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Vancouver's best Italian restaurant, CinCin Ristorante, welcomes celebrity chef, author and restaurateur Mark McEwan to fete his new cookbook, Fabbrica.
1154 Robson Street, Vancouver
On November 1, I attended a dinner celebrating the launch of celebrity chef Mark McEwan’s latest cookbook, Fabbrica, named for his Italian restaurant in Toronto (one of four restaurants he owns in the city).
CinCin Ristorante hosted the event, which was organized by Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks. CinCin’s executive chef Todd Howard prepared a five-course meal using recipes from the cookbook that were expertly paired with a selection of Italian wines.
If it sounds like I’m gushing, that’s because I am! CinCin is such an incredible restaurant, and I’m not the only one who thinks so—their awards and accolades include best Italian, best wine list and best desserts.
The food is phenomenal, the staff are gracious and extremely knowledgeable, the bar and wine cellar are exceptionally well stocked and the warm Tuscan palette adds an inviting ambience that greets you as you climb the stairs from Robson Street.
CinCin’s restaurant director Ricardo Ferreira addresses the sold out crowd of foodie fans before introducing chef McEwan at the end of the meal. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
McEwan did well to showcase his recipes in the very capable hands of chef Howard and his team; guests can see the chefs working away in the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant, which is a nice touch.
McEwan stresses the importance of quality ingredients—a philosophy strongly shared at CinCin—and says, “Always shop with an open mind, and buy only what looks best, freshest and most seasonally appealing at the market.” He suggests shopping for ingredients at the market first and then selecting a recipe, rather than the other way around.
The cookbook features some of the “authentic, rustic, regional Italian fare” served at Fabbrica, and the following photos show off the outstanding meal that chef Howard prepared from a selection of Fabbrica’s recipes, along with the incredible wines that Wine Director Sarah McCauley selected to accompany each course.
Wood-oven-grilled octopus with chickpeas and salami, paired with Donnafugata Anthilia, Sicily 2008. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
Steelhead trout with clams and Italian sausage, paired with Antinori Scalabrone Rose, Tuscany 2010. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
House-made gnocchi with lamb Bolognese and mint ricotta, paired with Terredora Aglianico, Campania 2008. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
Braised short ribs with polenta, and wood-oven-roasted beets with Sicilian pistachios (not pictured), paired with Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre, Veneto 2007. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
Tiramisu di Fabbrica, paired with Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D’Asti, Piedmont 2010. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
The meal, just like the cookbook (of which all guests got a signed copy), had some relatively simple dishes that I’ll be sure to try at home (like the gnocchi) and some complicated ones that I will probably leave to the experts (like the grilled octopus).
McEwan attests to this in the introduction of the book: “As you will hopefully see, the style of cooking and its ostensible simplicity lends itself particularly well to an accessible cookbook. Many of the recipes can be prepared quickly. But there is plenty here to challenge the home cook, too”
I also plan on making the Neapolitan pizzas (despite my lack of an authentic wood-burning oven), the risotto with sugar pumpkin and pancetta, the slow-roasted pork shoulder with pear mostarda and the ricotta and Meyer lemon cheesecake. Also, I’ll definitely take his expert advice for food preparation: “Relax and have a glass of wine while you’re cooking.”
CinCin, located at 1154 Robson Street, is open for weekday lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and nightly dinner from 5 p.m. to midnight. You can pick up your own copy of Fabbrica at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks, open Sunday and Monday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., at 1740 West 2nd Avenue.