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Filtering by Tag: Bastianich wines

Lisa's Birthday Dinner

Beth Ribblett

Our friend Lisa's birthday was last week and with our crazy schedule we didn't have time to do anything special for her so we decided to cook her dinner on Sunday night. Kerry wanted to serve bubbly (of course!) and I wanted to serve an Italian red (of course!) so we decided to just drink them both knowing that Lisa would be happy with whatever we opened!

As usual I had a specific wine in mind when I planned the menu. Knowing how much I love the wines and foods of the Bastianich family, our friend Monica from Neat Wines brought 2006 Bastianich Calabrone a few weeks ago. New to their portfolio, the nose alone told me I had to have it. Besides the fact that it is only released in excellent vintages, and that it is a an unusual blend of 40% Merlot, 45% Refosco, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Pignolo, the other thing that makes "Super Friulian" so special is the vinification process. To punch up the flavors and soften the tannins of the Refosco and Cabernet Franc they take 30% of the best clusters of the grapes and hang them in a ventilated hilltop attic for a four to eight week drying period. This appassimento process, similar to Amarone, as well as the aging for 2 years in oak and another in bottle before release, results in a truly special wine (so special it was served to the Pope during his visit to New York in 2008!). Deep red fruits, velvety texture, powerful, elegant, with some delicious spices, cocoa and espresso, notes this needs some robust food!

Enough about the wine, what about the food?? Since I've been on such pasta kick lately, I decided to make some fresh pappardelle and do a Porcini and Pancetta Cream Sauce. And what better to accompany the pasta than a big steak served Tuscan style and a nice salad with heirloom lettuces and mache.

So, the pasta; to make the pappardelle I used my usual recipe for Pasta all'Uovo. Once you roll out the sheets, cut them in half crosswise to make 10 strips about a foot long and 5" wide. Lay them out in trays, in layers, lightly floured and covered with towels. Take one of the strips, and lay it out on a floured board; dust the top with flour as well. Starting at one end, fold the sheet over on itself in thirds or quarters, creating a small rectangle with 3 or 4 layers of pasta.

With a sharp knife, cut cleanly through the folded dough crosswise in 1-1/2-inch wide strips. Separate and unfold the strips, shaking them into long noodles. Sprinkle liberally with flour so they don't stick together. Fold, cut, and unfurl all the rolled pasta sheets this way, and spread them out on a floured tray. Leave them uncovered, to air-dry at room temperature until ready to cook.

The Sauce:

* 3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
* 1-1/2 cups hot water
* 1 pound pappardelle
* 2 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1-1/2 ounces pancetta
* 1/3 cup minced shallots
* 3 teaspoons minced garlic
* 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
* dash of truffle oil
* 3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
* salt
* freshly ground black pepper
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
* 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Place the dried mushrooms in a medium bowl, cover with the hot water, and let sit until reconstituted and soft, about 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and their liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl, squeezing the mushrooms to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve the liquid and roughly chop the mushrooms. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Have it ready to go, because the fresh pasta cooks very quickly.

Meanwhile, a little of the oil in a large skillet and brown the pancetta. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Add the rest of the oil and melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the chopped mushrooms, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved mushroom liquid, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is nearly all evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cream, thyme, salt, pancetta, dash of truffle oil and pepper and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cream is reduced and thick, 4 to 5 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of the cheese and the parsley and stir to incorporate.

Add the pappardelle to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 2 to 4 minutes for fresh pasta. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce, tossing well to coat. Add 2 more tablespoons of the cheese, toss, and remove from the heat. Serve immediately and use the rest of the cheese for garnish on the plates.

And the steak? My version of bistecca fiorentina, the first time we made this was with freshly cut Chianina beef steaks over an open fire in a villa in Tuscany with 8 of our close friends. Although we'll never be able to recreate that special experience, it is still one of my favorite preparations and it always take me back to that magical night.

Grill some fresh t-bones rubbed in olive oil, salt and pepper, they should be pretty rare. While the steaks are cooking, fry a big handful of fresh sage and some rosemary in a good amount of olive oil until the sage leaves are crispy.

When the steaks are done, put them on a cutting board and thinly (1/4") slice the meat of the bone. Put the meat on a serving dish and pour the hot olive oil and herb mixture over to finish cooking and seal in the juicy flavor. Salt and pepper to taste.

Buon Appetito!

Felidia, Delizioso!

Beth Ribblett

The reservation for our much anticipated dinner at Felidia was Tuesday night. I was able to
arrange it through one of the Bastianich staff who visited us last summer (thank you Caroline!). If you spend any time with us or in the shop, you know how we feel about Lidia and her wines. She and her son Joey own the Bastianich winery in Friuli and La Mozza in the Maremma (Tuscany). The Bastianich Tocai Friulano, Vespa Bianco, Rosato and Sauvignon Blanc as well as the La Mozza I Perazzi are some of few standard labels of our ever revolving inventory. We drink them often and recommend them frequently as we've sold close to 800 bottles of their wines since we opened.

We also are huge fans of Lidia's show on PBS, Lidia's Italy, that takes you on a journey with Lidia to her ten favorite regions around Italy as she introduces you to friends and family and takes you to food markets, fishing villages and farms as you haggle over the price of fish and forage for the perfect truffle. Then, return back to Lidia’s familiar kitchen to prepare a sumptuous meal using the regional recipes and ingredients. We also own a few of her cookbooks and have loved everything we've made.

So, needless to say, we had high expectations, especially after all of the great food we had eaten over the last few days! We were greeted by an incredibly friendly staff who gave us Lidia's regards and said she was sorry she couldn't be there to greet us. True or not, it was a very nice gesture on their part! We were led past a beautiful mahogany bar to a wonderful table near the kitchen in the second dining room. It's a very warm, kind of cozy atmosphere; beautiful hardwood floors, amber textured walls with a stained wood wainscoting, all washed in great ambient lighting from the sconces on the wall.

As soon as we sat down, we were brought complimentary bubbly, a sparkling wine in the Bastianch line that I've never seen before. A very crisp, clean sparkling that was mainly Chardonnay and had a beautifully dry finish. The wine list was incredible with every region of Italy represented in both red and white wines as well as nearly every other wine producing country from Croatia, Greece and Hungary to the European powerhouses of France, Spain, Austria and Germany to the new world players of the US, South American, Australia and New Zealand. The menu had to be close to 40 pages long and the prices ranged from a $25 of Croatian Katunar Žlahtina to a $2250 bottle of a 1955 Biondi Santi Brunello and truly everything in between.

To start our evening, I chose a 2000 Bastianich Vespa Bianco, the flagship wine of the estate created to showcase the power and evolution that a great Friulian white can have. Consisting of equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay with a touch of Picolit, Vespa Bianco becomes a sum of its parts, a wine of amazing complexity. A five time winner of the prestigious Gambero Rosso Three Glasses award, the Vespa Bianco is incredible in any vintage! I was debating between the 2000 and the 2006 and the very unpretentious sommelier steered me toward the 2000 to see how well the wine ages. With creamy layers of stone fruit intertwined with smoke, earthiness and French oak, this medium-bodied white shows outstanding harmony and tons of style and was fabulous with the food! I'm really glad I ordered it because it reminded me of how special this wine is and that I need to get it back in the shop, especially at the incredible price of $30 retail!

The second wine of the evening came from my new favorite wine region, the eastern area of Sicily near Mt. Etna. These wines are incredibly elegant yet powerful, more reminiscent of burgundy than the dark reds of the island. I chose the Palari Rosso di Soprano, a blend of local grape varieties, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Nocera, Acitana, and Jacche. The blend is based on a wine known in antiquity as Mamertino, which comes from the native nerello mascalese, nerello cappuccio, nocera. Medium ruby with a striking garnet tinge, this wine is immediately approachable, even with its grippy tannins. An alluring nose of baked earth and raspberry fruit. The medium-full body is filled with flavors of cherry, blackberry, raspberry and leather with a silky mouth feel.

Now came the arduous task of trying to chose what to eat from the menu of food and specials we were given! Since there were 4 of us, we decided to get lots of dishes and eat family style, and between what we ordered and the fabulous complimentary items they sent out, it would be hard to write about everything, so here are the highlights!

Antipasti: Il Polipo all Griglia- sliced mosaic and grilled octopus with burrata stracciatella and black olives. Burrata is a typical cheese produced in the province of Bari, in the south of Italy. It has the shape of a small “sack” made of soft cheese which contains a generous quantity of stracciatella, a delicate mixture of fresh cream and mozzarella frayed in thin threads. The octopus was sliced super thin and the mixture of flavors with the divine sweet creamy burrata and the salty olives was nothing short of amazing. Hands down the best octopus I've ever eaten!

Primi Piatti: Il Cacio e Pere - Pear and fresh pecorino-filled ravioli, aged pecorino, crushed black pepper. Creamy and rich with an incredible mix of textures filling the melt in your mouth fresh pasta sacks.

Secondi Piatti: Il Manzo, Flat Iron braised in Goulash sauce, or the Il Branzino, Whole grilled Mediterranean bass. Both were delicious, but by this time we had a cocktail, sparkling wine, a bottle of white and a bottle of red. The details of the dishes are a bit blurry, but the feeling of gastronomic satiation lives on!

I Dolci: Panna Cotta di Mandorle - the creamiest, smoothest panna cotta, somehow delicate and rich at the same time with a subtle almond flavor. The perfect end to the perfect meal!

All in all, it was an incredible experience that exceeded our expectations. The service was impeccable, attentive but not intrusive; the environment and physical space were beautiful without any pretense or snobbishness which was surprising in a restaurant with the reputation of Felidia. And the food was spectacular, with each palate pleasing dish presenting a incredible array of flavors, textures and individuality. Delizioso!!

Check out this great video of Lidia talking about her restaurant:

Felidia Restaurant New York, NY - Click here for more free videos