As much as I love our time in Tuscany each year, I have to say the meat-centric cuisine can be a bit much after a week of non-stop indulgences. But who can turn down Bistecca Fiorentina, Ragu di Cinghiale, Prosciutto di Toscano or Salsiccia di Maiale when it is oh so fresh and placed in front of you by enthusiastic Italians shouting "mangia! mangia!"? Needless to say, I was ready to lighten up my diet when we returned so I thought I'd check in with the staff and ask what they are eating and drinking lately.
Kimi has a secret source for an abundance of freshly caught fish through a guy known only to us as the "food fairy". One of her favorite preparations is fish crudo. Crudo, “raw” in Italian, is the way Italians eat their fresh, uncooked fish: thinly sliced and drizzled with olive oil, an acid (vinegar or citrus) and accented with seasonings. The key is to good crudo is simple - use only high-quality, ultrafresh seafood and the best olive oil and produce available. Her top pairing? One of our favorite Greek wines, the Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini 2015. And here's a quick, simple classic crudo recipe: Tuna Crudo with Lemon
Erin admits that her rural Midwestern upbringing did not include much fish and it’s not something she cooks often. However good char-grilled oysters can tempt even this meat and potatoes girl, especially when paired with a nice white Burgundy. And if she’s going to do it, Erin is going to splurge with her pairing – Chateau de Meursault 2013 Meursault. And if you are going to make them, you can't go wrong with the recipe from Dragos! Drago's Charbroiled Oysters Recipe
Casey has a soft spot for sardines and loves doing a traditional pasta recipe with lemon, capers and breadcrumbs. Good canned sardines will work but if you can get your hands on some fresh ones and put them on the grill, you’ll push your food and wine experience up several notches! He loves a good Mediterranean coastal white and the Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino 2015 is a top pick. Chef/author Mark Bittman's recipe is southern Italian staple: Pasta & Sardines
Kerry and I eat a lot of fish during the summer and each have our own go-to preparations. My favorite of Kerry’s is a lightly fried local drum with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a little parsley – about as simple as it gets. I just picked up a few filets at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday and in anticipation of our Sunday dinner, there's a bottle of the 2013 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis Blanc chilling in the fridge. I’m hoping it will transport us back to that lovely lunch a few weeks ago on the coast in Provence… here's a link to her recipe, plus an almond butter sauce if you want something a bit more complex. But if you do, I'd change the pairing to the La Scolca Gavi! - 2 Pairings with Gulf Coast Drum
Clare gave us the most thoughtful answer when I posed the question and since many of you may not know her I thought I’d publish her complete response and share her excitement about food and wine pairing.
“Last week I had a friend over for dinner. Since we had so much to catch up on and it’s been so hot we wanted to keep it casual yet delicious and use what was in season. Shrimp are beautiful this time of year and pair perfectly with a crisp clean Chablis like the Willam Fevre Champs Royaux 2014. We made fresh boiled shrimp salad on a brioche bun with arugula and a side of cold root vegetable salad with fresh dill.
The buttery shrimp on the sweet brioche bread and the slight spice of the arugula were a great combination with Chablis which brought out the richness and cut the fat without overpowering the delicate flavors of the sandwich. It also held its own and didn't get lost in the bold flavors of the root salad. The best part of this pairing for me was that the wine tasted different yet still paired well when tasted separately with the sandwich and the salad, even on its own for that matter. It's such a fun adventure to explore wine and taste how they change with different foods.
Everything about this meal is made for the hot slow days of summer- not much time standing over the stove, everything is chilled, can be made ahead of time and can be served leisurely. I highly recommend. The meal is a bit of a splurge, but everything holds well and leftovers are great, so buy two bottles of Chablis to enjoy again the next night!”
So there you have it! I hope you'll experiment for some new recipes and new wines to help get you through this hot, humid New Orleans summer!