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A Porcine Thought …

2011/05/02

Is the idea of sauteing eggplant in the fat rendered from searing a pork roast considered brilliance or lunacy? Discuss.

Update:

It was pure brilliance! The result:

Roast pork, roast potatoes with thyme, eggplant sauted in rendered pork fat

Roast pork, roast potatoes with thyme, eggplant sauted in rendered pork fat

Barolo Dinner

2011/04/24
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A group of fellow wine lovers recently gathered at Paese Restaurant in Toronto to drink some delicious Nebbiolo – Barolo, specifically. A selection of a half dozen bottles ranging from 1996-2000 were put together to contrast and compare and determine how they were evolving. It was very interesting to compare vintages that are generally deemed to be more “classic” (such as 1996 and 1999) to hotter, more “forward” vintages such as 1997 and 2000.

In having a small group of six people, it allowed for the opportunity to follow the wines over the course of the evening and see how they changed with air. All the notes included below mention how the bottles were handled. At one point, each person had six Burgundy stems in front of them, something that isn’t possible in many restaurants due to a lack of appropriate stemware.

Significant thanks must be given to Paese’s sommelier Bruce Wallner and the rest of the staff for taking care of not only all the wines and stemware, but the table in general.

In an attempt to stick with a Langhe theme, a nice Chardonnay from Aldo Conterno started off the evening. One of the few wines to see barrique at this address, the Bussiador was quite rich and delicious, even if the alcohol was a little too prominent at times.

  • 2005 Poderi Aldo Conterno Langhe Bussiador– Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC (4/15/2011)Barolo Dinner (Paese Restaurant, Toronto): Bright honey/gold colour. Aromas of hazelnut butter, toast, marzipan, mango, passionfruit. Full-bodied, unctuous, with replays from nose and a good minerality. Moderate-long finish, ~40s. Alcohol was a little too prominent in this bottle at times, and therefore the rating can’t go higher. Drink now. (91 points)

The first flight of Barolo was from Paolo Scavino. Bottles of 1996 and 1997 Carobric contrasted classic and hot vintages. I found it interesting that the wines were very similar in profile, proof that terroir shines through even in more challenging vintages. Much discussion was had at the table as to which vintage was preferred. Initially, the 1997 captured peoples’ attention, while later, the 1996 came to the fore. Ultimately, trying to select between the two wines is like splitting hairs. The consensus was that the 1997 was the wine to drink now, whereas the 1996 will be the better wine with age. I don’t think you can go wrong with either.

  • 1996 Paolo Scavino Barolo Carobric– Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo (4/15/2011)Barolo Dinner (Paese Restaurant, Toronto): Decanted 30 minutes. Medium-garnet colour. Aromas of cherry, mint, plums/prunes, tar, dried flowers, leather, and dried herbs. Medium-full bodied, with cherry, tar, dried herbs, leather, tar, orange peel. Great acidity and solid tannic structure that follows through to a moderate-long finish, ~40s, with more dried cherry and leather notes. A delicious wine that can easily go another 15 years. Drink now-2026+. (93 points)
  • 1997 Paolo Scavino Barolo Carobric– Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo (4/15/2011)Barolo Dinner (Paese Restaurant, Toronto): Slow-ox’d for three hours, then decanted for 30 minutes. Medium-dark garnet colour. Aromas of white truffle, kirsch, sottobosco, mint. Full-bodied, more rich, forward, and integrated than the 1996 at this time. On the palate, the wine shows notes of sottobosco, prunes, and mushrooms. Moderate-length finish, ~35s, with dark fruit and earth. Should drink well for another 10-15 years, depending on how developed one prefers Barolo. Drink now-2026. (93 points)

Barolo always shows better with food, so a pizza of roasted mushrooms, thyme, fontina, and a drizzle of truffle oil was sent to the table. The earthiness of the roasted mushrooms played quite well off the Nebbiolo and made for a nice start to the evening.

Pizza with roasted mushrooms, thyme, fontina, and truffle oil

Pizza with roasted mushrooms, thyme, fontina, and truffle oil

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2000 Marchesi di Barolo Barbaresco Riserva Grande Annata

2011/03/31
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I was in the mood for a nice Nebbiolo yesterday and thought it was time to check in on the 2000 Marchesi di Barolo Barbaresco Riserva Grande Annata. Marchesi di Barolo is a historically significant producer in the Langhe that reaches back to the 19th century. Although the winery changed hands most recently in 2006, it produces wines of good quality, especially when considering one-and-a-half million bottles leave the estate annually (across all labels).

I have a soft spot for this producer’s Barolo Riserva Grande Annata and Barbaresco Riserva Grande Annata, in particular for the numerous bottles of the former’s 1990 vintage I carried back from Alba. While single-vineyard Baroli and Barbareschi have been en vogue for some time, I still enjoy the merits of a blended Barolo as it can make for a more complete wine if handled properly. The Barbaresco Riserva is just that, aged for two years in a combination of Slavonian oak casks and French oak barriques, followed by a year in concrete vats. As per DOCG requirements, the wine is aged a further two years in bottle before release.

  • 2000 Marchesi di Barolo Barbaresco Riserva Grande Annata – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco (3/30/2011)Decanted 30 minutes, consumed over the following three hours. Medium-garnet colour. Pretty nose of dried roses, dried cherries, saddle leather, aniseed, tea, and strawberries. Medium-bodied, with good acidity. Dried red fruits (cherries, strawberries, currant), tea, and earth on the palate. Moderate-length finish, ~35s. More expressive on the nose than on the palate, this wine could still benefit from a couple more years in the cellar, but it can be consumed now. Tannins are integrating nicely at this point. 91+, drink now-2018. (91 points)

2007 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Ateo

2011/02/06
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A producer of consistently high quality, Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona is always on my radar. Thankfully, their wines have been more regularly available in our market over the past year or so. In a slight change of direction starting with the 2007 vintage, Ateo now only consists of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; the Sangiovese redirected to Ciacci’s other wines. Thankfully the wine still has a clear Tuscan feel to it, even though the renowned indigenous variety has been removed from the blend.

  • 2007 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Sant’ Antimo Ateo – Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Sant’ Antimo (2/5/2011)Opaque ruby/black colour. Aromas of crushed blackberries, herbs, mint, sliced black plums, alcohol. Full-bodied and juicy, with blackberry, plum, and herb replays from the nose. Good minerality and acidity, but the alcohol is a touch prevalent right now. Moderate-length finish, ~35s, with more blackberries and herbs. The tannins cause the finish to turn a little chalky, but a couple years in the cellar should smooth that out if desired. Quite tasty. Something to drink over the next five years or so. (91 points)

2006 Feudi della Medusa Vermentino di Sardegna Albithia Bianco

2011/01/31
  • 2006 Feudi della Medusa Vermentino di Sardegna Albithia Bianco – Italy, Sardinia, Vermentino di Sardegna

    Light-medium straw colour. Pretty nose of wet stone, lime, acacia flowers, apricots, and a slight hint of honey. I’m really surprised by the weight and texture of this Vermentino, as Galloni’s review notes that it’s aged solely in steel. Replays from the nose are joined by petrol and minerals to the moderately-long, 35-40s finish that shows just a touch of heat. This is a really delicious wine, and way more than I was expecting. This would be absolutely fantastic with a nice fritto misto. Maybe 90 points isn’t enough? Drink now. (90 points)

  • Notes have been consistent across several bottles. Delicious!

2003 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante-Alouette

2011/01/28
  • 2003 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante-Alouette – France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage (1/27/2011)Gorgeous honey-gold colour. Aromas of paraffin, spice, meyer lemon rind, short pastry. Full-bodied, unctuous, spicy wine, with hints of rosemary oil, minerals, salt, apricot, short pastry, and warmth from the alcohol. Long finish, ~45-50s, with more meyer lemon rind, minerals, and white pepper. The texture of this wine has always been what I’ve loved about this wine. Once again, it didn’t disappoint. I don’t see this wine improving. Drink now. (93 points)

Ravioli

2010/04/09

I have always had fond memories of my Nonna making fresh ravioli. Pasta from scratch with a cheese or veal filling (or both), and a simple tomato sauce. As a child, it was my job to use a fluted pastry wheel to cut the ravioli. As I hadn’t made fresh pasta in quite some time, I had the urge to recreate this experience but with with slightly different tools: my fantastic KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook and pasta roller attachment and a square 3″ crimped ravioli cutter.

The pasta dough recipe is quite simple. One kilogram of sifted all-purpose flour, six whole eggs, four egg yolks, and a pinch of salt. A little water is often required, but it depends on the humidity and how large the eggs are. I only add it as necessary at the end of the process, a few drops at a time.

After the dough came together in the KitchenAid, I kneaded it on a lightly-floured surface for about five or six minutes. I always prefer to finish the dough by hand because I get a better feel for the consistency to ensure that it’s silky and smooth. The dough was wrapped in cling film and allowed to rest in the fridge for about a half hour. This resting period relaxes the gluten in the dough and makes it easier to roll.

Fresh pasta dough

Fresh pasta dough

While the dough was in the fridge, it was time to move onto fillings. That’s right, fillings. Plural. And not a small batch of ravioli either. A large batch of ravioli. Making ravioli is a time consuming process, so one might as well go all out. Besides, they freeze really well and make for excellent, quick mid-week meals.

The first filling was cremini mushroom, mascarpone cheese, and fresh thyme. Cremini mushrooms were minced and sauteed in butter. White wine, chicken stock, and fresh thyme were added; the liquid being allowed to reduce.

Cremini mushroom filling

Cremini mushroom filling

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