Living La Vita Dolce

 

Chef/restaurateur gives good life tips

Scene from the movie

By Madeleine Marr

Didn’t get tickets to the big SoBe feast? Ken Lyon has some tips for you for living the good life in your own home. The chef/restaurateur, who opened The Design District’s Fratelli-Lyon in 2008, says he lives his version of “la dolce vita’’ every day through simple, good food (which almost always includes cheese) and wine. The Italophile is obviously a big fan of Federico Fellini’s 1960 Vespa-happy classic La Dolce Vita, about a journalist searching for happiness in Rome.

What is “La Dolce Vita’’ in your words? Ah, just watch the movie. Who can say it better than Fellini? And with a Nino Rota soundtrack! Wow. This is what all of us Americans envied in our Italian friends, the sweet life; beautiful people, beautiful surroundings, no workaholism allowed. Life was celebrated daily with friends and family around convivial meals, which always featured wines, always time for a stroll in the afternoon (or better). Always time to enjoy life and love.

How have you been influenced by Italy? I went there for the first time with my family in 1968, and soon afterwards my mother opened up a shop in the town where we lived on Cape Cod selling Italian-fashion accessories. She traveled there twice a year, specifically Florence. I accompanied her a few times while I was in high school, and I got to view Italy as beyond a tourist. It was fantastic.

What is your guilty pleasure? Popcorn made with the greenest Tuscan olive oil. I consider it a guilty pleasure because who would use such expensive olive oil to make popcorn?!

How do you describe the perfect meal? I think “simple elegance’’ is easily defined. It is the essence of Italian food: quality ingredients, simply prepared, beautifully presented, allowing the food to speak for itself. Easy to explain, hard to perform.

What is your favorite wine? Any wine I drink that tastes like it has a soul. You can get this with inexpensive wines as easily as with expensive ones. Passion plays a big part in winemaking, and the most passionate winemakers are the Italians. A good example is Riserva Ducale from the Ruffino winery in Chianti.

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