A little while back I told you about the fantastic series of food events known as The League of Extraordinary Chefs that are the brainchild of Cheese Boutique's Maitre Fromager Afrim Pristine. Because I pretty much love all of the crazy creative ideas that Afrim comes up with (and of course, everything Cheese Boutique-related because they are awesome) I was really looking forward to attending at least one of these celebrations of all things cheesy. What I really loved even more is how each stop on the tour not only celebrated incredible food, but the incredible community of culinary talent that Toronto is home to.
So imagine how happy I was to get a spot for The League's Pizza Showdown at Pizzeria Libretto on The Danforth. Because 1) obviously pizza is the ultimate vehicle for cheese 2) because Cheese Boutique was involved everything would be even more delicious and 3) I have always been a raving fan of Pizzeria Libretto and always will be. In partnership with Samuel Adams beer, Afrim recruited some of my favourite chefs in the city - Rocco Agostino of Pizzeria Libretto, Craig Harding of Campagnolo, and Kris Schlotzhauer of Enoteca Sociale to participate. Each of the four (Afrim included would come up with a recipe (using cheese from Cheese Boutique, of course) that would compete for pizza supremacy. Plus, each one contributed an additional course to the meal. The lucky guests were tasked with not only guessing which chef made which pizza based on ingredients alone, but vote on the winner after tasting. Throw in some Samuel Adams IPA or Rebel Yell to sweeten the deal, and there's the makings of one serious party.....errr.....I mean showdown. Of course. Very serious stuff.
Here's a run down of the night's menu, all pairing wonderfully with our Sam Adams, natch:
Ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms + summer squash + peperonata + nasturtium (Craig)
Side striped shrimp + fresh polenta + tomato salad (Kris)
Lamb tonnato + fresh pea + fresh mint + aged goat gouda (Rocco)
The Spilingese: nduja + burrata + basil + tomato sauce (Craig)
Fried Zucchini: tomato + basil + garlic + oregano + stracciatella + Calabrian hot peppers + fried zucchini (Rocco)
Sgt. Peppers: Sam Adams Rebel Yell cheese (that's right, a very delicious fromage made with the Sam Adams beer of the same name) + pepperoni + shishito peppers + smoked salt (Afrim)
Cacio E Pepe: bechamel + russet potato + black pepper + pecorino cheese + EVOO (Kris)
Magestic Henry + tiramisu stuffed donut + grilled lemon poundcake + balsamic strawberries + whipped ricotta + marcona almonds (Afrim)
All of that, and what was really magic about it was that every course featured cheese, but at no time was it overwhelmingly cheesy. If you get what I mean. A testament to not only how great Cheese Boutique's cheese really is, but also how great these chefs are. Pretty amazing right? I promise you, it was. It just so happens that my favourite pizza, Craig Harding's "The Spilingese" was indeed the winner. (hard to go wrong with nduja and burrata, right?)
The good news is, The League of Extraordinary Chefs isn't over! There are still two more stops on the tour, the next one being a Family-themed dinner at Ruby Watchco on September 30th. AND there will be the Hall of Fame grand finale of the whole series on October 28th which you do not want to miss. You can find out more about all things Cheese Boutique here.
Images (except of pizza with all competitors' slices) by Jeffrey Chan courtesy Samuel Adams