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Irresistible little skewers |  Journalism

Irresistible little skewers | Journalism

Grilled meat is not what comes to mind when we think of Italy. However, that's exactly what restaurateurs Janice Tiefenbach and Ryan Gray had in mind when they opened Gia's in November 2021.

“It's the identity of the restaurant,” says the man who also owns Elena and Nora Gray. Our inspiration comes from restaurants serving Italian grill in central Italy, Abruzzo and Tuscany, especially in the countryside. There, you go to the restaurants, which have wood ovens, roast rabbits, and Florentine steaks, the kind of dishes you find almost everywhere in the surrounding area. »

Photo by Hugo-Sébastien Aubert, Press

Ryan Gray and Janice Tiffenbach, co-owners of Gia wine & Grill

Here we are between the high peaks of the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, a region that turns to dishes that can include meat and seafood, but is above all a country of shepherds, so much so that lamb and mutton are almost ubiquitous in the cuisine of these central regions of Italy.

Who says lamb, says Arosticini, the small skewers are served as an aperitif or during festive occasions. “The first time I had arrosticini was at the Di Fermo vineyard in Abruzzo,” recalls Chef Janice Tiffenbach. They welcomed us, all the winegrowers in the area were there, and people were from everywhere. There were about 600 Arosticians, crazy stuff like that! »

Photo by Hugo-Sébastien Aubert, Press

Arrosticini take only a few minutes to grill.

The delicious little skewers, hot right off the heat, are eaten by the dozens. “The coals are very close to the meat, so it is ready in two or three minutes maximum,” says the chef. It needs to be cooked quickly because if it takes too long, the meat will not caramelize and you risk losing its tenderness. They are served with bread and wine of course! » Janice suggests accompanying them with a delicious crostini with wild garlic, peas and stracciatella di bufala (see other tab).

Photo by Hugo-Sébastien Aubert, Press

Arrosticini originate from Abruzzo, and are small skewers served as an aperitif or during festive occasions.

The arrosticini are the best deal. It's so good, it's simple, it's good, it's festive, you want to eat a lot of it! It's salty, juicy, you won't want to stop!

Ryan Gray, owner of Gia Wine & Grill

Arrosticini are also defined by the way they are cooked, on a grill specially designed to cook small skewers. “Originally, shepherds roasted it on tubes cut in two, and they could easily improvise using materials they found around,” says Janice Tiefenbach, who has visited Italy four times already. Therefore, we use sticks that are not very wide, and place them on a small grill designated for that purpose. » Although arrosticini grills are easy to find (see capsule), you can of course use a charcoal or gas grill, the idea being to cook them quickly, over very high heat.

As for seasoning, the focus is on the product – we are talking about Mediterranean cuisine, after all! “In Italy, we add almost nothing, just a little salt, and sometimes we take sprigs of fresh herbs, dip them in olive oil and use them to baste the meat,” we learn from the chef, who was inspired by this tradition. Make a simple marinade combining rosemary, parsley and olive oil. “We only cook them at the last minute of cooking,” she tells us, making sure to stir the arrosticini at the right time.

Photo by Hugo-Sébastien Aubert, Press

Arrosticinis are served as an appetizer at Gia, but can also be accompanied by decorated crostini.

This wasn't the only freedom Jia's team had with the arrosticini, as the restaurant enjoyed creating other versions, depending on the season, using beef, pork, veal, or offal such as duck heart, rabbit liver, or guinea fowl.

“A lot of offal is eaten in Italy, heart and liver, so we play with it a little bit, but we try not to overdo it because we really want to taste the product,” Janice Tiffenbach, who recently shared her love for the product, tells us. Italian cuisine in a cookbook Wine pizza salad. “I still allow myself to be more coward With liver, for example, put shiso leaves around it, and brush it with a marinade made from chili peppers and peaches. “I use seasonal products in the summer, and we allow ourselves a little freedom,” she adds with a knowing smile.

Seasonal produce comes of course from local farms and breeders, which is perfectly in keeping with Italian tradition. “The philosophy of Italian cuisine is to use good products that come from somewhere near you,” says the chef. Here, we're really lucky to have beautiful products around us, so for me, it's more “Italian” to source locally rather than import everything from Italy. So we use ingredients from Quebec, but with real Italian inspiration. »

Visit the Gia Wine & Grill website

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