Finally! Frank’s Seafood

18 Jun

A random retro recipe find sent us down a rabbit hole.

We started with this:

Seattle seafood

Which looks like a good excuse for baguette. And it got us reminiscing about Frank’s place in Cochrane. The calamari and seafood in a spicy tomato broth for sopping up with said bread was incredible. Frank’s, which was officially Cucina Amore, was a taste of heaven and now I remember why: Frank Lucente operated Caffe dello Sport in Calgary for years. The hot frutta di mare dish of seafood in a garlicy, spicy, (salty) concentrated tomato broth (not red sauce) with plenty of olive oil. I remember spooning the goods onto my plate, the broth, rendered tomato and oil pooling, which I soaked up with good bread. The dish was so memorable, cravable, that I jotted down details to try to recreate.

Then today, I actually FOUND the recipe from Frank himself.

Pleased to see my earlier recollection is pretty close to the recipe itself:

“The tomato was likely canned romas broken down by heat and liquid. Can’t remember if there were onions melting into the broth but they would not be out of place (ooh or thin slices of fennel!). Calamari rings, shrimp, scallops, mussels, maybe clams. So spicy and garlicy. Wonder if there was white wine in there too. Maybe clam juice or a Walter-like clamato mix would be good to try. Would love to serve with lemon slices and freshly snipped parsley. Serve on a warmed platter.”

Behold, the real deal:

SEAFOOD APPETIZER CAFFE DELLO SPORT

3 or 4 large squid slices

8-10 each: fresh mussels and clams, scrubbed

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic (wondering about shaved garlic slices?)

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley

1/4 cup clam juice

1/4 cup butter

pinch of crushed red chilies

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon dry parsley

black pepper and seasoning salt

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup tomato sauce (Frank combines crushed Roma tomatoes with red pepper, onion, garlic, basil and Italian parsley and simmers his sauce for 4 hours to reduce by one quarter)

Combine seafood, garlic, Italian parsley, clam juice, butter, chilies, oregano, parsley, pepper, seasoning salt and sea salt in a saucepan. Cover and place over high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add white wine and cover, cook a few minutes more. Add chicken stock and tomato sauce and simmer 2 minutes longer. Set seafood on a platter and drizzle sauce over top.

Makes one serving.

From the newspaper column Dec 31 1995:

When Frank Lucente opened his little Italian coffee shop in Calgary in 1974, he literally had the first cappuccino maker in town.

And when he expanded to serve a full Italian menu, it was some of the first ”foreign” fare meat-and-potatoes Calgarians ever saw.

His little restaurant across from Ralph Klein’s favorite watering hole, the St. Louis, drew diners in droves. Klein and his political pals would line up at Caffe Dello Sport for Lucente’s scampi and Italian sausage — even actors like Paul Newman ate at the little Italian eatery. Calgary was still beef and beans land, and Italian was exotic.

Well, times have changed. Calgary now has lots of Italian restaurants and even trendy spots have discovered the wonderful flavors of fresh basil, virgin olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes.

But Lucente and his family are still there, serving up their homemade specialties to their loyal, long-time customers.

The decor is simple — a mural of the Bay of Naples, red checkered table cloths and wood trim.

”It’s nothing fancy, but it’s good,” says Lucente of his trattoria. ”Nobody can beat my food because it’s homey.”

It’s also a little different. The veal stuffed with prawns comes in his green onion and mushroom sauce. The pasta for his lasagne and canneloni is homemade. Frank makes his own chicken stock and bakes his own bread.

Herald Food & Wine reader Dianne Mahura says she gets ”terrible cravings” for the food — both the seafood appetizer and Linguini Alla Vongole top her list. We ferreted out Lucente’s recipe for seafood in a rich tomato sauce, the perfect dish for a Christmas Eve or New Year’s meal. Serve it with lots of fresh bread for dipping, or over pasta.

And while we’re talking calamari, here is caterer Savoir Fare

Savoir Fare Cornmeal Crusted Calamari

Serves 5

2 1/4 pound calamari, sliced into 1/4-inch rings

2    cups cornmeal

2 1/2    cups bread flour

1/2    teaspoon whole thyme leaves

2    tablespoons granulated garlic

1    tablespoon salt

1    tablespoon coarse black pepper

1 1/2    cups buttermilk

1    egg

Combine cornmeal, 1 1/2 cups flour, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk the egg and buttermilk together.

Place remaining 1 cup of flour in a bowl. Dredge calamari rings in flour, then dip in buttermilk, then dredge in cornmeal. Place cornmeal crusted calamari on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, deep fry calamari in small batches in hot oil until just golden — no more than a minute. Serve with aioli.

Aioli

5    peeled cloves of garlic

1    egg

1    egg yolk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2    teaspoon salt

1/2    teaspoon black pepper

1/2    cup olive oil

1/2    cup canola oil

Place 4 cloves of garlic in saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Place boiled cloves, fresh clove, lemon juice, egg, egg yolk and pepper in food processor. Process to combine and, with machine running, slowly drizzle in oils to form a thick, emulsified mayonnaise. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with hot calamari.

 

 

 

 

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