By: Haley Chi-Sing
Wednesday night’s installment of BU Dining’s Visiting Chef Series did not fail to please. With people lined up outside of the Warren Towers Dining Hall even an hour after dinner was first served, every meal was a success.
Warren Dining Hall highlighted visiting chef David Crinieri Wednesday night. Crinieri started out as a dishwasher but slowly worked his way up through the kitchen ranks. Inspired by Italian cuisine, Crinieri discovered Tuscan Kitchen, where he is now the Executive Chef for the restaurant’s location in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Wednesday night’s menu featured Italian-inspired dishes and desserts, all of which were a hit. The dinner menu included calamari fritti, margherita pizza, bruschetta, fusilli aglio e olio, pollo arrosto, grilled salmon, zuppa di ribollita and caesar salad.
The desserts also had an Italian twist — tiramisu and cannoli. Along with all of the entrees and desserts, a cheese and cracker table was set up for those who only wanted a small taste of Italy.
The platters that were most popular among students included the calamari and the salmon. While the other dishes were equally as satisfying, most students decided to make a beeline toward these two offerings. The line for both dishes took about five minutes to get through.
I was able to try the calamari and the desserts, all of which I was very pleased with.
To be completely frank, one couldn’t go wrong with calamari. Chef Crinieri decided to add crispy cherry peppers and lemon-basil aioli to spice the dish up. While I did like the additional sweetness of the cherry peppers, I didn’t necessarily think the crunchy texture added to the dish, especially when layered with the crunchiness of the calamari.
Crunch overload. I think the peppers would have worked better if they were sautéed or even mixed in with the aioli sauce.
However, the aioli sauce was a good addition — the combination of lemon and basil was key to the dish overall. The lemon added a bit of zing to the otherwise straightforward taste of calamari. The basil was also a good addition to the platter, and though the overall basil taste was light, it was still obvious enough that it wasn’t completely lost among the other flavors.
Moving on to the desserts. I am a dessert person at heart, so of course I had both the cannoli and the tiramisu. I definitely preferred the cannoli over the tiramisu (shockingly enough).
The cannoli shell was excellently made — very crunchy, but not too thick that it was hard to bite into. The ricotta filling had just the right amount of sweetness and creaminess. The chocolate chips were also a good addition, as they added an extra factor to the overall texture of the dessert.
The key to cannolis is not making them overly sweet while making sure that no part of the cannoli is bland or flavorless. This cannoli definitely checked all the boxes.
The tiramisu, however, was a completely different story. While appealing to the eye, the overall cake was not appetizing. The texture of the sponge was good — it wasn’t overly saturated with liquid, so it did help keep the shape of the cake. The cream was an odd texture, though.
While it was somewhat creamy, the cream did have a rubber-like texture near the end. So much so, in fact, that the tiramisu would bounce apart as you cut into it as the cream layers separated from the overall cake. The cream was also somewhat bland and lacking in sweetness.
The cocoa powder on top was, of course, unsweetened cocoa powder, which is what should be used in a tiramisu, as it counteracts the overall sweetness of the cake. However, the layer of cocoa powder was a bit too thick for me. In fact, I slightly choked on the cocoa powder, and it glued my mouth shut because it was too thick.
Overall, I think I can confidently say this Visiting Chef Series with Chef Crinieri was a huge success. Despite the minor fallout with the tiramisu, I think the menu was very well thought out and very well executed.