Category Archives: Food
Reviews and food from Europe and beyond.
If you are a red wine drinker and like to try fine wines that have a robust flavor, then Sagrantino wines will list among your favorites. The Sagrantino grapes are small, finicky powerhouses, but despite their needing much care to properly cultivate in their indigenous Italian region, California, Australia and other areas of the world are jumping on the Sagrantino bandwagon. As they try their hand at producing the bold red wine which originated in Montefalco in the province of Umbria, Italy centuries ago, they will tease out its richness and unique characteristics.
Montefalco Sagrantino is a wine that is appropriate in every season. It is distinctive, flavorful, and vibrant and has an interesting finish on the palate. It pairs well with wintry fare of stews, roasts, short ribs, as well as summery grilled meats and chops. It is lovely with rustic and hearty vegetable and pasta-dish combinations. It also goes well with appetizers like cheeses and salumi and is a highly drinkable accompaniment to foods that are sweet or salted.
This is Sagrantino month at Eataly NYC and Eataly Chicago. Eataly is the extravaganza presenting the best of Italy in its restaurants, market and wine shop on 5th Avenue housed under one roof in an amazing and fun way. All month Eataly is offering Montefalco Sagrantino classes in its teaching school, La Scuola. It’s wine shop is hosting Montefalco Sagrantino tastings for free. Additionally, in its hugely popular La Piazza restaurant, one can pair up a glass of Montefalco Sagrantino with the cheese plates or salumi for a delicious treat or lunch.
Five Monetfalco Sagrantino producers are being offered at the Friday tastings. I had the opportunity to try each at an event at Eataly’s La Scuola during which various producers were present. Rebecca Mills discussed the wines, the food pairings and the producers Marco Caprai of Arnaldo Caprai Vineyards and Filippo Antonelli from Antonelli San Marco filled in with salient facts about their wines.
Alicia Walter chef from Eataly in New York City, created the dishes which paired beautifully with the wines. They were the Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG wines, 2007-2009 vintages from the five different producers in the Montefalco region of Umbria now being featured at Eataly in March.
- Perticaia, Sagrantino Di Montefalco DOCG 2009
- Scacciadiavoli, Sagrantino Di montefalco DOCG 2008
- Antonelli, San Marco Sagrantino Di Montefalco DOCG 2007
- Arnaldo Caprai, Collepiano Sagrantino Di Montefalco DOCG 2007
- Tenuta Castelbuono, Sagrantino Di Montefalco DOCG 2007
The DOCG designation for each means that the wines must adhere to the highest production standards. The wines are produced from 100% Sagrantino grapes grown in Montefalco. The regulations include the specific months in the barrel, an October harvest, and the agriculture of the vines (number of vines per hectare).
You will be able to purchase these producers wines at Eataly NYC and at other fine wine shops in NYC, Chicago, San Francesco and Los Angelos. Their websites are above and you can place orders there. Better yet, travel to Umbria, visit these producers’ wineries. They will be happy to offer tastings and tours of their vineyards. However, if you aren’t planning a trip in the near future, drop in to sample the Montefalco Sagrantino at Eataly NYC or Chicago this month. As you open up your palate to these unique wines, you will note their different personalities, and you will probably walk away with a bottle of pure Montefalco Umbria. You will be glad you did.
December is a great month to celebrate wines from the Veneto region of Italy. December we celebrate the holidays, Christmas and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It is a time when we enjoy great food with family and friends and are looking for exceptional wines to pair with fish or are looking for sparkling wines to ring in the New Year without the gross hangoveR the next day.
I tasted some exceptional wines during a luncheon at Eataly’s La Scuola Grande. There the chef using Lidia’s, Mario Batali’s and Eataly’s recipes made delicious cuisine that paired seamlessly with the drinkable wines from the Veneto that were featured:
MONTELVINI Tullia Prosecco di Treviso Brut DOC, NV
CESARI Mara Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso DOC, 2011 (a red wine)
The Veneto is the primary region for wine production in Italy. The variety of wines produced there is surprising. The Veneto produces whites and reds, sparkling wines to meditation wines. There are also niche-labels from small producers that are in demand and luxurious. Veneto wines are in demand globally. The region expots 75% of its DOC wines. The wines featured were so drinkable that I would enjoy them with appetizers, with cheese and with the full range and complement of meats including chicken and other fowl and certainly fish. They go down smoothly and are a great value. For NEW YEAR’S EVE, a Prosecco is such a tremendous value over champagne. My cousin recommended it for years and knowing little about great wines, I was a snob and drank champagne. Have you seen the prices of good champagne lately? Too rich for my blood. An expensive Prosecco is the greater value. A great and delicious wine, a great value. Why not?
Lidia Bastianich’s Fritto Misto (Mixed Fried Seafood & Vegetables)
As Lidia suggests, “The point of a fritto misto is to enjoy the flavors and textures of a variety of fish. You can vary the roster of fish according to what is fresh in the market and increase of decrease the amount according to the number of guests you’re cooking for.” Also, the vegetables are now in season and can be swapped out for other vegetables that are fresh and in season. The Fritto Misto was delicious with the featured Proseccos.
Mario Batali’s Risotto al Radicchio
(Risotto with Radicchio & Red Wine)
You can find this in Simple Italian Food by Mario Batali, 1998.
If you love the best of Italian Prosecco DOC and DOCG, Soave and even delicious lesser known red and white wines from the Veneto, you will appreciate Move The Passion, which begins this evening in New York City.
Move the Passion is a wine tasting event where you will be able to walk or be driven around to various areas of New York City to sample and discover the best wines from the Veneto which is Italy’s top wine producing region. The U.Vi.Ve. is the consortium of the Veneto wine producers to ensure the highest standards of Veneto wines, including their quality and uniformity. They have organized for the entire month of December a celebration of their finest wines highlighted throughout the city with various events.
Move the Passion is such an event. It offers wine lovers the unique opportunity to discover amazing Italian wines at 7 wonderful wine locations in New York City. The walking Veneto Wine tour will take place on December 3rd from 6 to 10 pm and will take in the following venues:
Arclinea: 21 East 26th Street
Astor Center: 399 Lafayette St.
Giovanni Rana Restaurant: 75 9th Ave.
Maslow 6: 211 West Broadway
Revel Restaurant: 10 Little West 12th St.
Urbani Truffles: 10, West end Avenue (between 59th and 60th)
Risotteria Melotti: 309 E 5th St.
You will be tasting sumptuous wines and fabulous food to go with them including truffles, rice (risotto), home made pasta, panettone, cheese and more.
REGISTRATION IS MANDATORY TO ATTEND THE EVENT.
TO REGISTER: CLICK AND SCROLL TO REGISTRATION.
Was it Jack Kerouac who said, “There is wisdom in wine?” Go for it!
If you’ve traveled to central Italy and visited Umbria, you’ve explored the picturesque medieval villages, and enjoyed the breathtaking mountains and lush valleys of this “Green Heart of Italy,” or “il cuor verde d’Italia.” Umbria is known for its sumptuous cuisine (The wines and oil olive oil are exceptional.) remarkable artisan jewelry and Deruta ceramics. If you love fashionable cashmere knitwear, you know you will be able to purchase some of the most chic outfits in Milano, Italy. Well, Umbria is an important hub of a cashmere knitwear manufacturing district in Italy.
Though traveling to Umbria may be not in your immediate plans, you are fortunate because Umbria has come to the U.S. If you are in New York City the month of November until December 8, you will be able to experience the best of Umbria in various locations around the city like Eataly, Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria and Di Paolo’s Fine Foods.In an official proclamation Mayor Bloomberg has declared November “I Love Umbria Month!”For the rest of November until December 8th, the city will be hosting cultural and culinary events in celebration of the best that Umbria has to offer in its wine, ceramics, olive oil, cuisine, jewelry, even music.
Eataly’s restaurants are currently serving traditional Umbrian fare paired with Umbrian wines like the signature Sagrantino. Eataly chefs are hosting cooking classes that focus on typical Umbrian recipes. Their wine store is holding its final wine tastings the next two weeks on Fridays and Saturdays, and there will be tastings in La Piazza.
Additional trade and consumer tasting events have been featured at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria in the heart of NoHo. Around the city, participating jewelers are still offering exquisite Umbrian jewelry. In Little Italy, Di Palo’s Fine Foods has hosted olive oil tastings and wine tastings, some of the finest from the region.
The month long festivities were heralded with the first of a number of events, a luncheon: Umbria, “A Land Rich in Time.” Held Wednesday, November 7th at Eataly’s La Scuola Grande, it was hosted by the Centro Estero Umbria(Umbria Trade Agency) and renown chef Lidia Bastianich. The sumptuous luncheon featured dishes typical of the region with Umbrian wine pairings. For the Antipasto, diners lunched on Chef Alex Pilas’ exceptional “Porcini con Crescione, Finocchio & Tartufo,” paired with a white wine of the region.
Eataly’s wine director, Dan Amatuzzi, Marco Caprai of The Caprai estate and Marco Petrini, President of Monini North America, Inc., discussed Umbrian cuisine at length. Amatuzzi and Caprai explained the wine pairings for each dish and emphasized the Sagrantino as the signature Umbrian grape whose wine with its gripping tannins and ability to be aged for years makes it a classic of the region.
Petrini spoke about the olive oil produced as unique to Umbria in its mild, nutty taste profile that marries perfectly with porcini and legumes, ingredients widely used in Umbrian cuisine.
After the antipasto, guests enjoyed the Secondo which was Porchetta con Lenticchie Umbre. The combination of roasted pork resting on a bed of lentils prepared with Umbrian olive oil, nutty, fresh, smooth, and accompanying regional seasonings was a sensational meld of flavors. The dish was perfection and exemplary of the region’s select recipe for culinary delight.
To describe the Dolce course as tasty would be an understatement. The Torta Umbra all’Olio d’Oliva & Gelato was not cloyingly sweet, nor heavy as one might expect as it was made with Umbrian olive oil. The cake was light, airy and extremely flavorful; its gentility coupled well with the dessert wine, Tenuta Rocca di Fabbri, Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito DOCG 2005. The pairing pinged my palate and completed the progression of dishes with an intriguing finish, leaving me with thoughts of returning to such dishes and pairings again and again.
The schedule of the last two weeks follows below.
Week Three: (November 23-30) Focus on Truffles and Legumes
Week Four: (December 1-8) Focus on Cuisine
You will be missing out if you don’t make it to Eataly or one of the other venues during the “I Love Umbria” month’s remaining festivities. It’s not too late to enjoy a glass of Umbrian wine or dine on some superb Umbrian fare. You’ll be glad you did.