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.
Last year I was introduced to Italy’s region of Umbria at La Scuola Grande, Eataly’s events restaurant. It was then I savored my first Sagrantino wine made only in the Montefalco region of Umbria and tasted the regional foods, legumes, mushrooms, pork that were and are often the traditional mainstay of Umbrian cuisine. This year Umbria is being featured once again at Eataly, NYC and to highlight the region, Steve McCurry, world-renowned photographer has created an exhibit of his photos. These will familiarize viewers with the lifestyle of the region, its towns, marketplaces, textile trades, terrain, the wineries, cuisine, artisan crafts, in short, all that is wonderful in this region, known as “the green heart of Italy.”
What impresses me about Umbria is the passion of those who are the leaders of the region who want to make sure that past connects with present-future. In other words, there is a great respect for ancient wine-making traditions, cuisines and crafts and the fervency to keep these traditions alive so they are transmitted abroad and actually sealed into perpetuity (that’s branding, folks). Part of keeping a record of what was and what will be is the “what is.” That’s where Steve McCurry comes in with his photographs. According to the President of Umbria, Catiuscia Marini, “The passion people have for the region of Umbria was captured perfectly by McCurry’s remarkable storytelling power.”
An iconic voice in contemporary photography for more than 30 years, McCurry is a good choice to pick out mythic images of the Umbrian landscape, its people, its appeal of every day life activities. McCurry has been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in the industry and he has published a number of photography books, for example The Path to Buddha: A Tibetan Pilgrimage (2003), In the Shadow of Mountains (2007), and The Iconic Photographs (2011) to name a few examples.
McCurry selected various photographs that were used in the exhibit and can be seen at the Italian Trade Commission until Saturday, November 16th. McCurry’s photographs will also be on display at Eataly, during their month long celebration of the region of Umbria in the month of November. Eataly is holding classes focused on wines and traditional regional cuisine and is featuring Umbrian products, including wines and the Sagrantino only produced in Montefalco, Umbria.
Sensational Umbria is the title Steve McCurry has given to his project of 100 photographs. If you haven’t visited Umbria and don’t think you will have a chance in the next months, go to Eataly, NYC and take a peak at the exceptional photographs. Have a glass of Caprai wine with your pork or short ribs dish at Manzo Ristorante or Birreria. Peruse some of the Umbrian products seen here. You’ll be happy you got a chance to embrace Umbria in NYC and it will be an encouragement for you to eventually to visit that magnificent, less traveled and poetic region of Italy.