Chris Marchino may work at one of the top Italian kitchens in the country, but until recently Cafe Spiaggia's executive sous chef had never been to Italy. That all changed when he took a weeklong culinary tour of Tuscany with Jens Bauerle and Gourmet Destinations. Since returning, Marchino is hard at work creating new Tuscan-inspired dishes for Cafe Spiaggia's menu. This was the first time Bauerle took a professional chef along with his tour, but it's definitely something he'd do again.
It is either talk of the spices, the unique menu, or the garden oasis out back that first draws you into Oleana, but nothing quite prepares you for the experience. This is food that you probably have never tasted before with carefully woven layers of flavors and spices.
If Oleana's food were to be given as a quick-fire challenge and chefs were asked to taste and describe what is in just one dish, I'm not sure even the most trained palate would be successful. Although the spices keep their flavors and don't melt into one another, the layer upon layer of tastes are perfectly complementary and seemingly endless. Chef Ana Sortun is celebrated not only for her amazing talent in the kitchen but for the flawless, complex use of spices. Oleana offers a true family farm-to-table dinner nightly to be enjoyed indoors in a warm, happy environment with intriguing smells wafting from the kitchen or outdoors in the garden where you feel transported outside the city. For breakfast or lunch, head over to Oleana's "little sister" Sofra Bakery and Café. For a taste of Ana Sortun in a completely different environment, tune in to Season 2 of Top Chef Masters. Here is what Chef Sortun had to say about her experience.