Wine & Food

Snooth User: Eric Guido

Almost Piedmont

Posted by Eric Guido, Nov 8, 2008.

Hey everyone, this is an event I did in August but thought I'd post this on the Snooth site for anyone interested,

I was approached to create a traditional Piedmontese meal with wine pairings for a visiting family from Switzerland. A family that is very well traveled and in the wine business, so you can imagine the stress. I was given almost 100% freedom with the menu and a budget that allowed me to enjoy it. I wanted very badly to create the comfort food of this region and not be sucked into the desire to complicate and possibly destroy any nostalgia my clients might have with the cuisine of the region. A Peidmonte buff will first notice that I took some liberties with the antipasti platter. This was the only place where the client seemed uncomfortable with some of my suggestions. (One of which was calves tongue dish),oh well. The menu;

Antipasto platter
Salamini italiani alla cacciatora / Prosciutto San Daniel / Parmigiano-Reggiano drizzled with 14 year aged aceto balsamico / A mix of Olives / Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella salad / Grissini
Paired with a Dolcetto D’Alba, Bruno Giacosa, 2006
Bagna Cauda
Accompanied by Belgium Endive, Fennel, Red & Yellow Peppers and blanched Broccoli Rabe & Beets.
Paired with a Roero Arneis, Bruno Giacosa, 2007
Risotto con Porcini
Topped with a sauté of porcini mushrooms
Paired with a Barbera D’Alba, Vietti, 2005
Brasato al Barolo
With Garlic Gran Pandano Potatoes / Squash Noodles in sage butter.
Paired with a Barolo, Borgogno, 1988 Riserva
Barolo Poached Pears
Served over Nebbiolo Zabaione (Za-ba-yonia)
Paired with MoscatoD’Asti, Massolino, 2007

For the Wine lovers. (Sorry I don't have pics from this event.)
The Bruno Giacosa, Dolcetto D’Alba Falletto, 2006. was in good form this night. I recall it showing a lot of restraint when I first received my cases. That has blown over to reveal a smoother and slightly sweeter Dolcetto than in the past vintages of this bottle. It reminded me more of a Dolcetto Di Dogliani, which is hardly a bad thing. This bottle showed less structure but much more pleasing blackberry fruit. The acidity stood up well against the antipasti. I would highly recommend this bottle for highly enjoyable current drinking.

The Bruno Giacosa, Roero Arneis, 2006. A perfect pairing for the Bagna Cauda. It’s bright fruit and acidity cut through the Bagna Cuada and refreshed the palate for the vegetables that accompanied the dish. While the scents of flowers, peaches, and almonds were a welcome addition to this light, refreshing course. I have only a few of these left and I’ve heard that Arneis is supposed to age poorly but this bottle showed no signs of going downhill. More than one guest complimented the Arneis chased by the Broccoli Rabe dipped in Bagna Cuada.

The Vietti, Barbera D’Alba, Scarrone Vigna Vecchia, 2005. This pairing was playing power against power. It was a little bit of a last minute pairing and risky in that I’d never tried this Barbera before. (It stood in for a Domenico Clerico 2005). Luckily everything worked out well. The Risotto was made in a very rich fashion with young Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese and sweet butter on the finish with the mushrooms that were sautéed with the Barbera. It was a showstopper and luckily for me the main course was a prizefighter all its own. This bottle was almost like a Zinfandel in its spicy and woodsy notes but with the kick of a Barbera that kept your mouth watering. What more could I ask for in a pairing with Risotto. The nose was a candy shop of dark fruit turning to blueberries and with a super long mouth coating finish.

The Borgogno, Barolo Riserva, 1988. For anyone with this bottle in his or her cellar, you might want to revisit this beauty. After a bit of funk that blew off, after 4 hours open in bottle, this baby sang. Classic Barolo with porcini mushroom, earth and dried roses on the nose. I didn’t expect this bottle to be so lively, full bodied and intense. It accompanied the Brasato gorgeously. Lively acidity and full bodied. The closing words of the family patriarch that evening were, “MY God…. The 88”, as he excitedly shook my hand and smiled.

As a side note, the Brasato was made with the 2000, Anselma, Barolo. Anyone looking for an excellent Barolo to cook with, look no farther. It certainly is pleasing in the glass too while waiting for that Brasato to finish. The sauce, which was made from the braising liquid, was a bit tough on the acidity at first but a few pats of sweet butter made it smooth and delectable. I’ve used these in Risotto al Barolo as well with equally appealing results.

The MoscatoD’Asti, Massolino, 2007. Lightly sweet and superbly refreshing. This Moscato carried the Poached Pears to a new level and cut through the thick Zabaione like a hot knife. A perfect mix of sweet, acid, fruit and bubbly. I could drink this in the place of water if it weren’t bad for my health.

Lastly as a side note, the Poached Pears were poached in the Massolino, Barolo, 2003. I’m not a huge fan of this bottle although it does have its place. The fruit is too bright for my tastes and the acidity too high. I used this for the poach because it was I fortified it with sugar and figured that extra acidity would help the Pears when mixed with the Zabaione. Also, the Zabaione was made with a Bruno Giacosa, Nebbiolo D’Alba, 2004.

The night was wildly successful. On top of my payment, I’ve since received a case of wine and an invitation to stay at the winery in Switzerland, which I’m going to try and do when I visit Northern Italy next year. However, what was better than all of that was the personnel letter that was delivered today, from the eighty year old Mother in the family, who explained that she’d never had such a perfect meal from start to finish and that her husband was still talking about the Brasato with the ’88 Barolo.


Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Nov 11, 2008.

What no pictures!

Sounds like quite the spread and getting the letter just caps it all off. It's amazing how small gestures can give such meaning to what we do. You have a plan for your visit to Northern Italy next year? I am working on a trip or two, to visit old friends and make some new. If your dates are flexible you might want to consider meeting up.

Reply by Eric Guido, Nov 11, 2008.

Yeah this dinner was so hectic. I was unable to find a server for this and so with one assistant chef was playing both roles of chef and server. Left me no time to think about pictures but I can assure you it looked really good. : >)

The Italy idea might be put off this year. It really depends on how things are looking financially going into next year. If I go and it works out then it would be very cool to meet up. I think the tentative plan is for Fall. However, at the moment though it looks like I might trade this trip in for a trip to Napa and santa cruz.

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