Curious Appetite

Month: August 2012

Food and Wine Pairing- Chocolate + Marsala!

I just discovered something a little amazing: dark chocolate and dry Marsala:

 

I’m just about certified in Food & Wine pairing and one of the 1st things I ever learned was: Red Wine and Chocolate is not a good pair. GASP! I’m sorry ladies, it’s true. There is too much bitter clash and the sugar in the chocolate confuses the tannins in the wine. My instructor said it best: It’s like sex on the beach: in theory it sounds like a GREAT idea- but then you got the sand and the rocks…the reality is that it’s pretty uncomfortable.”  I mean, there are ways to pair red wine and chocolate if you really want to. Like with a bitter chocolate with low sugar content and a careful selection of red wine that has some bitterness and tannin to match. But the general rule of thumb is that chocolate pairs best with a fortified dessert wine like port or….MARSALA…

When I was just recently living in the states, the only marsala wine you found was for cooking. And unlike most wine, you don’t drink it as you cook with it. I don’t know, maybe its because how some wine is not imported well that I never believed in a marsala. So recently a friend came and made some veal marsala and left the bottle behind. I asked, what the hell am I going to do with all the leftover wine? I’m not making a tiramisu’ anytime soon. They said: drink it! 

I never would have thought of that, you know.

So I poured some in my snifter, swirled it about and went through the usual motions of analysis….butterscotch, toffee, caramel, vanilla and coconut…and then gulp! Heaven! The nose proved accurate on the palate. Pretty damn tasty.

Together with dark chocolate…the cacao echos…like a nutty hazelnut caramel toasted fairtrade chocolate s’more…

I don’t know if you can get this kinda stuff in the states- but try! The states is always improving the channels of fine imports.

Notes on the Marsala that was left so graciously behind:

Producer: Florio 1833, VECCHIOFLORIO Marsala Superiore Secco (DOC) ’08, aged for 30 months in oak (hence all the toasty toffee notes)

buon dessert! 🙂

La Pentola Dell’Oro- Renaissance fare in 2012

La Pentola Dell’Oro means “A potful of gold.” I live in Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance (consider the museums like the Uffizi, The Accademia, THE DUOMO,  the Boboli Gardens, etc)  and of the Italian language (remember Dante Alighieri and L’Inferno? Dante was Florentine and Italian was born from his laments on hell and society.) I overheard about La Pentola from a group of locals cooing over their recent experience with renaissance inspired fare describing spices from the orient and other exotic posts that influenced Florentine society during the Rinascimento, Italy’s cultural “rebirth.”

Mostly what I’ve found eating out in Florence is either Tuscan “delicacies” of animal guts (such as la tripa and il lampredotto, good thing Italian is such a pretty language because these are all words for offal), pizza or pasta or some other variation concerning tasteless Tuscan bread, tomatoes, pork products and pecorino cheese. Delicious, yes. But not exactly intense culinary technique (excitement) compared to foods of the south.

ThisPot of Gold” was indeed a worthwhile venture. Consider the following:

Le Pappardelle sulla lepre (pappardelle fresh pasta w/ wild hare ragu’ made in the Etruscan “Artusi” fashion)
Le Lasagnole (lasagna-like cut noodles tossed with ginger, cane sugar, chestnut honey and walnut. Not sweet, but very savory!
Il Porco Cinghiale in dolce forte- Wild Boar in a chocolate, cedar & pine nut sauce. Looks like mound of mud but indeed very yum num. Ever had “mole’?” Well, imagine instead,, a melt in your mouth savage forest ranged pork that feasted on chestnuts and filberts in an aromatic olive oil pine nut chocolate spice marinade.

And wine? A Chianti Classico with notes of herbed violet and tobacco tannins to cut through the fat and protein pleasures of the boar in order to radiate this plethora of layered savor.

Good wine by the bottle for under €20 (at a restaurant)

After this imbibement, my belly was also feeling like a pot of gold. This is definitely off the beaten tourist path and thankfully undiscovered but frequented enough by locals (am I a local yet?) to stay churning slivers of rich, historic gastronomic bliss.

More info here: http://www.lapentoladelloro.it/

You might need a zing bing or go go google translate super powers if you can’t quite decipher the Italiano. BUON APPETITO 🙂

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