When Livia Theodoli married Carleton Wing — she's a caterer, he's an artist — they blended their artistic talents to create Dinner at Wingspan Gallery. It's a gourmet meal on Thursday nights at the gallery, 191 Jefferson Street.
Theodoli-Wing's menus are inspired by an Italian childhood.
She was born in New York City and lived in Italy from age 5 to 18. She left her father's native country to attend college at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.
After a short stint in college, Theodoli-Wing left school to be "a nomad for a couple of years." She came to Lexington, the home of her grandmother Legrand Briggs Dalpra, to apply to medical school at the University of Kentucky. When she wasn't accepted, Theodoli-Wing turned to catering.
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Wing bought the building on Jefferson Street in 1999 and took a year to renovate it. He opened the gallery in 2000. He tells stories with collage and assemblage art.
"I remove familiar images and objects from their original context and arrange them to illustrate a new notion or idea," he said.
The couple met when they literally bumped into each other at a Lexington Philharmonic Horsetails event. As the relationship progressed and they were considering business ventures, they considered buying a restaurant down the street from the gallery.
"It was expensive, and we thought, 'We already have a building,'" she said. So Wing had a commercial kitchen built on the first floor of the gallery, and they started serving dinners in 2006.
Theodoli-Wing's menus are fresh and simple. The one for May 26 features tomato bisque with cumin; orange, black olive and fennel salad; oven-roasted pork-tenderloin stuffed with mushrooms and goat cheese; quinoa pilaf and seasonal vegetables; and apple charlotte with raisins and rum.
The four-course prix-fixe menu is $40. Menus are posted at Wingspangallery.com.
Here are two recipes she serves at the gallery, which also is open for private parties.
Seared scallops with red bell pepper coulis
1 to 2 red bell peppers seeded, peeled
2 ounces sour cream
Salt and pepper
3 to 4 fresh scallops per person
For the pepper coulis: Put peeled and seeded peppers in food processor. Add olive oil, and purée. Add sour cream, salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Heat gently before serving.
For the scallops: Dry scallops well, sprinkle with pepper. In a saucepan, heat butter until sizzling. Sear scallops until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes on both sides. Serve immediately on a puddle of warm red pepper coulis.
Very chocolate tart
5 ounces butter
7 ounces powdered sugar
9 ounces flour
2 egg yolks
1⁄8 cup cold milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweet butter
5½ ounces semi-sweet chocolate
8 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together 5 ounces butter, sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse in flour and egg yolks. Add cold milk. Mixture should look like coarse bread crumbs. Form into a log of dough. Do not overwork. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at least 1 hour.
Slice log into thin pieces and place in 10-inch tart pan with removable sides. Pat dough so it goes up the sides of the pan. Let dough rest another hour in freezer. Bake for 14 minutes, straight from the freezer.
Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
In double boiler, heat 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, chocolate, cocoa, and salt. In small bowl, beat eggs and sugar until creamed. Add maple syrup and sour cream.
Add chocolate mixture to eggs and mix well. Pour into baked crust and bake 40 to 45 minutes. Serve with fresh fruit, whipped cream or raspberry coulis.