Living La Vita Dolce

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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