Best Panna Cotta

Bellanico

Panna cotta is one of the simplest and most transcendent of desserts. Although its name means "cooked cream" in Italian, this rich feathery union of sugar, vanilla, gelatin, and (lots of) cream is barely simmered, and only for a couple of minutes. Its flavor is purely, wonderfully lacteal — the dessert originated in the dairylands of the Piedmont — and when properly prepared, its texture is smooth as satin. At Bellanico, a happy Glenview neighborhood hangout with a penchant for inventive culinary concepts, the kitchen prepares a savory appetizer panna cotta that's as silky as the finest we've ever experienced, but it also boasts the jazzy presence of sweet blue-veined Gorgonzola, giving the dish a creamy intensity that raises it to the ethereal. It's served with half a dozen spears of chilled al dente asparagus, a green and crunchy accent to the lush panna, plus crispy toasted almonds and a potent drizzle of Cavedoni's sweet and puckery five-year-old Il Caratello balsamico. Yum!
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