Wines. Years ago, I was just moving along the outskirts of this sphere, preferring other drinks than wine. When I finally decided to open the door and step in to the interesting world of wines, I was in a remarkable place to start that journey. I was in Cape Town, South Africa. My wine adventure jump-started there in the beautiful area of Franschoek, where vineyards claimed importance to their wines.
Living in Italy helped me understand more this complicated and vast topic. Wine is a daily thing. Everyone has a word or two about it. Wine culture is like a stamp on every child's birth certificate. In fact, my son's first exposure to winemaking was when he was 5-years old. His class harvested the grapes, crushed them with their own feet in large containers, bottled and took home the juice. Please don't ask me how it tasted like though. I have never been more immersed in anything other than wine (and food). And every single bottle I open is like a new classroom, full of thoughts, tastes and knowledge waiting to be explored. Last night, while I was sitting in my wine class and listening to my teacher for hours, the sound of his voice didn't seem like a drone but a spiel of significant description of what we had in front of us, wines to explore with our three vital senses.
Before I wander into another wine topic, let me tell you about this dish I cooked with a bottle of Barolo and grapes. This idea was influenced by a tasty dish of sausages slowly cooked in full-bodied red wine and grapes that I had in Assisi. I was told by the chef of the restaurant that it is a traditional dish cooked by the women in their area during the grape harvest period. I liked the dish but my palate was not totally convinced about the choice of meat. I thought that veal would make a better fit with the condiments and in fact, it came out much more appealing to my taste. I was told that veal can also be a substitute to sausages. If you are cooking this dish, use only a full-bodied red wine because otherwise, it will not come out so great. I would have used Sagrantino, a full-bodied red from that area which is more appropriate but I only had an opened bottle of Barolo. It's a really simple and delicious dish to try when you have an open bottle of good wine lying around. Don't waste it, cook with it and enjoy the wine in a different perspective.
I'm making this sudden turn towards the "wine route" for a significant reason. In about two months, at the end of March, I am going to Tbilisi, Georgia (the country, not the U.S. state) to attend the 2014 International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) and to explore its enogastronomy. This wine event is particularly important because Georgia is the birthplace of winemaking and its 8,000-year old traditional qvevri winemaking method of fermenting grapes in large, egg-shaped earthenware vessels was recently named by UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
|Photo taken from Wines of Georgia (www.nwa.ge)|
Georgian cuisine, as I've read (and will soon try!), has an interesting mixture of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Eastern European flavors. The khinkali, their version of dumplings is quite remarkable as the broth is inside the dumpling itself along with the meat. And of course there is the khachapuri that everyone's raving about. It's this bread filled with melted cheese and runny egg. You'll be sure to find out more about them when I go there myself and share with you what I see, smell and taste in this country that's been recently named one of the ten countries to visit this year.
On the right side of this page, you will see a countdown banner of the International Wine Conference in Georgia. Through that link, you will find out more about this event.
For now, let me leave you with this recipe. Hoping you're all having a good week!
|Photo taken from Georgia Traveller (www.georgiatraveller.com)|
Veal in Barolo and Grapes
- 400 g. veal fillet
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Barolo or any full-bodied red wine
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup red grapes, seeded & halved
- Fresh parsley, finely chopped
- In a large saucepan with little extra virgin olive oil, over medium heat, cook the veal.
- When the meat is cooked through, pour the red wine. Put up the flame.
- After cooking for about 2 minutes, lower the flame to medium then add the balsamic vinegar and the grapes.
- Cook until the sauce becomes thick.
- Season with salt & pepper.
- Garnish with parsley.