Saturday, January 29, 2011

Austin Wine Merchant Tasting - Côtes-du-Rhône

Today the Austin Wine Merchant hosted a tasting of "Diverses Vins Du Rhône Sud" (Various Wines of the Southern Rhône). The tasting included one white and three reds.

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc 2009, France - $11.99
This wine is a blend of white Grenache, Clairette and Bourboulenc. It smelled and tasted of apples, and was quite dry.

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge 2008, France - $11.99
This red wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah.

Aroma - bright cherries
Taste - bright cherries, dry, no tannins

This is a very light wine - it's probably very food friendly. I would probably purchase it during the summer.

Perrin et Fils Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages 2009, France - $9.99 on sale
This red wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and Syrah.

Aroma - black cherries
Taste - black cherries, soft tannins, dry finish, grounded

This wine certainly had more body than the last, perhaps because of its higher percentage of Syrah, and perhaps because of the winemaking style. It's a nice wine and a good value, especially on sale at $9.99.

le Clos du Caillou Vieilles Vignes Côtes-du-Rhône 2008, France - $19.99
This red wine by Pouizin-Vacheron is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 5% Mourvèdre and Carignan.

Aroma - dark fruit
Taste - dark fruit, wood, spice (cloves?), strong tannins

This was a nice, well-rounded wine, and I would definitely purchase it! See my updated tasting notes here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making Timpano

Making timpano is an involved process, especially if you're making everything by hand! In this case, the fresh ziti, Italian meatballs, the ragú sauce, and the dough all had to be prepared as much as two weeks ahead of time!

I started by making the meatballs and the ragú sauce two weekends before our timpano dinner. I froze everything and defrosted it the day before I began to assemble and bake the timpano.

I hard boiled the eggs and chopped the salami and Provolone cheese, and shredded the Pecorino Romano cheese a few days before assembly.

I made the dough for the crust the night before assembly.

Mel offered to make fresh ziti pasta for the timpano, so she worked the night before and the morning of to make 18 cups of cooked pasta!

We borrowed an enamel basin from RFC and lined it with parchment paper before we rolled out the dough and put it into the basin. I thought the parchment would help with the release of the timpano from the pan. RFC says that her mom used to bathe her in this basin when she was a baby - too cool!

After rolling out the dough and fitting it carefully into the parchment-lined basin, we cooked the ziti until it was almost al dente, then tossed it with the ragú sauce.

Layer by layer, we built the timpano. First the pasta and sauce, then the Genoa salami, Provolone cheese, meatballs, hardboiled eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, more sauce, then repeat. Finished with a layer of pasta and sauce, then poured 4 beaten eggs over the top.

Closing off the timpano was challenging - we pulled pieces from once place to plug up holes in another, but knowing that this would be the bottom of the dish once we turned it out of the basin made us bolder than we normally would be in patching the holes.

Baking and cooling took about two hours. The timpano came out beautifully browned and thoroughly cooked through (yay!). Out it came onto a couple of silicon chopping boards - we didn't have a plate nearly large enough to accommodate it in one piece.

The recipe suggested cutting a circle in the middle of the timpano and then slicing the rest like a cake - the circle functions as a stabilizer for the rest of the dish as pieces are cut out of it.

Timpano is served! It was even better tasting the next day!

Read about our entire Big Night inspired dinner here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Big Night Italian Dinner Extravaganza - 12 people, 5 courses, 12 bottles of wine, 51 eggs total!

The inspiration for Saturday's feast was the movie Big Night (1996) with Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub. If you consider yourself a foodie and haven't yet seen it, add it to your queue immediately before anyone finds out that you're a Big Night virgin!

Due to the overwhelming number of requests for recipes from the movie, a cookbook (Cucina & Famiglia: Two Italian Families Share Their Stories, Recipes, And Traditions) based on the food in the movie was co-written by Tucci's mother and Gianni Scappin, the chef who was the consultant for the movie. The book also included Tucci and Scappin family recipes and a little history about each recipe - a true treasure for Italian food fans!

So inspired by Big Night and armed with Cucina & Famiglia, we embarked on quite an Italian journey.

First Course - Appetizers
  • Antipasto Platter - honeydew wrapped in prosciutto, marinated olives, grilled peppers and asparagus
  • Bruschetta with Gorgonzola, pecans, and drizzled honey
Wine Pairing
  • Cupcake Vineyards DOC Prosecco NV, Italy
Every single bite of the appetizers was like a little party in my mouth, and the Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco was a super-fantastic pairing! It was dry and very crisp - a nice wine to counterbalance both the sweet and salty aspects of the first course.

Second Course - Soup
  • Garlic Stracciatella
Wine Pairing
  • Mormoraia Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2008, Tuscany, Italy
This fun soup contains 30 cloves of garlic (actually, I think Saturday's soup consisted of 60 cloves!), and its name is derived from the Italian word "stracciato" which means "torn apart" or "stracciatelle" which means "little shreds." It's the Italian version of egg drop soup, and it is so delicious! It went perfectly with the wine, which was a little like muscat (but not sweet) and had a good amount of acid to cut through the flavors of the soup. Three of the eggs went into this soup.

This white Tuscan wine was great with the soup. I tasted a hint of muscat (but not sweet) and good acid.

Third Course - Salad
  • Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad
Wine Pairing
  • Bottego Vinaia Pinot Grigio 2009, Trentino, Italy
This Caprese salad was so yummy, especially with the intense flavors of the slow-roasted tomatoes and the sweet balsamic vinegar! The Pinot Grigio was dry with a slight hint of something reminding me of Chardonnay.

Fourth Course - Main Course
  • Timpano
Wine Pairing
  • La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2007, Italy
  • Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2007, Italy
  • Principi Corsini Chianti Classico Le Corti 2005, Italy
The pièce de résistance of the meal was the 28-egg timpano, which was created with handmade fresh pasta, homemade ragú sauce, Italian meatballs, 12 hardboiled eggs, Provolone cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese, all wrapped inside dough. The timpano took me two weeks to prepare, with help from some very dear friends. See the entire timpano-creating process here!

The first wine, La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2007, tasted of dark fruit, was dry, and ended in flavors of wood and tobacco.

The second wine, Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2007, was full of dark fruit, spice, and dry with a little tobacco on the end. See my other tasting notes on this vintage.

The third wine, Principi Corsini Chianti Classico Le Corti 2005, also tasted of dark fruit, had a hint of bitterness, was dry, and had a tart finish.

All of these wines went well with the timpano!

Fourth Course - Dessert
  • Tart Lemon Mascarpone Tart
Wine Pairing
  • La Castella DOC Prosecco NV, Italy
These two fantastic very tart tarts took 20 eggs and 6 sticks of butter to make! The wine pairing was a magnum of Italian Prosecco, which was bubbly, dry, and absolutely perfect with the tart!

After-Dinner Wines
  • Devil's Corner Pinot Noir 2008, Tasmania
  • Hoya de Cadenas Reserva Tempranillo 2006, Spain
We weren't quite finished with wine after dinner and dessert, so I pulled out two bottles of red that I really liked but that wouldn't be too heavy after the tart and Prosecco. See the tasting notes for the Devil's Corner Pinot Noir here, and for the Hoya de Cadenas Reserva Tempranillo 2006 here.