A group composed of Italian academics and culinary experts recently honored Biba Caggiano of Biba Restaurant for her work as a highly regarded restaurateur, best-selling cookbook author and cooking teacher.
Members of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina (Italian Academy of Cuisine) dined at Biba and presented her with a commemorative plate.
According to its website, "The Accademia was instituted to safeguard Italian culinary traditions, but also to study enogastronomyhistory and anthropology. The Accademia's purpose is also to provide information and organize initiatives that will help consumers better understand the Italian culinary values."
"I thought it was very nice," said Caggiano, when I caught up with her by phone. "I looked at all of my people in the kitchen and said, 'This is for you, too, because you do a very good job.'"
In addition to celebrating its 60th anniversary, the group's members were in town to officially launch the Sacramento chapter, which will be headed by Orietta Gianjorio.
I called Gianjorio to get more information about the Accademia. She compared their work to the famed Michelin food inspectors, whose Michelin stars are among the most coveted forms of recognition in the restaurant world.
"We are not a group of chefs. We are a group of food tasters who go to restaurants and rate restaurants," she said. "We are also a cultural group that promotes authentic Italian food. We want to make sure people around the world understand and remember to keep the traditions alive."
To become a member of the Sacramento chapter?
"You have to go through me," Gianjorio said. "I try to find people who have connections to Italy and who can go to a restaurant and recognized whether something is cooked appropriately or not."
Which brings us to Biba and the dinner.
"The meal was really good and the wine pairings were perfect," she said.
Says Caggiano, "They loved it, especially the lasagna."
Here is a look at the special menu, including wine pairings.
Polpette di Granchio
Dungeness crab cake with blood oranges, frisee, shaved fennel and arugula
Vermentino DOC - Antinori 2011
Lasagne Verdi alla Bolognese
Ten layers of housemade pasta layered with a Bolognese meat ragu and creamy Bechamel sauce
Rubicone IGT "Liano" - Umberto Cesari 2009
Costolettine di Agnello alla Griglia
Marinated, grilled Colorado lamb chops served with roasted root vegetables
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2007 - Piancornello
Chocolate coated, dome shaped, rum scented pound cake filled with whipped cream, chocolate, almonds and hazelnuts
Moscato d Asti 2010 - Saracco
Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.