La Dolce Vita may have its roots in Italy but its exuberant expression celebrating life’s joy resonates throughout all cultures.
On the other hand, there are many Italian traditions that could only have matured in the art-filled land of Dante, Michelangelo, and the Lamborghini.
And let’s not overlook, Carlo Petrini, the founder of the International Slow Food Movement.
So it was that Lavazza, Italy’s premiere coffee brand hosted a coffee-centric event to mark both sides of that coin.
Like a hand in glove (albeit an Italian soft-leather glove), the four-generation, family-owned coffee leader recently marked its sponsorship of an Italian art exhibit and Italian leadership in all things art - amplifying its own creative trends in coffee -- having roasted coffee and made coffee machines since 1895.
The breakfast and gallery tour took place at the style icon of architecture: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue, starting off with a tasting in the mid-century Wright restaurant located there on premises.
For any lapsed or cultural neophytes - Frank Lloyd Wright is the world-renowned larger-than-life figure who designed the sinuous, sexy museum building.
What a delightful way to spend the better part of a day – taking in the galleries at the Guggenheim and enjoying a meal or fortifying with a coffee dessert and espresso in the chic white restaurant located on the lower level.
No time for a gallery glimpse – even in a New York minute? The restaurant is readily accessible from Fifth Avenue: tuck into the Wright and enjoy a cultural “happy meal.”
How to say Coffee in Italian
Lavazza is based in Turin, Italy, located in the fashionable northern industrial sector of the “Boot.”
Turin is the country’s first capital, the seat of Savoy nobility, site of the Slow Food’s biennial "Terra Madre," and a “center for the arts” in Italy.
(Is there any wonder why a country in the shape of a fashion staple shouldn’t be at the forefront of all that is artful?)
Lavazza North America is based in equally fashionable, Gotham. www.lavazza.us
The company’s storied history proved a good fit with the Guggenheim’s Italian art installations, according to the company.
In fact, Lavazza is a global partner of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and its New York museum.
See the connection?
Roasting coffee is an art, after all.
The way Lavazza tells it, Turin is the “birthplace of espresso;” they “invented the concept of blend: the art of combining coffee of different types and geographic origins” – that continues to distinguish its products.
The art of Italy
The Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe exhibit is the first of three Lavazza will lead sponsor as a global partner, according to John Wielk, the Guggenheims’ deputy director for corporate and institutional development who helped broker the partnership with Lavazza. Comprised of more than 80 artists, architects, designers, photographers, and writers, this collaboration is an exciting discovery of art fueled by the country’s culture and politics.
Lavazza will sponsor the Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting retrospective show scheduled for debut October 2015. The 2016 show is TBD.
Distance didn’t prevent the company’s CEO Ennio Ranaboldo, CEO of Lavazza North America, from attending the event though. He flew in just for the morning’s program.
The food display alone was alluring. All treats were made with Lavazza’s coffee including a mocha and white chocolate passion fruit mousse and coffee caviar over panna cotta -- created by: drum roll, please: Chef Ferran Adrià!
This Examiner sampled several, along with an espresso (or two?!) and a cold cappuccino – no sugar – that was just this side of creamy, coffee nirvana.
While indulging in the food and drink, this Examiner spoke to Lavazza CEO, Ranaboldo.
Ranaboldo explained Lavazza’s partnership with the Guggenheim – and one surmises by extension with America -- saying Lavazza is in it “for the long haul.”
“The partnership with the Guggenheim is crucial for Lavazza. “The exhibition is so relevant for Italy and Italian history.”
He emphasized the discovery of Italian history and an art movement that most people don’t yet know.
So too with Lavazza. The coffee and products are not as well known in North America, he readily admits.
In contrast, Lavazza owns approximately half the market in Italy where it is ranked first in the retail market there.
The company offers commercial and consumer coffee products, and coffee machines, and a burgeoning single serve business through their Keurig® Green Mountain relationship.
To that end, Lavazza feels it has come “full circle” -- meaning it has moved from consumer to commercial coffee brewing systems and now back to a consumer cappuccino, espresso and latte brewing system Lavazza and Keurig co-developed to create the Rivo™ System.
“Rivo” is named after the Italian word for “revolutionary.” See more connections to Italian Futurism and the “disruptive” avant-garde Lavazza brand?
“Because it came to our realization the passion for Lavazza and it’s portfolio of coffee products, including cappuccino and espresso was undiscovered in America,” explained Ranaboldo. The nattily dressed and seemingly naturally exuberant (i.e. non-caffeinated) Lavazza executive added that the Lavazza brand is “Authentic and real.”
It’s a Lavazza moment – an awakening -- in so many ways.
When asked about the company’s competition, he noted those coffees in the “specialty arena.”
Interestingly, he cited Starbucks as helping to create the market space for specialty coffee, saying, “We are grateful that the market space came to us.”
“So now there is the desire” – but he quickly adds, “Lavazza has better quality and ingredients.”
Presumably, to fulfill that coffee lust.
This Examiner hopelessly and shamelessly admits to being a “coffee snob” preferring fresh roasted and ground beans for every brewed pot; will walk blocks for a better take-out; even admits to over-using Starbucks app in a pinch.
So the welcome surprise is that Lavazza is truly a robust, full-flavored ground coffee that coffee lovers will indulge in cup after cup.
A bag of Lavazza Espresso Perfetto Espresso Roast - Dark and Velvety 100% Arabica coffee was provided in the food and drink press bag in order to sample. Almost one week later and it’s almost finished – to great taste satisfaction.
There is no compromise with Lavazza’s just-launched store-bought coffee.
This Examiner asked Ranaboldo how the company will manage to garner the coveted grocery store real estate space.
Without hesitation he described how Lavazza is helping the grocers to “curate” their roasted ground coffee brand shelves. “We are helping the trade to streamline their space. We are a unique, all-encompassing brand experience,” he said. Adding, “We can provide consistent quality.”
What a sweet take on the grocery store wars! Leave it to an exuberant and dedicated Italian connoisseur to describe “grocery store turf ” as curating the space.
“We are the ultimate artisan!” Ranaboldo exclaimed.
After the morning event’s welcoming remarks by Ranaboldo - he said he hoped the guests would get a better idea of Italian Futurism’s leader, F.T. Marinetti and also – to get the day started with Lavazza coffee… The tour of the fine art commenced, led by the Guggenheim’s curator.
Coffee inflection point and how all roads lead to coffee Italian-style: Lavazza noted artist Marinetti hailed from “the birthplace of espresso, dubbed the ‘Caffeine of Europe.”
After viewing the exhibit with it’s lusty shouting and raucous verbal demonstrations, one can readily embrace the concept of the caffeine campaign…
At the event, Italian pride was on full display with members of the press hailing from Italy too, notably Food Arts Magazine, Sky Italia, and Francine Sagan, author and speaker and advocate of all things Italian, most recently, Pasta Modern
Con affetto, Lavazza, for the fine art and the food art.
The following three coffee-inspired food treats courtesy of Lavazza and featured at tasting event.
or calculate that one ounce is approximately 28.4 grams.
1. Mocha and White Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse
For the Mocha Mousse:
500g heavy cream
12 g gelatin foil
340 g dark chocolate
4 egg yolks
2 tbs of sugar
120 g whole milk
6 (1oz) shots of Lavazza espresso
Soak the gelatin foil in water for 10minutes. Whip the cream into soft peaks and refrigerate. Whip the egg yolks and sugar until they reach the ribbon stage. Melt the dark chocolate. Squeeze the water from the gelatin foil. Heat the milk and whisk in the gelatin foil until dissolved. In a bowl combine the melted chocolate with the freshly pulled espresso shots. Add the hot milk and gelatin mixture. Stir in the egg mixture, and let cool. Once mixture cools, fold in the whipped cream and place mousse in a pastry bag.
For the White Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse:
500 g heavy cream
12 g gelatin foil
340 g white chocolate
4 egg yolks
2tbs of sugar
120 g milk
100 g reduced passion fruit puree
Soak the gelatin foil in cold water for 10 minutes. Reduce the passion fruit puree by half. Whip the cream into soft peaks and refrigerate. Whip the egg yolks and sugar until they reach the ribbon stage. Melt the white chocolate. Squeeze the water from the gelatin foil. Heat the milk and whisk in the gelatin foil until dissolved. In a bowl combine the melted chocolate with the reduced passion fruit puree. Add the hot milk and gelatin mixture. Stir in the egg mixture, and let cool. Once mixture cools, fold in the whipped cream and place mousse in a pastry bag.
For the Flourless Chocolate Cake:
165 g butter
425 g sugar
120 g cocoa powder
Blend together the butter and sugar. Incorporate eggs two at a time, while scraping the sides of the bowl between additions. Add sifted cocoa powder. Spread an even layer of mixture across a nonstick mat. Bake at 340˚F for 12 minutes or until firm.
Line the bottom of the desired container with flourless chocolate cake. Top with the mocha mousse and freeze. Once set, layer the white chocolate passion fruit mousse on top of the mocha mousse, and freeze. Once set, decorate with chocolate pieces remove from freezer to thaw and serve.
2. Mocha Banana Bread
½ cup unsalted butter (softened)
2 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
6 ripe bananas, peeled and broken into large chunks
2 tablespoons Lavazza espresso
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
16 oz dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray the desired pan with non-stick cooking spray. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color. Add the egg, banana, coffee, and vanilla mixing until combined.
In another bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the liquid mixture and gently stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the sprayed pan. Bake for 25-40 minutes or until dry on the interior.
Panna Cotta with a Raspberry Gelée
For the Panna Cotta:
500 ml Heavy Cream
200 ml Milk
140 g sugar
12 g Gelatin Foil
4.93 g vanilla
Let the gelatin soften in cold water for 10 minutes. In a small saucepan heat the milk just before the boiling point. Remove from heat and add the soften gelatin to the milk and mix. In another small saucepan bring the heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar to a boil. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the milk mixture until completely dissolved. Let mixture cool slightly, and fill desired container with contents. Place in the freezer to set.
For the Raspberry Gelée:
350 g raspberries
50 g sugar
5 g gelatin foil
9g raspberry vinegar
Soak the gelatin foil in cold water for 10 minutes. Place the raspberries and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Simmer for a few minutes stirring constantly until the desired consistency is reached. Puree the sauce with a handheld immersion blender and strain through a fine sieve. Squeeze the water from the gelatin and incorporate into the raspberry puree until dissolved. Add the raspberry vinegar and stir well.
Once the panna cotta has set, top with a thin layer of gelée and chill.