Black Pepper: Sichuan black pepper from the eastern part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China is the best Chef Sola has ever tasted. He uses it to finish off dishes with an exotic touch.
Cardamom: One of the most anciently used and costly spices in the world, Cardamom from Guatemala is an irreplaceable element in some of Chef Sola’s infusions.
Saffron: The most expensive spice in the world, known as Oro Rosso ("red gold"), is harvested from the famed purple flowers that grow in the Central Italian province of L'Aquila, in the Abruzzo region, in the town of Navelli. Saffron is an ideal ingredient/flavor in risotto, as well as Chef Sola’s fish soups.
HERBS + FLORA
Basil: As with most ingredients, Chef Sola is very specific as to where they originate, but perhaps none more herb-wise than basil — his must be from the Italian region of Liguria specifically Genoa, where the basil plants offer small leaves with an intense and a typical fresh aroma.
Garlic: What is Italian cuisine without garlic? However, to ensure that the stinking rose is not invasive, or overpowers a dish, Chef Sola favors red garlic from Sulmona (Aglio Rosso di Sulmona), a mountainside town in Abruzzo, Italy.
Rosemary: From anywhere and everywhere! However, unlike most, Chef Sola uses the herb’s small branch, not the leaves, which is more than enough to bring this wonderful herb flavor to the dish.
Thyme: From anywhere and everywhere! Thyme is fine, fabulous and subtle is used correctly, but it can also be overwhelming, so Chef Sola uses the herb in great moderation.
EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Only Italian! From Tuscany, Liguria, Puglia, Sicily, Lombardia (Lake Garda/ Lago di Garda) — every Italian region offers a different variety of superb quality extra virgin olive oil from multiple varieties of olives — Chef Sola uses olive oils on his uncooked fish, meat and pasta — always when raw, never cooked.
VINE RIPE TOMATOES
Only Italian! Specifically, from the central Italian region of Campania, mainly from Naples. These sun ripened tomatoes are the sweetest that Chef Sola has ever found. Ideal as a key ingredient in a dish, or incredible eaten on a simple slice of bread with a light touch of garlic —the best bruschetta ever.
BORLOTTI BEANS + LENTILS
In Chef Sola's Everyday Free (food intolerance, allergy sensitive and gluten free) kitchen there are no tree nuts (not even pine nuts in pesto sauce) or peanuts used —only Borlotti beans from Lamon, Italy (fagioli di Lamon), for soup (in which every bean has been hand peeled) and lentils procures from the small Umbrian village of Castelluccio. These lentils are simply his favorite — ideal for soups, but also paired with fish and crustaceans.
Beef + Lamb Good old USDA prime and choice cuts of beef and lamb are grilled and stewed by Chef Sola for his pasta and sauces.
Fish + Seafood Once again, harkening back to his roots, Chef Sola's preferred bounty from the sea comes from the Mediterranean when seasonably available. Sometimes prepared raw, other times steamed and grilled, but in all instances with exacting attention to the ideal temperature — never too high. Other fish and seafood is sourced in North America and beyond — depending on daily specials.
Poultry Chef Sola's preferred source of poultry (chicken) is France, specifically poulet de Bresse from the historic eastern French appellation d'origine contrôlée of Bresse that lies in the Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne, Franche-Comté regions. However, select domestic producers are also used.