Category Archives: Chef Giovanni’s Blog

Caramelized Onions

Caramelized onions, what a wonderful addition to almost any dish.  Simple and tasty but often not done correctly.  Caramelized onions are sweet but unfortunately what most people do while they are cooking them, is add sugar.  Use a sweet yellow onion which will contribute to the sweetness; use high quality extra virgin olive oil and, most important of all, a high quality dry white wine that is dinner worthy!

Slice the onion in thin rings, saute them in olive oil on medium temperature and add a bit of garlic salt while they are cooking.  When they start getting translucent, add a tab or two of butter – but don’t overdo it.  Continue to saute, adding some freshly ground black pepper. When they are almost done, turn the temperature to high, let them brown a little bit and splash the white wine on top to deglaze the pan.  Then take them off the heat.

Chef Giovanni says, “this is the best caramelized onion that you will have”.  Throw this wonderful item on top of grilled fish, oven roasted chicken, sliced Parmigiano Reggiano and cook in a hot oven for 5 minutes.

College graduation party


Congratulations Taylor, job well done.  College graduation is always a special time.  Taylor celebrated her achievement with a Breakfast at Tiffany’s theme, indoor and out.  Our 20 x 20 canopy was a perfect set up for this backyard college graduation party. Family and friends gathered to enjoy a lot of different Italian specialties like butternut squash ravioli, “the best” Fettuccine Alfredo, Italian antipasti with a delicious pomegranate balsamic vinegar reduction, Italian deviled eggs and bruschetta.  Oh, and don’t forget the special custom made cupcakes made by the best Pastry Chef in Atlanta, I say. Lots of fun, great food, great company and all the guests were happy and comfortable. Chef Giovanni was right at home. We aim to please.

Chef Giovanni

20×20 canopy

Italian Deviled Eggs




Hello everybody – mo2016-02-07 16.49.48re news about our pastries from the best Pastry Chef around.  I have to say, imagination and great flavor go together here. Beer Run cupcakes. Yes, they are as good as they look. If you like beer and if you like pretzels, you will LOVE these cupcakes!  Next time you have a sports event or get-together with your friends, call us up for some of these. . Use your imagination and personal taste to come up with a cupcake that fits your event.  Look us up, browse through our site and let us help you with your favorite foods so you can have a great time with your friends.  Cupcakes are a great way to taste many different flavors and are very versatile if you are looking for a variety of flavor.  Our pastry chef delights in decorating her treats to your special sport event request.  And by the way we also make some mean BBQ.  Look us up!


Colorful and appetizing

Colorful and appetizing

There is nothing better than an Italian antipasto.  Simple Italian deli meats, cheeses, olives, marinated artichoke hearts, tomatoes and roasted peppers.  Drizzle with a reduced balsamic vinegar glaze — Delizioso!!

Of course, to complete this Italian delight, you need some Tuscan artisan bread.  You can make a meal out of this antipasto – the only thing missing is your favorite Chianti.  Buon appetito! 

Grilled Veggies a la Piastra (flat grill)

2015-10-06 19.21.05

Bored with veggies?  Here is a quick way to have an exciting side dish and easy to do.  First of all, get a flat cast-iron grill (which a good investment for any type of cooking).  Get your grill really hot and let it sit there on the heat.  Cooking these veggies is not complicated science, but it is important how you handle the olive oil and the herbs, otherwise you will make everything soggy and just plain, without flavor.   Meanwhile, slice zucchini, yellow squash and peppers about  3-4 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, not too thick (about half an inch or less).  You can also slice some red onion into some fairly good-size rings and you can use any type of cap mushrooms. The idea is to put all the vegetables on a fairly dry, very hot grill with no oil and very little salt, and turn them often.  While they are cooking and sizzling, make yourself a mixture of 4-5 tablespoons of EVOO, half a teaspoon each of: fresh rosemary dry basil, oregano, dill and parsley. Add a tad of lemon juice and a pinch of Parmigiano Reggiano and whisk.  This is the mixture you are going to pour over the veggies when they are done.  Cook the veggies “al dente”; some will cook faster than others so you need to monitor them.  Spread them out in a single layer on the platter and pour the oil/herb mixture over them a little bit at a time.  The idea is to moisten but not to drown the veggies. Buon Appetito!  Ciao

Fundraiser Fun for a Great Cause

Thanks to the folks at CSI for holding a fundraiser to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Fantastico's table at CSI's Leukemia & Lymphoma Foundation Fundraiser

Fantastico’s table at CSI’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Fundraiser. The desserts are in the boxes. The photo on each box shows what’s in it. Of course, we also provided some information about Fantastico Italian Gourmet – absolutely free!

A Fantastico cupcake for CSI's Leukemia & Lymphoma Foundation fundraiser.

Apple-nut cupcake with peanut butter cream frosting and toffee chips.

The desserts we took to the fundraiser

Had a lot of fun weekend before last! Fantastico teamed up with the folks at CSI Laboratories to help with a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The society is sponsoring a Light the Night Walk, and the CSI people organized a bake sale and silent auction to raise a contribution for the cause.

My favorite pastry chef talked me into having Fantastico contribute a sampling of our desserts for the bake sale. She didn’t have to work very hard to convince me, since fighting leukemia and lymphoma is such a great cause. Plus, I got to spend some quality time with her, learning some of the tricks to creating those fantastic desserts.

The cupcake on the left is an apple-nut cupcake with peanut butter cream frosting and toffee chips. I frosted it myself. See the cool spiral design? I did that! My favorite pastry chef taught me how. Not only that, but I also learned how to bake the toffee to make those chips that are stuck into it. It’s pretty tricky, actually, getting it so thin and smooth and even, like stained glass, then breaking it into chips without having it crumble into a big mess. With the help of my expert genius coach, I got it right on the first try.

The best part is, the fundraiser was a big success! The event raised a total of $733. Almost $400 of that came from sales of all the fantastic desserts my favorite pastry chef created. With my help, did I mention?

A big “thanks!” to the folks at CSI who organized the fundraiser and made it such a success! Lots of people came and brought lots of wonderful desserts. I thought the desserts Fantastico brought were the best! (Check out what Perrie at CSI said about our coconut cake.) So a big “thanks!” also to my favorite pastry chef!

Thanks for stopping by!

Fantastico Italian Gourmet's Chef Giovanni

Our Saint Augustine Family Vacation

Scenes from our Vacation Trip

Family vacation - a street in Saint Augustine
Saint Augustine vacationSunset in Saint Augustine

In last week’s blog, I mentioned that I would soon post some pictures of our family trip to beautiful Saint Augustine, Florida, oldest city in the US. Here they are, as promised.

We checked out the local eating establishments including the famous La Columbia.

We also visited Flagler College as a possibility for our daughter in a couple of years.

Beautiful beaches, good food, pretty good weather and lots to do.

Hope you enjoy the pictures. We certainly enjoyed the trip!

Views of Saint Augustine’s Old Fort

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Fantastico Italian Gourmet's Chef Giovanni's signature

Harvest Time Begins: Family Garden, Part 2

Here comes the best part – harvest time!

Look what happened while we were away.

Zucchini from our garden harvestI promised to keep you updated on how things are going in our garden.

Well, here is the first update: The harvest has begun!

We were away for a week or so on a recent trip to St. Augustine. (I’ll post some great pictures from our trip soon.) When we came back, some of our veggies were ready!




More zucchini from our family garden harvest

We picked lots of zucchini. One was almost as big around as a small watermelon!

Lots of grape tomatoes were ready, plus a few regular tomatoes.

We discovered that three of the pepper varieties that we had planted were ready and waiting.




grape tomatoes and peppers from our harvest

Some of our banana peppers were nice and yellow and ready to eat. Very tasty!

We picked a few of our jalapeños. A lot more that weren’t ready to use yet we left on the vine.

One of our finger peppers had already ripened into a cayenne. We picked it, and also some that were still green.





zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers from our first harvest

A pretty good start, I would say, considering it’s still only July. We can’t wait for more! Growing and eating our own sure beats store-bought by a long shot!





Hey, how are things in your garden? Leave a comment below to let us know how your harvest is going.


FigsAugust 15 Update:

In my first blog about our garden I mentioned that we have fruit trees, including figs. They’re starting to come in already! A few days ago, we picked a couple dozen.

I cut one open and was about to eat it when my wife, Kaye, stopped me. “Wait a minute,” she said. “Lets get a photo first, so we can show everyone the beautiful, juicy pulp.”

So I put it back, of course. She snapped the picture. Then I ate the first Adriatic fig of the season. Yummy!


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Fantastico Italian Gourmet's Chef Giovanni's signature

Family Garden

GardenFamily Gardening, Family Fun, Family Food

This was our garden in early spring. The photos below show how it has thrived in the past several weeks.

Taking Care of the Family Garden Is One Of Our Favorite Family Hobbies

Herbs From Our Family Garden


Veggies From Our Family Garden


Fruit From Our Trees

Our family is so excited about having our garden growing so well this year.

With lots of rain and lots of sunshine (sometimes both at the same time!) it has been a perfect growing season.

Urban gardening (in our case sub-urban) can be done. Even though the whole family is super busy, growing our garden is one of our favorite activities, and we love the fresh, organic foods. We grow enough to eat and still have plenty left to share. In season, I often use some of our home-grown garlic and herbs to flavor some of my Fantastico dishes. Sure beats commercially processed flavorings any day.

Pictured here are some of the items we are growing this year.

In addition to our herb garden (rosemary, sage, basil, oregano), we should see a good healthy crop of vegetables. We have five different types of tomatoes (including giant beef, plum, grape, cherry and a hybrid), three different types of hot peppers (jalapeno, cayenne and banana); red, yellow and orange bell peppers; pimentos; zucchini, yellow squash, green onions, radishes, and butternut squash. This is in addition to our fruit trees – pears, peaches, plums, apples and figs. PLUS strawberries and blueberries.

I will update you gardeners out there with the harvests and successes (and failures?) of our fruits and veggies.

If you have something you have grown in the North Georgia area successfully, please let me know so we can give it a try too!
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Fantastico Italian Gourmet's Chef Giovanni's signature