* The Chef’s Canvas can be purchased at The Cummer Shop.
Recipe from Tom Gray, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails
Photography by Agnes Lopez
Chef’s Statement – Tom Gray
“There is a parallel between my appreciation of the Italian Garden’s beauty, its layout, symmetry, curves, arches, and lines, and a similarity to how I work with ingredients. I choose ingredients for a dish based on flavor first, and also for their color, texture, shape, and visual interest when plated together. The Italian Garden is a creative, living expression of a framework that has grown with time and the seasons. While the garden was designed and planted many years ago, today one can enjoy its evolving beauty, much as a person can enjoy a classic dish with slightly new ways of interpreting the ingredients or techniques used to prepare it. I spent many hours with my son when he was young in this garden. Together, we explored the variety of colors, shapes, textures, and smells, and I marveled at his delight in the discoveries he found. This is similar to how we as humans enjoy food and flavors. Ingredients bring out different nuances and the layers of aroma, texture, visual appeal, and taste can excite every sense.”
The Italian Garden: Arthur and Ninah Cummer built the Italian Garden in 1931. The couple had recently returned from Italy, where Mrs. Cummer became enchanted by the Villa Gamberaia, just outside of Florence. Designed by noted landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman (1869 – 1950), the Italian Garden echoes the design of Villa Gamberaia’s gardens, with its long pools, clipped hedges, and vine-covered gloriette. Although Shipman’s involvement in the Italian Garden initially faded from history, her role became apparent when a set of plans was discovered in the designer’s archives at Cornell University. This led to a restoration of the garden in the 1990s. The Italian Garden is named in memory of Margaret Baker Berg.
Click here for Chef Tom Gray’s Recipe for Handmade Gnocchi with Sweet Pea Purée, Oyster Mushrooms, and Crispy Guanciale.
Pair it with:
Fontanafredda Briccotondo Piemonte DOC
Barbera Italy, Piedmont
Grapes: 100% Barbera
Description: Ruby red with purple highlights, the nose is packed with black fruit, especially blackberries and plums, with slight spicy overtones hinting at black pepper. Sweet, soft tannins come together in a closely-woven texture that combines with great fruit character and crisp freshness.
Since 1878, Fontanafredda, located in the heart of the Langhe region, has been a true institution in Piedmont, a benchmark for authentically-styled Barolo and Barbera wines that deftly balance intense aromas and deep concentration of fruit with outstanding finesse and elegance. The story of Fontanafredda is a noble one: In 1858, Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy, purchased the estate (a former hunting preserve) in order to produce fine Barolo for his personal use. Today, Fontanafredda is the single largest contiguous estate in Piedmont. Fontanafredda enjoys unrivaled access to many of Piedmont’s greatest vineyard sites. All estate vineyards are farmed without the use of chemicals, and the property is home to a bio-natural reserve, a safe and sustainable refuge for a wide array of local flora and fauna.