Gioachino Rossini is one of opera’s most beloved
composers—writing 39 operas in his first 37 years before abruptly retiring to pursue his second passion: food!
Gioachino Rossini is one of opera's most beloved composers—writing 39 operas in his first 37 years, including The Barber of Seville, La donna del Lago, and William Tell. However, after the premiere of William Tell, Rossini abruptly retired from composing and gave full expression to his second passion—food.
He spent the rest of his life—40 years!—as a celebrated gourmand. As one of the top foodies of the day, he was close friend of noted Parisian chef Antonin Carême, who he met while studying in Paris. The two of them had a unique version of a pen-pal correspondence: Carême would send Rossini pâté or another specialty item, and Rossini would reply with a short aria as thanks.
Rossini's culinary reputation grew so large that the phrase "alla Rossini"—most often signifying some combination of liver, foie gras, and truffles in a dish—became appended to creations by many chefs, including the famous Tournedos Rossini preparation of filet mignon.
Before you come and see the fabulous new production of The Barber of Seville here at Lyric (opening on Saturday, February 1), indulge in some of these rich Rossini-inspired recipes. As the composer himself once said, "I know of no more admirable occupation than eating."
In this most famous of all Rossini-named dishes, filet mignon is accompanied by truffles, foie gras, and a very rich sauce. (Recipe from The New York Times)
In this recipe that is dictated by the composer himself, pasta sheets are layered with mushrooms, truffles, and ham in a tomato-champagne-cream sauce. (Recipe from NPR. Note that "macaroni" actually indicates flat pasta sheets, similar to a lasagna.)
A modern update of the composer's macaroni dish that swaps out the mushrooms and ham for a mixture of liver, chicken, veal, and pork with both a tomato and cream-based sauce. (Recipe from Saveur).
Created by the San Francisco Opera for their opening night gala, this dessert pays tribute to the composer with a rich mascarpone mousse paired with delicious fresh berries. We think Rossini would have approved. (Recipe from Foodnetwork.com.)
A delightful take on the Bellini, featuring strawberries (instead of the traditional peaches) paired with prosecco and Grand Marnier. (Recipe by Ina Garten, from Oprah.com).
To learn more about Rossini's prolific but brief composing career and lengthy retirement, read this excellent New York Times article by Zachary Woolfe from 2011.