On Saturday, the Atlanta Food Bloggers Alliance was invited to an afternoon of tastings at Pacci Ristorante. From the moment I stepped inside the beautiful dining space, I knew this event would have to be something special.
We gathered first in the cozy bar/lounge area of the restaurant. There we were greeted by Chef Keira Moritz and the AFBA organizer, Mandy Turchin. After taking a few snapshots of the restaurant and a brief meeting, we headed upstairs to the AltoRex Rooftop Lounge.
The temperature outside was on the cooler side which was fine but the brisk air made it difficult to fully embrace the stylish yet comfortable outdoor room. We were led past a large fire pit, cozy seating areas, a screened in bar and covered cabanas to the kitchen where our personal foodie experience began.
The first dish was Chef Keira’s Grilled Caesar Salad.
She started by making the caesar dressing which included garlic, extra virgin olive oil, anchovy fillets, worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, freshly ground pepper, lemon juice and a coddled egg. Chef Keira explained to us that a coddled egg is cooked for a minute in boiling water, cooled, then added in entirety to the dressing. It’s done to kill some of the bacteria and minimize the risk of eating an undercooked egg.
When plating the salad, the grilled Romaine lettuce was drizzled with the dressing, then topped with shaved parmesan cheese and croutons made from the restaurants own baked bread. This was the first time I’ve eaten grilled romaine and will definitely not be the last. The smoky char flavor added a hearty dimension to a salad which was already one of my favorites.
The next dish was Gnocchi.
While ricing the baked potatoes seemed a bit labor intensive, Chef Keira made the dough-making process seem doable for a home cook like me. Something I’ll be sure to remember is to toss the gnocchi in oil after boiling to keep them from sticking and becoming one big lump.
Gnocchi picks up the flavor of what it’s cooked with. My dish was prepared with browned butter, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese. I found it comforting and quite filling.
The final dish was Brown Butter Pear Crespelle.
A crespelle is an Italian version of a crepe. Ours were served with a ricotta cheese and pear filling, then drizzled with browned butter and topped with a micro basil garnish. Yum!
As if it weren’t enough to be treated to three amazing demonstations and tastings, we were indulged even further with Smores and hot beverages on the AltoRex Rooftop Lounge.
The marshmallows were made in-house and were browned by torch because the wind was blowing too hard to use the fire pit. Seriously, you really can’t go wrong with smores.
Thanks to Pacci Ristorante, Chef Keira Moritz, her dedicated staff, and our AFBA organizer Mandy Turchin of The Self Trained Chef for such an amazing event. If the attentive service we experienced on Saturday is any indication of their everyday dining experience, you’ll be very pleased during your next visit.