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The Foods of the Valentino Radio Taping

The other day, when I shared what it felt like to interview restaurateur Piero Selvaggio of Valentino again 25 years after the first time in Los Angeles, I mentioned that the radio show featured me tasting “a whole bunch of items.” Thanks to my usual eloquence, many readers wondered, “OK, so what items, John?” Here are the dishes I took photos of, starting with the light-wonderful crudi pictured above, an Italian response to Japanese sashimi.

Executive chef Cunninghame West joined us for the radio taping, but happily not until after he’d fixed this super mild-tasting squid-ink pasta topped with lobster, catching the perfect balance between peasant food and special occasion. If you were a peasant with access to fresh Maine lobster, I think this would be the perfect food for you. The rest of us will have to settle for access to Valentino at the Hotel Derek.

    

I am, I’m told regularly, one of the few people on earth who doesn’t think salmon is God’s gift to Humankind in the form of a fish. Despite my own reservations, I’ll have to seriously reconsider after Selvaggio and West set me up with this luscious, moist piece of salmon riding high atop a rustic, lusty Roman-style puttanesca sauce and roasted potatoes. I can’t picture the hookers who give this sauce its name eating half so well.

  

As a lifelong carnivore, one thing I do think is God’s gift to Humankind is rack of lamb – and, working with his Italian paint set, West created a masterpiece. For one thing, it’s a visual delight, complete with bones pointing off in every direction. For another thing, it’s delicious, the grilled meat dancing perfectly with a sauce rich in orange. Eat your heart out, mint jelly!

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About John DeMers

I've been a journalist and author forever. My favorite single word in the English language is "foodandwine." This spirit drives my 45 published books and my weekly radio show heard in Houston, Dallas and Austin.

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