While Canada does not necessarily spring to mind when one thinks of high-end Italian cuisine, chef Daniel Costa deserves accolades for this attractively photographed recipe collection, which draws on his experience as owner of Corso32, a popular, locally-sourced Italian eatery in Edmonton. Tavola, a free app for iOS devices, provides 21 of his recipes, with the option to buy four additional eight-recipe packs for $1.99 each.
With dishes like beer braised rabbit and tagliatelle bolognese, the food stands on its own merit, but there are several additional features that enhance the user experience with varying degrees of success. The least valuable of these are the wine pairing menus that accompany the entrees, which seem more an afterthought than a valued tool. Two or three wines are listed for each dish, but are presented without exposition or explanation. Falanghina with the ricotta ravioli? Well, OK, but why? And what or where, exactly, is Falanghina?
Of more interest, Costa has provided six playlists to listen to, geared toward whether one is in the middle of food prep and hungry for a little Velvet Underground or having a late-night snack and craving some Nina Simone. The songs are broadcast via the app’s integration with streaming music service Rdio.
While the music integration is certainly nifty, the app’s most remarkable feature is the hard-to-believe invitation found at the end of each recipe: “Questions? Ask Daniel Costa. Daniel is awaiting your questions on Twitter.” I figured that Costa surely must have better things to do, but no app appraiser worth his salt can resist that sort of offer. So, on a Tuesday morning around 11:15, I clicked the “Tweet at Daniel” button. A Twitter window opened and I asked, “What white wine wld u recommend using in the Orecchiette Rapini recipe?” And sure enough, a somewhat remarkable 12 minutes later, came a reply, “I generally like to use an unoaked drier white wine!”
I was tempted to respond, “Such as Falanghina?” but resisted, and returned to listening to Tavola as it played “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire while instructing me on how to properly plate halibut with roasted tomatoes, shaved fennel salad, and pine nuts.