS, The Strypes and SEo Linn. Buy your tickets fast to be a part of this breathtaking event.
Trinity College Dublin will be displaying 3D projections to celebrate the beginning of the NYE Dublin 2014, www.tcd.ie
Tuesday 31st December 2013 – Wednesday 1st January 2014
The biggest and most popular New Years Eve yearly event in Ireland, its no wonder it comes first in our guide for New Years Eve. Nominated as one of the top 5 New Year’s Eve destinations in the world by Lonely Planet last year, NYE Dublin are pulling out all the stops this year. Firstly, The People’s Procession of Light (starting at 6pm from St Stephen’s Green) celebrates the closing of The Gathering 2013, with theatrical street performers and enchanting characters. It all kicks off the following night at 8.30pm, with the New Years Eve Countdown at College Green, featuring performances from Madness, Ryan Sheridan and The Strypes, The celebrations continue to Wednesday with The Big Brunch at Meeting House Square, from 11am to 6pm. This event is FREE for eveyone, so head along and enjoy a hearty brunch, with live music performances, a vintage tea dance, children’s entertainement and food stalls. If standing in the Irish weather is not your scene there is also a great New Years Eve party with live entertainment at Toscana Dame Street. The warm cosy atmosphere makes for a great New Years Eve event. With a great 3 course Dinner its always packed with locals and staff dance till the very early hours. When the NYE party on Dame Street is long over Toscana is still hopping. Rosanna & Riccardo sing live and celebrate the new year in Style, so if its a great celebration night your planning check out this venue. Book Here http://www.toscanarestaurant.ie/menu_newyear.php?menuid=19
Admission €25.00 for The Countdown, all other events are FREE
Toscana 3 Course Dinner & Live entertainment €29.95
GIY (Grow it Yourself) Weekly Column – November 23rd 2013
Toscana Dublin Restaurants win Good Food Ireland Grow It Yourself Award 2013/2014
by Michael Kelly
Regular readers of this column will know that we’ve been talking a lot in GIY about restaurants and hotels that are going one step further for their customers, linking land to plate in a very real sense by growing their own food. We’re seeing the stirrings of a revolution that might eventually lead to a point where, driven by a passion for the freshest and tastiest ingredients, Dublin and indeed Irish restaurants and cafes will become food producers in their own right. And who knows, perhaps eventually the food grower becomes as valued a member of the team as the head chef.
It’s perhaps fitting that this should be case in the same year that RTE aired a documentary about Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe House, where under her stewardship, they have been literally walking the walk on this issue since 1964. Just how incredibly groundbreaking she was, is shown by the fact that the mainstream is only now starting to catch up with her almost 50 years later. Undoubtedly the cookery school that her daughter-in-law Darina established nearby has had a tremendous influence in this regard, sending chefs out around the world that have a deep understanding of where food comes from and a love of the freshest, seasonal ingredients. Famously, the first day of the Ballymaloe cookery course involves the trainee chefs being sent to see the compost heap and sow their first seeds. It need not be said that this wasn’t exactly the norm in other catering colleges – but, it just might be in the future.
If Ballymaloe was at the vanguard, others are now embracing the idea that homegrown might indeed be the tastiest/freshest food for chefs to work with and for customers to enjoy. This is happening across the price spectrum from fine dining restaurants such as The Cliff House in Waterford and Mount Falcon in Sligo; restaurants such as Harry’s Restaurant in Donegal and cafes such as Café Rua in Castlebar.
This week, we were delighted to sponsor a brand new GIY award at the 2013 Good Food Ireland Awards. The shortlist included the aforementioned Ballymaloe Cookery School, as well as two other fine country houses that grow their own, Ballyvolane House in north Cork and Rathmullan House in Donegal. Interestingly, it also included restaurants in towns and cities that don’t have much space for food growing, including Café Rua in Castlebar, The Yard in Wexford and Restaurants in Dublin City Centre Forty One on St Stephen’s Green. Needless to say it requires some creativity from the owners or chefs to acquire homegrown food in these circumstances.
The winner of the award was PJ and Dee Betuci’s wonderful Italian restaurant Toscana on Dublin’s Dame St. www.toscanarestaurant.ie PJ is a chef with telltale callouses on his hands from many hours spent in the veg patch at his home in Co. Wicklow. Pasta is made from fresh eggs from their own hens, while regulars are often sent home with a present of a little bag of fresh salad leaves. Restaurant waste is brought back to Wicklow to close the circle of soil fertility, while PJ has been known to stop his car on the way to work to climb a cherry tree in search of ingredients for that night’s dessert. There’s an authenticity then to the tagline on their menus: “Our Passion is Growing”
Passion for growing at heart of Dee and PJ Butuci’s Italian Restaurant
For most restaurateurs, the day starts in the kitchen, preparing ingredients for the busy day ahead. For Dee and PJ Butuci of Toscana Restaurant Dublin it starts in the garden. There are salads and herbs to be harvested, tomatoes to be picked, eggs to be collected and all of the other garden jobs of weeding, feeding the soil and planting the next crop. Toscana are recipients of the inaugural Good Food Ireland award for Best Grow it Yourself Restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland, in partnership with GIY Ireland to recognise restaurants who go the extra mile in linking land to plate in a very real way.
The shortlist included rural country houses Ballyvolane House in north Cork and Rathmullan House in Donegal, as well as the pioneering Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry. But intriguingly it also included restaurants in towns and cities including Café Rua in Castlebar, The Yard in Wexford and Restaurant Forty One at Residence on St Stephen’s Green. Visit GFI Website for more details
According to GIY founder Michael Kelly it requires some creativity from the owners or chefs to acquire homegrown food in these circumstances. “In some cases, the chefs are growing literally in their own homes, and bringing the produce to their Dublin City Centre restaurants. That’s what we wanted to celebrate with this award – those restaurants going the extra mile with what might be considered limited food growing assets. While ‘locally-sourced’ is becoming a buzzword in food circles, Toscana and the other Good Food Ireland candidates for this award, are the real deal. We would like to congratulate them all.”
Founder of Good Food Ireland, Margaret Jeffares said: “In 2012 97% of Good Food Ireland businesses increased their purchasing of Irish food an increase of 5% over the previous 3 years 2008 – 2011. This now extends to whole high level movement of growing their own vegetables, herbs, leaves and fruit. It has gone way beyond the pot of herbs on the window sill. The innovation surrounding this initiative greatly adds to the consumer experience and it is only fitting that in Good Food Ireland we wanted to honour this. I am delighted that GIY Ireland partnered with us for the Good Food Ireland Grow it Yourself Award”
In their garden in Co. Wicklow, PJ and Dee grow a wide range of fruit, vegetables and herbs. It is no surprise that tomatoes fill their tunnel for the summer, with many grown from seeds PJ brings back from his trips to Italy. Salad leaves are also important and customers were treated to very generous plates after a bumper crop this summer. Beds of mint fill in any gaps in the garden as PJ also makes his own Creme de Menthe. Juicy tomatoes may be cut into rings and dried in the sun, or find their way into a chutney. Many of the eggs from their free-roaming flock of hens are used in pasta for some of the filled-pasts dishes, and customers notice the difference. Regulars at the restaurant can check in on Facebook to see what is being harvested and monthly emails include advice on what is in season.
The other finalists in the Grow It Yourself category of the Good Food Ireland awards were:
• Ballymaloe Cookery School, where students learn the value of home-grown ingredients in the extensive gardens.
• Ballyvolane House (Cork). Guests are encouraged to visit the walled garden, and even help out if they would like.
• The Yard (Wexford). A productive garden on the edge of town keeps a constant supply of vegetables and herbs to this busy spot.
• Rathmullan House (Donegal). Fresh seasonal fruits on the breakfast table, straight from the long-established walled garden, remind customers of the freshness and taste of home-grown food.
• Restaurant Forty at Residence (Dublin). According to executive chef Graham Neville the vegetables and herbs from their recently-established garden taste better than anything he could source elsewhere.
• Café Rua (Mayo). Known for local produce, Rua have now gone one step further this year and began growing their own.
About Good Food Ireland
Founded in 2006 by Margaret Jeffares, Good Food Ireland® has initiated the link between the agri-food and tourism sectors by bridging the gap between Irish food produce, to an authentic Irish cuisine. Today Good Food Ireland has some 600 Approved Providers; Ireland’s top restaurants and cafes, culinary accommodation, food shops, pubs and bars, cookery schools and food producers committed to a local food philosophy.
At Toscana, our priority is to go one step further for our customers, linking land to plate in a very real sense by growing as much of our own food, stirring up scrumptious dishes for you using the freshest ingredients available. This is the reason why we love to nurture seasonal vegetables, herbs, salads and fruits at our farm-house in Co Wicklow. We use our own corn-fed hens eggs to make great filled pastas and delicious low fat and gluten free desserts. Locally sourced is the new buzz-word amongst Irish restaurants particularly in Dublin this year, But Toscana have been growing their seasonal produce for over a decade. At the heart of Toscana cooking lies a celebration of food that is fresh, local and unpretentious, elevating traditional modern cooking into flavours customers love. We atempt to bring old traditions alive in our cooking by pulling ingriedients from our soil to deliver quality to the plate.
Here we have jotted down the health benefits of home grown produce:
They are a rich source of nutrition ingredient
Fruits and vegetables, during the course of their journey from farm to table, degrade considerably to be left with not much nutrients. On the other hand, our home grown produce is freshly cut, and immediately used for cooking, which helps retain its valuable vitamins and live enzymes. It is a proven fact that the longer it takes for organic produce to travel to our plates, the more vitality is lost on the way, no matter what steps were observed to grow or preserve them.
They offer a range of vital elements and flavours
We grow a variety of seasonal vegetables in our garden so that we can offer you healthy choices of food that are packed with delicious flavours and nutrients throughout the year. By focusing on growing organic products in an array of colours, flavours and varieties we maximize the flavours of food that is served to you at our restaurant in Dublin.
They are natural and organic, devoid of any harmful pesticides
Crop rotation and usage of organic manure in our garden give that balanced nutrition to the crops that cannot be expected of commercial produce. For example, cabbage grown in home gardens is reported to be rich in silica, which strengthens bones, hair and nails, and also checks Alzheimer’s. It cannot be found in cabbages procured from the supermarket.
That special day of the year when you shower your bestie with love and gifts is back. Their birthday is around the corner, and you are yet to decide what special gift you should get for them. This year, instead of buying a traditional present, gift them with a fabulous time in Dublin that they will cherish forever. Dublin, steeped in cultural and musical richness, is the ideal place for such a memorable celebration.
Take your loved one to one of Dublin’s landmark venues for an evening of fun and excitement. The O2 in Dublin is the famous amphitheatre at North Wall Quay or The National Concert Hall is another iconic theatre house renound for quality evenings. These are great place to visit in Dublin. They have many famous acts playing almost every night. Ticket Master displays a full listing where you can purchase tickets for almost all Dublin theatres online. Be it a jazzy, classical or lively evening there are great performances by eminent musicians. When great friends meet up on such a special occasion, sparks are bound to fly.
Celebrations are not complete without an elaborate spread. Toscana, overlooking the Dublin castle, offers the perfect setting for an exclusive birthday dinner. Italian cuisine is a good choice, what with its delicate flavours and scrumptious taste. Head straight for the restaurant located on Dame Street.
Since ours is a “farm to table” restaurant, the food served here is fresh, seasonal and healthy for you. If you feel spoilt for choice, our friendly staff would happily assist you in finalising your order. Keep in mind that you can also order our 3-course group special menu. Plan your day in advance and your friend will have the best birthday celebration.
We are proud to serve delicious menus of healthy choices for every meal. Check our lunch menu, dinner menu and other offers, and enjoy the Italian experience at Toscana Italian Restaurant in Dublin.