This past Sunday I had the pleasure of experiencing yet another unique and fascinating culinary and cultural event: “Dinner with DaVinci”. This multi-media dining adventure was the conception of chef and host Cara Cruickshank of “Cafe de la Culture”. Check out the introduction video:

An Evening of discourse on the Italian Renaissance started out with a presentation by Anna Clare Monlezun and Giovanni Taormina followed by a dynamic, full-sensory experience featuring Hikaru H. Miyakawa as the other presenter, The Renaissance Project (choir), Emily Bowman (violin) and Margot Krimmel (harp), as well as Roger Reutimann (sculptor) and of course, the wonderful cuisine.

Photo by Brian Spielmann

What stuck in my mind about the Renaissance period was that prior to it, there was no word for Art. Everything was made by artisans be it local pottery or cooking food in your own home. It was a way of life. There was no mass production, everything was crafted by the heart and soul of the artisan. There is a new renaissance in food now inspired by the “Slow Food” movement. A “Back to the Future” way of creating food from the heart and soul. This time it involves not only back to basics cooking from scratch, but procuring ingredients from local indigenous sources that provide organic and seasonal foods.

Being a lover of Italian food and especially desserts, my contribution was a “Double Espresso and Marsala Tiramisu”. Here’s the recipe:

Double Espresso and Marsala Tiramisu

Serves 4 – 6


3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) container mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 cups very strong coffee or espresso (double the amount of grounds used)
4 tablespoons Marsala
18 ladyfingers (a 6 oz. container)
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings or 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

Beat whites with a pinch of cream of tarter in another bowl until soft peaks form. Slowly add remaining sugar and continue to beat whites until stiff peaks form. Beat cream in another bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold cream into mascarpone mixture followed by the egg whites.

Mix coffee and Marsala in a bowl (cooled to room temperature) and dip ladyfingers briefly (anywhere from 1 – 4 sec. depending on the thickness of the ladyfingers). Place the soaked lady fingers in a baking dish and evenly spread the mascarpone mixture on top. Repeat this layering process until you end with mascarpone mixture on top.

Chill for at least 6 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with chocolate.


Chef Trusan